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Animals in NIH Research

NIH supports biomedical research to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Because of NIH research, Americans and many others around the world are living longer and healthier Link to External Site lives.

Biomedical and behavioral research can involve working with cells in test tubes, computer modeling, laboratory animals, and clinical studies with people. Each kind of research plays a critical role in advancing our knowledge of health and disease. What we have learned from research with laboratory animals (also referred to as “animal models”) has provided the foundation for many safe and effective life-saving treatments for diseases and conditions affecting human health.

Laws, regulations, and policies dictate the requirements that protect animals used in federally funded research. These protections require  consideration of non-animal alternatives to meet the scientific objectives. They  ensure that the fewest numbers needed for thorough and repeatable results are chosen. They also outline standards that reflect the greatest commitment to animal care.

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NIH's Commitment

NIH is committed to supporting ethically conducted, high quality research, which is guided by principles, regulations, and laws. Ensuring that animals receive the best possible care and treatment within the context of research is critical to achieving rigorous, reliable, and scientifically valid results.

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Why Animals are Used in Research

Learn about the unique and important roles of animals in biomedical and behavioral research, and how and why they are selected.

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How Animals Have Helped Improve Public Health

Learn about how NIH-supported research using animals has contributed to important biomedical advances, including improving our knowledge, health, and society.

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Why Properly Designed Experiments are Critical to Animal Research and Advancing Public Health

Learn about NIH’s efforts to ensure that the research it supports involving animals is of the highest quality, rigorous, scientifically valid, and reproducible.

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Ensuring the Care of Research Animals

Learn about the laws, regulations, and policies that ensure the greatest commitment to the humane care and use of animals in NIH-supported research.

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Adoption of Laboratory Animals after Research

Learn about steps research institutions can take to develop post-research animal adoption programs.

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When Are Alternatives to Animals Used in Research

Learn about when it is possible and scientifically appropriate to conduct research that uses non-animal alternative methods. Research is being developed to advance the use of new and known alternatives to animals in research.