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NIH Accepts IOM Recommendations on Chimpanzees in NIH-funded Research

June 28, 2013—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) June 26 announced that it has accepted the key recommendations made by an independent advisory council for implementing recommendations made by an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee for the use of chimpanzees in NIH-funded research.

Specifically, NIH plans to retain but not breed up to 50 chimpanzees for future biomedical research.  According to NIH, “The chimpanzees that will remain available for research will be selected based on research projects that meet the IOM's principles and criteria for NIH funding.”

NIH also said it will “establish a review panel to consider research projects proposing the use of chimpanzees with the IOM principles and criteria after projects have cleared the NIH peer review process; wind down  research projects using NIH-owned or -supported chimpanzees that do not meet the IOM principles and criteria in a way that preserves the research and minimizes the impact on the animals; and retire the majority of the NIH-owned chimpanzees deemed unnecessary for biomedical research to the Federal Sanctuary System contingent upon resources and space availability in the sanctuary system.”

NIH currently faces a statutory cap on the amount of funds it can spend on chimpanzees placed in the Federal Sanctuary System. NIH said it “will continue working with Congress to remedy a provision that currently limits the amount of financial resources NIH may put toward retiring chimpanzees and caring for them in the Federal Sanctuary System.”  In 2001, the IOM estimated that there were 612 chimps supported by NIH and that NIH had funded 110 projects that utilized chimps between 2001 and 2010.

NIH did not accept, “due to the lack of scientific consensus,” the recommendation that the primary living space of research chimpanzees be at least 1,000 square feet per chimpanzee.  NIH said it “will engage chimpanzee behavior and facilities experts to determine the appropriate minimum space requirement for research chimpanzees.”


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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