Use of animals in research policy Version 8.0

Genetically modified mice.

Policy summary

Policy statement

  • This policy defines responsibilities of those working with and caring for research animals to assure animal welfare and best practice.

Key obligations under this policy

  • The Crick is committed to developing and using non-animal alternatives wherever possible and creating and nurturing a culture of care around the animals that are still essential in many areas of biomedical research.
  • The Crick engages in public dialogue on the use of animals in research, and will openly explain the aims and methods of our research.
  • Anyone undertaking research, training and collaboration at The Crick (both, internally and externally funded) that involves the use of protected animals is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Animals in Scientific Procedures Act 1986 (as amended 2012) [ASPA] and other regulations listed below.

Additional responsibilities for managers

  • Ensure that all work activities under their control are within the scope of this Policy.


Why do we need this Policy?

Research involving animals has played an important role in modern medicine, underpinning our current understanding of how the body functions in health and disease and enabling the development of treatments. 

This policy defines responsibilities of those working with and caring for research animals with animal welfare and best practice as a priority.

Are there external standards that the Crick needs to meet?

This Policy addresses the Crick’s responsibilities under the following legislation:

Who does it apply to?

This Policy applies to the whole Crick community which includes all Crick employees, students, visitors (including visiting scientists), contractors, agency staff, service providers and anyone else engaged to work at the Crick, whether by direct contract with the Institute or otherwise. It is of particular relevance to anyone undertaking research, training and collaboration within the Francis Crick Institute involving use of research animals. 

What are the key commitments of the Crick in regard to animal research?

The Crick is committed to developing and using non-animal alternatives and to creating and nurturing a culture of care around the animals that are essential in many areas of biomedical research.  

The Crick engages in public dialogue on the use of animals in research and will openly explain the aims and methods of research at the institute.

The Crick supports biomedical research using animals providing: 

  • It has been successfully and independently peer reviewed
  • It has been approved by The Crick Biological Research Facility Strategic Oversight Committee (BRF-SOC) incorporating the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB)
  • It is fully compliant with Home Office Regulations
  • The 3R’s – replacement, reduction and refinement of animals in research – have been actively considered and applied, and no non-animal alternatives exist with which the same scientific objective can be achieved.
  • All local mechanisms and procedures for animal welfare have been applied.

What are the principles of the use of animals in research policy?

1.     Animals should be given due respect and care by all who look after or handle them or perform experiments on them.
2.    The Crick is a signatory on the Concordat on Openness on animal research in the UK, it supports and encourages employees to be as open and transparent as possible about the use of animals in research.
3.    Researchers involved in the use of animals are actively encouraged to promote an understanding of the need to use animals for their research.
4.    All work must have received the appropriate local and regulatory approval and be terminated if any such authorisations are withdrawn.
5.    Researchers, veterinary and animal care staff are responsible for the design and conduct of research using animals, including consideration of the fate of the animals once the research is concluded. When collaborating with other laboratories, researchers should satisfy themselves that welfare standards are consistent with the principles of UK legislation and the Crick’s quality standards.
6.    All those working with animals must give appropriate consideration to the 3Rs and their application.
7.    Outputs from BRF-SOC and its AWERB subcommittees are clearly disseminated to all staff.
8.    When Crick employees are asked to act as a peer reviewer assessing grant proposals, they are responsible for assessing the validity, necessity and justification of research using animals.
9.    Researchers should use the PREPARE checklist (Smith AJ, Clutton RE, Lilley E, Hansen KEA, Brattelid T. PREPARE: guidelines for planning animal research and testing. Lab Anim. 2018;52(2):135-41.) when designing their experiments and include in their published papers information that is recommended in the ARRIVE Guidelines (Sert Nathalie PD, Viki Hurst, Amrita Ahluwalia, Sabina Alam, T. Avey M, Monya Baker, et al. The ARRIVE guidelines 2.0: Updated guidelines for reporting animal research. PLOS Biology. 2020;18(7):e3000410) and would be likely to help others in the field implement the 3Rs in similar experiments.
10.    All staff must adhere to local health, safety and security standards and must report any breaches in these procedures to their manager.
11.    Any individual who feels these principles are not being fully adhered to or has any concerns with respect to the health and welfare of animals should raise this promptly, in the first instance with their line manager, a Named Person (ASPA) or senior member of the BRF, the Establishment Licence Holder or through the Institute’s whistleblowing policy.

What role do you play and what are your responsibilities?

Everyone at the Crick has a responsibility to be familiar with this policy. Specifically, those accessing the BRF must follow key principles of this policy, work in accordance with ASPA and local procedures.

What are the additional responsibilities for managers at the Crick?

Managers must assure that their staff members have access to the policy and understand its key principles and local procedures. They must also assure that their staff members work in accordance to ASPA and attend relevant training to assure high standards of compliance and governance.

What training do you need to complete?

All Personal and Project Licence holders should attend obligatory annual refresher training session. 

What is the role of the Sponsor?

The Sponsor is responsible for ensuring that this Policy is reviewed regularly and updated to align with external legislative, regulatory and other developments and to reflect current best practice. 

Where can you find more information?

  • BRF governance, ethical review and licensing.  

If in doubt as to your obligations, you should speak to your manager or the policy owner.

What related and local Policies apply to you?

  • Open Science Policy
  • Research Integrity and Governance Policy

What should you do if you have questions or concerns?

The Crick is committed to the highest standards of safety, transparency, probity and accountability.  You can raise any questions or concerns with your manager or with the policy owner in the first instance. However, if you have any serious concerns relating to existing, previous or likely acts of malpractice at the Crick, the whistleblowing policy provides a clear, confidential mechanism for reporting your concerns and describes the steps the Crick will take to addressing and reporting back on them.