Created by on 08/19/2011

On August 11th and 12th, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee tasked with reviewing the current and anticipated use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research held their second of three scheduled meetings. At this public, information gathering workshop, the objectives were to obtain background data on the current use of chimpanzees, explore potential alternative animal models, and seek public comment about the scientific need for chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research. Invited experts from government, industry, and academia presented on five topic areas: the chimpanzee as a species, behavioral research, hepatitis research, infectious disease research, and the potential future needs of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research. British primatologist, Jane Goodall, also delivered a special lecture via videoconference. All of these presentations were followed by probing questions from the IOM committee.

In addition to the five sessions that addressed the workshop objectives, there was an hour long public comment session in which registered organizations were allowed three minutes to offer remarks. FASEB delivered comments reaffirming the federation’s position on the continued need for chimpanzees in biomedical research and stated that, “Chimpanzees are an invaluable resource as they are the only animals susceptible to many diseases that afflict humans and share many of the same physiological characteristics as humans.” The federation also stressed that research on chimpanzees, as with all animals, should be conducted within the strict ethical, legal, and safety framework of current regulations.
The National Institutes of Health commissioned IOM to conduct this study when the impending transfer of 176 semi-retired chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility to the Southwest National Primate Research Center caused extensive outcry from the public, including the former governor of New Mexico. IOM has one more meeting scheduled for October with the final report scheduled to be released in December. FASEB will continue to monitor the IOM study.