Animal research plays an essential role in our understanding of health and disease of animals and man and in the development of modern medicines and surgical techniques. Without the use of animals, we would not have many of the modern medicines, antibiotics, vaccines and surgical techniques that we take for granted in both human and veterinary medicine.
Some of the important and pioneering work for which Cambridge is best known and which has led to major improvements in people’s lives was only possible using animals, from the development of IVF techniques through to human monoclonal antibodies.
We place good welfare at the centre of all our animal research and aim to meet the highest standards: good animal welfare and good science go hand-in-hand. Our research is scrutinised by the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body, who strive to reduce the number of animals used.
Although animals will play a role in biomedical research for the foreseeable future, we aim to use the minimum number possible. Our researchers are actively looking at ways to help refine their science and to reduce – and ultimately replace – the use of animals in research.
We take the position that compliance with the law and associated Codes of Practice relating to animal welfare is the minimum operating standard. We have management procedures to ensure that considerations of the 3Rs are embedded into all aspects of our strategic and operation management and a well-developed governance system, which is currently undergoing a full independent review to identify areas for improvement.
To this end the University supports and expects everyone involved in animal research to use Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA) and the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) Guidelines, which should be adhered to whenever animals are used in research. These adopted Guidelines, which have been developed to improve standards of reporting and ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully scrutinised and utilised.
In May 2014, the University of Cambridge joined over seventy organisations from academia, industry, funding bodies and charities in signing the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. This now extends to over 90 signatures, the University annually completed the Concordat report to review the Openness progress we are striving to commit to.
University Staff working within the Animal research environment are encouraged through our “whistle blowing” procedure to alert through all channels available to them and directly to the Home Office and Establishment Licence Holder if they have any concerns regarding animals used in research.
An expert panel, commissioned by the General Board of the University of Cambridge, has undertaken a review of the governance and operation of the University's facilities for animal research. The panel found no concerns about regulatory compliance, but has made a series of recommendatins principally intended to unify the operation and strengthen the strategic oversight of those facilities. The Board has approved the panel's recommendations in principle, and appointed an implementation group to take forward the recommendations, including proposing the necessary changes to Ordinances, in consultation with the Councils of the Schools of the Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine.
The members of the expert panel were:
Dr Jon Richmond, Ex-Chief Inspector, Home Office
Dr David Anderson, Ex-Superintendent, Home Office
Mr Adrian Deeney, Establishment Licence Holder, University College London
Dr John Dalton, Independent Facilitor
Governance Review Updates