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About the Comparative Medicine Branch (CMB)

NIAID is committed to the use of animals only when alternative methods are unavailable. The Institute fully complies with federal rules, regulations, and policies pertaining to the care and use of animals in medical research.

Research to understand and develop new treatments for allergies and infectious diseases often requires the use of laboratory animals. The care and treatment of these animals can profoundly affect experimental results. An animal's environment, its daily care, the presence or absence of disease-causing organisms, and the amount of pain or distress that an animal experiences may affect the validity of research data generated through the use of animals. NIAID intramural scientists are sensitive to these factors and understand their ethical responsibility for ensuring that animals used in research receive high-quality care. All NIAID scientists conducting research that involves animals attend a National Institutes of Health (NIH) training course ("Using Animals in Intramural Research") that offers a broad perspective on current animal issues and provides specific information on techniques and procedures.

It is the responsibility of CMB to provide daily care to animals maintained within NIAID animal facilities (other than those located at the Vaccine Research Center or Rocky Mountain Laboratories) and to assist the NIAID Animal Care and Use Committee with the oversight of NIAID's program of animal care and use, including intramural contracts and inter- and intra-agency agreements involving animals. CMB is also responsible for assisting NIAID scientists with animal-related issues, overseeing the construction and renovation of animal facilities, and assisting the Division of Intramural Research Director with planning for future animal-related requirements.

CMB maintains animals in four facilities on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland (approximately 36,400 square feet), and two in Rockville, Maryland (approximately 22,000 square feet). CMB provides guidance to the Institute's intramural scientists using animals in research projects. This guidance includes

  • Assisting with the development, annual review and renewal of Animal Study Proposals
  • Developing standard operating procedures
  • Purchasing animals
  • Importing and exporting animals from and to locations all over the world
  • Performing technical procedures on laboratory animals
  • Diagnosing, treating, and controlling infectious agents
  • Using NIH shared and central animal facilities
  • Selecting and properly administering anesthetics and analgesics
  • Tracking animal cage information through an interactive website

NIAID investigators maintain production colonies of more than 100 different strains of mice within government animal facilities. Many of these animals are unavailable anywhere else in the world or are available only after long delays.

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Last Updated July 05, 2006