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David Boren Announces That OU Will Wind Down Baboon Program

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced on Tuesday that the OU Health Sciences Center would wind down operations of its Baboon Program over the next three to four years, resulting in an end to the program.

According to a news release, OU Health Sciences Center leadership has begun to work with the funding agency, the National Institutes of Health, on a transition plan and will not seek to renew NIH grants to continue operating the program.

After completing an internal review of the Baboon Program in coordination with leadership at the Health Sciences Center, President Boren reached this decision based on the decreased prioritization of the program within the OU Health Sciences Center’s research strategic plan and the projected financial and staff time costs of continuing to operate the program.

7/2/2015 Related Story: Baboons Bred In Oklahoma As Resource For Research

According to the news release, driving this decision is the goal of the University to carefully prioritize and assign limited funds to mission critical research endeavors.

“The OU Health Sciences Center is working closely with the NIH, researchers and other stakeholders on a transition plan that will honor its existing contractual obligations to ensure that current biomedical research projects are completed with the least possible disruption,” said James J. Tomasek, Vice President for Research at the Health Sciences Center.

Tomasek expressed appreciation to the National Institutes of Health for their support of the Baboon Program at OU, noting that such programs have enabled medical advances to alleviate human disease and suffering, such as vaccine development for infectious diseases.

The University said it’s committed to treating baboons humanely and with a high level of care throughout the transition to ensure that baboons will not be adversely affected by these changes.

The wind down will ensure that the University’s faculty, staff, and collaborators will have sufficient time for an orderly transition. The OU Health Sciences Center is also implementing a comprehensive plan to support faculty and staff during this transition period.

News 9 reported in June that the national research watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) asked the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to investigate OU, after documenting a number of deaths of young baboons at the university in 2014 and 2015.

7/7/2015 Related Story: OU Official Responds To Complaint Over Baboon Deaths

In a letter to Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer of the USDA APHIS regional office, SAEN listed 23 incidents of deaths to infant and young baboons that they say shows a pattern of neglect.

7/6/2015 Related Story: Watchdog Group Files Complaint Against OU Over Baboon Deaths

Dr. Tomasek said OU maintains baboons in their normal social structure, as approved by the National Institutes of Health. 

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