September 2024: What Do Good Science and Ethics Require of Human-Centered Research Using Nonhuman Animals?

Nonhuman animals have long been and continue to be routinely used in biomedical and behavioral research to promote human health. When SARS-CoV2 infections triggered a race to develop and scale global access to vaccines in 2019, two key innovations happened to the supply chain of animals created, raised, and used for science: (1) experiments and trials regarded as essential were prioritized and (2) governments and researchers shortened vaccine production timelines. Clinical and public health urgency concentrated and acutely focused demand for live mammals—ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, nonhuman primates, pigs, and rats—in ways that also intensified demand for efficient protocol designs and streamlined methods of human vaccine research and development. Reasonable people can still disagree about when, why, and how nonhuman animals should be sacrificed for human health, but we now know that human health, specifically vaccine development, flourish even when we sanction fewer nonhuman animals’ cultivation and deaths for science. This theme issue investigates what this pandemic revelation means from clinical, ethical, legal, and policy standpoints for the future of human-centered research. 

We invite manuscripts for this September 2024 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that consider how we ought to think about the ethical, economic, translational, and clinical predictive value of nonhuman animal uses to promote human health. We seek wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary manuscripts that consider the roles and costs of speciesism in the enterprise of health care; imagine animal research substitutes that offer greater economic payoff and predictive power of research; identify strategies for better achieving our minimal obligations to streamline protocol design and eliminate excess nonhuman animal injury, illness, and death; investigate whether and to what extent the post-COVID-19 pandemic climate demands redefinition of key concepts, such as necessary animal research, unnecessary nonhuman animal suffering, or the assumed ethical imperative to prioritize human over nonhuman animal interests. 

Manuscript submission deadline has passed. 

The AMA Journal of Ethics® invites original, English-language contributions for peer review consideration on the upcoming themes.