The Oregon National Primate Research Center, as one of the NIH-supported National Primate Research Centers, has both external and internal oversight to assure the dual necessity for the highest quality ethical care for animals and the most outstanding scientific research. The Center maintains accreditation and is subject to continuous oversight from federal and non-federal organizations that regulate how and where animal research is performed. We are proud that we have maintained a clean bill of health and accreditation for the last 33 years.
"OHSU's primate center has an outstanding record of animal care," explained Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., vice-president of research. "Twice a year the federal government conducts unannounced inspections. These inspections repeatedly demonstrate the hard work and dedication of our animal care staff. Our employees truly care about these animals and the records show this year after year."
Because nonhuman primates are highly regulated in the United States, any experiment that a scientist proposes to conduct with monkeys must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at the Institution where the scientist works before the research can be begun. There are five key elements to this approval process.
- The scientist must describe in detail the specific procedures that he or she plans to use on the animals, such as any behavioral testing, surgical procedures, or experimental substances like drugs or vaccines that the animals might receive.
- There must be an explanation of whether any of the procedures are likely to cause an animal pain or distress, and if so, details must be presented describing all steps the scientist will take to minimize or eliminate pain or distress.
- The scientist must provide a justification for why the proposed research must be conducted with monkeys rather than some other animal; whether there are any alternative ways that the scientist can find the answer to his or her question (for example, by studying cells rather than whole monkeys); and why the scientist needs to study the specific number of animals that he or she is proposing to study in the research.
- In addition, the scientist must indicate that the proposed research does not unnecessarily duplicate research that has already been conducted, and must describe the sources he or she used to determine that the study has not already been done.
- Finally, the scientist must list all personnel who will be involved in the project, and must be able to document the training that those individuals have had with respect to the procedures to be employed and the animals to be used.
All of the research at the Center, whether an animal study or a basic laboratory study, must be peer-reviewed for scientific justification. Once a year, our external Scientific Advisory Board visits the center and reviews all of the research in detail, providing oral and written external critique for each of the scientists. The Center, in collaboration with its host institution the Oregon Health & Science University, maintains internal committees that must approve studies before they commence. These committees assure that the research is conducted in a manner consistent with all regulations for biohazards (including radiation), safety, and fair access to resources, including animal resources. These committees are all appointed by the Director in consultation with the Associate Directors and Heads of the Research Divisions.