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Translational science: a survey of US biomedical researchers’ perspectives and practices


This national survey aimed to identify how biomedical researchers using vertebrate animals viewed issues of significance for translational science, including oversight and public engagement, and to analyze how researcher characteristics and animal model choice correlate with those views. Responses from 1,187 researchers showed awareness of, and concerns about, problems of translation, reproducibility and rigor. Surveyed scientists were nevertheless optimistic about the value of animal studies, were favorable about research oversight and reported openness with non-scientists in discussing their animal work. Differences in survey responses among researchers also point to diverse perspectives within the animal research community on these matters. Most significant was variability associated with the primary type of animal that surveyed scientists used in their work. Other significant divergence in opinion appeared on the basis of professional role factors, including the type of degree held, workplace setting, type of funding, experience on an institutional animal care and use committee and personal demographic characteristics of age and gender.

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Fig. 1: IACUC experience, academic degree, institution type and NIH funding are associated with primarily using non-mouse animal models.
Fig. 2: Age, academic degree, NIH funding and primary animal model species are associated with views on translation, rigor and reproducibility.
Fig. 3: Age, gender, academic degree and primary animal model species are associated with endorsement of various factors contributing to reproducibility problems.
Fig. 4: IACUC experience, age, gender, academic degree, institution type, NIH funding and primary animal model species are associated with views on animal research oversight.
Fig. 5: IACUC experience, age, gender, institution type and primary animal model species are associated with public engagement practices and experience.

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Data availability

Processed survey data reported on in this article and information about the related analyses are deposited in UNC Libraries Digital Repository at Data have been redacted to protect participant privacy. Researchers requiring access to removed data may contact R.L.W. at the provided email address.


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The authors thank the following individuals associated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Ryan Joseph Kramer, Molly Green, Lisa McManus and Megan Wood for research assistance; Julianne Kalbaugh for programming and administering the survey; and Teresa Edwards for input on the survey instrument. We thank those individual researchers who piloted the survey instrument and the additional members of our research team who offered feedback on the survey questions. Research reported in this article was supported under a grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences award number R01GM099952, ‘Healthy Volunteers as Model Organisms: Comparative Research Ethics and Policy for Phase I Trials’ (principal investigators: J.A.F. and R.L.W.).

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Authors and Affiliations



J.A.F. and R.L.W. designed the survey. All authors contributed to the analysis plans and interpretation of the findings, and K.W.S. conducted the statistical analysis. All authors contributed to the writing and revising of the work for intellectual content, with R.L.W. taking the lead in drafting. All authors gave final approval of the submitted version and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

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Correspondence to Rebecca L. Walker.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Lab Animal thanks Malcolm MacLeod and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Walker, R.L., Saylor, K.W., Waltz, M. et al. Translational science: a survey of US biomedical researchers’ perspectives and practices. Lab Anim 51, 22–35 (2022).

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