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Animal Research

Animal Research at Queen's


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In accordance with our commitment to the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), whenever possible researchers use non-animal approaches in their research.  For example, cell and tissue culture, molecular biology, computer modelling and the study of samples from human patients are used extensively.

However, some animal work must continue in order that our researchers can examine the aetiology of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, blindness, neurodegeneration, and infectious diseases.  In turn, the enhanced understanding can lead to the development of treatments and cures.  Animals are only used in research where there are no alternatives.  Their use is controlled by the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) and subsequent amendments. 

Queen's University Belfast, as a signatory of the Concordat on Openness, is committed to transparency on the use of animals in research.

Subsequently the table below outlines the species and total number of animal procedures, under ASPA, in the last year at Queen’s. 

2022 Statistics


Species  Non-Recovery Mild Moderate Severe Sub-Threshold Total
Mice 90 4709 4190 206 4174 13369
Rats   369 618 5 102 992
Rabbits   4       4
Gerbils   35       35
Fish   28       28
Total 90 5145 4808 211 4174 14428

View the figures for previous years (2013-2020) here and 2021-2022 comparison here.

Examples of severity as per the categories in the table above can be viewed by clicking here.

As a world-leading research intensive University that aims to enhance the understanding, treatment and cure of human disease, researchers sometimes have to harvest tissues or cells from organs, such as eyes, blood vessels, brain or kidneys to enhance detailed physiological knowledge.  Subsequently, animals are sacrificed solely for this purpose.  The Department of Health, Northern Ireland, request every five years figures for 'Schedule 1' use.

These were last produced for the years 2013-2017 and are available to view here.