Dinesh K. Badyal, Vikas Modgill and Jasleen Kaur
It has become increasingly difficult to perform animal experiments, because of issues related to the procurement of animals, and strict regulations and ethical issues related to their use. As a result, it is felt that the teaching of pharmacology should be more clinically oriented and that unnecessary animal experimentation should be avoided. Although a number of computer simulation models (CSMs) are available, they are not being widely used. Interactive demonstrations were conducted to encourage the departmental faculty to use CSMs. Four different animal experiments were selected, that dealt with actions of autonomic drugs. The students observed demonstrations of animal experiments involving conventional methods and the use of CSMs. This was followed by hands-on experience of the same experiment, but using CSMs in small groups, instead of hands-on experience with the animal procedures. Test scores and feedback showed that there was better understanding of the mechanisms of action of the drugs, gained in a shorter time. The majority of the students found the teaching programme used to be good to excellent. CSMs can be used repeatedly and independently by students, and this avoids unnecessary experimentation and also causing pain and trauma to animals. The CSM programme can be implemented in existing teaching schedules for pharmacology undergraduate teaching with basic infrastructure support, and is readily adaptable for use by other institutes.
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