As was noted in the “NIH-Wide Strategic Plan,” there is a need for powerful, human-relevant innovations to replace animal models, which “often fail to provide good ways to mimic disease or predict how drugs will work in humans.” To this end, a robust system for training young investigators in non-animal research methodologies is critical. It is heartening to see that the NIH is making strides in moving away from animal models toward more reliable methods. Investments should also be made at the level of individual institutions that receive NIH support. NIH’s workshop on primate research should include discussions on how limited resources might be shifted away from the use of primates and toward training a new generation of researchers in non-animal methods, establishing laboratories and centers of excellence with expertise in non-animal methods, and growing a culture where using nonhuman primates is not viewed as a “default” approach in attempting to address human health problems.
-Lori Marino, Ph.D. Founder and Director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, Inc.