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Research involving animals

As we are a leading university in the field of biomedicine, our research interests tend to reflect the major causes of concern for human health and quality of life. These include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, schizophrenia, ADHD, autism, and the many different types of cancer.

To make the progress needed to alleviate human suffering and benefit society as a whole, this research has to be underpinned by an understanding of disease mechanisms and the study of immunology, genetics and cell biology, including stem cell therapies.

Sometimes this research may involve animals where absolutely no alternative is available; in fact, in certain circumstances, we are actively encouraged to undertake animal testing. The Declaration of Helsinki (a statement of ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects, developed by the World Medical Association) states that studies in animals are often essential before studies in humans can be conducted.

Animal welfare

We maintain the highest standards of animal welfare and invest heavily in facilities. Fully trained care staff hold degrees in animal care and qualifications accredited by the Institute of Animal Technology. We house animals in social groups wherever possible and provide a rich and varied environment to allow a range of natural behaviours. We employ full-time animal care and welfare officer and a veterinary surgeon to ensure best practice is adopted and observed.

Alternatives to animal testing

The University is very committed to research designed to reduce, refine and replace animals used for scientific purposes (this is referred to as 'the 3Rs'). We encourage staff to engage with the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), which aims to develop scientifically robust, non-animal alternatives and, where animal use continues to be necessary, works to reduce the number of animals used and improve welfare practices.

We fully support and endorse the ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines, developed as part of an NC3Rs initiative to improve the design, analysis and reporting of animal research.

Categories of research involving animals

A. The use of living vertebrates and cephalopods in scientific procedures within the University and the UK which are regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA).

B. The use of living vertebrates and cephalopods in scientific procedures that would fall under the definitions of ASPA if conducted in the UK but are being conducted outside the UK.

C. The use of tissue in research harvested from living vertebrates and cephalopods killed solely for that purpose regardless of where the animals or tissue were sourced.

D. The use of animals in scientific enquiry not regulated under ASPA 1986 because the animals are not vertebrates or cephalopods, or the research does not involve the animal in scientific procedures. (For example, the non-invasive use of live animals in the Manchester Museum for public education and conservation purposes and some behavioural and observation work within the University and on educational field courses.) 

Ethical review requirements

Where animals are used in research, The University of Manchester requires the very highest level of ethical conduct and practice.

Full details can be found in section 7 of the policy (PDF document, 139KB).  Please refer to our ethical approval procedures below for detail on how to apply to either the Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body (AWERB) or the Committee for the Ethical Review of Category D Research.

A. Research that falls into Category A requires full ethical approval by the University's AWERB.

B. Research that falls into Category B (collaboration with other laboratories outside of the EU or where animal facilities are being provided by third parties outside of the EU) requires ethical approval by the AWERB. The ethics committee will need to be satisfied that the welfare standards are consistent with UK and local legislation and that the principles set out in this policy are applied and maintained.

C. Research that falls into Category C requires appropriate and proportionate ethical review by the University.

D. Research that falls into Category D may require appropriate and proportionate ethical review.

Animal ethical approval procedures

Committee for the Ethical Review of Category D Research

In order to meet the ethical review requirements, a new ethics committee is being established for the ethical review of category D research. This committee is a sub-committee of the AWERB

If a researcher’s work will be carried out at another organisation they must have the relevant form completed by a representative of the host organisation and submit it with their main application form.

If you are a researcher based at The University of Manchester, visit StaffNet to download the forms.

The new committee will consider applications that include category D research studies (as defined in The University of Manchester’s Policy on the use of Animals in Research), incorporating: 

  • final-year projects;
  • placement-year studies;
  • undergraduate research projects;
  • animal field research and non-ASPA laboratory research;
  • endangered species;
  • requirements for Defra Licence – controlled species;
  • invasive species;
  • where the researcher interacts with the animal in the environment and either removes the animal or makes changes to the animal’s environment.