Research using animals has made, and continues to make, a vital contribution to the understanding, treatment and cure of a range of major 21st century health problems including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and mental illness. While new methods have enabled scientists and medical researchers to reduce work involving animals, some work must continue for further fundamental advances to be made.
In addition to using animals in a small proportion of its medical research, the University is also dedicated to research that aims to increase our understanding of animal behaviour and welfare. This research provides novel solutions, particularly in the areas of conservation and welfare, which can then be applied to a range of farm, companion and laboratory animals.
Newcastle University only uses animals in research programmes which are of the highest quality and where there are no alternatives. All such work is carried out under licences issued by the Home Secretary after weighing the potential benefits against the effects on the animals concerned. The University is committed to the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement; on each project it ensures that the number of animals used is minimised and that procedures, care routines and husbandry are refined to maximise welfare.
The University's ethical review process considers all proposals for work that involves living animals. It includes lay representation, an independent chairman and provides ethical advice on standards of animal care, welfare and accommodation. The University ensures that those working with animals are aware of their responsibilities and receive appropriate training. Veterinary and animal care staff are actively involved in the ethical review of research, welfare and care of animals and provide ongoing advice and support to researchers where necessary.
In medical research, the University is committed to the development of a number of alternative methods such as computer modelling, tissue culture, cell and molecular biology, and research with human subjects. Animal procedures are replaced with non-animal techniques wherever possible and this is reflected in the fact that over 90% of medical research conducted at the University does not involve experiments on animals. Where the use of animals remains essential, the University applies a culture of care and respect for animal welfare.
Newcastle University is proud of its achievements in improving the welfare of laboratory animals, for which it has won national and international awards. The University is one of a small number of institutions that has active research programmes in this field and contributes to the development of further improvements in UK standards of laboratory animal care, which are already amongst the highest in the world.
Find out more:
- Home Office: research and testing using animals
- Understanding Animal Research
- National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research
- To find out more about our research involving animals and animal welfare: Centre for Behaviour and Evolution