April 24, 2013

Harvard Medical To Close Southborough Primate Center

Boston-based Harvard Medical School (HMS) announced it will close its New England Primate Research Center in Southborough over the next two years.

In its announcement, the school cited financial concerns as a reason for the decision to close the center. The facility has also been investigated after four monkey deaths between June 2010 and February 2012 where U.S. Department of Agriculture investigators found numerous violations of animal welfare rules, according to the Boston Globe.

HMS officials said the decision for the school to not seek renewal of its five-year federal grant to continue operations was difficult because of the medical breakthroughs credited to the site over its 50-year history.

HMS said it has begun working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds eight primate research centers across the nation, on a transition plan which will send the primates to other sites.

"Deciding how to best assign our limited resources is not unique to HMS," said Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of the faculty of medicine of Harvard University, "but this decision was made with a heavy heart."

He went on to say, "I am also confident that we can achieve our research goals through collaboration with a vibrant national scientific community."

HMS said the decision to close stemmed from the increasing difficulties in receiving scientific research funding over the past decade. The school said its spending two years addressing operating and compliance issues from the NIH and other agencies also carried additional costs.

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