Washington Update

FASEB Letter Commends NIH Animal Research Working Group

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

On February 2, FASEB submitted a letter to the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Enhancing Rigor, Translatability, and Reproducibility in Animal Research in response to its second interim report presented during the December ACD meeting.

In the letter, FASEB expressed appreciation to the Working Group for its substantive report, which corresponded to several of FASEB’s previous statements and reports on the issue, including the 2016 report, Enhancing Research Reproducibility. Specifically, the letter applauded the emphasis on reporting extrinsic and husbandry factors throughout the lifespan of the research project, and their role in external validity. Additionally, FASEB thanked the Working Group for acknowledging the continued need for animals in research, specifically large animal models, and recommended NIH issue funding opportunities that can accommodate the longer timeframes and higher budgets associated with large animal research.

To further enhance scientific rigor in grant proposals, FASEB suggested NIH incorporate a new, one-page component supplementary to the Research Strategy section in which investigators must report key experimental design elements, including inclusion/exclusion criteria, sample size estimation, randomization, and blinding strategies. Integrating a separate section limited to one page will both encourage investigator attention to these details and permit grant reviewers to easily find and assess whether rigor and reproducibility are appropriately considered in the proposed research.

FASEB also cautioned the Working Group to ensure the new task force focused on non-animal models in biomedical research is equally populated with appropriate expertise such as comparative anatomy, translational research, and veterinary medicine. Balancing viewpoints will facilitate the development of evidence-based recommendations.

The Working Group is scheduled to provide an updated report on its deliberations during the next ACD meeting in June.