Since several months, there is a Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) that is charged with assessing and making recommendations to enhance the reproducibility and rigor of animal research by improving experimental design, optimizing translational validity, enhancing training, and increasing the transparency of research studies involving animal models (LINK).

The recording of the most recent online meeting of the ACD can be found here: LINK (the WG presentation starts at 40:20)

As one outcome of the WG discussions, NIH has released a Request for Information (RFI)  where it solicits input from stakeholders throughout the scientific research, advocacy, and professional societies, as well as the general public. The NIH seeks comments on the following topics:

Rigor and Transparency

  • The challenges of rigor and transparency in animal research and actions NIH can take to improve the quality of animal research including rigor and transparency.
  • How preregistration, the process of specifying the research plan in advance of the study and submitting it to a registry, would impact animal research including improving the quality of scientific research.
  • While preregistration is often considered in the context of hypothesis-testing and confirmatory experiments, would it be useful at other stages of the research process, such as the exploratory and hypothesis generating.
  • How to address the complexity and expense related to use of large animals, including nonhuman primates, that may provide biologically more relevant models.
  • How NIH can partner with the academic community, professional societies, and the private sector to enhance animal research quality though scientific rigor and transparency.

Optimizing the Relevance to Human Biology and Disease

  • Actions NIH can take to facilitate the translatability of animal research to human biology and disease.
  • How to encourage researchers to select or develop animal models with high utility and design experiments that have external validity to the clinical populations.
  • How NIH can partner with the academic community, professional societies, and the private sector to enhance animal research translatability.

Research Culture

  • How research culture drives the choice of animal models.
  • How incentives/disincentives in the research enterprise influence research using animals
  • How all researchers, including trainees, are educated in rigorous research design, statistical considerations, transparent research practices, and the role of NIH in this training.

The deadline to submit proposals is August 21, 2020.