What we do to minimise the use of animals in research

Fraser Darling and imaging equipment

Sophisticated imaging equipment helps to reduce the number of procedures carried out on animals. Photograph: Jorge Duarte Estevao

While it is not possible to avoid using animals for some aspects of medical research, when we do use them we are committed to ensuring that they are treated with care, respect and consideration. QMUL expects staff and students to take a proactive interest in the animals’ welfare and to ensure that their work complies with the highest ethical standards.

As part of meeting these standards, the university is committed to three guiding principles (the 3Rs):

  • to reduce the number of animals needed,
  • to refine procedures to cause the least possible distress to the animals,
  • to replace the use of animals wherever possible.


In order to minimise the number of animals used by researchers, QMUL

  • regularly reviews existing projects and requires the project leaders to consider reducing the number of animals used where possible;
  • promotes the use of statistical experts to advise on the design and analysis of experiments;
  • manages breeding programmes so as to avoid or minimise surplus animals.

Read about examples of research that reduces the numbers of animals used.


QMUL is committed to the highest possible standards of animal care and welfare, and it invests in methods to alleviate or minimise potential pain, suffering or distress in animals used for research. It does this by:

  • ensuring that researchers keep abreast of new developments and techniques and apply them in their work;
  • promoting awareness of best practice through education and training;
  • recognising individual achievement in the application of the 3Rs;
  • providing the best quality care and high standard of accommodation for animals that exceeds the standards prescribed under UK and EU law wherever possible.

Read about an example of how non-invasive imaging helps the 3Rs.


Animals should only be used in research when no alternatives are available. To ensure that this happens, QMUL:

  • requires any applicant for a Home Office project licence for the use of animals to show that they have fully considered non-animal methods and checked available resources for information on alternatives;
  • regularly informs researchers of developments in non-animal methods, such as computer modelling, cell and tissue based research and the use of imaging technology;
  • encourages the exchange of views and dissemination of new ideas with experts in the replacement of animals in scientific research.

Read about examples of research that replaces the need for animals.

QMUL collaborates with and receives funding from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), the UK’s national organisation that leads the discovery and application of new technologies and approaches to the 3Rs, and the Dr Hadwen Trust, the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity.

ARRIVE guidelines

QMUL is a signatory to the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines, which were developed as part of an initiative by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to improve the design, analysis and reporting of research using animals – maximising information published and minimising unnecessary studies.