WSU Statement about Dogs in Research

Although use of animals other than mice or rats is uncommon at Wayne State University, there is one federally funded research project involving dogs that is aimed to develop new strategies for the treatment of congestive heart failure and hypertension. Heart disease is the number one killer in America, so the odds are this research is going to benefit your health or the lives of your loved ones.

Every winter, we hear about someone having a heart attack while shoveling snow. Certain types of exercise trigger a type of feedback loop in people with high blood pressure or modest heart failure. How this feedback loop is triggered and why it escalates to a heart attack under certain conditions, like shoveling snow, is not well understood. Research at Wayne State is making progress uncovering the factors that contribute to this deadly cycle.

The world’s most eminent experts in clinical and translational cardiovascular sciences sitting on National Institutes of Health panels rate the research as highly important. The NIH continues to fund this research because nationally recognized scientists have evaluated Wayne State’s research project and the resultant peer-reviewed journal articles from this project as valuable contributions to cardiovascular research. Only approximately one in ten of all NIH grants in this field are funded, so if the resulting research and findings were not productive and advancing our knowledge, the research would not continually receive competitive federal funding.

Often, science does not move at the pace we would like. Advances are made incrementally — and often painstakingly — over years. Just as scientists haven’t given up on cancer research despite not finding a cure, national experts have evaluated this cardiovascular research as important, meriting continuation.

Wayne State University is committed to the responsible and ethical use of animals in research, and also recognizes the benefits of research involving animals. Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century – for both human and animal health. From antibiotics to blood transfusions, from dialysis to chemotherapy, bypass surgery and joint replacement, practically every present-day therapy for the prevention, treatment, cure and control of disease, pain and suffering is based on knowledge attained through responsible research with animals.

The university has the highest level of ethical standards in conducting biomedical research, as well as the highest level of care for animals used in research, recognized through its accreditation by AAALAC International since its inception. All proposed research studies utilizing animals are required to go through a rigorous review process to ensure that all research and teaching protocols are designed and carried out in a humane manner that complies with all applicable laws, policies and guidelines. This review process includes critical community input to assure values and impact are considered as a part the evaluation.

The university strictly adheres to the policy of using only as many animals as reasonably necessary, minimizing discomfort and distress, and using alternatives whenever feasible. All research animals are always under the supervision and care of trained, university veterinarians and their staff to provide for their needs.  

Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845