Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research:
Assessing the Necessity
For many years, experiments using chimpanzees have been instrumental in advancing scientific knowledge and have led to new medicines to prevent life-threatening and debilitating diseases. However, recent advances in alternate research tools have rendered chimpanzees largely unnecessary as research subjects.
The National Academies' Institute of Medicine, in collaboration with the National Research Council's Board on Health Sciences Policy (HSP), conducted an in-depth analysis of the scientific necessity for chimpanzees in National Institutes of Health-funded biomedical and behavioral research. The Board's committee has concluded that while the chimpanzee has been a valuable animal model in the past, most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary, though noted that that it is impossible to predict whether research on emerging or new diseases may necessitate chimpanzees in the future.
The HSP works to ensure that adequate attention is paid to the science base underlying health and health care. In particular, the Board is concerned with both public and private policies and with institutional affairs that shape health sciences research and facilitate the application of new knowledge. In conducting these activities, consideration is given to the ethical, legal, and social contexts of scientific and technologic advances, and to the balance between scientific opportunities and public needs.
HSP provides findings and recommendations that are used by government agencies and public organizations alike. Its work helps guide medical and scientific research and helps to identify priorities for the nation. Among the areas of emphasis are: biomedical and clinical research, human subject protections, medical and public health preparedness, neuroscience, genomics, and drug discovery, development, and translation.