Shafiezadeh S. Replacement of Animal Experiments at Shahid Beheshti University, Iran. Paper presented at: Alternatives in the Mainstream: Innovations in Life Science Education and Training. 2nd InterNICHE Conference; 2005 May 12-15; Oslo, Norway


In this presentation I describe my experiences as a pharmacy student in Iran, how I have helped end animal experiments in physiology classes at my university, and my plans for the future. When I first entered university I encountered dissections and animal experiments. I did not talk about my objection these practices, but I did manage to avoid the experiments. By the fourth term there were many more animal experiments, which I refused to do, resulting in arguments with the teachers. I realised that they would not listen to me, so before one of the practical classes I entered the lab and took the cage with the frogs. I went to a park near the university and released the animals. I was aware that maybe I was not doing right, but all I knew was that I had to release those frogs. That day the teachers had no frogs to experiment on.

Through I found InterNICHE, and I realised something could be done to improve the overall situation. The organisation showed me a lot of support and helped me during the hard times. At this time I also became InterNICHE National Contact for Iran. During the next practical session I talked to my teachers about InterNICHE and its Alternatives Loan System, and they realised that using alternatives rather than real animals may be wiser, not least because they could save money. I borrowed a range of software from the Loan System and showed these to the head of physiology. They were excited about the software, and soon after I managed to reach agreement to end all animal experiments in physiology. The number of animals used is now reduced, and when the department has sufficient computers the animal experiments will be completely replaced by alternatives for all students. In the meantime I have been granted the right to conscientiously object in my physiology classes and to do experiments without animals. I have also translated the InterNICHE website into Farsi. With pharmacology classes approaching, I am now planning to do the same with that discipline, and to further distribute InterNICHE resources, including freeware and other alternatives, right across the country, through my fellow students who are happy to help.