NIH–sponsored workshop calls for more detailed reporting in animal studies

Improved study design and data sharing are expected to speed therapy development October 10, 2012

A workshop sponsored by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has produced a set of consensus recommendations to improve the design and reporting of animal studies. By making animal studies easier to replicate and interpret, the workshop recommendations are expected to help funnel promising therapies to patients.

Biomedical research involving animals has led to life-saving drugs for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, HIV-AIDS, and many other conditions, but positive results from animal studies are sometimes difficult to translate into successful clinical trials.

“Our goal is to ensure that preclinical animal studies are reported in sufficient detail so that funding agencies, scientific journals and the broader scientific community can adequately review the research and decide how to move forward,” said NINDS Director Story C. Landis, Ph.D.

The workshop recommendations, published in the Oct. 11, 2012 issue of Nature, apply to scientific papers as well as grant applications that describe preclinical animal studies – those intended to develop and test potential therapies. About 95 percent of the animals used in research are mice and rats.

The recommendations say that all preclinical animal studies should include details about four key aspects of research methodology: randomization, blinding, sample size estimation, and data handling. Read more