Chimpanzees in Research
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are the only great ape species used in biomedical research today -- in addition to humans. Over the past decade, the National Institutes of Health has sponsored only 110 studies involving chimpanzees. Hepatitis research was the focus of nearly half of those studies, while remaining studies focused on monoclonal antibodies, infectious diseases, comparative genomics, neuroscience, and behavioral research. Historically, chimpanzees have also been used in HIV/AIDS, cancer, and aging research, and other areas as well. In 2011, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the necessity of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research in the U.S. after receiving a written request from three Senators on the matter. In December 2011, the Committee on the Use of Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research released a report indicating that the scientific necessity of chimpanzee research is very limited. The Director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, immediately accepted the report and indicated that a committee would be put together to decide on how to implement the IOM report. Importantly, he noted that no new grants for research using chimpanzees will be awarded at this time, and that current research protocols involving chimpanzees would be reevaluated based on the findings of the report, and estimated that approximately 50% of the existing protocols using chimpanzees may not be reapproved and will be phased out.