Research Facilities

Federal Agencies

National Institutes of Health

Approximate number of chimpanzees: 542 (includes those owned or supported)

National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. (1) NIH traces its roots to 1887 with the creation of a laboratory within the Marine Hospital Service, a predecessor of the U.S. Public Health Service, in Staten Island, NY. (2)  With the headquarters now in Bethesda, Maryland, the NIH has more than 17,000 employees on the main campus and at satellite sites across the country.” (3)

NIH has 27 institutes and centers (4)

  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Eye Institute
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute
  • National Institute on Aging
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
  • National Institute of Nursing Research
  • National Library of Medicine
  • Center for Information Technology
  • Center for Scientific Review
  • John E. Fogarty International Center
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities
  • National Center for Research Resources
  • NIH Clinical Center

Of these 27 Institutes and Centers, “All but three of these components receive their funding directly from Congress, and administrate their own budgets.” (5) NIH funds research in its own laboratories as well as in laboratories in universities, medical schools, and other research facilities nationally and internationally. (6) NIH supports seven national primate research centers (NPRCs), which are located across the country and use nonhuman primates as animal models of human diseases. Together the NPRCs house and experiment on tens of thousands of nonhuman primates. Two of the NPRCs—Yerkes and Southwest—house and have used chimpanzees in addition to other primates.

Chimpanzee use

In the 1980s, NIH established a Chimpanzee Breeding and Research Program that was designed to produce greater numbers of chimpanzees to be used in HIV/AIDS research. By 1995, NIH acknowledged that they had a “surplus” of chimpanzees for research and a voluntary breeding moratorium was initiated on chimpanzees owned/supported by NIH. (This moratorium became permanent in 2007.) In 1998, “based on the recommendations in a report from the National Academy of Sciences, NCRR…created a NIH Chimpanzee Management Program (ChiMP).” (7) ChiMP “supports long-term, cost-effective housing and maintenance at NIH-supported facilities for chimpanzees…” (8) Besides the NPRCs, NIH also provides grants to private laboratories for research involving chimpanzees.

In addition to Yerkes and Southwest, NIH provides funding for three independent facilities that house chimpanzees for use in biomedical and behavioral research—Alamogordo Primate Facility, New Iberia at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. NIH owns Alamogordo, which is located in New Mexico and holds approximately 126 chimpanzees. In 2001, NIH awarded Charles River Laboratories, Inc. (CRL), a $42.8 million, 10-year contract to manage Alamogordo. 


Primarily used in HIV and hepatitis research, NIH research using chimpanzees has also included studies involving bioterrorism and the Norwalk virus. In addition, chimpanzees have been used in malaria, immunology, respiratory syncytial virus, and monoclonal antibody experiments. NIH also has funded neuroscience and behavioral research, including invasive behavioral research, on chimpanzees.


NIH's budget is over $30.9 billion annually. “More than 80% of the NIH’s funding is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants… in every state and around the world. About 10% of the NIH’s budget supports projects conducted by nearly 6,000 scientists in its own laboratories, most of which are on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.” (9)

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