May 29, 2015
Harvard Medical School Closes Primate Research Center
The Harvard Medical School’s New England Primate Research Center is scheduled to close on May 31. The university announced the decision to close the center two years ago, citing funding issues and a shift in priorities. Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues at The Humane Society of the United States is issuing the following statement:
“We are pleased to see Harvard University divest itself of its primate center. We applaud its support and investment in the development of innovative research that doesn’t involve harming animals, such as the on-a-chip work at the Wyss Institute. These organs-on-chips are microchips lined by human cells that could revolutionize drug testing and development. Such research will ultimately be more effective, less costly and is where the future lies. We hope other institutions will follow suit. The replacement of primates in research should be an urgent priority, and there should be a critical analysis of the use of primates in the U.S., as was done for chimpanzees.”
In the meantime, improvements must be made to the living conditions for primates used in research at other facilities. In April, The HSUS submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging improved conditions for primates in laboratories and other regulated facilities.
In 2013, when Harvard announced the primate center closure, the facility housed approximately 2,000 monkeys. The center was previously cited for numerous Animal Welfare Act violations since June 2010 that resulted in the death of four primates and compromised the welfare of numerous other animals. The string of violations led the USDA to open an investigation. With the closure of Harvard’s primate center, there are seven National Primate Research Centers supported by the National Institutes of Health.
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