September 03, 2010

FASEB Responds to Senate Introduction of the Great Ape Protection Act

On August 3rd, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced a Senate version the Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA). The bill (S 3694), which is identical to that which was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2009, seeks to prohibit invasive research on great apes, defined as gibbons, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, and chimpanzees. “Invasive” is defined in such a way as to preclude the use of these animals in any biomedical research application. Despite the small number of great apes used in biomedical research, their role is extremely valuable. Chimpanzees remain the only valid research model for the development of a vaccine that could prevent infection from the hepatitis C virus.

Immediately after the bill was introduced, FASEB sent a letter to Senators Cantwell, Collins, and Sanders urging them to withdraw their support for the legislation. The letter, signed by FASEB President William Talman stated, “Passage of the Great Ape Protection Act will inhibit medical advances and the research community’s quest to improve human health through new treatments and vaccines.” It also stressed the rigorous oversight and the numerous laws and regulations governing the humane treatment of apes in research.

In addition, FASEB issued an e-action alert urging biomedical scientists to contact their Senators in response to the introduction of this bill. E-action subscribers living in the states of Washington, Maine, and Vermont were asked to urge their Senators to withdraw their support from the bill, while subscribers in all other states were encouraged to recommend that their Senators refrain from co-sponsoring the bill. The alert so far has generated 1,473 email messages to members of the Senate. FASEB encourages all Washington Update readers to take action on this important issue.

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National Science Board Considers NSF Data Policies and Mid-Scale Research

On August 25, 2010, the National Science Board (NSB), the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s advisory body, convened a two day meeting, the agenda for which can be viewed here. Among the salient topics discussed were the approvals of the charges of the Committee on Strategy and Budget, Task Force on Data Policies and the Committee on Programs and Plans, Task Force on Unsolicited Mid-Scale Research.

Chair of the Task Force on Data Policies, Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, led a discussion of ongoing revisions to the NSF data policy and the development of the statement of principles. The new policy will stipulate that all grant applicants submit a data plan, a two page supplemental document, in addition to requiring that all grantees share their NSF-funded data, within the limits of reasonable cost. The new policy will be placed in the NSF grants guide in October 2010, and implementation will begin in January 2011. With regard to the statement of principles governing NSF data policy, the Task Force is developing a document that will emphasize the following:

• Free availability of data is critical to the maintenance of scientific openness
• Public access initiatives, aimed at increasing access to of federally funded research, must consider data policy
• Participation by all stakeholders is an important part of the policy development process
• There is interdisciplinary variation in the norms of data sharing and maintenance
• The management of data is a long term endeavor
• All policies must address issues related to the cost of sharing and maintenance

In addition, members of the Task Force noted several other areas that should be addressed in the principles document. Foremost among them was the need to recognize the rights of researchers to exclusively work on their respective data. In response, several members of the group supported the integration of a buffer of exclusivity into future NSF data policies. Among other areas the Task Force will likely address are the issues surrounding interagency supported research and international collaborations, as well as the need to maintain the privacy of human subjects.

NSB also organized the Task Force on Unsolicited Mid-Scale Research to study the need and potential mechanisms for specifically supporting mid-scale research. Mid-scale research represents projects, either individual or multi-investigator, whose annual budgets fall around $10,000,000. Further, support of mid-scale research would target larger projects that do not have a “center home.” The group will examine the issue and provide recommendations in a report targeted for completion and release in mid 2011.

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FASEB’s Washington Update is brought to you bi-monthly by the FASEB Office of Public Affairs. We welcome your questions and comments – please contact Jennifer Zeitzer at jzeitzer@faseb.org or 301-634-7650. For more information about how to get involved in research advocacy, visit: http://capwiz.com/faseb/home/

 

   
   
 

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