KIE Hosts Discussion on Ethics of Chimpanzee Research

A perennial challenge in research ethics is assessing what sorts of protections non-human animals are due when we use them as research subjects—or even if we should use them at all. The Kennedy Institute hosted the first of a series of meetings on animal research ethics on October 11 and 12, 2011, for a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The focus of the meeting, as suggested by its title, “Understanding Harms and Their Risks in Animal Research: The Case of Chimpanzees,” was to consider the harms associated with the effects of research on chimpanzees. The meeting was a strong first step in openly and carefully considering the most current science and the ethical implications of the use of animals in research.

The project (which is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation) is a multidisciplinary collaborative effort by KIE Senior Research Scholar Tom Beauchamp, Ph.D., KIE Faculty Affiliate John Gluck, Ph.D., Katalin Roth, J.D., M.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., and Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., (George Washington University). The project aims to reevaluate our existing laws and practices and our ethical standards in light of the most recent scientific evidence. While there currently are rigorous standards to protect individual human subjects as a result of the Belmont Report and other national and international efforts, there are no similar uniform standards to protect individual animal subjects. Animals used in research are kept in captivity, subjected to noninvasive and invasive procedures, some are exposed to diseases and toxins, and, after serving their human purpose, are often put down and discarded. Time has come to reconsider our ethical responsibilities to these animals.

The remaining participants included:

  • Martin Brüne, M.D., L.W.L. University-Hospital, Ruhr-University of Bochum (via Skype)
  • Chong Un Choe, J.D., Ph.D. candidate, KIE Fellow, Georgetown University
  • David DeGrazia, Ph.D., George Washington University
  • Lori Gruen, Ph.D., Wesleyan University
  • Jim Mahoney, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Frank Miller, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health
  • Stephen Ross, Ph.D., Lester Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes and the Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Andrew Rowan, Ph.D., Humane Society of the United States
  • Dave Wendler, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health
  • Victoria Wobber, Ph.D. candidate, Harvard University