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ICCVAM Agency Activities

NIH: NEI Sponsors Competition to Develop In Vitro Models (February 2018)

On February 13, the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced the 3-D Retina Organoid Challenge. This $1 million federal prize competition is designed to support development of lab-grown human retinas from stem cells. Organoids developed for the competition will mimic the structure, organization, and function of the human retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye.

In the current phase of the challenge, NEI will award up to $100,000 each to as many as six teams whose models best address the challenge’s scientific criteria. Participating teams must designate a captain who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Private entities participating must maintain a primary place of business in the United States. Federal offices or employees are not eligible to participate, and federal funds may not be used to develop submissions. Submission deadline is October 1; winners will be announced in December. Complete challenge details are available on the NEI website.

EPA: EPA Releases Strategic Plan (February 2018)

On February 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan states as one of the EPA’s goals, to “Administer the law, as Congress intended, to refocus the Agency on its statutory obligations under the law.” One of the objectives under this goal is to “prioritize robust science”, which includes an intention to “Use ToxCast/Tox21 data to develop high-throughput risk assessments, particularly for chemicals for which adequate risk assessment information has been historically unavailable.”.

NIEHS: NIEHS Offers Funding to Small Businesses for Toxicity Screening, Testing, and Modeling (January 2018)

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is offering funding for small businesses developing technologies of interest to the Tox21 program. These technologies include improved or expanded testing methods for toxicity screening, computational approaches for predictive toxicology, and other technologies such as alternative or improved methods for fixing and preserving tissues. The funding is being offered as part of the 2018 Omnibus Solicitation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control, and Food and Drug Administration for small business grant applications to support development and commercialization of innovative technologies.

The next application deadline is March 5. Complete information about the grants is available on the NIH Grants website:

More information about these and other NIH grants is available on the NICEATM website.

USDA: USDA Issues Updated Guidance on Vaccine Testing Exemptions (January 2018)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Veterinary Biologics recently added Veterinary Services (VS) Memorandum 800.116 Target Animal Safety Testing Exemption to its website. View all USDA VS Memoranda

VS Memorandum No. 800.116, signed in August 2017, replaces an earlier version issued in July 2013. The memorandum provides guidance to licensed firms on requesting an exemption under title 9, Code of Federal Regulations (9 CFR), part 113.4, to target animal safety testing as required for testing of live and inactivated vaccines and antibody products. Such exemptions can reduce animal use in facilities that have documented consistency in manufacturing processes and product safety.