Though the subway rats may have been able to escape the flooded tunnels during Hurricane Sandy, lab rats in basement cages weren’t so lucky. New York University lost around 10,000 research rodents from a flooded animal facility in the basement of the Smilow Research Center in Manhattan, according to The New York Times. These lab animals are genetically engineered and/or specially bred with traits that make them good models for human disorders, like cancer, heart disease, and schizophrenia. Creating such research strains can take years. Gordon Fishell, associate director of the NYU Neuroscience Institute, told the Times that he lost 10 years of work in the flood. A basement animal facility also flooded at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, but staff members rescued many of the animals, ScienceInsider reported.
After seven months of deliberation, the US Institute of Medicine has released a report that marks a turning point in the use of chimpanzees, humanity’s closest relative, in medical research. An IOM panel found that chimpanzees were in the vast majority of cases no longer required for disease research and laid out three stringent rules against which all current and future chimp research should be judged. Within two hours, Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, announced he had accepted the group’s analysis and would set up a committee to apply the rules to proposed and ongoing research projects funded by the NIH.