Scientist holding a mouse

The University of Cambridge announces today that it has signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, joining over seventy organisations including academia, industry, funders and charities.

If we are to maintain public support for animal research, our work must be conducted in an environment of openness and transparency

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice Chancellor

Opinion polling in 2012 showed that the public wants to know more about what goes on in animal research. Since then the bioscience community has worked together to set out how it will be more open about why and how it uses animals in research. The final Concordat is published today.

The 72 signatories have undertaken to fulfill the Concordat’s four commitments:

• We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
• We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
• We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
• We will report on progress annually and share our experiences

Under each of the commitments is a series of actions that signatories can take to fulfill them.  These include: identifying spokespeople who will answer questions about an organisation’s use of animals, supporting researchers who would like to talk about their work using animals, and including information on the role that animal research has played in announcements of scientific advances. 

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, says: “Without the use of animals in research, we would have few of the modern medicines, antibiotics, vaccines and surgical techniques that we take for granted in both human and veterinary medicine. Indeed, some of the pioneering work for which Cambridge is best known and which has led to major improvements in people’s lives was only possible using animals, from the development of IVF techniques through to human monoclonal antibodies.

“We are proud of our work, which meets the highest standards of animal welfare, and always strive to reduce the number of animals used. But we recognise the need to talk openly and honestly about our research and why the use of animals is necessary. We know the public is broadly supportive of animal research, but if we are to maintain this level of support, our work must be conducted in an environment of openness and transparency.”

Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive of Understanding Animal Research and Chair of the Working Group which developed the Concordat, says: “For many years, the only ‘information’ or images that the public could access about animal research were provided by organisations opposed to the use of animals in scientific progress.  This is why many people still think that animal research means testing cosmetics and tobacco, despite the fact that these have been banned in the UK for more than 15 years.  The Concordat is an excellent opportunity to dispel these myths and give the public a chance to see the ground-breaking research that is being done on its behalf.”

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