Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Staff Profile

Dr Matthew Leach

Director of the CBC



I undertook a degree in Zoology at the University of Southampton in 1992, which lead to an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare at the the University of Edinburgh in 1995. During this time I developed an interest in animal welfare and behaviour. This initially lead me into research investigating the welfare of captive elephants in the UK. Subsequently, I undertook a PhD in Laboratory Animal Welfare at the University of Birmingham which included research into euthanasia, husbandry and housing of laboratory animals. These research topics have formed the basis of my research career since. At the University of Bristol I undertook projects to develop a welfare benchmarking scheme for laboratory mice, investigate the standard of mouse welfare in the UK and to identify the most critical welfare issues affecting wildlife around the world. I continue to actively participate in these research areas. Since joining Newcastle University I have been involved in further research improving the welfare of laboratory, livestock and companion animal species.

Roles and Responsibilities

My research encompasses various aspects of laboratory, livestock and companion animal welfare. I lecture on multiple aspects of laboratory animals science, ethics and welfare and project design and statistics. I am the Director of the Comparative Biology Centre, which manages and cares for all of the animals that used in research at Newcastle University.


  • BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Southampton
  • MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour & Welfare from the University of Edinburgh
  • PhD in Laboratory Animal Welfare from the University of Birmingham

Previous Positions:

  • Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Birmingham (2002)
  • Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Bristol (2002 to 2005)
  • Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Newcastle University (2005 to 2012)
  • Lecturer / Senior Lecturer (Animal Sciences) at Newcastle University (2012 to 2022)
  • Director of Comparative Biology Centre at Newcastle University (2023 onwards)


  • Consensus group on Carbon Dioxide Euthanasia of Laboratory Animals
  • Animal Welfare Science, Ethics & Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA)
  • Editorial board member for 'Laboratory Animals' journal
  • Ethics committee for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)

Honours and Awards:

  • Significant contribution to the FELASA Animal Welfare Award 2007
  • Significant contribution to the Charles River Animal Welfare Prize 2012


  • English
  • Some German

Informal Interests

  • Keeping dogs & cats
  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Camping
  • Rugby
  • Technology

For a full list of my publications please see my Google Scholar Profile


Research Interests

Developing methods for assessing and alleviating post-procedure pain and distress in various animal species. Identifying and implementing novel manual and automated methods of assessing welfare, pain and distress in animals, particularly laboratory and companion animal species. Identifying, testing and implementing refinements to improve the welfare of a range of animal species. The development of educational materials to assist those who carry out procedures on animals in both veterinary practice and in animal-based research to refine the procedures that they carry out, improving welfare standards.

Other Expertise

Developing and implementing welfare benchmarking schemes for laboratory, pet and wild animals. The assessment of behaviour and welfare of a wide range of captive and wild animals. The use of experimental models and statistical analysis in animal-based research.


Laboratory animal welfare, Companion animal welfare, Pain, Distress, Behaviour, Statistical analysis, Experimental design, Welfare benchmarking, Wildlife welfare


Undergraduate Teaching:

  • ACE1041: Animal Science
  • ACE1057: Natural Science Research Impact
  • CMB2000: Essential Biomedical Research Skills
  • MST1204: Academic and Professional Skills for the Biosciences
  • PED3007: Drug Discovery and Development

Postgraduate Teaching:

  • PIL Courses at Newcastle University
  • MMB8045: Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare
  • BGM3062: Genetics of Development and its Disorders

External Workshops:

  • Research Animal Training (International) - Pain & Distress Workshops
  • Karolinska Institute (Sweden) - Experimental Design for In-Vivo Science
  • Cephalopod Research Institute (Italy) - Experimental Design for In-Vivo Science