NIH responds to calls for investigation of monkey lab

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has responded to calls from members of Congress to investigate monkey experiments being carried out at a government lab. Four U.S. representatives—prompted by an aggressive ad campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which claimed that baby rhesus macaques at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development lab of Stephen Suomi were being ripped from their mothers at birth and being mentally traumatized—called on NIH to conduct a bioethical review of the lab.

In a letter to the representatives sent late last week, NIH Director Francis Collins said that his agency “takes animal welfare allegations seriously” and that it had recently conducted an investigation into the lab. The review, he wrote, found no major problems with the research, though he did say additional steps would be taken to “further protect and improve animal welfare.”

A day before Collins sent his letter, the American Psychological Association wrote to one of the U.S. representatives—Dina Titus (D–NV)—defending Suomi’s work, stating that the research “has enhanced our understanding of and treatments for mental illnesses such as depression, addiction, and autism.”