Federal, private, and internal funding sources rigorously evaluate scientific proposals that include animal research for both scientific merit and responsible research.
For instance, the National Institutes of Health — the largest funder of biomedical research in the United States — invested $224 million in University of Utah-led research in Fiscal Year 2021. NIH-supported research ranges from developing better heart pacemakers to testing novel therapies for a debilitating lung condition in premature babies. All NIH proposals involving animal research require:
- Description of animals to be used, such as number included in the study, species, strain, ages, and gender;
- Justification for animal use, the number included in the study, and choice of species;
- Explanation of why research goals cannot be met using an alternative model rather than vertebrate animals;
- Description of procedures;
- Description of veterinary care, including veterinary staff availability, schedule of animal monitoring, and indicators for veterinary intervention to alleviate discomfort, distress, or pain;
- Detailed list of procedures for minimizing discomfort, distress, pain, and injury in animals; and
- Rationale for and justification of methods of euthanasia.
The University of Utah Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must review and approve proposals before scientists can perform research with animals. Throughout the duration of the research, investigators must abide by federal, state, and institutional guidelines in order to continue their research and maintain funding.
Transformative medical science is dependent upon many avenues of study, including responsible research with laboratory animals that is enabling rapid development of new life-saving drugs and therapies.