Dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith,
I hope the world is treating you right! I wanted to let you know the latest from the Physicians
Committee. It’s been an incredible last few months.
As you know, earlier this year, we managed to halt all use of animals in medical schools in the United
States and Canada. But at higher levels of training—in some trauma courses or residencies, for
example—some animals have still been used. In October, we managed to end the use of animals in
pediatrics residencies throughout the United States. Then in November, Morristown Medical Center in
Morristown, N.J., stopped using dogs for emergency medicine training within 48 hours of our erecting
a billboard and spurring media exposure of the practice.
We have also launched a new effort in brain research. The Society for Neuroscience is a large
organization that, up until now, has actively promoted animal research. However, in November,
Physicians Committee scientists Ann Lam, Ph.D., and Feng-Yen Li, Ph.D., presented at the Society’s
annual conference with scientists from the Neurolinx Research Institute and the European Union Joint
Research Centre, describing cutting-edge methods for Alzheimer’s research that do not require
animals. Dr. Li outlined the “xenofree” project, aimed at providing resources to help scientists conduct
in vitro stem cell research without any animal-derived components.
We also hosted the first ever satellite event listed in the official Society for Neuroscience program
explicitly aimed at replacing animal research to advance our understanding of the brain. The event
included talks, an awards presentation, a delicious plant-based menu, and Brazilian-themed chamber
music played by scientist musicians, and was attended by around 70 students, senior scientists, and
educators. The award ceremony recognized Dr. Jacopo Annese, a world-renowned neuropathologist
and founder of the Institute for Brain and Society, for his work in the neuroimaging of human brains,
and Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, a neuroscience educator at Marymount University, for the
development of ethical, nonanimal educational opportunities for students in neuroscience.
These scientists have contributed to the advancement of ethical neuroscience and are actively creating
opportunities for other scientists to do nonanimal research. By highlighting their work, we have
demonstrated that the Physicians Committee is a resource for developing and advancing human-
relevant research and inspiring the next generation of neuroscientists to pursue a career without
animal research. We are continuing our outreach and educational events to the science community as
we work to transform medical research.
Meanwhile, we are continuing to expand our own research, which aims to nail down the benefits of
plant-based diets. The importance of this was clear last year, when the Dietary Guidelines Advisory
Committee specifically cited our work when it decided to highlight vegetarian diets in its report on
what Americans should eat. We have a busy schedule of research papers coming out, and are just now
launching a new study on the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of plant-based diets on
By the way, sometimes people tell me that they care about our programs for animals, but not about our
nutrition. I always like to remind them that Americans eat more than a million animals every hour. So
changing our eating habits is the kindest thing we can do, both for ourselves and the animals.
Speaking of eating well, the Barnard Medical Center is about to reach its first anniversary. So much has
happened in a year, and it has been spectacular to see how nutrition can be integrated into medical
To remedy the common problem that doctors receive so little education in nutrition, we are now
preparing the third edition of the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, which is given away free to all U.S.
medical students. It covers about 90 clinical conditions and lays out in detail what doctors need to
know. The new edition will be in both print and electronic formats.
In January, we will launch a new nutrition initiative, this one aimed at the SNAP program (the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps). This massive $75
billion program allows retailers to accept government payments for all manner of unhealthful foods—
sausage, cheese, candy, and more or less everything else. It turns out that SNAP participants are
actually less healthy than people with similar incomes who do not participate in SNAP. So, in January,
the American Journal of Preventive Medicine is releasing a special supplement issue that I edited along
with David Katz, M.D., from Yale, and Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., from the Physicians Committee. It
includes a broad group of articles that, together, make the case for favoring healthful foods in SNAP.
Our own proposal is to remove meat, cheese, etc., from the program altogether. Politically, that is a tall
order, because the food industry has been busily twisting arms in Washington for many years, and
both sides of the political aisle have been overly friendly to unhealthful foods. When the supplement
comes out, we will launch a new group of policy initiatives that aim to change things.
And the battle continues on another front—that is, popular culture. Dania DePas recently took over as
our new Director of Communications. Dania’s expertise in traditional and social media is already
amplifying our outreach with an aggressive and creative media program.
Finally, one fun item: I have played music since I was a small child, and on Dec. 1, I released a new CD
with a group of musicians, called CarbonWorks. You’ll see it on Amazon and at
www.CarbonWorksMusic.com. A number of our songs have animal themes, as you’ll see in our videos
on YouTube, and I’m delighted to be able to use this new language in our work.
Thank you, as always, for all your help and support, and all the best for the new year!
Neal D. Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C.
P.S. We will be launching our matching gift campaign on December 12 so gifts made through the end of
the month will have double the impact! Thank you again for all you do to make our work possible!
PACS receives many heartfelt thank-you notes from pet owners and like-minded animal organizations. See more letters and notes here.