FASEB Hosts Inaugural Animal Research Capitol Hill DayBy: Naomi Charalambakis
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
On September 20, FASEB hosted its first Animal Research Capitol Hill Day to highlight the value of federally funded research with animals.
In partnership with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the advocacy event sought to combine FASEB’s basic science expertise with the veterinary prowess of AAVMC to communicate with key Congressional leaders and their staff about the role of animal research in improving the quality of life for humans and animals alike.
FASEB and AAVMC held a total of 16 meetings with its 13 volunteers, and most meetings were with representatives and senators that either serve on important House and Senate committees, such as the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, or represent a state with a Nonhuman Primate Research Center. Because the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee frequently introduces problematic language related to animal research in draft funding bills, one of the key goals of the advocacy event was to establish relationships with these Congressional offices and encourage improved language in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills.
To demonstrate that animal research remains necessary for continued biomedical progress, one researcher and one veterinarian attended each Hill Day meeting to convey the following talking points:
- Animal research is strictly regulated by both federal and institutional laws and policies, including the Animal Welfare Act and Public Health Service Policy.
- Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees and attending veterinarians take daily steps to monitor animal welfare. When studies are complete, institutions and their veterinarians oversee a rigorous adoption and/or retirement process for eligible animals.
- Nonanimal models, such as organs-on-a-chip and computer simulations, provide beneficial preliminary information but remain too simple to answer complex research questions, including the etiology of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
- Animal research is vital for maintaining the nation’s scientific and economic leadership on the global stage. Nonhuman primate research is particularly essential for vaccine research and development, an essential component to the nation’s pandemic preparedness infrastructure.
Strengthening animal research advocacy remains a key part of FASEB’s science policy efforts. FASEB will consider future ways to expand events similar to Capitol Hill Day to further emphasize the scientific benefits of research with animals. A current list of resources on this topic is available here.