NABR Press Release Urging Trump Administration to Streamline Research Animal Transportation

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Contact: Eva Maciejewski
Phone: (202) 857-0540

NABR Urges Trump Administration to Streamline Research Animal Transportation

Washington, D.C. - National Association for Biomedical Research President Matthew R. Bailey issued the following statement regarding the need to streamline transportation of animals used domestically in medical research, particularly during the current coronavirus pandemic.

On March 18, 2020, NABR sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao urging the Trump administration to streamline transportation of animals used domestically in medical research. NABR’s letter states that the proclamation of a national emergency regarding the coronavirus pandemic underscores the importance of streamlining animal research to develop vaccines and cures for the novel coronavirus and other dangerous diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing antiviral medications in an effort to develop treatments and cures for the coronavirus. Research such as this must be expedited and streamlined to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to save human lives.

“Access to laboratory animals is necessary to develop and ensure the safety of drugs and medical devices. Research animals are vital to understanding the genetic and molecular pathways that lead to disease, promising areas for research leading to new treatments for devasting diseases,” stated Bailey.

“Laboratory animals used in medical research are purpose bred under controlled conditions with highly defined health status. We urge the Trump administration to take immediate action to eliminate policies that discriminate against transportation of animals intended for research if they are to operate in the airspace of the United States,” he continued. “Urgent action is needed to address the detrimental effect current airline policies are having on vital research programs.”

Presently, medical researchers in the United States must rely on foreign airlines to transport many animals used in medical research due to the pressure tactics of PETA and other animal rights groups. Even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, these groups continue to pressure airlines that are aiding American efforts to develop treatments for the disease.

NIH to Retire Alamogordo Chimpanzees in Place

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Francis Collins, has released a statement today regarding the retirement of their aging Alamogordo chimpanzees. The full statement can be read here:

The Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) is now down to 44 geriatric chimpanzees. According to the NIH statement, "a panel of NIH veterinarians, independent of the three primate facilities, Chimp Haven, and the NIH Chimpanzee Program, evaluated the remaining 44 APF chimpanzees and advised NIH that it would be a serious risk to the chimpanzees’ health to move them." According to this determination, the remaining chimpanzees will be retired in place.

NABR President Matthew Bailey commends this decision, "The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) is pleased that NIH leadership has decided not to move the 44 chimpanzees housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility to a different location. The NIH’s decision is in the best interest of these elderly and frail animals. The chimpanzees will live out their days in Alamogordo, where they have comfortable indoor/outdoor living conditions in primadomes that allow them to climb and swing, and where they have forged close bonds with their caretakers and social groups. NABR applauds the NIH for taking a leadership role in the well-being of the Alamagordo chimpanzees which have contributed much to the medical community’s understanding of disease."

Dog Research at the VA Ruled Humane

The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) has ruled that research involving canine models conducted at four Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers (VAMC) is in compliance with animal welfare guidelines. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has been supportive of this research as well.

"OLAW determined that the visited VAMCs are effectively supporting the humane programs of animal care and use at their institutions and conducting research with dogs and other vertebrate species in compliance with the PHS Policy, and all applicable rules and regulations," according to the report, which was published on January 3.

The research in question has been under attack by animal rights groups like the White Coat Waste Project since 2017. You can read more about his story here:

NABR DOT Complaint Makes Headlines

As you may be aware, NABR has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the refusal of major airlines to carry animals for the purpose of research. The docket closed for comments on December 6th, with comments of support from 156 organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of research professionals. Additionally, hundreds of individuals in the research community commented, expressing their support for NABR's complaint. For everyone who made comments, we thank you.

And boy did your comments get attention! The Chicago Tribune ran a piece entitled, "Scientists say United, other airlines illegally refuse to fly lab monkeys, fearing animal rights protesters." The highlight of this piece was, "The association [NABR] says many other airlines also refuse to carry animals used in biomedical research even though the carriers will fly those same species if they're pets or destined for zoos and sanctuaries. That policy is hampering vital research needed to develop medicines and therapies."

Outsourcing-pharma also weighed in with an article titled, "‘Patients will lose’ if airlines refuse to transport lab animals: NABR files complaint." NABR President Matthew Bailey warned the zoo, agriculture, entertainment, and pet industries to pay close attention, "because if airlines are making decisions based on the word of PETA, which opposes animal use in most of those areas, they very well may be next."

