Washington Update

Committee Continues Review of Canine Research at U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Thursday, February 28, 2019

On February 14, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Institute for Laboratory Animal Research convened the second meeting of a committee charged with reviewing research studies involving canines conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Five additional members were added to the committee roster since the initial January meeting, and the Statement of Task was slightly modified. The February 14 meeting included a public question-and-answer session between committee members and VA staff.

Among the questions posed by committee members to VA staff included inquiries about the review process; the role of institutional bias and its impact when assessing studies using dogs; recently published findings derived from canine research; and the feasibility of alternative models such as computer models or organ-chips.

VA Chief Medical Officer Michael Fallon, DVM, PhD, emphasized that 99.9 percent of animals used in VA research are mice or rats. Just five active studies involving canines are underway in VA labs across the U.S. Dr. Fallon stated repeatedly that each project is assessed on its merits, and funding for canine studies is awarded when the proposed research goals can only be met using dogs.

The Committee will continue to meet in the upcoming months and plans to release two reports upon completing its review.