In 1984, an NIH symposium “Animal Welfare and Scientific Research” presented the current state of the art of veterinary medicine, animal care, and animal models and provided a forum for animal welfare policy discussion. As a result of this symposium, a number of historic events occurred in 1985, including the adoption of new policies and laws requiring humane care for animals used in testing, research and training. Also included in these laws was the establishment of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) to oversee, at a local level, animal activities for U.S. Public Health Service-supported research using animals.
Twenty-five years later, scientists, policy makers, and others met again at “Animal Welfare and Scientific Research: 1985 to 2010,” to discuss the history, current practices, and future of research animal care. They explained how advances in animal care have resulted in increasingly sophisticated animal models, and how these models have increased the basic understanding of numerous biological processes and diseases. Some of these include immunology and transplant medicine, cognition, aging, cancer, schizophrenia, depression, autism, mechanisms of brain function, social cognition, memory, and countermeasures against bioterrorism. The keynote session focused on policy foundations of current animal welfare oversight by Dr. Charles McCarthy, former Director of the Office for Protection from Research Risks. Other sessions included a presentation on the history of support for research using animal models from WWII to the present and a discussion about public perceptions of the use of animals in research.