Plaque Commemorates Research Animals
The NIH intramural animal research advisory committee and the IC animal program directors dedicated a plaque that commemorates “research animals and the NIH animal care and use community that have contributed to our exceptional biomedical research advances” at a Sept. 16 ceremony on the Clinical Center’s south lawn. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins presented remarks at the program, part of Research Festival.
“I hope, going forward, when the next breakthrough happens here on the NIH campus—some big development that has big promise for human health—that people will walk by this plaque and recognize how we got there,” Collins said. “The animals that we depended on are also part of that celebration...we can look back on their contribution and their sacrifice and be truly grateful.”
Collins understands how important animals are to research. His laboratory studies Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, an exceedingly rare progressive disorder that causes children to age rapidly. Progeria affects roughly 250 children worldwide.
After discovering the cause of the syndrome, he began studying potential treatments. With help from the “wonderful” animal care staff at NHGRI, including its retired animal program director Dr. Shelley Hoogstraten-Miller, Collins’ lab developed mouse models of progeria. One therapeutic showed enough promise in mouse models to be tested in a clinical trial. Results from the trial suggest the drug extends the lives of patients by 4 or 5 years. A second complementary therapy is currently being tested.
“All of this is dependent on that mouse model and all of those animals that have been involved in this research,” Collins said.
He thanked staff involved in animal care at NIH. “I’m impressed and touched every day by what I see,” he concluded. “A lot of people don’t know about it, but I know about it. Thank you to all
The ceremony also featured remarks by NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman, NEI senior investigator Dr. Rachel Caspi and Hoogstraten-Miller. Dr. Terri Clark, director of the NIH Office of Animal Care and Use, hosted the ceremony.
Clark credited Hoogstraten-Miller for coming up with the idea to permanently recognize the contributions of research animals. The plaque, which features the NIH Office of Animal Care and Use logo along with the words, “With recognition and gratitude to the research animals and the NIH animal care and use community that have contributed to our biomedical research advances,” is affixed atop a tree-shaded stone near the CC’s south entry. Two benches surround the mulched area where the memorial sits.—Eric Bock