“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.

AVMA, APS, American Legion Support Animal Research, Oppose Ending VA Dog Studies

Three additional national organizations have written to Congress to express their concerns with efforts that would effectively eliminate important research with dogs at the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Physiological Society (APS), and the American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ organization with 2.3 million members, now join the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Friends of VA (FOVA) in announcing their opposition.

The first of those efforts, H.R. 3197, introduced in July by Representatives Dave Brat (R-VA) and Dina Titus (D-NV), could have serious implications for veterans because research with dogs has led to life-saving and life-improving treatments for veterans suffering from spinal cord injuries, heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and other diseases experienced through military service. Rep. Brat also introduced similar language in an amendment to the homeland security “minibus” which was passed by the full House last month.

“Dogs are used in vital research that will help improve the lives of our veterans by finding treatments for diseases and conditions affecting the veteran community, including studies on cardiology, diabetes and spinal cord injuries,” writes the AVMA. “The American Legion recognizes the irreplaceable value this research provides for our veterans and appreciate the sacrifice these animals make in the name of science that humans and service animals, as well as duty K-9s, benefit greatly from,” echos the American Legion.

The letter sent by AVMA can be seen by clicking here. APS' letter is available here. The American Legion’s letter is viewable here.

Friends of VA Publicly Opposes Defunding VA Dog Studies

On Friday, Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) sent a letter to Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations, opposing an amendment passed in the homeland security minibus that would prohibit funding at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for certain studies involving dogs.

FOVA is a coalition of more than 80 national academic, medical, and scientific societies, voluntary health and patient advocacy groups, and veteran service organizations dedicated to providing veterans with high-quality care. FOVA believes “The policy included in the appropriations bill will impede scientific research and unnecessarily delay research advances for our nation’s veterans.”

The amendment to the minibus was introduced by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) and passed by the House of Representatives in July. It contains similar language as House standalone bill H.R. 3197, the PUPPERS Act, which would prevent Class D and E studies from being performed at the VA, a move that could set the precedent for a prohibition against the use of dogs in all biomedical research. The legislation is troubling, as it could represent the first time Congress has prohibited the use of an animal species in scientific/medical studies, and it could lead to future laws that target additional species of research animals. The studies performed by the VA involving dogs are critically important in the search for treatments for diseases that impact the veterans’ community and civilians, and are strictly regulated.

As mentioned above, there are two pieces of House legislation that, if signed into law, would limit the use of dogs at the VA. The first piece of legislation is Brat's amendment to the homeland security minibus, a spending bill that would need to be reauthorized each year. The second piece of legislation is a standalone bill that would serve as a more permanent prohibition of certain dog studies at the VA. Although the House amendment to the homeland security minibus was passed in July, the House standalone bill has not yet been considered by the Veterans' Affairs Committee. A Senate standalone companion bill has not been introduced either. Congress is currently in recess until after Labor Day.

Stars and Stripes, a publication widely read by the military community, published a story yesterday about FOVA’s letter. The publication touts a readership of more than one million per day, including “active-duty service members, DoD civilians, contractors, and their families.”

To read FOVA’s letter, please click here. We encourage you to share the letter as well as the Stars and Stripes’ article on your social media pages to help educate the public and policy makers about this harmful legislation.

USDA Asks for Input on AWA Licensing Requirements

This morning the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Federal Register an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and request for public comments regarding procedures for applying for licenses and renewals at the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The notice in the Federal Register states, “We are soliciting public comment on potential revisions to the licensing requirements under our Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations to promote compliance with the Act, reduce licensing fees, and strengthen existing safeguards that prevent any individual whose license has been suspended or revoked, or who has a history of noncompliance, from obtaining a license or working with regulated animals. We are soliciting public comment on these topics to help us consider ways to reduce regulatory burden and more efficiently ensure the sustained compliance of licensees with the Act.”

The notice outlines several changes regarding licensing requirements that are under consideration by the USDA, such as eliminating license application fees and annual license fees, requiring applicants to disclose animal cruelty violations, and specifying procedures so licensees have time to apply for licenses.

The USDA invites the public to provide data and information regarding potential economic effects, alternatives to reduce regulatory burden, and suggestions to ensure the compliance of licensees with the AWA.

Additionally, the USDA’s notice calls for comments on four questions, which are excerpted below in full:

  1. Should we propose to establish a firm expiration date for licenses (such as 3-5 years) and if so, what should that date be and why? Please provide supporting data.
  2. What fees would be reasonable to assess for licenses issued? Are the existing license fees (9 CFR 2.6) reasonable, or should they be adjusted to take additional factors into consideration, such as the type of animals used in regulated activities? Please provide data in support of any proposed adjustments to the license fees.
  3. In addition to the existing prohibitions on any person whose license has been suspended or revoked from buying, selling, transporting, exhibiting, or delivering for transportation animals during the period of suspension or revocation (9 CFR 2.10(c)), should such persons be prohibited from engaging in other activities involving animals regulated under the AWA, such as working for other AWA-regulated entities or using other individual names or business entities to apply for a license? Please suggest specific activities that should be covered and provide supporting data and information.
  4. Do you have any other specific concerns or recommendations for reducing regulatory burdens involving the licensing process or otherwise improving the licensing requirements under the AWA?

The announcement of this notice coincides with the 51st anniversary of the AWA. Public comments may be submitted online or in writing through October 23, 2017. Comments will be available for public viewing after submission. NABR plans to submit comments and we encourage your institution to do so as well.