The Illinois Society for the Protection of Medical Research
In December 1928, news that an antivivisectionist bill targeting animal experimentation would be introduced in the next session of the state legislature spread swiftly through the medical community. After corresponding with colleagues who had grappled with similar threats in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Missouri, prominent physiologists at four Chicagoland medical schools collaborated to face the coming storm in Illinois. Representatives of the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, and Loyola University founded the Illinois Society for the Protection of Medical Research (as it was initially known) to defend their interests in January 1929.
The group’s cause soon became a citywide affair. Frank Billings, a major force in Chicago medicine, served as the first honorary president and helped recruit diverse supporters. Councilors included local politicians, women’s club presidents, investment bankers, hospital wardens, religious leaders, private doctors, public health officials, the editors of city newspapers, and one US attorney. “It promises to be quite an imposing organization,” Ivy wrote to J. R. Neal of the Illinois State Medical Society. Indeed, these allies would prove vital in persuading state politicians to quash antivivisectionist bills and push counter legislation in the years to come.