Using animals in research

Essential research

Whenever possible, our research uses alternative methods, such as cells grown in the laboratory and computer models, however there is still some research involving animals that remains essential.

When we need to use animals, we strive to reduce the number needed and seek to develop viable alternatives, but without compromising scientific and medical advances. The United Kingdom has strict regulations surrounding the use of animals in research.

Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB)

All work involving animals (as defined by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986) by University staff is reviewed by the AWERB, irrespective of a requirement by the Home Office for a licence. The AWERB includes a vet, key animal carers, experienced project licence holders and members of the University’s senior management team, together with lay members, some of whom are independent of the University.

In addition to ensuring that all work involving animals is scientifically and ethically justified, for licenced projects, the AWERB considers annually the scientific progress made in each project, together with how the use of animals in that project has been replaced, reduced and refined (the 3Rs). It disseminates best practice and acts as a forum to update animal users on advances that address the 3Rs, thereby keeping the use of animals in research to a minimum.

The University and its researchers are subject to inspection by the Home Office who examine all aspects of animal research, care and welfare. Under Home Office categorisation our experimental procedures on animals are generally classified as “mild”.

We fully support and endorse the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) guidelines developed as part of a NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research). The guidelines, a checklist of 20 items, aim to ensure that all work with animals is carried out thoroughly and transparently. Following these guidelines means that where possible the results of one study can be used for multiple purposes, which in turn leads to minimising animal use.

We are committed to the three Rs of animal research

Mouse in lab conditions
  • Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques, or avoid the use of animals altogether.
  • Reduce the number of animals used to a minimum, to obtain information from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals.
  • Refine the way experiments are performed to make animal welfare a priority. This includes better housing and improvements to procedures with animal welfare in mind.