Use of animals in bioscience research



Biological and biomedical research using animals has contributed enormously and uniquely to advances in human and veterinary medicine and treatments, and in understanding fundamental, yet complex, processes that underpin wellbeing in humans and other animals.

Despite significant progress in recent years to reduce the number of animals needed in individual experiments and to replace animals with alternatives, there are still areas of research in which the use of animals remains essential.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) supports the continued use of animals in scientific research, but only when strict conditions are met:

  • you must provide sound scientific justification in your funding application for the use of animals
  • you must have given due consideration to the replacement, refinement or reduction of the animals used in the experiment and there must be no viable non-animal alternatives
  • the research must be carried out in full compliance with current legislation.

Position of BBSRC

BBSRC’s position, requirements, funding and policy work in this area are outlined more fully in the document The use of animals in research – the position of BBSRC.

BBSRC also has a position statement on research using genetically modified animals.

Additional guidance

Two other documents are endorsed by BBSRC and provide additional guidance for BBSRC-funded researchers:

Read the Responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), BBSRC, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Medical Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Wellcome Trust have produced this document to clarify their expectations with regard to responsibility in the use of vertebrate animals in bioscience research.

The ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines (goes to NC3Rs website) are intended to improve standards of reporting and ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully evaluated and utilised. The guidelines have been published in the journal PLoS Biology and seven other journals.

Kilkenny C, Browne WJ, Cuthill IC, Emerson M, Altman DG (2010) ‘Improving Bioscience Research Reporting: The ARRIVE Guidelines for Reporting Animal Research’. PLoS Biol 8(6): e1000412. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000412.

There is a further document that supports these guidelines, please see, The use of animals in research and experimental design. Further information about this free resource from NC3Rs is available on the EDA website.

For more information about how animals are used in research, please read these documents:



Last updated: 17 August 2023

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