Potential media coverage of UTMB animal research

Thursday, Nov 5, 2015

Dr. David L. Callender, President

You may recall that earlier this year there were news reports regarding a study that was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to develop a “challenge virus” that laboratories can use in efforts to develop vaccines against deadly diseases caused by filoviruses, such as Marburg and Ebola.

I wrote to you in August that we were working with NIAID to review particular animal research protocols. As a part of the review process, we have continued to work with NIAID, and federal regulatory agencies are scheduled to visit UTMB later this month. This is a continuation of the same review process, but you may see news stories about these visits.

We always fully cooperate with any review process including those conducted by federal regulatory or oversight agencies and we intend to do the same regarding this study.

We remain committed to conducting potentially life-saving research and are proud of our accreditation by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, a symbol of the highest commitment to animal care.

UTMB believes that our researchers followed the agreed-upon protocols for animal care, and we have been working closely with NIAID to continue this type of important research.

At UTMB, we take our mission to improve health care through education, patient care and research very seriously. This includes clinical and animal-based studies. Again, it’s important to note that virtually every major medical advance in the last century originated from animal research.

We remain committed to protecting animals from needless suffering. We continue to strive to provide the most humane treatment to animals involved in our research studies, and we expect our staff to adhere to the highest ethical, legal and scientific standards.

While we have no way of knowing whether any particular story will be positive, neutral or negative in tone, leadership did want the UTMB community to be aware of the possibility of media coverage on this issue. Any media inquiries should be referred to UTMB Media Relations at 409-772-NEWS.

Thank you.

Dr. David L. Callender