Alcohol-Poisoning Rat Tests Violated JHU Protocol; PETA Urges Prosecution of Apparent Illegal Cruelty


For Immediate Release:
October 13, 2022

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

Baltimore – Today, PETA urged Marilyn Mosby, state’s attorney for Baltimore City, to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute the apparent violations of cruelty-to-animals laws at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Records obtained by PETA reveal that JHU experimenters violated their own experimental plan for deadly alcohol-poisoning and liver-transplant tests on rats.

JHU experimenters continued dosing rats with alcohol for three weeks longer than had been approved by the school’s own experimental oversight body, the Animal Care and Use Committee. Experimenters then delayed euthanizing the animals—some of whom were in poor health, showing signs of weight loss with tissue protruding from surgical incisions—after liver transplants for up to two months after euthanasia had been recommended. PETA points out that this protocol transgression—admitted by JHU to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—also appears to run afoul of Maryland Code, Criminal Law § 10-604, since the exemption from prosecution in Maryland Code, Criminal Law § 10-603(2) applies only to “research conducted in accordance with protocols approved by an animal care and use committee.”

PETA also fired off a letter to JHU President Ronald Daniels, calling on him to terminate experiments on animals that have violated state and federal regulations and to reimburse NIH for taxpayer money spent on such experiments. The group also pointed to other problems with the school’s animal laboratories, including experimenter Shreesh Mysore’s notorious brain-scrambling studies on owls that violated Maryland state law for up to seven years.

“Johns Hopkins University experimenters poisoned rats with alcohol, subjected them to invasive surgeries, and let them waste away for months in apparent violation of Maryland law,” says PETA Vice President of International Laboratory Methods Shalin Gala. “There’s a culture of noncompliance at JHU, and PETA is calling for prosecution of the experimenters responsible for these animals’ suffering—as well as the reimbursement of taxpayer funds wasted on these apparently illegal tests.”

This incident follows multiple recent federal citations at JHU laboratories for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a blatant deviation from a protocol in which experimenters failed to provide pigs with analgesics—and did so without consulting veterinary staff—failure by a JHU senior laboratory technician to report that a pig’s elbows were broken while being moved from a transport cage, the use of expired compounds on rabbits, and the lack of an aseptic technique and a sterile workspace, resulting in contaminated cranial implants being embedded in monkeys who later suffered from chronic antibiotic-resistant infections.

JHU’s alcohol experiment on rats has received $1,621,184 in funding from NIH so far, and the school received over $824.8 million from the agency in 2021 alone. Despite the massive amount of taxpayer funding spent on animal testing, studies have shown that 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. PETA is calling on NIH to adopt the Research Modernization Deal, developed by PETA scientists, which provides a strategic roadmap for replacing animal tests with modern, technologically advanced research methods.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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