Frequently Asked Questions

The following are frequently asked questions for the Biomedical Services Unit.

What species and numbers of animals are used for research at the University?

Animals used at the University of Birmingham
  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012  2013 
Mouse  36467  36567  32371  32484  41507  46268  40870 
Rat  2255  1814  2058  1627  1614  1334  1480 
Fish 82  3884  1674  3426  2991  2893  1220 
Bird  354  711  894  294  216 
Amphibia  30  90 
Pig 
Guinea Pig 
Rabbit 

What are the animals used for?

The University of Birmingham is involved in research to develop drugs and medical technologies that will help in the fight against life threatening and debilitating diseases and improve health care for patients. Some diseases and health problems involve processes that can only be studied in a living organism. For example, treatments for heart disease , diabetes and certain types of cancer have all been developed by involving animals in testing and research.

What protection is there for the animals? 

We adhere to strict guidelines from the Home Office and are regulated by the Operational Guidance to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which requires that experimentation on animals should only occur when there is no alternative research technique. As part of that regulatory framework we have periodic visits from a Home Office inspector who checks the welfare of the animals used in research and the facilities that they are kept in. During these visits the inspector is looking for evidence of a caring culture, which ensures responsible behaviour and respect for the use and care of animals.

All research that requires the use of animals is scrutinised by the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body to ensure that there are no possible alternatives to the use of animals and that studies are carried out to the highest standards of welfare and care, following the 3R's principles of replacement, reduction and refinement. The 3Rs are a widely accepted ethical framework for conducting scientific experiments using animals humanely.