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NIH Seeks Comment on Chimp Use in NIH-Funded Research

January 25, 2013—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Jan. 23 issued a request for information (RFI) seeking public comment on a recent report from the NIH Council of Councils Working Group on Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research. Among other recommendations, the working group calls for ending many current chimp studies and the retirement of most active research chimps.

The working group was asked to advise the NIH on the implementation of the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Committee on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research regarding the use of chimpanzees in NIH-sponsored research [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 16, 2011].  NIH is accepting comments on the Working Group’s recommendations until March 23.

The working group made 28 recommendations focused on:

  • Implementing the IOM’s guiding principles and criteria (which NIH had earlier accepted);

  • Reviewing which currently active NIH-supported research using chimpanzees meet the principles and criteria defined by the IOM report;

  • Advising on the size and placement of active and inactive populations of NIH-owned or -supported chimpanzees that may need to be considered as a result of implementing the IOM recommendations; and

  • Suggesting a review process for considering whether potential future use of the chimpanzee in NIH-supported research is scientifically necessary and consistent with the IOM principles.

The working group calls for ending many current chimp studies, the retirement of most active research chimps, and the maintenance of a 50 chimp research colony should they be needed for future research.

The working group reviewed nine biomedical research projects on immunology, bioterrorism, infectious agents, or hepatitis and recommends conditional approval to continue for three projects involving immunology and infectious agents; it recommends that the NIH end the other six projects.

The working group reviewed 13 comparative genomics or behavioral research projects; it recommends continuing or conditionally approving to continue eight projects and ending the remaining five projects.


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806