Big Milestones in the Race for President Just Weeks Away

This year is an important election year as Americans will go to the polls in November to elect the nation's 45th President. The race will start with a fever pitch in 2016 with two key contests: the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus.

The Iowa caucus is scheduled for Monday, February 1 and the New Hampshire primary is slated for the following week on Tuesday, February 9. "Super Tuesday," a day of 14 primaries and caucuses, is a few weeks later on March 1. Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia will hold contests on Super Tuesday.

The results of these dates will be important in deciding the candidates for each party so please be sure to go to the polls or caucus to make your voice heard.

For the most up-to-date election results please check your inbox for the NABR Update or check your favorite local or national media outlet.

Congress Needs to Hear from You!

Congress returns from its holiday recess today to begin the last half of its session.  As they get back to work, it is important that your Congressman hear from constituents that support H.R. 3136, the Enforcement Transparency Act (ETA).  Congressional support for H.R. 3136 is building and hearing from supporters like you will help ignite further interest in the bill.

NABR's Capwiz system makes it quick and easy to send a pre-written (but editable) message of support to your Congressman.    Please take a moment to urge your Congressman to cosponsor and support H.R. 3136!

H.R. 3136 would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release the guidelines used by Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the formulation of any civil penalties for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  This common-sense, bipartisan bill will provide the research community and the public a much greater understanding of how penalties are calculated for enforcement actions by USDA.  Currently, USDA subjectively determines AWA penalties on a case-by-case basis, and the results are unpredictable and inconsistent. These guidelines were once publicly available, but in recent years USDA has chosen to deny the research community and Members of Congress access to them. The last available AWA penalty guidelines, which are still posted on USDA's website (see page 44), have been revised five times and are now outdated. To read NABR's talking points on the ETA, please click here.

This right to know is the soul of open, transparent government, especially when the issuance of financial penalties could impact American competitiveness. If the general public can have knowledge of other penalties like littering, jaywalking, or speeding, the same should apply to laws enforced by USDA.

Again, please contact your Congressman TODAY and urge him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 3136.  Click here to use NABR's Capwiz system to send an email directly to their offices and please encourage your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.

Pro-Animal Research Op-Ed Featured Today in The Hill

Just this morning, the Capitol Hill newspaper and news site The Hill featured an op-ed discussing the critical importance of humane animal research in neuroscience and other fields of research.  The piece was penned by Hollis Cline, President of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) and Hahn Professor of Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute, and Mar Sanchez.  Sanchez is associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University, affiliate scientist in the Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience at Yerkes National Research Primate Center, and chair of the SfN’s Committee on Animals in Research (CAR).

Cline and Sanchez set the record straight by discussing the influential role that animal research has played in studying how the brain works so that revolutionary advancements could be brought to fruition.  Breakthroughs in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, the development of brain-controlled prosthetic devices for lost limbs and life-improving medications for those suffering from schizophrenia all owe their success to research with animals.  The authors even go further by noting that animal models have been the basis for nearly every medical discovery in the past century and cite NABR’s Top 25 Most Prescribed Drugs.

Animal research is an undeniably important component to medical discovery as Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), noted at the 2015 SfN Annual Meeting when he said, “We have to continually make the case for how valuable it has been to study animals in order to learn almost everything we know about how biology works.” He continued on to affirm the importance of non-human primates and other animals.

Today’s feature in The Hill follows a letter sent to Collins from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and 27 other Democrats calling for the retirement of primates from a Poolesville, MD NIH research facility.

To read today’s piece in The Hill, please click here.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Nomination Hearing for FDA Commissioner

Yesterday, November 17, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to consider Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination by the President to serve as the new commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Dr. Califf will replace Dr. Stephen Ostroff who has served as acting commissioner since Dr. Margaret Hamburg stepped down in March of this year.

During the hearing, most of the Senators praised Dr. Califf but he did receive tough questioning from Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) regarding his connection with the pharmaceutical industry and the cost of prescription drugs.  Senator Sanders said he would vote against Dr. Califf’s nomination.  The nomination of Dr. Califf, a cardiologist and clinical trial expert from Duke University, is supported by medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.  A date for a vote confirming Dr. Califf has not been scheduled.

A recording of the committee hearing and Dr. Califf’s testimony can be viewed by clicking here.  To read more about yesterday’s hearing, please see the New York Times’ coverage here.

Tuesday, November 3 is Election Day!

Next Tuesday, November 3 is Election Day in several parts of the country.

Gubernatorial seats in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi will be up for grabs as well as several other statewide executive positions.  Elections for seats in state legislatures will also be happening in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia.  A number of large cities will also be holding mayoral elections and other positions and ballot measures will be up for a vote in various locations.

If you live in any of these areas, don’t forget to head to the polls to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 3!

Over 60 Institutions Sign Letter to Congress Supporting H.R. 3136

Today, NABR delivered a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives announcing support for H.R. 3136.  This letter, signed by over 60 universities, scientific societies, associations, and companies, urges immediate passage of this important transparency improving legislation.

The Enforcement Transparency Act (H.R. 3136) would require the USDA to release the guidelines used by Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in the formulation of any civil penalties for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

This common-sense, bipartisan bill will provide the research community and the public a much greater understanding of how penalties are calculated for enforcement actions by USDA.  Currently, USDA subjectively determines AWA penalties on a case-by-case basis, and the results are unpredictable and inconsistent. These guidelines were once publicly available, but in recent years USDA has chosen to deny the research community and Members of Congress access to them. The last available AWA penalty guidelines are now outdated.

To read NABR's talking points on the ETA, please click here.

Please contact your Congressman TODAY and urge him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 3136.  Click here to use NABR's Capwiz system to send an email directly to their offices and please encourage your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.

Michael Lauer to Serve as NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research

Michael S. Lauer, MD, is to be the new NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, replacing Sally Rockey, PhD. He is expected to assume this new position in the coming weeks.

From 2009 to the present, Lauer served as Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), where he began his career at NIH in 2007. He was most recently named the NIH Co-Chair for the President's Precision Medicine Initiative. Dr. Lauer has been actively involved and a strong advocate of human subjects protection. He is also very familiar with animal research issues given the reliance on animal models of many NHLBI-supported programs. As NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, the Office of Laboratory Animal Research (OLAW) will report to him.

For more background, please see the complete appointment announcement here.

U.S. Captive Chimpanzees Designation as Endangered Species Is Now in Effect

As of September 14, all chimpanzees are listed as endangered under U.S. law, both wild and captive, as the result of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decision earlier this year. With the new designation, it is illegal to sell chimpanzees in the interstate pet trade or to engage in commercial transport of the animals across state lines. Permits are now required for anyone wishing to conduct biomedical research involving captive chimpanzees, and will only be issued by FWS if it will benefit the survival of the species.

The effective date of the FWS action was welcomed by Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) CEO Wayne Pacelle in several blog messages (see here and here). It was also celebrated online by other animal activists. “It's so good to hear that unnecessary biomedical research on chimpanzees is coming to an end . . .” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) said on her Facebook page September 8 along with a picture of chimpanzees.

Meanwhile, there has been broad news coverage about the race to find an Ebola vaccine in order to save wild Great Apes, including chimpanzees, whose numbers are being decimated by the disease in Africa. The testing of vaccines in chimpanzees at the New Iberia Primate Research Center in Louisiana, and the question of whether that work would continue after September 14, was raised in a National Public Television Newshour segment. That question is still unanswered. The Atlantic Magazine raises more questions about how harmful the new restrictions on biomedical research with chimpanzees may be to wild populations in the story “Should Apes Be Saved from Ebola?