Registration Now Available for NABR’s Next Webinar, “Participating in the Public Policy Process”

NABR is the only national, nonprofit organization dedicated solely to advocating for sound public policy that recognizes the vital role animals play in biomedical research. NABR members play a unique and irreplaceable role in public policy process, especially when Congress considers legislation impacting biomedical research and when federal agencies propose new regulations.

Join us Tuesday, October 11 at 12:30 p.m. for NABR’s next webinar, Help Us Help You: Participating in the Public Policy Process. This webinar will provide participants with the necessary information to become an active participant in the regulatory and legislative processes and provides guidance about how to help shape the environment in which we all work. NABR’s program will share an insider's perspective into Washington that highlights important aspects of policymaking by using recent legislative initiatives and Federal Register notices to demonstrate the importance of participation.

As always, space is limited for NABR's webinars so please be sure to register ASAP to guarantee your spot for Help Us Help You: Participating in Public Policy Process. Please click here to reserve your spot.

2016 Rally for Medical Research Hill Day Registration Open

The Rally for Medical Research has opened registration for the 2016 Hill Day, scheduled to take place Thursday, September 22.

This Capitol Hill event began in 2013 and includes nearly 300 national organizations coming together for the Rally to raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in medical research, leading to more progress, more hope and more lives saved.  Its ultimate purpose is to call on federal policymakers to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority.

Additional details about the day’s activities and registration information are available here.  If you have any questions, please contact info@rallyformedicalreserach.org.

Bill to Address Regulatory Burden Introduced in U.S. House

On June 24, Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) introduced the University Regulation Streamlining and Harmonization Act of 2016 (H.R. 5583), a bill to streamline and harmonize Federal research regulations at institutions of higher education, and for other purposes. Current co-sponsors are Reps. Tom Graves (R-GA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Reid J. Ribble (R-WI).  H.R. 5583 was jointly referred to two committees, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

In a letter to Congressman Lipinski, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) praised the bill for the steps it takes to streamline and harmonize the increasingly complex and burdensome set of regulations that hamper the conduct of research. While acknowledging that appropriate regulations are necessary to ensure research is conducted in a responsible and ethical manner, FASEB supports the provisions in the bill that would reduce regulatory burden on practicing scientists. In particular, the proposed legislation would establish a Research Policy Board, reporting to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), tasked with reviewing new and existing regulations with an eye toward streamlining requirements.

Because federal regulations governing animal research are among those which may be affected, NABR is encouraged by this interest in reducing regulatory burden and will report any progress of this new proposal and others.

Senate Spending Bill Proposes $2 Billion More for NIH

The Senate Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittee yesterday marked up its version of the FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill. “This is the first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years, and I want to thank Senator Murray for her work on this bill,“ said Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), subcommittee chair. “The fiscal year 2017 Labor-HHS bill eliminates 18 duplicitous or unnecessary federal programs in addition to the 18 from last year’s bill, and is $270 million less than last year,“ he added.  The bill provides $161.9 billion in base discretionary spending, which is $270 million below the FY 2016 level and $2 billion below the President’s budget request.  The Full Senate Appropriations Committee may take up the bill as soon as tomorrow.

According to the Republican summary, the measure provides $34 billion for NIH, a $2 billion (6.3%) increase.  In December of last year, the NIH received a $2 billion boost in the omnibus funding bill that raised its budget from $30 billion to $32 billion. The new proposal includes:

•    $300 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, an increase of $100 million;
•    $1.39 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, an increase of $400 million;
•    $250 million, an increase of $100 million, for the BRAIN Initiative to map the human brain;
•    $333.4 million, an increase of $12.5 million, for the Institutional Development Award;
•    $463 million, an increase of $50 million, to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria; and
•    $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking member of the subcommittee, said, “I am especially proud that this bill doesn't include a single new damaging policy rider.”  The Democrats also released a summary.

NIH Workshop on Research with Non-human Primates (NHP)

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Associate Director for Science Policy Carrie D. Wolinetz, PhD, announced last week a workshop on September 7, 2016, that will convene experts in science, policy, ethics, and animal welfare to discuss the oversight framework governing the use of non-human primates (NHPs) in NIH-funded biomedical and behavioral research.  As yet, no workshop speakers have been announced.

In her “Under the Poliscope” blog post, Dr. Wolinetz stated, “NIH remains confident that the oversight framework for the use of non-human primates in research is robust and has provided sufficient protections to date. However, we believe that periodically reviewing agency policies and processes ensures that this framework evolves in a manner consistent with emerging scientific opportunities and public health needs. Toward this end and in response to Congressional interest, the Office of Science Policy is taking the lead in planning a workshop on September 7th . . .  At this workshop, participants will also explore the state of the science involving non-human primates as research models and discuss the ethical principles underlying existing animal welfare regulations and policies…  NIH is committed to ensuring that research with non-human primates can continue responsibly…”

The workshop will be broadcast live and archived for future viewing on the NIH Videocast website.  Comments regarding the workshop may be submitted online in advance of and during the workshop for consideration.

