Aysha at TedX

What's New

New book announcement

I’m working on my next book, which is contracted with Pegasus Books. The book will be on our relationships with and empathy for animals and how it affects our well-being. It will be part memoir, reporting and science. There’s a cast of characters including an ex-mobster, a chicken farmer, a former cattle rancher, an ex-Marine–and […]

Loving animals is good for us

As a neurologist, I’ve long held that empathy for and connection with animals is an important part of our social development. But can being with animals actually improve our well-being? In the 1970’s researcher Erika Friedmann and her colleagues made a startling discovery. They followed 92 patients who were discharged from a Coronary Care Unit […]

Dr. Akhtar interviewed in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Reconsidering Research on Primates  

Why does the death of a gorilla hurt us so much?

No matter how slimy, how scaly, how smelly, or even how scary, animals’ lives now matter to us. Why? Why do we care about other animals? Why do we care about beings whose lives are seemingly so removed from ours? These are questions that I have been trying to answer over the past twenty-five years, […]

Why are we seeing an explosion of new viruses Like Zika?

Zika virus, Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Nipah virus, Hendra virus, bird flu, swine flu — these viruses have all grabbed international attention in recent years. In the past few decades the world has witnessed an alarming surge in emerging infectious diseases (EIDs). Since 1980, new pathogens […]

The flaws and human harms of animal experimentation

Abstract: Nonhuman animal (“animal”) experimentation is typically defended by arguments that it is reliable, that animals provide sufficiently good models of human biology and dis- eases to yield relevant information, and that, consequently, its use provides major human health benefits. I demonstrate that a growing body of scientific literature critically assessing the validity of animal […]

Is sexism in science actually paternalism?

There’s an infection called Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which is common among young children and is caused by a virus. Lately, there seems to be another illness, Foot-in-mouth disease, that’s been going viral, at least socially. The main difference between these diseases is that the latter seems to affect mostly adults, and more specifically, adult male scientists. […]

Dr. Akhtar announced 2015 winner of Belton Mouras Grassroots Leadership Award

On March 29, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dr. Akhtar was presented with the Belton Mouras Grassroots Leadership Award for her efforts to show how animal protection benefits public health. “What we are forging is not a revolutionary change, but an evolutionary change. We are changing the very way we define ourselves and the world […]

New study finds alarming rise in animals used in experiments

I’ve written previously about the fact that because of the lobbying efforts of the animal experimentation industry, at least 95 percent of all animals in U.S. laboratories — mainly mice and rats — are not considered “animals” under federal law. These animals are excluded from the minimal protections of the law, and are not even […]

How animal experiments paved the way for the CIA’s torture program

Fact: The CIA’s torture program was directly inspired by animal experiments. In the 1960s, dogs were subjected to random electric shocks from which they could not escape. Eventually the dogs gave up trying to avoid the painful shocks, not even escaping when a path to escape was finally presented to them. From the New York […]