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Why Properly Designed Experiments Are Critical for Animal Research, and Advancing Public Health

When experiments involving animals are designed properly, the results are more likely to be replicated in future studies and translate in ways that improve the health of humans. Properly designing experiments means thinking about the number of animals necessary for the research. This includes their health and how they are cared for, their housing and other environmental factors, as well as other aspects critical to reproducing the research such as clearly explaining the study methods.

NIH is committed to ensuring the research it supports is of the highest quality, is efficient, explainable, and can be repeated by others. In other words, we want all of our research to be rigorously performed and able to be reproduced, which increases the validity of the scientific findings.

This includes ensuring that studies involving animals are rigorous and reproducible. The research community is actively working toward identifying, developing, and sharing any and all research methods that improve the quality and transparency of animal research. A group of independent experts have even provided recommendations Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer for NIH to consider going forward.

NIH is actively listening and participating throughout this process.

  • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke funds Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer the development of educational resources to advance rigor in animal research and build a greater emphasis on rigor at universities around the country. They also held a workshop Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer that brought together a diverse cross-section of individuals who promote rigor and transparency in biomedical research and are invested in catalyzing change.
  • The National Institute on Aging developed a publicly available, searchable, database, called the AlzPED program Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer, to increase the transparency, reproducibility and translatability of preclinical studies of possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • NIH also provides many resources for researchers to address rigor in their grant applications. For example, we encourage the use of a free online tool that guides researchers through the design of their experiments, helping to ensure that they use as few animals as possible.

Taken together, NIH Will continue to devise strategies that will minimize the numbers of animals that are needed in NIH-supported studies, while still ensuring the experiments have the highest levels of rigor and reproducibility.

Learn more on NIH’s on-going efforts to enhance the translatability of animal research by reading the following statements from the NIH Director Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer , NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, and the NIH Associate Director for Science Policy Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer