Frequently Asked Questions

You might have some questions about the Biomedical Services Unit at the University of Birmingham. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and some helpful answers.

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

Animals used at the University of Birmingham
 20172018 2019 20202021
Mouse  43393 47939 48561 25471 33235
Rat  772 626 948 326 197
Fish 978 2989 3996 6486 2840
Bird  0 0 0
Amphibia  218 196 358 347 500
Pig  0 0 0
Guinea Pig  0 0 0
Rabbit  0 0 0

*57% of returns were for the purpose of breeding

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.