Reporting from Albuquerque — A controversial plan to resume biomedical testing on semiretired, government-owned research chimpanzees living in Alamogordo, N.M., has been put on hold after the intervention of New Mexico politicians and a trio of U.S. senators.
The National Institutes of Health announced this week that it would keep the 186 chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility instead of transferring them to a San Antonio research center while the National Academy of Sciences determines whether chimps are still needed in biomedical research.
The study will draw on the expertise of an ad hoc committee of scientists who belong to the private, nonprofit National Academy of Sciences, spokeswoman Christine Stencel said.
The decision follows a Dec. 15 letter to NIH Director Francis S. Collins from Democratic Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Tom Harkin of Iowa. They called for an immediate halt to invasive research on the chimps while the study is conducted. Harkin chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which oversees the NIH budget.