SWHR Feedback to NIH on Improving Biomedical Animal Research

Policy Engagement

Published 8/21/20

SWHR provided comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Enhancing Rigor, Transparency, and Translatability in Animal Research in response to its recent request for feedback on methods of improving animal research. In the comments, SWHR highlighted the importance of sex as a biological variable (SABV) in achieving the committee’s goals of enhancing rigor, transparency, and translatability in order to improve biomedical research involving animal models.

SWHR called for improved oversight and monitoring regarding the inclusion of SABV within animal research, the expansion of initiatives such as the NIH’s Sex & Gender Administrative Supplement Program, and for NIH to urge investigators to provide comprehensive reasoning behind animal model selection and fully explain why the selected animal model is the best choice to address the research questions proposed within the grant application. Additionally, SWHR asked the committee to provide additional information on the goals of preregistration within basic science studies and encouraged additional training of researchers on the use of SABV in preclinical research. 

Until about 25 years ago, essentially all health research was conducted on men. This exclusion of females in health research extended to research on female animals, cells, and tissue. Despite a 2016 NIH policy that require grant applicants to consider SABV in vertebrate animal and human studies, inequities persist. Improving inclusion of SABV within animal models of research is an important component of improving future biomedical research.

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