November 24, 1997

New York University is committed to the highest standards of both scientific research and animal welfare. As a major research institution, one of our fundamental goals is to advance the frontiers of knowledge. This goal encompasses biomedical and behavioral research that helps us prevent, diagnose, and treat disease — in humans as well as animals. Millions who have suffered from debilitating diseases owe their health and their lives to biomedical research that involves laboratory animals.

Presently, aspects of scientific research important to improving health care and alleviating suffering cannot be fully explored without an animal model. At New York University, we use animals for research only when no other appropriate means are available. We are committed to reducing the number of animals used and replacing animal testing with alternative models whenever possible, and refining our techniques through research and education. Despite these efforts, the use of animals remains an essential component of research. Federal laws and guidelines require that in the conduct of animal research, every effort be made to identify and minimize pain and discomfort, and in fact, most research work with animals is free of discomfort and/or pain.

In the conduct of scientific research that involves animal subjects, New York University, like all other research institutions, is subject to a wide variety of laws, regulations and guidelines of federal, state, and scientific agencies designed to ensure that animals receive high quality care and treatment. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and New York State Department of Health regulations, together require that each institution using animals in its teaching and research activities have a program in place for the humane care and use of laboratory animals. The components of this program include an institutional committee responsible for reviewing the practices and procedures of all proposed activities relating to the use of animals in teaching and research, provisions for training and education in proper animal handling and techniques, an occupational health and safety program, semi-annual evaluations of the program and the facilities, and annual institutional reports of compliance to the NIH and the USDA.

At New York University, we abide by all government regulatory guidelines for the humane care and considerate use of the animals in our charge. Operational responsibility for administering the University’s animal research program to conform to government guidelines is the responsibility of the University’s offices of laboratory animal resources, and their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, as they are called. The committees, which meet regularly, are composed of faculty representatives, a university veterinarian, university administrators, and (nonscientist) members of the local community. The committees are authorized to suspend activity involving animals if they determine that the activity is not being conducted in accordance with the provisions of regulatory guidelines and the institution’s assurance of compliance to regulatory agencies. By the committees’ deliberations, the University recognizes its obligation to safeguard the welfare of laboratory animals and protect the public trust.

New York University facilities to house laboratory animals are maintained and renovated in compliance with the most exacting regulatory and professional standards. Indeed, the construction on the roof of the Main Building at the Washington Square campus has been extensively reviewed and approved by the necessary regulatory agencies. The facility was one of a very small number of projects nationwide whose construction was selected for funding by the National Institutes of Health. As such, the facility’s architectural and engineering plans, as well as the animal care procedures and animal health program, scientific research program, and administrative arrangements, were rigorously reviewed and approved by NIH scientists and engineers. NIH support of the Main Building facility and its associated research enterprise signifies New York University’s compliance with the highest national standards.

Robert Berne, Senior Vice President for Health, New York University

For additional information about the University’s position on the use of laboratory animals in research, see the Statement to the University Community On the Importance of Animal Research, December 15, 1997, and the Statement to the University Community on Academic Freedom and Recent Events Regarding Animal Research, November 17, 1997.

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John Beckman
John Beckman
(212) 998-6848