UK organisations release annual statistics for use of animals in research

The ten organisations in Great Britain that carry out the highest number of animal procedures – those used in medical, veterinary and scientific research – have today released their annual statistics.

Animal research continues to be an important part of biomedical science, but as research institutions it is vital that we do not take public support for granted, and instead explain clearly why and how we work with animals and the steps we take to ensure good animal welfare.

Anne Ferguson-Smith

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 2021.

These ten organisations carried out 1,496,006 procedures, 49% or nearly half of the 3,056,243 procedures carried out on animals for scientific research in Great Britain in 2021. Of these 1,496,006 procedures, more than 99% were carried out on mice, fish and rats and 83% were classified as causing a similar level of pain, or less, as an injection.

The ten organisations are listed below alongside the total number of procedures they carried out in 2021. Each organisation’s name links to its animal research webpage, which includes more detailed statistics. This is the seventh consecutive year that organisations have come together to publicise their collective statistics and examples of their research.

OrganisationNumber of Procedures (2021)
University of Oxford207,192
University of Cambridge199,203
UCL185,278
The Francis Crick Institute183,363
University of Edinburgh172,100
Medical Research Council169,989
King’s College London111,750
University of Glasgow103,271
University of Manchester87,535
Imperial College London76,325
TOTAL1,496,006

A further breakdown of Cambridge’s numbers, including the number of procedures by species and detail of the levels of severity, can be found on our animal research pages.

Understanding Animal Research (UAR) has also produced a list of 63 organisations in the UK that have publicly shared their 2021 animal research statistics. This includes organisations that carry out and/or fund animal research.

All organisations are committed to 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, a commitment to be 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. We know that the majority of the British public accepts that animals are needed for this research, but 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.”

Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Cambridge:

“Animal research continues to be an important part of biomedical science, but as research institutions it is vital that we do not take public support for granted, and instead explain clearly why and how we work with animals and the steps we take to ensure good animal welfare.

“Since first signing the Concordat in 2014, Cambridge University has strived to be as open about our animal research as possible, sharing a wealth of information and case studies, and continuing to engage the public. We believe it’s important to show leadership in this area and we hope our efforts make a difference and show others within the sector what can be achieved.”

Adapted from a press release by Understanding Animal Research.

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