Bureaucracy in regulatory systems is a challenge shared by those involved in animal research; however, it may be more of a hindrance in some countries than others, MacArthur Clark noted. Regulatory systems have costs that include finances and time for regulators and scientists (i.e., administrative burden). Some participants noted the need to reduce bureaucracy that could impact the progress of science.
Several participants noted that opening a dialogue with the public and politicians about the scientific process, the role of animals in research, and the animal research regulations in place would be beneficial. Other participants noted the need to develop appropriate goals/metrics of success of animal welfare measures to ascertain whether increased costs and burdens result in improved animal welfare.
SESSION II: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAWS
Session chair Arthur Sussman observed that there seems to be strong support among workshop panelists and participants for a regulatory environment that is both ethical and intelligent. In addition to regulations specifically governing the use of animals in research, various participants noted that other laws impact research (e.g., animal rights laws, the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], state sunshine laws, and the False Claims Act). Several presentations discussed how individuals and groups are using FOIA and sunshine laws to obtain information on principal investigators, grants, and matters of noncompliance. In some cases, session speaker Richard Cupp noted that the courts have found connections between release of information under FOIA and subsequent criminal activity against animal researchers. However, it was noted that exemptions to the release of such information are becoming infrequent. Workshop participants noted that increased transparency might not result in decreased information requests, and that transparency needs to be balanced with potential risk. Several panelists and participants emphasized that the suggestion of exercising care when corresponding about animal use in research might be worth particular consideration by scientists.
SESSION III: THE ROLE FOR ANIMALS IN NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH
Much of the discussion on the impact of animal research regulation on neuroscience research focused on the use of non-human primates, noted session chair Roberto Caminiti. Panelists outlined the current role for nonhuman primates in biomedical research, including neuroscience research.