Please File Letters of Support for NABR DOT Complaint

As previously reported in our update, NABR has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the refusal of major airlines to carry animals for the purpose of research. Opponents to animal research have now activated their grassroots networks and are flooding the docket with individual comments. Please help us show the DOT how critical this issue is to the future of biomedical research.

The importation of non-human primates (NHPs) for research into the U.S. has become problematic. Further, the transport of several other research species around the world has also become increasingly challenging. As a result, the research community is beginning to see increased costs and uncertainty about the future of research projects. However, without access to the appropriate models for medical research, the public stands to lose the most, as treatments for emerging public health crises may be delayed, discontinued, or moved to other countries. This issue was also featured on September 21 in The Scientist, in that article NABR President Matthew Bailey stated, “Unfortunately, opponents to animal research have engaged in tactics of harassment, protests, and public smear campaigns in an effort to end the transportation of vital research animals involved in health studies worldwide.” The Washington Times has also posted an analysis of the research animal transportation issue:

NABR strongly encourages research institutions to submit letters of support for NABR’s complaint on the DOT docket which argues that airlines’ refusal to ship research animals violates common carrier rules regarding discrimination of cargo. If you have not done so, please submit a letter either as an individual or institution. The docket will close for public comments on December 6. Instructions on how to access the docket can be downloaded here: NABR has also made a template letter available for download.

Please take a moment to file a personal comment of support or draft a letter on behalf of your organization.

The following organizations have currently filed comments in support of the complaint:

AAALAC International
AbbVie Inc.
Academy of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians and Nurses
Agenda Resource Management
American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
American Association of Immunologists
American Brain Coalition
American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine
American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
American College of Toxicology
American College of Veterinary Pathologists
American Federation of Aviculture, Inc.
American Neurological Association
American Physiological Society
American Psychological Association
Americans for Medical Progress
American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
The American Society of Andrology
American Society of Animal Science
American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology
American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners
American Society of Primatologists
American Veterinary Medical Association
Arizona State University School of Life Sciences
Associated Medical Schools of New York
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of American Universities
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
Association of Primate Veterinarians
Association of Public and Land Grant Universities
Animal Health Institute
Axion Research Foundation
Basel Declaration Society
Baylor College of Medicine
BFC Israel
Bioculture (Mauritius) Ltd.
Bridge the Gap
Brown University
California Biomedical Research Association
California Institute for Medical Research
Camarney S.L.U.
Cardiovascular Research Institute-UCSF Zebrafish Shared Facility
Carolina Center for Neurostimulation
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Charles River
Coalition for the Life Sciences
College on Problems of Drug Dependence
Columbia Center for Translational Immunology
Columbia University Institute of Comparative Medicine
Comparative Biosciences, Inc.
Cornell University
Council on Governmental Relations
Drexel University
Duke University Laboratory Animal Resources
Duquesne University
The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University
Ellegaard Gottingen Minipigs
Emory University
European Animal Research Association
European College of Laboratory Animal Medicine
European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations
Federation of European Neuroscience Societies
Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Office of Animal Resources
Helsinki Institute of Life Science
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association
Indiana University
Institutional Officials Consortium
International Mammalian Genome Society
International Society for Stem Cell Research
The Jackson Laboratory
JMC Welfare International Ltd.
Johns Hopkins University -signed by Professor and Vice Provost for Research
International Society for Transgenic Technologies
Laboratory Animal Breeders Association of North America, Inc.
Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology
La Jolla Institute for Immunology
Louisiana State University
The Mannheimer Foundation, Inc.
Massachusetts Society for Medical Research
The Max Planck Institute for Neuroscience
McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences
McLean Hospital
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Medical College of Wisconsin
Merck KGaA
The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Michigan State University
Musella Foundation
National Animal Interest Alliance
National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science
National Association of Veteran’s Research and Education Foundations
National Primate Research Centers
The Neuropsychopharmacology Translational Research Unit of the Albacete General Hospital (Spain)
New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research
New York University
New York University School of Medicine
Northwest Association for Biomedical Research
Northwestern University
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Noveprim Ltd.
Oregon Health & Science University
Partners Healthcare
Pennsylvania Society for Biomedical Research
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Pfizer Inc.
The Poultry Science Association Inc.
PreLabs, LLC
Scripps Research
Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada/McGill University
Sinclair Bio-Resources
Sinclair Research
Sleep Research Society
Smithers Avanza Toxicology Services LLC
Society for Neuroscience
Society for Research on Biological Rhythms
Society of Toxicology
States United for Biomedical Research
Taconic Biosciences
Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Texas Society for Biomedical Research
Tulane University
The Society of University Surgeons
Understanding Animal Research
Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Durham
University of Hawaii System
University of Houston Division of Research
University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Maryland School of Medicine
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota Research Animal Resources
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
The University of Oklahoma
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania Animal Welfare
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center
VetEquip Inc.
Wake Forest University
Washington Animal Research Network
Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Yale University
Zoological Association of America

