Ten organisations account for half of all animal research in Great Britain in 2022

Today, 13 July 2023, Understanding Animal Research (UAR) has published a list of the ten organisations that carry out the highest number of animal procedures - those used in medical, veterinary, and scientific research - in Great Britain. These statistics are freely available on the organisations’ websites as part of their ongoing commitment to transparency and openness around the use of animals in research. The University of Manchester is ninth on the list.

This list coincides with the publication of the Home Office’s report on the statistics of scientific procedures on living animals in Great Britain in 2022.

These ten organisations carried out 1,434,403 procedures, 52% or just over half of the 2,761,204 procedures carried out on animals for scientific research in Great Britain in 2022*. Of these 1,434,403 procedures, more than 99% were carried out on mice, fish and rats and 82% were classified as causing pain equivalent to, or less than, an injection.

The ten organisations are listed below alongside the total number of procedures they carried out in 2022. Each organisation’s name links to its animal research webpage, which includes more detailed statistics. Case studies explaining how animal research has been used in recent medical research are also provided in the Notes to Editors section. This is the eighth consecutive year that organisations have come together to publicise their collective statistics and examples of their research.

Organisation Number of Procedures (2022)
University of Oxford 209,544
University of Cambridge 206,992
The Francis Crick Institute 190,981
University of Edinburgh 154,764
Medical Research Council 136,732
King’s College London 123,228
University of Glasgow 108,204
University of Manchester 95,004
Imperial College London 60,904
TOTAL 1,434,403

UAR has also produced a of 64 organisations in the UK that have publicly shared their 2022 animal research statistics. This includes organisations that carry out and/or fund animal research.

All organisations are committed to the ethical framework called the ’3Rs’ of replacement, reduction and refinement. This means avoiding or replacing the use of animals where possible, minimising the number of animals used per experiment and optimising the experience of the animals to improve animal welfare. However, as institutions expand and conduct more research, the total number of animals used can rise even if fewer animals are used per study.

All organisations listed are signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK , which commits them to being more open about the use of animals in scientific, medical and veterinary research in the UK. More than 125 organisations have signed the Concordat including UK universities, medical research charities, research funders, learned societies and commercial research organisations.

Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive of Understanding Animal Research, which developed the Concordat on Openness, said:

"Animal research remains a small but vital part of the quest for new medicines, vaccines and treatments for humans and animals. Alternative methods are gradually being phased in, but, until we have sufficient reliable alternatives available, it is important that organisations that use animals in research maintain the public’s trust in them. By providing this level of information about the numbers of animals used, and the experience of those animals, as well as details of the medical breakthroughs that derive from this research, these Concordat signatories are helping the public to make up their own minds about how they feel about the use of animals in scientific research in Great Britain."

Dr Joanna Stanley, Named Training and Competency Officer and 3Rs manager at The Biological Services Facility, University of Manchester, said:

"At the University of Manchester, we ardently advocate for the 3Rs - Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement of animal usage in research. The 3Rs are ingrained in all aspects of our work, from striving to replace animals in research procedures whenever feasible, to implementing the most up-to-date refinements in our housing and husbandry practices. We are deeply committed to this approach, as it allows us to conduct the most pertinent and reproducible research while maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare."

Professor Anne C Ferguson-Smith, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research & International Partnerships) and Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics, University of Cambridge, said:

"In Cambridge we have careful monitoring of our animal usage, applying reduction, replacement and refinement of animal work to ensure that they are only used when there is no alternative. For example, animals are used in research tackling neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, and in repairing damaged nerves to restore movement to paralysed limbs.

We want to make major improvements to people’s lives, and we have a moral responsibility to ensure new treatments or procedures are safe, by assessing them first on animals, before developing approaches to apply them to humans."

Dimitrios Anastasiou, Senior Group Leader, and Chair of the Crick’s 3Rs Committee, said:

"We want to understand more about how living things work to help improve treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of human disease. The Crick research infrastructure offers easy access to a range of non-animal methodologies. However, animals are still needed to provide insights into how complex organisms work and what goes wrong in disease. If we use animals, we do so with the least number of animals, while ensuring the most optimal conditions to minimise the impact on animal welfare."

Dr Catherine Martin, Vice-Principal Corporate Services, University of Edinburgh, said:

"The University of Edinburgh uses animals in research only when their use is justified on scientific, ethical and legal grounds and when no suitable alternatives are available. We demonstrate our commitment to the 3Rs - Replacement, Reduction and Refinement - in numerous ways, including the development and use of non-animal models, such as in vitro methods, computer modelling and human subjects, where appropriate. We will keep working on the implementation of these principles across the University of Edinburgh to address scientific challenges while continuing to strive to reduce the numbers of procedures carried out in animals."

Professor Geraint Rees, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) said:

"Animal research forms a small but vital part of biomedical research at UCL, contributing to life-saving medical advances from cancer to dementia to Covid-19 and beyond. Our scientists use animals in their research only when necessary, while continually striving to develop new ways to replace animals in their research, reduce their usage, or refine their methods to mitigate harm, without detracting from the quality and potential impact of the research."

Claire Newland, MRC Director of Policy, Ethics and Governance, said:

"The MRC, part of UKRI, supports the highest quality research that has led to the development of life-saving treatments and advanced our understanding of basic human biology. The use of animals has been necessary for many of these developments, including recent breakthroughs in our understanding of metabolism-associated diseases.

MRC-funded research has the highest possible level of animal welfare and is guided by the principles of replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals, MRC upholds the commitments of the recently published UKRI position statement on involving animals in research and innovation."

Dr Julie Keeble, Interim Director of Biological Services at King’s College London, said:

"At King’s we are committed to enabling world class research that puts animal welfare first. Research on animals is only carried out where there are no alternatives and where an integrated whole-body system is required to advance research."

David Duncan, University of Glasgow Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, said:

"Research using animals makes a vital contribution to the understanding, treatment and cure of a range of major diseases and viruses in humans such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and COVID-19. While the University is committed to the development of alternative methods - such as computer modelling, tissue culture, cell and molecular biology, and research with human material - some work involving animals must continue for further advances in medical sciences to be made. Animals are used in research only where it is essential, and the University remains committed to the principles of reduction, refinement, and replacement. All research undertaken on animals is conducted under strict ethical and welfare guidelines, under licence by the Home Office."

Professor Marina Botto, Director of Bioservices, Imperial College London, said:

"Imperial continues its commitment towards the 3Rs principles and openness around animal research. At Imperial animals are used only when there is no other viable alternative to understand human diseases and how they can be treated. Imperial is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare and this is reflected in our accreditation by AAALAC International, which promotes the humane treatment of animals in science."

Case studies for each institution, including The University of Manchester, are available here *The Home Office recorded 2,761,204 completed procedures in 2022, 1,434,403 (52%) of which were carried out at these ten organisations.