Animal research

White rat in a scientist's hands

We are committed to providing open and transparent information about our research involving animals and our standards of animal care and welfare.

We have signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK.

We use cells grown in a lab, computer models and human tissues for some of our biomedical research. However, in certain cases, animals provide the only way for us to develop our scientific knowledge and produce treatments and cures for many serious conditions. Research using animals has saved and improved the lives of millions of people and animals.

Without research involving animals we would have no modern anaesthetics, hip replacements or life support for premature babies. There would be no heart or kidney transplants, no kidney dialysis or heart pacemakers, no treatment for diabetes, no vaccines for polio, diphtheria or malaria - or for a number of animal diseases.

We are increasingly able to use alternative methods of research, and are at the international forefront of developing many of these methods. We are also committed to the principles of replacement, refinement and reduction - the 3Rs. However, the study of animals remains essential. In these cases, our researchers who work with animals follow all the high ethical standards and strict legislation that safeguard animal welfare in the UK.

We fully support and endorse the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines, developed as part of an NC3Rs initiative to improve the design, analysis and reporting of animal research.

Legislation

All our research involving animals is undertaken under stringent requirements of the law. We are fully compliant with and strongly support the intention and purpose of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, as amended, which encompasses EU Directive 2010/63/EU.

Before our scientists can carry out any procedure involving animals, three levels of legal authority are required:

  • the Establishment Licence controlling defined laboratory areas in the University
  • a Project Licence authorising a well-justified programme of work
  • a Personal Licence, allowing a suitably trained and competent person to carry out defined techniques on named species, such as injections, blood sampling or breeding.

We are regularly visited throughout the year by inspectors from the Home Office's Animals in Science Regulation Unit to ensure the laws are being enforced.

A senior member of our management team holds our establishment licence, and under the Act, is required to appoint several named people, including Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWOs) and the Named Vetinary Surgeon. They take advice from our Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body to make decisions on behalf of the University, taking into account the interests of animals.