Animal lovers deserve the truth on GRU dental implant testing

  • Follow Opinion columns

As both dog lovers and researchers, we want to respond to the misrepresentations about research at Georgia Regents University raised by the Humane Society of the United States.

AS A UNIVERSITY, we’re committed to research that improves lives. A recent video released by the HSUS attempted to discredit research into a new antimicrobial coating for dental implants that could help prevent dangerous infections in the gums and bones of the mouth. While we were not directly involved in the research, we are nonetheless familiar with the details of the study because of our roles at GRU. We have seen firsthand that the research conducted at GRU is humane, responsible and highly regulated.

The allegation that dental implant research at GRU is strictly cosmetic, silly or frivolous could not be further from the truth. Infections caused by failed implants are a focus of research in recent years because of the ability of bacteria to get into the bloodstream and infect heart valves and other organs.

This problem is not unique to dental implants, but also occurs with prostheses that are used to replace body parts lost to cancer and trauma. Early detection and prevention are key, but it’s only through research studies such as these that we can improve the surface of the implants.

Our research is guided by what’s known as the “three Rs” – refinement, reduction and replacement. As a university, we’re committed to refining procedures to minimize stress and maximize comfort for laboratory animals. We’re committed to reducing the number of animals used in research. And we’re committed to developing scientific models as alternatives to animal research whenever possible.

THE UNIVERSITY’S Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee ensures that these principles are honored. The committee of faculty, administration and community members approved the research protocol for the study documented by the HSUS. The suggestion that the research was conducted without proper approval is false. Any animal research at GRU without IACUC approval would be a violation of GRU policy and federal law.

In this instance, the dental implant protocol was approved July 15, 2010, and renewed last July 13. The experiments in February through May of this year were conducted under the protocol
approved in 2010. GRU provided the most up-to-date information to the HSUS upon request in late July. The group’s claims appear to be incorrectly based off the
renewal from this past July instead of the original protocol from 2010.

Simply put, the HSUS has alleged fault where there is none. GRU’s protocols and animal-use facilities are reviewed regularly and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the USDA has found no incidents of noncompliance. Dogs are used infrequently in research conducted at the university. In this and every study at GRU, they are obtained only from vendors licensed and inspected by the USDA.

AT GRU, RESEARCHERS are making strides toward better medical devices and treatments. Countless medical breakthroughs – from antibiotics to blood transfusions to vaccinations and chemotherapy – were developed with the help of laboratory animals. Animal research is, for the foreseeable future, a critical component of developing safer dental implants and, ultimately, new cures.

(The writers are, respectively, interim associate dean for research in the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine; and GRU’s senior vice president for research.)

Comments (7) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
ymnbde 12/08/13 - 09:50 am
sure every single one of the dogs is cuter and more loveable

than a tumor or an infection or an old smelly bed ridden human
and their owners love them they do love them
and the dogs do love their owners, they do love their owners
they would give their lives for their owners
dang... if only people had such owners!
but no policy should change because of
ignorance and leashed cuteness being paraded in the rain
thank goodness the Chronicle editorial page allowed this column
it's a bit more complex than Fluffy having her jaw cut off
so someone can have nice teeth
and that should have been reported in the first article
maybe the next time it rains someone can put sick people on a leash
and parade them down Broad Street?

Darby 12/08/13 - 01:01 pm
Just recruit young, left leaning, Liberal Arts

majors or journalism students to volunteer to replace the animals.

If you say it will help OzBama, they'll jump at the chance. Just remember not to give them the definition of euthanize, OK?

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/08/13 - 03:21 pm
Class B

From the guest column:

Dogs are used infrequently in research conducted at the university. In this and every study at GRU, they are obtained only from vendors licensed and inspected by the USDA.

Now that the associate dean for research and the senior vice president for research have been published in the Chronicle, do you think some Chronicle editor can get their reporters to quit writing that the "Class B" animals they use are illegal or otherwise tainted? If they've written it once, they've written it a half-dozen times.

mrenee2003 12/09/13 - 04:32 pm
They stated:

"In this and every study at GRU, they are obtained only from vendors licensed and inspected by the USDA." They should make public the name of the vendor these dogs came from, which they did not. Still sounds evasive. It was my u/s the A/C reported that the animals came from a USDA licensed vendor but that the vendor was under investigation for all kinds of ethical issues.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/09/13 - 05:22 pm
Ethical Issues

The A/C reporters have repeated this "under investigation for all kinds of ethical issues" in every story; and the statement came from the Humane Society spokesman. However, the spokesman did not reveal what the so-called ethical issues were and whether they are relevant to medical research using laboratory animals.

If the vendor is licensed and he has his paperwork and he is inspected by USDA, then all is legal.

mrenee2003 12/09/13 - 11:29 pm
Ethical issues

According to the Humane Society:

The random-source Class B dealer supplying dogs to GRU is Kenneth Schroeder, operating out of Wells, Minn., since 1960. There are five other random-source Class B licensees in the U.S. selling dogs and cats to research facilities. Two are currently under investigation by the USDA.

On Sept. 19, the USDA filed a legal complaint against Kenneth Schroeder for multiple and serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including obtaining dogs from unauthorized sources. The docket can be found here:

I don't recall anyone saying the dogs were obtained illegally by GRU. The article stated they were obtaining the dogs from a Class B supplier that is under investigation for numerous and egregious animal care violations. Did GRU purchase dogs from Kenneth Schroeder? I want to know the name of the supplier.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
New CEO of AUMC focusing on improving patient safety and satisfaction
New AU Medical Center CEO Lee Ann Liska has "truly hit the ground running" in her first two months and is already planning sweeping changes to improve patient safety and satisfaction, Augusta ...