Reps. Pappas & Calvert Introduce HEARTS Act to Prioritize Non-Animal Testing Methods in NIH Research

Washington, D.C. (February 14, 2023) – On a day devoted to matters of the heart, Congressmembers Chris Pappas (NH-1) and Ken Calvert (CA-42) announce the re-introduction of the HEARTS Act (Humane and Existing Alternatives in Research and Testing Sciences Act) of 2023 legislation that encourages the use and development of humane, and effective alternatives to animals in experiments funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Millions of animals are forced into research experiments annually. Non-animal research and testing methods spare significant numbers of animals from pain, distress, and death, are increasingly more cost-effective than animal tests, and produce reliable data that is more relevant to human health.

However, without meaningful encouragement for implementing modern non-animal methods, dogs, cats, primates, and small mammals, among others, continue to be exploited unnecessarily in painful and duplicative experiments. The HEARTS Act directs the NIH to provide incentives to researchers to use non-animal methods whenever feasible and applicable, and establishes a dedicated center within the NIH devoted to advancing new alternative methods and developing a plan for reducing the use of animals in federal funded research.

 Congressman Pappas said, “I’m glad to partner with Congressman Calvert on the HEARTS Act, bipartisan legislation that would encourage the development and use of humane, non-animal testing methods in federally funded experiments. Over the years, NIH’s groundbreaking research has greatly improved the lives of Americans and people around the world. To remain a global leader in science, research, and development, we must create frameworks to advance modern methods.”

Congressman Calvert said, “With a growing number of scientifically sound, non-animal testing alternatives, taxpayer-funded research should prioritize alternative methods whenever possible. The HEARTS Act would take another meaningful step in protecting animals from unnecessary use in federally-funded research. This bill is a win for animals and taxpayers alike.”

The HEARTS Act will prioritize the use of alternatives by amending the Public Health Services Act to:

(1) establish incentives for investigators to use available non-animal methods whenever feasible and applicable.

(2) create guidelines for biomedical and behavioral research to ensure that animal testing alternatives are utilized whenever available and appropriate in proposals.

(3) ensure that proposal reviewers have access to a reference librarian with expertise in evaluating the adequacy of the search methods for alternatives described in the protocol.

(4) require that proposals be reviewed by at least one person with expertise in non-animal research methods.

(5) establish a center within the NIH to train and support scientists in the development and use of human-centered methods, and develop a plan for reducing the number of animals used in federally-funded research. 

Monica Engebretson, Head of Public Affairs North America for Cruelty Free International said, “Currently, the NIH spends at least $12 billion a year on animal testing, but research shows that the return on investment is often low, and the results irrelevant because of their inability to accurately predict human reactions. Prioritizing the use of non-animal methods in taxpayer-funded research could improve the cost efficacy of our federal research investment and foster innovation in science which would in turn lead to better therapies for human conditions and save animal lives. Cruelty Free International is grateful for the leadership of Representatives Pappas and Calvert in sponsoring the HEARTS Act and we look forward to working with them as the bill advances though Congress.”

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace said, “There is a growing awareness that animal-based research and methodologies cannot reliably answer the vexing scientific questions that arise in seeking to understand human diseases and their treatments and cures. For the challenges that confront us, we need to focus on humane and human-relevant science. But the current framework provides little incentive and support for researchers to use and develop non-animal methods. The HEARTS Act will modernize the National Institutes of Health to ensure that humane and human-relevant methods are at the heart of its science investment.”

Dr. Paul Locke, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health* said, “I would like to thank Representatives Pappas and Calvert for their leadership in seeking to accelerate scientific methods that can treat and cure diseases. The HEARTS Act calls attention to the need to develop human centered biological techniques and would create a focal point at NIH for these important discoveries.”

 *The views expressed in this press release are Dr. Locke’s personal opinion, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Johns Hopkins University or Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For further information and to request interviews, please contact Steve Gibbs on +44 (0) 7850 510955 or email Monica Engebretson is available for interview.

Cruelty Free International is one of the world’s longest standing and most respected animal protection organizations. The organization is widely regarded as an authority on animal testing issues and is frequently called upon by governments, media, corporations and official bodies for its advice or expert opinion.

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