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Reduce, refine, replace

We are committed to the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement.

The 3Rs state that procedures on animals for scientific research may only be carried out if there are no scientifically suitable alternatives that can replace the use of animals, reduce the number of animals needed, or refine the procedures to cause less suffering.

We recognise individual achievement in the application of the 3Rs, as well as contribution to innovation in the 3Rs. We do this both through local initiatives and by participating in national working groups established by the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) and other bodies.


We ensure that animals are used only when there is no alternative by:

  • guiding applicants for project licences to demonstrate that they have given full consideration to non-animal methods and have consulted the information on alternatives available on the web
  • investing in the continued development of non-animal methods, such as computer modelling and in vitro tissue cultures where we have sufficient understanding of processes. For example, the School of Biosciences has developed a micro-lung using human tissue available as a by-product of lung and heart surgery. We are making a major investment in brain imaging equipment to study human brains in living people.
  • encouraging non-animal methods through training, development and seminar programmes.


We ensure that researchers reduce the numbers of animals used by:

  • regularly reviewing the numbers of animals used under individual project licences
  • providing researchers with advice on experimental design and statistical analysis from experienced  project licence holders
  • managing breeding programmes carefully
  • investing in the continued development of non-animal methods, including imaging technologies such as PET scans.


We achieve the highest possible standards of animal care and welfare and embed a culture of care in all those involved in research by:

  • putting in place many safeguards to ensure the welfare of animals
  • ensuring all of our animals, whether within a breeding colony, held as stock or involved in research, receive the same level of attention to their welfare from our committed animal carers
  • ensuring the use of environmental enrichment in the form of nesting materials, toys, houses, fun tunnels, chew sticks etc.