Regulation and oversight
Legislation and Licences
All work performed at the School involving animals is governed by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3039) which also applies the European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. This Act of the UK Parliament and the associated Guidance controls how all animals are obtained, housed and treated in our research programmes.
The School holds an Establishment Licence which certifies that we have the appropriate facilities, staff and regulatory governance to perform animal experiments. Each scientific theme requiring the use of animals is associated with a Project Licence, often held by the principle investigator of a research group, which describes the justification for the work, why it cannot be done without the use of living animals, a cost-benefit analysis of the work and the details of each specific procedure and type of experiment. The experiments are performed by holders of a Personal Licence which defines the techniques they are each permitted to use.
More information on the regulation and licensing of animal research in the UK can be found on the Home Office website.
The integrity of our research is overseen by the Human Ethics Committees (for observational and interventional research involving human subjects) and by the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB) for all research involving animals. Similarly to the Human Ethics Committees, the AWERB is made up of both School staff and independent external reviewers. The AWERB membership includes a statistical advisor, to ensure the design of experiments is rigorous and will provide statistically reliable data, experienced biomedical scientists who do not work with animals, our Named Veterinary Surgeon, the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer and Named Training and Competency Officer to advise on welfare and training issues, as well as representatives of Project and Personal Licence holders.
The purpose of the AWERB is to act as a regulator of both proposed and ongoing animal experimentation performed under the responsibility of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The AWERB is also responsible for evaluation and discussion of the ‘philosophical ethical issues’ of animal use within the School as well as issues in how practical animal care and research are carried out.
- Promotes awareness of animal welfare.
- Provides a forum for discussion and development of ethical advice to the Establishment Licence holder on all matters related to animal welfare, care, accommodation and use under the responsibility of the School.
- Supports named people, and other staff dealing with animals, on animal welfare and ethical issues.
- Promotes the development and uptake of the 3Rs and advises staff how to apply them.
- Reviews all proposals for Project Licences, considers how the 3Rs are being applied and advises the Establishment License holder on their acceptability, bringing local knowledge and local expertise to bear. Project Licences are typically valid for five years and are formally reviewed by the AWERB prior to submission to the Home Office, at mid-term and upon completion. In this way, throughout the lifetime of projects, the AWERB follows their development and outcome, so that lessons learnt can be used to further apply the 3Rs.
- Promotes awareness of animal research to all members of the School.
More information on how the AWERB process works can be found in LASA Guiding Principles on good practice for Ethical Review Processes. 2nd Edition, July 2010. (PDF)