The National Institutes of Health plans to significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees used in biomedical research. The NIH will also retire most of the chimpanzees it currently owns or supports through research.
NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. accepted most of the recommendations made by an independent advisory council for setting criteria for the use of chimpanzees in research.
The use of animals in biomedical and behavioral research has helped scientists discover new ways to treat disease and improve or extend human life. As our closest relatives, chimpanzees give researchers exceptional insights into human biology.
"Americans have benefited greatly from the chimpanzees' service to biomedical research, but new scientific methods and technologies have rendered their use in research largely unnecessary," said Dr. Collins. "Their likeness to humans has made them uniquely valuable for certain types of research, but also demands greater justification for their use. After extensive consideration with the expert guidance of many, I am confident that greatly reducing their use in biomedical research is scientifically sound and the right thing to do."
NIH plans to retain, but not breed, up to 50 chimpanzees for future biomedical research. The chimpanzees that will remain available for research will be selected based on research projects that meet the Institute of Medicine's principles and criteria for NIH funding.
The chimpanzees designated for retirement could eventually join more than 150 other chimpanzees already in the Federal Sanctuary System.