Hastings and Buchanan Lead Effort to Establish the National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing Under NIH

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Washington, D.C., October 20, 2020 | comments

(Washington, D.C.) – Representatives Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced a bipartisan bill, the Humane Research and Testing Act of 2020, to establish the National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing (Center) under the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Center will be dedicated to increasing transparency and understanding regarding the use of animals in medical research and testing to ultimately reduce the number of animals utilized in such practices. The bill would allow the NIH to develop, fund, and execute a plan to record an accurate account of animals used in testing and research and to incentivize the use of non-animal methods by educating and training scientists to utilize alternative “human relevant” methods.  Joining Hastings and Buchanan as original co-sponsors include: Representatives Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ). (Please find a copy of the legislation attached):

“As science and medicine advance, we have a better understanding of the relevancy and benefits of animal-based medical research and testing on human health outcomes. We are finding methods that can better predict human results without the needless suffering of animals,” said Hastings. “This legislation will not just reduce animal testing and research but, will ultimately improve medical treatments for humans as they are developed from beginning to end primarily with test subjects that replicate human biology and physiology.”

“I’m excited to team up once again with my Florida delegation co-chair Rep. Alcee Hastings to introduce this important legislation,” Buchanan said. “We need to create better, quicker and less expensive treatments for people that don’t rely on inhumane testing procedures. Establishing a National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing will help advance these goals while also avoiding subjecting animals to cruel and unnecessary experiments.”

“Science has advanced considerably in the 21st century so that research can be performed using non-animal methods that are more relevant to human medicine. CAARE thanks Representatives Hastings and Buchanan for introducing this landmark legislation that has great promise to change the current paradigm of routine use of laboratory animals in the face of available alternatives,” said Barbara Stagno, President and Executive Director, CAARE. “The Humane Research and Testing Act of 2020 will give real impetus to this essential goal of reducing animals by establishing a dedicated center to fund and train scientists in cutting-edge methods that are superior to using animals.”

“Vanda Pharmaceuticals is pleased to sponsor this proposed legislation that will reduce the unnecessary use of animals by incentivizing research for human-relevant science,” states Mihael H. Polymeropoulos, M.D., President & CEO, Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. “Dependence on regulatory animal testing must be modernized to reflect the current state of science and technology.” 

“We are reaching a tipping point in the field of in vitro human emulation technologies where they are able to recapitulate human physiology and disease states, as well as response to drugs, radiation, and toxins.  The ability of these approaches to predict human clinical results compared with animal experiments needs to be evaluated in an objective manner to determine best practices,” states Dr. Donald Ingber, MD, PhD, Chaired Professor at Harvard’s Medical and Engineering Schools and Founding Director of its Wyss Institute.  “A new NIH Center focused on meeting this goal would benefit this field, save animal lives, and expedite the development of more effective and safer therapies.”

“Much animal research takes place because scientists don’t have the knowledge or support to pursue other methods. The new NIH center proposed by Representatives Hastings and Buchanan would overhaul the current paradigm of widespread, repetitive, and unnecessary animal experiments in a way that nothing has before,” said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace.


Under the oversight established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-43), the NIH is directed to outline a plan for reducing the use of animals in research. The law calls for NIH to “conduct or support research into methods of biomedical research and experimentation that do not require the use of animals,” as well as for “reducing the number of animals used in research.”  Unfortunately, little progress has been made since the passage of this law, and animals continue to be used extensively despite new and improved methods for conducting research and testing, along with increasing evidence that animal results often fail to produce effective data for human medicine. Further compounding the problem of reducing the number of animals used in research, we do not know the precise number of animals used by researchers and scientists, leaving us without a starting point with which our progress can be measured. This bipartisan bill will establish the National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing (Center) under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), focused on developing, promoting and funding human-relevant, non-animal methods of research and testing. It will provide funding to incentivize non-animal methods of research, educate and train scientists to utilize these methods, and establish research collaborations to mitigate a lack of resources. Additionally, this bill mandates federally funded researchers to report to the Center how many animals they use to ensure this vital data is collected and compiled, thereby enabling the NIH to outline a plan for reducing those numbers annually.

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.


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