Given the animated debate over the use of live animals in medical education (“Wisconsin medical school’s dog research draws scrutiny,” March 12), it is worthwhile, I feel, to take a close look at the practice’s chief antagonists: the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM.

The misnamed “physicians committee” is a PETA-affiliated animal-rights group whose membership includes fewer than 4 percent physicians.

Dr. John Pippin is an exception, a doctor who openly associates with PCRM. Most mainstream physicians understand how radical the group really is, including Pippin’s former employer. In 2004, the world-renowned Cooper Clinic terminated Pippin, its then-chief cardiovascular specialist, because the clinic learned he was moonlighting for the animal-rights fringe.

Earlier in 2004, Newsweek reported that PCRM’s president, psychiatrist Neal Barnard, had “co-signed letters on PCRM letterhead with the leader of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an animal-rights group the Department of Justice calls a ‘domestic terrorist threat.”‘ That same leader, Kevin Kjonaas, who co-signed the letters with Barnard, was convicted earlier this month in federal court on domestic terrorism charges related to an animal-rights campaign.

As the lines continue to blur between the well-known PETA, its deceptively named front-groups, and the violent animal-rights subculture, it’s becoming harder for the public, to say nothing of medical school administrators, to know whose opinions to trust.