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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Harvard Medical School has announced that it is to close down its primate research center. The move appears not to be motivated by concerns about animal testing (despite recent criticisms), but rather a consequence of a lack of funding. Harvard Medical School has stated that the New England Primate (NEPRC) Research Center in Southborough, Massachusetts will close within the next two years. This is when the center’s 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) expires. The reason for closing down the center is due to economic factors and based on assumption that the next forthcoming federal grant will be insufficient to maintain current operations. According to a statement from the school: "Driving the decision was the fact that the external funding environment for scientific research has become increasingly challenging over the past decade. Recent funding pressures have added uncertainty to this already-challenging fiscal context. As Harvard Medical School leadership evaluated the long-term need to use its resources in the most effective manner across all of its missions, they came to the conclusion that winding down the operations of the NEPRC was more beneficial to the School than investing further resources in maintaining and renewing the NEPRC grant. NIH and the University have been supportive of this decision." The center currently holds around 2,000 monkeys, mostly rhesus macaques and cotton-top tamarins. The monkeys will be sent to other NIH funded research centers. The center received $27 million from NIH this year and has 20 faculty members, 32 postdocs and graduate students, and 150 staff members, according to Science Insider. Gina Vild, a spokeswoman for the medical school,is quoted by the New York Times as saying: "We are in the early stages and focusing our attention on working with our faculty, staff, and the NIH in order to assure a transition that is orderly and respectful to all concerned, including the animals." The Harvard facility has been operational for around fifty years and has undertaken research, using primates, into Parkinson’s disease and AIDS. However, since 2010, the Boston Globe reports, it has been cited several times by the United States Department of Agriculture for failing to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/348926#ixzz2Rgg34qJx

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