Press Office


Moving towards a better conversation about animal research

David Willetts has welcomed our commitment to openness on animal research as we sign a new national declaration.

The Minister of State for Universities and Science warmly welcomed the move to greater openness by leading universities, funders, charities, institutes and companies. They signed up to a Declaration on Openness on Animal research at a press conference launching the latest Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by BIS to assess public attitudes to animal research.

Speaking at the press conference, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, said: “The life sciences sector is very important for Britain. It’s very important above all for the health benefits it brings British people, and indeed to the wider world. It also of course has great economic importance.

“The Government is committed to working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research… but we do recognise that there remains a strong scientific case for the carefully regulated use of animals in scientific research and that this does play a role in ensuring new medicines are safe and effective.

“There is a challenge for us all to do a better job of explaining the rationale, the high level of regulatory oversight that is already in place, and the work being taken to explore alternatives to animals where possible.”

Research using animals has made, and continues to make, a vital contribution to the understanding, treatment and cure of a range of major health problems including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and mental illness.

Newcastle University only uses animals in research programmes which are of the highest quality and where there are no alternatives and as such, information is widely available on our website including our animal policy. We also include information in our news feed and participate in school programmes including mini-medical school.

We are proud of our achievements in improving the welfare of laboratory animals, for which we have won national and international awards. We will continue to support and encourage open discussion around the use of animals in research and the declaration signed this week is a further indication of our commitment to that.

Declaration on Openness on Animal Research

The life sciences sector is at the forefront of developing ground breaking treatments and cures which transform the lives of humans and animals. To do this we need to increase understanding of normal biological functions and disease. Where possible, we use cells grown in a lab, computer models and human volunteers. When this isn’t possible, research may involve animals. When we need to use animals, we strive to reduce the number needed, and seek to develop viable alternatives.

Public acceptance of the use of animals in research has been strong over the last decade. Public scrutiny has also played an essential role in building the world-leading ethical framework that supports our research and ensures it meets the highest welfare standards, only using animals where no alternative exists.

Confidence in our research rests on the scientific community embracing an open approach and taking part in an ongoing conversation about why and how animals are used in research and the benefits of this. We need to continue to develop open dialogue between the research community and the public.

We, the undersigned, commit to work together to establish a Concordat that will develop principles of openness, practical steps and measurable objectives which will underpin a more transparent approach to animal research.

Newcastle University
Durham University
University of Cambridge
University of Oxford
University of Leicester
Imperial College, London
Cardiff University
The University of Manchester
Queen Mary, University of London
King’s College London
University College London
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Queen's University, Belfast
University of Bristol
The Open University

The Wellcome Trust
Understanding Animal Research
The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries
Laboratories Breeders Association
Institute of Animal Technology
Universities UK
The Association of Medical Research Charities

The Medical Research Council
The Academy of Medical Sciences
The Society of Biology
British Neuroscience Association
British Pharmacological Society
The Physiological Society
BioIndustry Association

Astra Zeneca
Huntingdon Life Sciences
Alzheimer’s Research UK
Arthritis Research UK
Cancer Research UK
Parkinson's UK
Motor Neurone Disease Association

published on: 19 October 2012