Research and procedures involving animals

We are committed to meeting or exceeding all external ethical and regulatory requirements for research involving animals.

Research and procedures involving animals

Rats housed in our animal facility, which operates to the highest standards of animal care and welfare. All research is only performed after animal welfare and ethical review has taken place.

Animal research at the University of Sussex

We are a signatory to the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research, which aims to help the public understand how and why animals are used on its behalf in scientific, medical and veterinary research in the UK.

Research using animals has made, and continues to make, a vital contribution to the understanding, treatment and cure of major human health problems; including cancer, heart disease, polio, diabetes and neurological diseases and disorders.

While new methods have enabled scientists and medical researchers to reduce studies involving animals, some work must continue for further fundamental advances to be made, but only after weighing the potential benefits of the research against the effects on the animals concerned.

The University's position is set out below:

  • In the UK, research and teaching activities involving animals considered to be sentient are governed by a range of legislation, including the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986 and, in the case of teaching to veterinary students, the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. Compliance of research involving these species is monitored by University staff and by the Home Office through its inspectors.
  • The University is committed to the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement (the 3Rs). On each project it ensures that the number of animals used is minimised and that procedures, care routines and husbandry are refined to maximise welfare.
  • The University is also committed to the development of a number of alternative methods such as computer modelling, tissue culture, cell and molecular biology, and human clinical research. Animal procedures are replaced with non-animal techniques wherever possible. Where the use of animals remains essential, the University of Sussex is committed to a culture of care and respect for animal welfare.

Animal statistics

The University of Sussex’s statistics on the use of animals in research are returned annually to the Home Office, and are laid out in the tables below.

Home Office Return of Procedures by Species
 201520162017201820192020
Mice 6737 7367 7291 7079 6912 6551
Rats 240 475 962 2035 705 84
Fish 5097 5576 7672 9701 11911 9380
Totals 12074 13418 15925 18815 19528 16015
Home Office Return of Procedures by Species %
SpeciesNumbers used (%)
 201520162017201820192020
Mice 55.8 54.9 45.8 37.6 35.4 40.9
Zebrafish 42.2 41.6 48.2 51.6 61.0 58.6
Rats 2.0 3.5 6.0 10.8 3.6 0.5
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100
Home Office Return of Procedures by Severity
 201520162017201820192020
Sub Threshold 5922 4149 3794 4060 6157 4374
Mild 5547 7879 10561 13615 7872 9301
Moderate 378 1017 1125 548 651 475
Severe 66 313 330 291 315 205
Non-recovery 161 60 115 301 4533 1660
Totals 12074 13418 15925 18815 19528 16015

The University's Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body review process

  • The University's AWERB review process involves lay representation (including a representative from an animal welfare organisation) and other members both external and internal to the University. It provides ethical advice on standards of animal care, welfare and accommodation and ensures that those working with animals are aware of their responsibilities and receive appropriate training. Veterinary and animal care staff are actively involved in the ethical review of research, welfare and care of animals and provide ongoing advice and support to researchers where appropriate.
  • In the case of animal research proposals, which are not covered by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Principle Investigator, or Supervisor (in the case of student projects) is still required to apply for approval through the University's review process. 

AWERB meeting minutes (redacted)

Contact us

Andy Cunningham
FIAT RAnTech
Biomedical Research Facility Manager
a.cunningham@sussex.ac.uk
+44 (0)1273 877010


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