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.
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 LSHTM 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 rodents and zebrafish are the only animals used.
- Numbers and types of animals
LSHTM currently holds eight Home Office approved Project Licences to enable our research into the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases of global importance.
In 2020 researchers at LSHTM used 1,521 mice and 1,302 zebrafish.
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) Multisystemic
- (Trans/Appl Research) Human Infectious Disorders
- Breeding/Maintenance of colonies of established genetically altered animals
In 2020, we responded to one Freedom of Information request for details on the use of animals in our research.
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.
LSHTM 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.
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).
We, together with more than 70 other leading research institutes and funding agencies in the UK, are 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.