Congress Holds Hearing on Funding for Indirect Costs

Last Tuesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing titled, "The Role of Facilities and Administrative Costs in Supporting NIH-Funded Research." The hearing served as another forum for lawmakers to discuss the Administration’s budget proposal to cut indirect costs at National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded institutions from 30 percent to 10 percent.

Although there were no mentions of animal research, the hearing caused a stir by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Subcommittee chairman Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said, “I just want to make sure as we go forward that we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, looking for savings and disrupting what’s really a pretty complex, now 70-year-old ecosystem that has produced extraordinary benefits for the American people.”

According to an update by Congressional Quarterly (CQ), witness Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for science policy and strategy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), expressed concern about cutting funding for indirect costs. He said at the hearing: “I spend all my time kind of chasing down regulatory compliance reports. That really is the biggest problem. Not only is it very wasteful of resources, but it really changes the way, the time and energy one can put into thinking about science.”

The full hearing and witness list is available on the subcommittee’s website.

AAMC, FASEB, COGR, and NABR Announce Groundbreaking New Report on Regulatory Burden

The 21st Century Cures Act instructs the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director to work with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to identify ways the government can reduce regulatory burden on researchers. A new set of recommendations introduced today proposes changes to federal regulations, policies, and guidelines governing the use of animals in research. Directed to federal agencies involved in the oversight of federally funded animal research – primarily the NIH and the USDA – the recommendations aim to address the numerous conflicting, outdated, or ineffective regulations that do not improve animal welfare. The proposed changes would ensure that standards of care in animal research are maintained and would have the practical effect of promoting efficiency among researchers.

Today's report grew out of an April 2017 workshop convened by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), and the National Association of Biomedical Research (NABR). The workshop participants sought to identify federal requirements that demand significant administrative effort but do not enhance animal welfare.

There have been numerous reports dating back nearly two decades that highlight the negative impact overly burdensome regulations have on biomedical research in the United States, and federal research dollars are being stretched more each day.

“The U.S. has long been a world leader in biomedical research and development. If we wish to remain competitive in a global research landscape, we must find ways to decrease burden on investigators,” said NABR President Matthew R. Bailey. “Scientists and the teams who support them shouldn't be spending nearly half their time filling out paperwork or attempting to comply with multiple requirements that each aim to accomplish the same goal in different ways. These recommendations examine ways in which efficiencies can be realized while maintaining the highest standards for animal welfare.”

The use of animals in research continues to be vital to understanding human and animal disease, and researchers take their commitment to the humane care and use of research animals seriously. The sponsoring organizations hope this report will aid federal agencies and Congress in reducing the significant inefficiencies in the animal research oversight process

American Psychological Association (APA) Urges Congress to Oppose Efforts to End VA’s Canine Studies

Earlier today the American Psychological Association (APA) sent a letter to Congress opposing the efforts of Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Brian Mast (R-FL) to cease funding for studies with dogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The letter, signed by Dr. Howard Kurtzman, Acting Director for Science, lauds the importance of animal research. It discusses the importance of animal research to humans and animals and also notes, for over 100 years, how APA has been dedicated towards the caretaking of animals.

H.R. 3197 (the PUPPERS Act) and a similar amendment to the House-passed homeland security “minibus” seek to end funding for VA studies involving canines. Thus far the following are against the propositions by Reps. Brat, Titus, and Mast:

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS)
American Brain Coalition (ABC)
American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM)
The American Legion
American Physiological Society (APS)
American Psychological Association (APA)
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN)
Friends of VA (FOVA)
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
National Defense Committee
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
Square Deal for Veterans
VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

Stay tuned to NABR’s website as more develops on this issue.

Please click on the hyperlinks above to read the opposition statements from veteran, military, veterinary, scientific, and medical organizations.

“More Institutional Support for Animal Research Is Needed,” Says Society for Neuroscience CAR Chair

Yesterday, Mar Sanchez, chair of the Committee on Animals in Research at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), wrote an exhilarating essay in Inside Higher Ed about the critical nature of animal research and how research institutions can, and must, do more to defend and promote their scientists.

In the essay Sanchez writes: “Institutional support is pivotal to the continuance of scientific discoveries. By taking a proactive approach to communicating the vital need for animal research, institutions help ensure researchers can focus on valuable work that could lead to the discovery of promising treatments for vast unmet medical needs and improve the lives and health of people and also animals around the world.”

Click here to read the full essay. We encourage you to post a positive comment and share this piece with others and on social media.

Are Regulatory and Administrative Burden Affecting Your Institution?

Space for NABR's upcoming webinar is starting to run out so if you haven't registered yet, please reserve your spot ASAP.

If you work at an animal research institution, you are likely affected by administrative and regulatory burden. NABR will be hosting an exciting webinar just for you on this very topic. On Tuesday, November 7, we invite you to join NABR and special guest, Sally Thompson-Iritani, director of the Office of Animal Welfare at the University of Washington, for our exclusive webinar, “Reducing Burden: Options and Opportunities.”

We will discuss how administrative and regulatory burden at the institutional level can be reduced. We will also review opportunities provided by language in the 21st Century Cures Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) request, "Identifying Regulatory Reform Initiatives," to address the issue of regulatory and administrative burden experienced by institutions because of federal government agencies. Members of your Animal Care and Use Program (ACUP) are encouraged to attend this webinar.

