Members of Congress Weigh in on Open Access and Animal Models

Last month, amidst continuing negotiations on the fiscal year 2022 budget and heightened attention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Members of Congress sent letters to federal colleagues on issues of importance to members of FABBS societies.

Open Science

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to Dr. Alondra Nelson, Acting Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), encouraging the agency to update the existing government-wide public access policy for federally funded research with attention to “equity, sustainability, and strategic technological development.” The Senators pointed to ways that the COVID pandemic has demonstrated the value of open access. In March 2020, an international coalition asked publishers to make all coronavirus-related research, articles, and data immediately open to the public. Scientists, physicians, health care workers, and the public accessed the resulting database many millions of times.

Open access to academic journals has been an ongoing and complicated conversation. One the one hand, scientists and scientific societies actively support the principles of open science, particularly when it comes to federally funded research. On the other hand, many scientific societies rely on the revenue from current models to support critical activities including programs for early career scholars and students, offset costs of annual conferences, and invest in professional development. FABBS is currently engaged in three efforts to support elements of open science:

Animal Models

In the House of Representatives, eight Members sent a letter to Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Lawrence Tabak, opposing the use of animal models. FABBS, in our role on the advocacy committee for the American Brain Coalition, is working to educate these legislative offices about the importance of the ethical use of animal models to advance behavioral and brain sciences. One area of misunderstanding is the existence of adequate substitutions for working with animal models.

The ABC supports:

  • The continuation of research with animal models, including non-human primates,
  • Existing laws and regulations that ensure the humane treatment and safety of animals used in research
  • Implementation of the Animal in Enterprise Terrorism Act, which was established to protect animal research, animal researchers, and their families

Visit the ABC’s Animals in Research Resource page for additional information and resources.