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University Biomedical Services (UBS)

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.

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- the 3Rs.

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, where appropriate, support endeavours to reduce the number of animals used by providing suggestions and recommendations to project licence applicants.

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 has completed 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), the PREPARE (Planning Research and Experimental Procedures on Animals: Recommendations for Excellence) and the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) Guidelines, which should be adhered to whenever animals are used in research. The latter two adopted Guidelines, in particular have been developed to improve standards of reporting and ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully scrutinised and utilised.

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.

Our Commitment to Openness

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 100 signatures and the University annually completes a Concordat report which reviews and demonstrates our commitment to the Openness agenda. To this end in 2016 the University released a film which revealed the essential role that mice have to play in the University’s cancer research programme, entitled Fighting cancer: Animal research at Cambridge. In 2017 the University received the Openness Award for Website or Use of New Media for our videos explaining how animals, including non-human primates, are used to understand and treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Review of the University of Cambridge Regulatory/Operational Framework Governing Animal Research

An expert panel, commissioned by the General Board of the University of Cambridge, undertook a review of the governance and operation of the University's facilities for animal research in 2014 with an interim review held in February 2017. The panel found no concerns about regulatory compliance, but made a series of recommendations in both reviews principally intended to unify the operation and strengthen the strategic oversight of facilities. The Review Team in their 2017 report commended the significant progress made to date by the University to implement the recommendations of the 2014 Review Report.


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Cambridge Governance Review 2014

Cambridge Governance Review 2017