This is one of the year’s most popular webinars, and registration is filling up quickly. If you have not already reserved your spot, please register today so you don’t miss out.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): Animal Research is “Key to Improving Animal Health and Welfare”

Just a couple of days ago, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which represents over 89,000 veterinarians, reached out to key policymakers sounding-off on the essential need for animals in biomedical research.

To set the record straight on the importance of animals to save lives, improve lives, and decrease suffering for both humans and animals, the AVMA sent letters to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

AVMA’s news release notes, “The AVMA will continue to work with lawmakers to educate them on the importance of biomedical research, including biomedical research that requires the use of animal models.”

To read AVMA’s full release, please click here. AVMA’s policy on the use of animals in research can also be found on their website.

Another Year, Another Nobel Prize Awarded with the Help of Animal Research

American geneticist and chronobiologist Michael Rosbash, PhD, was surprised to learn he was selected to receive a Nobel Prize this year, along with Jeffrey C. Hall, PhD, and Michael W. Young, PhD, for “their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.”

The international award for outstanding discoveries in life sciences and medicine, officially, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, honors researchers who have left lasting contributions in efforts to improve human and animal health. This year’s winners—whose work with fruit flies led them to conclusions about how living organisms adapt their biological rhythms to sync with the movement of our planet (around its axis and around the sun)—are no exception.

To read coverage by FBR on this year’s award, please click here.

More Veterans, Science Groups Tell Congress: Don’t End Funding for VA’s Research with Canines

More veterans organizations as well as medical and scientific groups have stated their opposition against proposals by Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA), Brian Mast (R-FL) and Dina Titus (D-NV) to cease funding for important medical research studies involving canines at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN), National Defense Committee, Square Deal for VeteransAmerican Brain Coalition (ABC) and the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) have shared letters of opposition to H.R. 3197 (the PUPPERS Act) and a similar amendment to the House-passed homeland security minibus.

So far, those now against these proposals include:

American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS)
American Brain Coalition (ABC)
The American Legion
American Physiological Society (APS)
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN)
Friends of VA (FOVA)
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
National Defense Committee
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
Square Deal for Veterans
VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

Dogs are rarely used in research but sometimes they are the best model for specific studies because of factors like physiological similarities. All research, including research with dogs, is covered by strict oversight at institutions and by the federal government, and animal welfare is a top priority.

Research with dogs has been and continues to be influential in developing new drugs, therapies, and treatments for humans and animals. Of the top 25 most prescribed medications, 22 were developed with research involving dogs; and canines are on the front lines of everything from cardiology, cancer, diabetes, late-stage eye disease and spina bifida research.

To read the letters of oppositions from the organizations above, please click on the hyperlinks.

Registration Now Open for NABR’s Next Webinar!

Are administrative and regulatory burden affecting your institution? Join NABR and special guest Dr. Sally Thompson-Iritani, Director of the Office of Animal Welfare at the University of Washington, on November 7, 2017 for an exclusive webinar, "Reducing Burden: Options and Opportunities." Members of your Animal Care and Use Program (ACUP) are encouraged to attend.

Dr. Thompson-Iritani has played a key role in the development of a program called Compliance Unit Standard Procedure (CUSP). The goal of this project is to create a repository where participating institutions can share standard substances and procedures to be used in animal care and use protocols with the broader animal welfare compliance community. To date, the participating institutions have developed almost 1,000 standard substances and 700 standard procedures that will populate the site as a starting database. Having access to the database offers all those involved with the preparation and review of proposed activities involving animal research a valuable resource which can be used to reduce the administrative burden on investigators and members of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and IACUC support staff.

During the webinar we will also review the opportunities provided by the language in the 21st Century Cures Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) request to Identify Regulatory Reform Initiatives to address the issue of regulatory and administrative burden at your institution.

Registration is now open for this exclusive, NABR members-only opportunity.

BREAKING: VA Secretary Pens Op-Ed in USA Today Supporting VA’s Dog Research Program

Today, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) David Shulkin joined the American Physiological Society (APS) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), along with Friends of VA (FOVA), the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the American Legion, in his defense of canine research at the VA.

In opposition to language added to the homeland security “minibus” by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) and passed by the House last month, which would target for elimination the VA's dog research program, Shulkin wrote a powerful column published this morning in USA Today. The amendment language is similar to H.R. 3197 which is awaiting consideration on Capitol Hill.

"Science and research are more critical than ever in providing breakthroughs for many unique conditions affecting our veterans. America needs VA’s innovative research programs, and veterans and their families have earned them. We owe it to these patriots to do all we can to develop medical advancements that could help restore some of what they have sacrificed in service to our nation," wrote Secretary Shulkin.

Shulkin detailed some of the lifesaving and life-improving discoveries made possible by the VA's canine research program, accomplishments that have included the recent FDA approval of an artificial pancreas and the implantable cardiac pacemaker. He also summarized a current study that could help paralyzed veterans and others with spinal cord injuries ward off potentially lethal lung infections.

To read the Shulkin’s letter in USA Today, please click here.

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