Today NIH made an important announcement about the use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research. After accepting the findings of an extensive Institute of Medicine (IOM) study commissioned by NIH, and reviewing the implementation recommendations from the Council of Councils and public feedback, NIH leadership has decided to significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees in the biomedical research it supports, and expects to designate the majority of NIH-owned chimpanzees for retirement.
The IOM study released in 2011 proposed three principles to analyze research using chimpanzees. First, the knowledge gained by the research must be necessary to advance the public’s health. Second, there must be no other animal research model that could provide this knowledge, and the research cannot be ethically performed on human subjects. Finally, the animals used in the proposed research must be maintained in natural habitats or appropriate physical and social environments.
NIH-supported research projects involving chimpanzees that do not meet these principles will wind down in a planned way that will avoid an impact on the animals and unacceptable losses to the science supported by these projects.
On this website you can find more on the recommendations accepted by NIH, and a summary of the public comments received as part of our request for comments earlier this year.
We plan to prepare subsequent procedural guidance and technical assistance, as appropriate, to implement some of these decisions. Researchers should continue to follow the existing guidance (see NOT-OD-12-025) regarding the submission of applications, proposals, or protocols for research involving chimpanzees until NIH finalizes this procedural guidance. We will be working closely with all of our stakeholders to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for research projects that will be affected by NIH’s decision.