JGI Hails Paradigm Shift in Chimpanzee Research―Calls for Transparency

After reviewing a report released last week by a committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which had been tasked by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to analyze the necessity of using chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) welcomed the committee’s conclusions and recommendations, noting that they represent a paradigm shift in how the United States approaches the use of one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom in invasive medical research.


“I am delighted by the IOM Committee’s conclusion that most current use of chimpanzees in biomedical research is unnecessary and that the NIH has agreed to adopt the Committee’s recommendations,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Institute and UN Messenger of Peace.  “I am especially pleased that this group of eminent scientists recognized the importance of ethical concerns in the debate.  This is a big step in the right direction and one that we hope will lead to the end of all invasive research using chimpanzees.”


The Committee stated that the genetic proximity of chimpanzees to humans “… demands a greater justification for conducting research using this animal model.” 


Based on these findings, the IOM Committee on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research recommended that use of chimpanzees be limited to situations where “[t]here is no other suitable model available,” turning on its head the longstanding assumption that chimpanzee research is appropriate in the first instance.


Dr. Goodall and the Institute call for NIH to develop a strong administrative process for implementing the new criteria, and, in particular, to make that process transparent so that the public can be certain the criteria are being applied in a fair and ethical manner.  In addition, Dr. Goodall and JGI strongly urge NIH to require much better conditions in those few situations where scientists can actually meet the new criteria for research on chimpanzees.


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