Research using animals

The University of Central Lancashire is committed to excellence in research. We work at the forefront of scientific and medical advances in order to impact positively on society. Animal research plays an important role in some of the research we undertake. Whilst we take every opportunity to reduce the use of animals for research, on occasion there is no alternative available.


At UCLan we take our responsibility in relation to the use of animals in research seriously. Therefore, we have become a signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK which is promoted by the organisation Understanding Animal Research. Signing the Concordat illustrates our commitment to undertaking animal research in an ethical and responsible manner.

Animal welfare

At UCLan the welfare of the research animals is important to us. Therefore, our animals are housed in a purpose-built facility. We have a dedicated team who have Home Office recognised qualifications and provide day-to-day care. Further, a veterinary surgeon is on call at all times and carries out both pre-planned and unannounced inspections. The facility is also open to inspection by the Home Office at any time.


Research involving animals will be carried out in-line with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (1986) / EU Directive 2010/63/EU, the UCLan Ethical Principals and under the guidance of our Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB). All researchers who are involved in animal research are fully trained and have the appropriate Home Office licenses required for their studies.

Reduction, refinement and replacement

UCLan is committed to the promotion of the 3Rs (reduction, refinement and replacement).

  • Reduction – to use the minimum number of animals needed to ensure valid results.
  • Refinement – to maintain the highest possible standards of animal care, use and welfare, to initiate experimental improvements where possible to minimise pain and distress on the animals.
  • Replacement – to use alternatives wherever possible, for example, computer modelling, cell and molecular biology, tissue culture, human clinical research.

Therefore, alternative methods to the use of animals for research will be used whenever possible. However, if animals need to be used, we are committed to refining our experimental techniques and using the minimum number of animals to allow valid results.

Facts and figures

All activities which involve animal research are communicated to the Home Office on an annual basis. Moreover, within the University of Central Lancashire, annual reports on all animal research projects are subjected to review by our local AWERB. The University also endorses the Animal Research: Reporting InVivo Experiments (ARRIVE) Guidelines which are designed to improve the reporting of animal use in research.

  • In calendar year 2017, the University used 591 animals in total.
  • In calendar year 2018, the University used 877 animals in total.
  • In calendar year 2019, the University used 896 animals in total.
  • In calendar year 2020, the University used 684 animals in total (636 mice and 48 rats).
  • In calendar year 2021, the University used 0 animals in total. Read more.

Common questions about research using animals

Yes. The University of Central Lancashire conducts biomedical research aimed at understanding disease and developing new medicines to treat chronic and debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Some of this research requires the use of animals.

No. We have never been involved in cosmetics testing which has been banned in the UK since 1997. We do not do lethal dose toxicity testing (so called LD50 studies) in animals.

At the University of Central Lancashire, currently all the regulated animal work we do is with small mammals (mice and rats). They are vital to finding out more about conditions that have devastating effects on people. We do not use larger animals and have no intensions of using large animals (for example cats, dogs, primates) in our regulated research. 

Animals used in our research are always purpose-bred and their welfare is a priority. The Home Office classifies animal research into mild, moderate and severe procedures, depending on the levels of pain and distress the animal is likely to experience. The majority of animal research conducted at the University of Central Lancashire is classed as mild (e.g. blood sample), or moderate procedures (e.g. tumour growth studies). We do not undertake any severe level procedures.

Yes. Animal research is regulated internally by the University’s Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB) which comprises of academics, researchers, lay members and service staff. Further, all regulated animal research must be licensed and approved by the Home Office. Home Office inspectors visit us regularly, often unannounced, to ensure that our work meets the UK’s legal and welfare standards.

No-one wants to use animals and we are working on finding ways to replace them. In fact, UK law states that we must use alternatives where they are available. We use tissue culture and computer modelling, but some properties are shown only by whole animals. For example, although vascular cells can be studied in tissue culture, the regulation of blood pressure can only be studied in whole animals.