The National Institutes of Health on Thursday suspended all new grants for biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees and accepted the first uniform criteria for assessing the necessity of such research. Those criteria require that the research be necessary for human health, and that there be no other way to accomplish it.
In making the announcement, Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the N.I.H., said the agency was accepting the recommendations released earlier in the day by an expert committee of the Institute of Medicine and would establish a working group to decide how to carry out those recommendations. The decision by the N.I.H. and the recomentions from the Institute of Medicine, a expert advisory group, do not put an end to research on chimps, but were claimed as victories by animal rights groups that have been fighting for ban on such research for decades, arguing that research on chimpanzees was unneeded and cruel to the animal that is human’s closest relative. They said that the move was a step toward eventually ending chimp research, already a tiny segment of federal research.