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: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/22/animal-rights-extremists-should-not-be-dictating-a/.

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: http://www.nabr.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Instructions-for-Access-DOT-docket.docx. 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
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
Camarney S.L.U.
Cardiovascular Research Institute-UCSF Zebrafish Shared Facility
Carolina Center for Neurostimulation
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Charles River Laboratories
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
Envigo
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
GIRCOR
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
Institutional Officials Consortium
International Mammalian Genome Society
International Society for Stem Cell Research
The Jackson Laboratory
JMC Welfare International Ltd.
Johns Hopkins University
International Society for Transgenic Technologies
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
Research4life
RxGen
Scripps Research (individual)
Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada/McGill University (individual)
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
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 Hawaii System
University of Houston Division of Research
University of Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Iowa
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 (individual)
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: https://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=25&so=DESC&sb=commentDueDate&po=0&D=DOT-OST-2018-0124 

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 Alludes 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: https://animalliberationpressoffice.org/NAALPO/2018/08/20/joseph-dibee-arrested-in-oregon/.

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.

President Trump’s Nominee for Science Advisor Committed to Science Over Politics

Nature reported on August 23 that President Donald Trump’s nominee for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Meteorologist Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, said that science should be conducted without political influence or interference.

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 the current Secretary of Science and Technology for Oklahoma.

During his August 23 Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing, Droegemeier stated, “Science never provides immutable evidence about anything. I think science is the loser when we tend to vilify and marginalize other voices. We need to have everyone at the table.” The quote was from a segment where Droegemeier was questioned about climate change, though his attitudes towards science trumping politics is important and interesting to note especially since it is regarding an equally controversial research topic.

Droegemeier also emphasized the need to be competitive in research regarding China, telling the Committee, “We need to make sure we are the strongest research center in the world.” This is an interesting point since The Scientist reported on August 21 that primate research is dropping in the west while China is positioning itself to be a global leader in that sphere.

The Committee is set to vote on August 29 on whether to advance Droegemeier’s nomination to the full Senate.

DC Circuit Court Affirms Denial of Primate Import Data to PETA

A unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the denial of primate importation data to PETA.  PETA requested primate importation data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2014.  In response to PETA’s FOIA request, the CDC notified ten affected importers, seven of which objected to the disclosure of the information to PETA. The CDC ultimately withheld information about the number of nonhuman primates in each shipment, the size of their crates, and the airline carrier used under Exemption 4 of the FOIA. FOIA Exemption 4 protects from disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.”

The CDC argued that disclosing the information to PETA would harm the importers, as information about the number of primates imported, the size of the crates and the airline carrier used is maintained by the importers as confidential and the release may result in competitive harm, including disruption of supply routes.

As NABR members know, animal rights organizations, including PETA have long targeted airlines, in an attempt to pressure them into refusing to ship nonhuman primates for research.  The Court of Appeals recognized the risks associated with shipment noting that “knowing in the abstract which airlines transport nonhuman primates is very different than knowing which importers have relationships with which airline carriers, and which airline carriers are willing to transport which species of nonhuman primate along which routes and from which countries.”

The D.C. Circuit Court upheld CDC’s denial of the information to PETA and the Court of Appeals has now also affirmed that decision.

This case highlights the importance of understanding the FOIA and its impact on research.  NABR encourages all members to ensure they have a reviewed the FOIA Guide, Responding to FOIA Requests: Facts and Resources, which was jointly produced by NABR, FASEB and SfN.

Research!America Offers Novel Civil Engagement Initiative

Research!America has rolled out a novel bipartisan civic engagement initiative that is providing $1,000-$3,000 grants to student science policy groups. The goal is to better engage the next generation of scientists in the public policy process and impressing upon policymakers the importance of science in the 2018 midterm elections. The grants can be used for “lab tours, roundtable discussions, and policy briefings with candidates; host community science events and Pub Nights; support social media engagement including Twitter chats; conduct media outreach; and organize webinars highlighting the benefits of federally funded research.”

This initiative is born from the necessity to get researchers, particularly young researchers, involved in the public policy process to protect and promote their work. Lawmakers take input from the scientific community seriously, however researchers are often reluctant to engage in the policy process and share their work. Research!America’s civic engagement initiative is a creative way to incentivize communication with legislators that the research community needs.

WaPo Covers Animal Personhood Case in Oregon

The Washington Post reported on a lawsuit in Oregon that could have ramifications for the animal personhood movement, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). A horse, formerly named Shadow, now re-named Justice, was found to be severely underweight and ill at a veterinarian exam last year. Its previous owner pled guilty to criminal neglect last summer.

Now, the ALDF has filed a lawsuit against the former owner, in the horse’s name. The lawsuit is claiming negligence and is seeking $100,000 in damages for pain and suffering. Animal personhood could have sweeping and disastrous effects on biomedical research, agriculture, and pet ownership.

There have been numerous previous attempts to obtain legal personhood for nonhuman primates (NHPs), and more recently, elephants. The elephant personhood lawsuit in Connecticut has so far been a failure for animal rights activists, though the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is seeking a review of the Superior Court Decision. Many readers will remember the infamous “monkey selfie” case, brought by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which ultimately failed to grant copywrite rights to nonhumans.

Matthew Liebman, Director of Litigation at ALDF, told WaPo that he hoped this case would be different: “There have been a lot of efforts to try to get animals not only to be protected but to have the right to go to court when their rights are violated. Those haven’t found the right key to the courthouse door. And we’re hopeful that this is the key.”

However, animal law experts, like Richard L. Cupp, a Pepperdine University law professor, have argued that these types of personhood lawsuits are extreme and dangerous. If any animal protected under Oregon’s anti-cruelty law can have a lawsuit filed on their behalf, animal litigation could overwhelm the courts. Cupp expounds on the point, “Once you say a horse or dog or cat can personally sue over being abused, it’s not too big a jump to say, ‘Well, we’re kind of establishing that they’re legal persons with that.’”