The University of Washington Board of Regents unanimously voted to move ahead with a new, underground animal testing lab on Thursday, saying that it will mean better conditions for animals used in medical and scientific research.
Opponents crowded the regents meeting, quietly holding signs that read, “No New Animal Lab,” and undergraduate Sarah Olson presented a petition with 4,000 signatures against the research center. She said it doesn’t make sense for the UW to increase space for animal research when other institutions are moving away from it.
“We are seeing this play out across the country,” Olson said. “The National Institute of Health is significantly reducing the number of chimpanzees in lab research. Harvard University announced last April that it would be closing its primate testing facilities.”
The regents approved the $123 million dollar facility without discussion. The new Animal Research and Care facility will be built on Northeast Pacific Street. It will be underground to avoid blocking views of Portage Bay.
Orin Smith, the UW Board of Regents Chair, said he hopes the UW will have more alternatives to animal research in the future. But he said in the meantime, the UW should resolve issues affecting its accreditation, including poor and decentralized facilities.
“We already have an enormous research program and the facilities we have are totally inadequate both for the people and for the animals,” Smith said. “This will be a substantial improvement in the conditions in which we do our research and in the facilities for the animals as well.”
Once the facility is built, UW said the buildings currently devoted to animal research will be renovated and used for other purposes.