Use of Animals in Research Policy Statement

The Earlham Institute’s science tackles some of the most urgent issues facing the planet, from developing climate-resilient crops and reversing the catastrophic loss of biodiversity to understanding, treating, and curing human and animal health problems. 

To do this, we study the genomes of a wide range of organisms, from plants and microbes to animals. 

The UK has some of the strictest legislation in the world to govern the use of animals in research. It is our legal and ethical responsibility to ensure full compliance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA), amended 2012.

The 3 Rs

The Earlham Institute is committed to the implementation of the 3Rs: the Replacement of animals in research with other experimental models; the Reduction in the number of animals used; and the Refinement of procedures to prevent suffering.  

Our researchers are actively developing algorithms, computer models, and other tools to replace the need for animals. Wherever possible, these resources are made freely available to the wider research community.

The Institute is also pioneering single-cell research, where only a few cells may be needed to obtain the same information that could previously have involved sacrificing an animal. This refinement has the potential to minimise both the impact on an individual animal and to reduce the overall number of animals needed in research.

Whenever appropriate, we share resources - which might include animal cells or tissues - from other research projects and, in particular, we promote the reuse of the data generated. This helps to reduce the total number of animals involved in research by ourselves and other organisations.

In relation to this, we support the ARRIVE Guidelines, developed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), to improve standards of reporting and ensure the data from animal experiments can be fully evaluated and utilised.  

Use of Animals in Research at The Earlham Institute

Some of the research we conduct, and the scientific services we provide, may involve studying or handling lab-grown animal cells and animal-derived organoids and tissues. 

A small number of Earlham Institute researchers do undertake research involving live animals. We do not conduct any research on live animals in our premises, and we only carry out regulated procedures or take animal cells or tissues from organisations and collaborators who hold the required Home Office Licence.  

All Earlham Institute researchers working with animals in research hold the required Home Office individual and project licences. All projects affecting animals are also subject to rigorous scrutiny via an ethical review process. 

Each project must demonstrate a number of key requirements prior to local ethical approval:

  • That individuals involved in the research project are sufficiently experienced and trained in the use of animals in research.
  • That there is no alternative to the use of animals in research.
  • That the benefits of the research outweigh the potential adverse effects on the protected animals used.