Click here to view the docket which includes all relevant documents: 

Senate Commerce Committee Unanimously Advances OSTP Nominee

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation advanced the nomination of Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier for Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP) on Wednesday during their executive session. The committee voted unanimously to advance Droegemeier, who is expected to face a full Senate vote later this month.

Droegemeier was Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma-Norman from 2009 until August of 2018. He also served on the National Science Board under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Droegemeier is currently Secretary of Science and Technology for the state of Oklahoma.

During his August 23 confirmation hearing, Droegemeier indicated his strong support for the U.S. research community by stating, “We need to make sure we are the strongest research center in the world.”

ALF/ELF Extremist Eludes Law Enforcement for 12 Years, Finally Arrested in Oregon

Joseph Dibee was arrested on August 10, 2018 on charges of conspiracy to commit arson relating to activities he engaged in with both the extremist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) between 1996 and 2001. ALF posted details of the case and arrest on their website:

Dibee was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice 12 years ago but may have been hiding in Cuba, where he was arrested. Dibee and others caused an estimated $45 million in damages to horse facilities, timber companies, and a Canadian ski resort. A co-conspirator, Jacob Ferguson, volunteered to become an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and helped authorities identify others working with Dibee.

Rally for Medical Research This Week, September 12 and 13

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is hosting their annual Rally for Medical Research in Washington, DC on September 12 and 13 to call on Congress to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority. The event is also an opportunity for individuals and organizations to showcase why they support medical research and how it positively impacts lives every day. You can read more about the event at the Rally for Medical Research’s Facebook page or web site.

Can’t make it to Washington next week but still want to help? Please print an “I Rally For...” sign, fill it out, and post in on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtags #IRallyFor and #RallyMedRes. If using Twitter, remember to tag NABR (@NABRorg) and our sister organization the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR)(@researchsaves), as well.

Mark your Calendars for NABR’s October Webinar

NABR will be hosting our next webinar, “Advocating for Sound Public Policy: The Challenges and Opportunities for Participating in the Process” on Tuesday, October 9. In this webinar, we will discuss what constitutes sound public policy, how NABR engages in that process, and —most importantly— what NABR members can do to assist.

For example, in the past year, the research community has been afforded opportunities to respond to Requests for Information (RFI) on reducing regulatory burden from the USDA, the NIH, and the FDA. These RFIs have provided the research community an excellent opportunity to advocate for the development and implementation of improved regulations, policies, and guidelines.

On July 25, the Health subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce (E&C) committee held a hearing titled "21st Century Cures Implementation: Updates from FDA and NIH." During that hearing NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins responded to questions concerning the regulatory relief mandate in the 21st Century Cures Act. In this webinar we will discuss how NABR formulates responses to those RFIs and we will review how the research community can participate in these processes, draft their own responses, and engage in the policy process to have a significant impact on the environment in which we all work.

Click here to reserve your spot!

Opinion Piece by FBR, NABR President in Houston Chronicle: Animal Research is Crucial to Pets and their Owners

On August 21, the Houston Chronicle featured an opinion piece by NABR and Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) President Matthew Bailey discussing how pet lovers should be supportive of animal research. Further exemplifying FBR’s Love Animals? Support Animal Research campaign, Bailey’s piece titled, “Animal research is crucial for pets and their owners,” shows directly how researchers are doing everything from helping eradicate cancer to developing new anti-inflammatory drugs, so our pets can live lover, happier, and healthier lives.

“Animal research has already saved, and will continue to save, millions of pets' lives. Without animal research, how many of our cats would be dying prematurely of leukemia? Or how many of our dogs would be unable to run and play because of debilitating arthritic pain,” writes Bailey. Bailey notes how researchers are testing a cancer vaccine with dogs, working on helping cats with failing kidneys, and searching for the first definitive non-invasive diagnostic test for feline infectious peritonitis. Please take a moment to leave a positive comment in support of Bailey’s opinion piece by clicking here.