Congress Moves on Zika Funding

The U.S. Senate voted decisively last week in favor of a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat the Zika virus this year and next, cutting back President Barack Obama’s request from $1.9 billion, but offering significantly more money to fight Zika than the U.S. House.  For its part, the House approved an emergency appropriations measure providing limited funds – less than a third of what was requested – only through the end of this fiscal year (September 30, 2016), as described in this Science news report. Florida Governor Rick Scott has urged Congress to pass a Zika funding bill, according to the Miami Herald.  And a May 17 Boston Globe editorial headline said Funding to Fight Zika Shouldn’t Wait. The challenging negotiations ahead for Congress and the White House to resolve the question are described here by the Washington Times.

The fact that animal research is critical to understanding the Zika virus and finding a vaccine has been part of the public discussion.  In a Newsweek op-ed, FBR President Frankie Trull explained how primate research is key to finding a Zika vaccine.  Also, three studies showing the Zika virus causes microcephaly in mice embryos are discussed in these May 11 reports in The Scientist and the Los Angeles TimesCNN and the BBC have broadcast news stories acknowledging the contributions of animal studies to Zika research.

NABR Presents Annual Analysis of Federal Animal Rights FOIA Requests

In its ongoing efforts to keep the animal research community informed, NABR presents its annual analysis of animal rights FOIA requests, "A Review of Animal Rights FOIA Requests FY15."  This is an in-depth report of every federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made during FY15 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by animal rights groups that you won’t find anywhere else.

NABR’s experts have broken these requests down in an easy-to-read format to help you quickly understand the most commonly requested information, frequency of requests by party, and the cost to taxpayers. Of particular note, the number of requests for information about institutions submitted to NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare have increased dramatically.

While this report focuses specifically on the federal FOIA, we also encourage you to review where your state stands with respect to state-level open records laws at NABR's "FOIA in Your State." (log-in required)

As animal rights groups continue to rely on FOIA to gather intelligence about research projects, it is important to understand the impact of such requests.  Download "A Review of Animal Rights FOIA Requests FY15" today by clicking below, and share it with your staff and counsel.

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Science Coalition Answers ‘Wasteful’ Research Allegations

The Coalition to Promote Research (CPR) and the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) sponsored a Congressional exhibit and reception April 13, “’Wasteful’ Research? Looking Beyond the Abstract”.  Its purpose was to  provide researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), whose work had been targeted in various Congressional “wastebook” publications, an opportunity to put their research into context for Members of Congress and their staff. The unique Congressional exhibition and reception featured nine researchers from across the disciplinary spectrum.

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), author of a Congressional wastebook, attended the event. “This has been enlightening, and we want to make sure we are accurate,” the Senator told the Huffington Post. “It is a learning process.”

The event was co-hosted by the Consortium of Social Science Organizations (COSSA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and Elsevier. Additional organizational sponsors included the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Educational Research Association, Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLGU), the Coalition for Life Sciences (CLS), Population Association of America, and the Society for Research in Child Development.  Additional organizational supporters can be found on last page of reception program.

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Confirms Robert Califf as New FDA Commissioner

Just moments ago, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to serve as the new commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  Dr. Califf is replacing Dr. Stephen Ostroff who served as acting commissioner since Dr. Margaret Hamburg stepped down in March of 2015.  Dr. Califf was nominated by President Barack Obama for the post and a nomination hearing was held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee on November 17.

Dr. Califf is a cardiologist and clinical trial expert from Duke University and his nomination was supported by medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Dr. Califf was confirmed by an 89-4 vote.  To read more about Dr. Califf's confirmation, please see this report in The Washington Post.

The Role of Animal Research in the President’s Cancer Moonshot

During his final State of the Union address to Congress, President Barack Obama announced the creation of the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force to make stronger strides to defeat cancer.  The White House hopes to achieve this by accelerating the understanding of cancer, improving patient access, encouraging the development of innovative treatments, and by identifying and addressing any unnecessary regulatory burdens that delays research.

Once crucial element that will undoubtedly be a critical piece of the puzzle is animal research and just yesterday the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) took a detailed look at the discoveries brought to fruition thanks to animals.  Whether it be immunotherapy, epigenetics, or cell-based therapy, animals like rats, mice, zebrafish, and fruit flies have helped pave the path to healing and recovery and will likely continue to be influential during this campaign.

FBR’s review of animal research in the President’s cancer initiative can be found here.  We encourage you to comment with your thoughts and to share FBR’s posting on social media with friends, family, and colleagues.

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