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EPA Awards Nearly $1 million to Vanderbilt Medical Center and Vanderbilt University to Advance Research on Alternative Methods to Animal Testing

Grants are part of $4.25 million to universities on heels of memo from Administrator Wheeler to prioritize Agency efforts to reduce animal testing

09/10/2019
Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (region4press@epa.gov)
(404) 562-9183 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

Nashville, Tenn. ­ Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $848,924 to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and $850,000 to Vanderbilt University in Nashville as part of a total of $4.25 million in funding to five universities to research the development and use of alternative test methods and strategies that reduce, refine and/or replace vertebrate animal testing. Furthering these efforts, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a memo today titled, “Directive to Prioritize Efforts to Reduce Animal Testing.”

“Today’s memo directs the agency to aggressively reduce animal testing, including reducing mammal study requests and funding 30% by 2025 and completely eliminating them by 2035,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are also awarding $4.25 million to advance the research and development of alternative test methods for evaluating the safety of chemicals that will minimize, and hopefully eliminate, the need for animal testing.”

 “With this funding, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University will be able to develop new strategies to move us further away from animal testing,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “EPA encourages the use of innovative scientific approaches to help solve important environmental problems.”

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will use the grant to use their Endo Chip technology to research how preexisting diseases affect cellar responses to environmental toxicants with a focus on reproductive disorder in women and Vanderbilt University will use the grant to test their organ-on-a-chip to study the blood brain barrier and potential brain injury after organophosphate exposure.

Today, Administrator Wheeler called for the agency to aggressively pursue a reduction in animal testing. The memo states, EPA will reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammal studies by 30% by 2025 and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035. Any mammal studies requested or funded by EPA after 2035 will require administrator approval on a case by case basis. It directs leadership and staff in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and the Office of Research and Development to prioritize ongoing efforts and to direct existing resources toward additional activities that will demonstrate measurable impacts in the reduction of animal testing while ensuring protection of human health and the environment.

In accordance with the memo, EPA will hold an annual conference on new approach methods beginning in 2019.

To read the full memo, visit:

https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/administrator-memo-prioritizing-efforts-reduce-animal-testing-september-20-2019.

Background

EPA has already made significant efforts to reduce, replace, and refine the agency’s animal testing requirements. Objective 3.3 of the FY2018 – FY2022 U.S. EPA Strategic Plan outlines a commitment to further reduce the reliance on animal testing within five years under both statutory and strategic directives. For example, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act, requires EPA to reduce reliance on animal testing. Also, Objective 3.3 of the FY2018 – FY2022 U.S. EPA Strategic Plan outlines a commitment to further reduce the reliance on animal testing within five years. Over 200,000 laboratory animals already have been saved in recent years as a result of these collective efforts.

Five university grants were awarded through the agency’s Science to Achieve Results Request for Application Advancing Actionable Alternatives to Vertebrate Animal Testing for Chemical Safety Assessment. The research focuses on advancing the development and use of alternative test methods and strategies to reduce, refine and/or replace vertebrate animal testing. The grantees are advancing the science of non-vertebrate alternative test methods and strategies in chemical hazard assessment.

Grantees also include:

  • John Hopkins University to develop a human-derived brain model to assess the mechanism by which environmental chemicals might cause developmental neurotoxicity.
  • Oregon State University to develop in vitro test methods for fish species to screen chemicals in complex environmental mixtures.
  • University of California Riverside to use human cells to develop a cost-effective endpoint to characterize potential skeletal embryotoxicants.

For more information on EPA’s grant recipients, visit https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/642/records_per_page/ALL..

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