Close

Animal research

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a world-leader in the field of infectious disease, with scientists working on vaccines, treatments and cures.

Animal lab

To understand the basic biology and progression of diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, which kill millions of people every year, and to design new strategies for their prevention and treatment, research using animals is essential. Most major medical advances have depended in part on the use of animals in research.

The majority of research at the School does not involve animals. By law, animals may only be used if no other non-sentient alternative is available.

In the small proportion of cases where researchers work with animals within our specialist research facility, small laboratory rodents – mostly mice – are the only animals used.

Numbers and types of animals

The School currently holds nine Home Office approved Project Licences to enable our research into the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases of global importance.

In 2016 researchers at the School used 8,457 mice.

These were reported to the Home Office in our annual return of procedures under the following experimental headings:

  • (Basic Research) Immune System
  • (Basic Research) Cardiovascular Blood and Lymphatic System
  • (Basic Research) Gastrointestinal System including Liver
  • (Basic Research) Other
  • (Trans/Appl Research) Human Infectious Disorders

In 2016 we responded to two Freedom of Information requests for details on the use of animals in our research.​​

Best practice

All our researchers follow internationally accredited guidelines for best practice and their work is underpinned by the 3Rs principles:

  • Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques, such as working on cells in labs or using computer models, or avoid the use of animals altogether.
  • Reduce the number of animals used to a minimum, to obtain information from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals.
  • Refine the way experiments are carried out, to make sure animals suffer as little as possible. This includes ensuring the highest standards of care and treatment with support from a team of vets and technicians to improve housing and procedures. The School’s animal facility contains specially designed units where the animals can live comfortably.

Regulation

Animal research in the UK is strictly regulated by law and all research is overseen by the School’s Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board.

The School holds a Home Office Establishment Licence for animal research, all individual researchers working with animals hold separate Project and/or Personal Licences, and staff receive regular training.

Welfare

The welfare of animals used for biomedical research at the School is of the highest priority.  The welfare of our animals is the responsibility of an integrated team of animal technicians, scientists and veterinarians.

We aim to be open about our research involving animals. Read our policy statement (pdf).

Openness

The School, together with more than 70 other leading research institutes and funding agencies in the UK, is a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. An important objective of our research is the publication of statistically valid data of the highest scientific merit and importance in publicly available, peer reviewed journals.

More information on alternatives to animal research can be found on the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME) website