In 1966, Henry Beecher called attention to common ethical problems associated with human research at the time. His publication, “Ethics and Clinical Research,” in the New England Journal of Medicine, helped lead to major advancements in the area of human clinical research ethics and medicine. Like Beecher was, I am an anesthesiologist. I care deeply about my patients and their potential involvement in research. I’m grateful that we have acceptable moral standards to guide the conduct of human research today. I am also concerned about the suffering of animals. Nonhuman primates are autonomous and intelligent individuals. NIH needs to better examine the ethics of using these sentient beings in research, and problems with their use, as Beecher did for human research fifty years ago. An increasing number of physicians and scientists are calling attention to problems with translating nonhuman primate research to human clinical scenarios. This has major implications for patient care. Viable, more ethical, predictive alternatives exist. NIH should focus on supporting the implementation of these alternatives, and developing other more valid and reliable human-centered research models. For humane, scientific, and medical reasons, NIH needs to move away from using nonhuman primates as non-consenting vulnerable research subject.
Nik Kulkarni, MD