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Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H.
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Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH, is a double Board-certified neurologist and public health specialist. She works for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), serves as Lieutenant Commander in the US Public Health Service, and is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She also serves on the Leadership Council of the Classy Awards.

Dr. Akhtar is the author of the new book: Animals and Public Health: Why treating animals better is critical to human welfare. You can learn more about the book at her website:

In her TED talk, she discusses how treating animals better is not only good for animals, but also good for us.

She lives in Maryland with her husband, Patrick.

And now for her obligatory disclaimer: "The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. government."

Entries by Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H.

In Defense of Pamela Anderson

(201) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 5:44 PM

2014-08-24-monkeyexperiment.jpgPamela Anderson has made a media splash by refusing to take part in the ice bucket challenge in support of the ALS Association because of its history of funding animal experiments that she describes as being cruel and fruitless.

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Ebola Has Happened in the U.S. and It Could Happen Again If We Don't Address the Root Causes

(10) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 6:46 PM

With the largest Ebola epidemic ever recorded raging across West Africa and as two Americans who were infected in Liberia have entered the U.S. for treatment, the question has been raised: will Ebola happen in the U.S?

Actually, an Ebola...

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It's Official: Animal Protection IS Human Protection

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2014 | 11:50 AM

"Animal protection is now mainstream."

This was announced at the 5th annual Classy Awards held in San Diego this weekend. The Classy Awards Ceremony honors outstanding nonprofit programs in eight major social sectors, including animal protection, education advancement, poverty and hunger relief, environmental protection, human rights and social...

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Who Are the Animals in Animal Experiments?

(86) Comments | Posted January 12, 2014 | 4:52 PM

I once attended a neuroscience conference featuring a talk about spinal cord injury. The presenter showed a brief video clip that haunts me still to this day.

The presenter showed a clip of his experiment in which he had crushed a cat's spinal cord and was recording the cat's...

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The Top 3 Ways Animal Experiments Hurt Humans

(31) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 12:52 PM


Suppose you are sending your 12-year-old daughter off to a summer camp two states away and she is flying on a plane by herself for the first time. Would you put her on that plane if you knew that it had...

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Why the NFL Needs to Have Its Head Examined

(110) Comments | Posted October 22, 2013 | 1:09 PM


Recently, PBS's Frontline aired a disturbing documentary chronicling the National Football League's history of downplaying and distorting the evidence that football-related head injuries cause long-term brain damage. The film included footage from a 2009 Congressional hearing...

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Why Animal Experimentation Doesn't Work. Reason 3: Animals Aren't Little Humans

(84) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 4:47 PM

Your child, my father, and all of our loved ones who may be suffering from illnesses are not rats or dogs or monkeys. So why do animal experimenters keep treating them as though they are?

Suppose you are an experimenter and are determining if methylprednisolone, a steroid, will help...

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Why Animal Experimentation Doesn't Work -- Reason 2: Animals Don't Get Human Diseases

(39) Comments | Posted August 27, 2013 | 3:01 PM

My father suffers from diabetic peripheral neuropathy. His diabetes led to nerve damage that causes him severe, constant pain. I want the best medical treatments possible for him and, as a neurologist, I am always on the lookout for good, new drugs, but none of them have effectively slowed down...

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Why Animal Experimentation Doesn't Work -- Reason 1: Stressed Animals Yield Poor Data

(91) Comments | Posted July 31, 2013 | 2:13 PM

Imagine you are a monkey in a laboratory and a person dressed in a white coat walks into the room with a catching net. How do you think you would react? You would probably not be surprised to learn that monkeys in this situation immediately show

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Want to Improve Medical Research? Cut Out the Animals!

(56) Comments | Posted July 11, 2013 | 9:01 AM

Recently, former NIH Director, Elias Zerhouni (director from 2002-2008), returned to address NIH and made a startling comment:

"We have moved away from studying human disease in humans," he lamented. "We all drank the Kool-Aid on that one, me included." With the ability to knock in or knock...
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We Are Not Safe From Bird Flu as Long as Factory Farms Exist

(12) Comments | Posted March 4, 2013 | 12:03 PM

CNN reports that Cambodia is seeing a spike in the number of deaths due to the H5N1 strain of bird flu. In a related case, Mexico recently slaughtered more than 1 million chickens infected with the H7N3 strain of bird flu. Despite the increase in bird...

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This Valentine's Day, Remember All Victims of Domestic Violence: Both Humans and Animals

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2013 | 3:31 PM

In my last article, I introduced the notion that there is a strong connection between human and animal welfare. This connection is particularly evident in domestic violence.

Last month, in Lake Charles, LA, a man was arrested for beating his girlfriend, Tiffany Nocosia, and killing...

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Why Our Health Depends on Treating Animals Better

(38) Comments | Posted February 1, 2013 | 4:45 PM

An international group of scientists recently ended a year-long moratorium on controversial research on potentially deadly strains of the H5N1 avian flu virus. The purpose of the research was to engineer strains of H5N1 in order to understand how it might gain the ability to spread easily among...

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NASA's Wrong Stuff

(17) Comments | Posted February 15, 2010 | 12:36 PM

I am an absolute space geek. The only time I ever skipped high school was to hear a panel of astronauts give a talk about space exploration. I owned a topographical map of Mars before it was ever considered cool (it IS considered cool, by the way). And this past...

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How the Top Ten Animal Stories of the Decade Reveal the Connection Between Animal Welfare and Public Health

(22) Comments | Posted December 31, 2009 | 2:40 PM

This past decade was, arguably, the decade of animals. More news stories covered animal welfare issues than ever before and some of the major events of the past decade involved animals. Animal protection has become a considerable social issue. But there is more to animal protection than the well-being of...

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