As one of the signatories of the 2014 Concordant on Openness on Animal Research, the Academy of Medical Sciences is committed to transparency around how we conduct, fund and support the use of animals in research.
In 2020, out of the 189 grants that the Academy awarded, 28 grants (or 15%) proposed the use of animals in their research*. This compares to a similar proportion in 2019, in which 26 of 177 awards (15%) proposed using animals.
Of the 2020 studies proposing the use of animals:
- 25 of the studies proposed using mice
- 3 proposed using rats
As part of our ongoing commitment, the Academy publishes yearly statistics on the number of research grants we have funded that proposed the use of animals, and which species they proposed to use.
The Academy uses expert peer review to assess all of our research grant applications. In cases where the applications mention the use of animal research, we ensure that the benefits of the research to human and animal health outweigh any potential harm to animals during the research. We only fund research that complies with the law, and all work is carried out in line with strict Home Office guidelines.
We send relevant applications to be reviewed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)**. The resulting feedback is provided to members of our grant scheme Selection Panels, to inform their review and discussion of the application. In 2020, we used the NC3Rs peer review service twice; one application was subsequently recommended for funding at the scheme’s Selection Panel meeting.
The Academy supports the principle that animals should only be used in research when no alternatives exist to find out the same information. We support the principles of the 3Rs to refine, reduce and replace the use of animals in research and our awardees are required to follow ARRIVE guidelines (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) in order to minimise unnecessary studies whilst improving the design, analysis and reporting of animal research to maximise the information published.
For more information about the Academy's position, please see our Statement on the use of animals in research
For more information on the Concordat, please visit the dedicated Understanding Animal Research (UAR) website.
* Defined as applications for which the proposed use of animals would fall under the ‘Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986’ (ASPA), whether based in the UK or internationally. This act regulates the use of any protected animal in research or scientific procedure which may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to the animal. Protected animals are defined by the act as any living vertebrate apart from man and living cephalopods. Where awards involve the use of animals outside of the UK, applicants are required to required to demonstrate in their application that work is conducted to standards equivalent to those in the UK.
In 2020, one application was recommended for funding by Selection Panel members following NC3Rs peer review. The study proposed the use residual cat blood obtained during routine veterinary treatment in compliance with the Veterinary Surgeons Act. As this application was not subject to ASPA, it is not reflected in the number of grants funded in 2020 published above.
** Including applications which propose the use of non-human primates, dogs, cats, equines and pigs.