Washington Update

NIH Council of Councils Approves New Initiative to Study Extrinsic Factors

By: Naomi Charalambakis
Thursday, September 14, 2023
On September 7, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils approved a new concept clearance and initiative focused on enhancing the rigor and reproducibility of animal research by studying environmental extrinsic factors. The council convenes three times a year with representatives from various institutes and centers to advise the NIH Director on trans-NIH activities and identify research opportunities in emerging scientific fields.

The objective of the new concept clearance is to support research projects that characterize the effects of extrinsic factors—elements such as lighting, temperature, water quality, vibration/noise, etc.—on the physiology and behavior of animals. This concept emerged as a recommendation from the 2021 Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Enhancing Rigor, Transparency, and Translatability in Animal Research whereby working group members encouraged NIH to support work that better understands, monitors, records, and reports extrinsic factors related to animal care that may affect research results. Additionally, during the 2022 NIH Extrinsic Factors Workshop, participants concluded that critical information gaps needed to be filled regarding how environmental factors impact the rigor and reproducibility of animal studies.

NIH anticipates providing funding for prospective studies for three to four years. Proposed projects must be applicable to two or more institutes or centers and be relevant to physiology or diseases that influence multiple body systems. The agency also welcomes applications that support the purchase of modern equipment that facilitates the management and measuring of extrinsic factors. By leveraging the results of funded studies and addressing resource gaps, NIH seeks to promote more rigorous animal research and ultimately improve the science and health of humans and animals alike.