November 18, 2021

Dear Dr. Sharpless:

We, the undersigned, are writing to you today about an area of great importance and shared concern for all of us. But first, we would like to thank you for your service to our nation’s health and your research innovation.

As you know, it has been 50 years since former President Richard Nixon declared a “war on cancer.” Yet despite five decades of effort and billions of taxpayer dollars spent attempting to eradicate the disease, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the U.S., just as it was in the 1970s.

While personal preventive measures have reduced rates somewhat, the last half-century of effort has produced no cures. This paucity of progress is, in large part, because of a misplaced reliance on animal experimentation, despite the overwhelming evidence that these tests don’t reliability translate to saving human lives.

While animal experimentation has been unproductive, significant progress has been made in the development of non-animal testing methods based in human biology. These methods are more reliable and provide a more relevant system to evaluate human cancer biology, treatment, and prevention. Alarmingly, a shift in our nation’s cancer research investment away from the use of animals and toward these methods has not been prioritized.

We ask that you please do the following:

Reallocate National Institutes of Health intramural and extramural research funding toward animal-free, human-relevant models
Convene or commission an unbiased committee to review the translatability of cancer research and carcinogenicity assessment in animals to human patients
Provide regulators and researchers with opportunities to receive free training and education on the use of human-relevant models
Adopt legislation to create new federal regulations to replace outdated requirements of the lifetime tests on rats and mice for carcinogenicity assessment with rapid, reliable, and human-relevant models
Increase the percentage and amount of federal funding allocated to cancer prevention

Thank you for your time and attention.