Published: April 2014

This guide is to help AMRC members implement new policies concerning animal research. It explains these policies and signposts the relevant resources available to support you.

All AMRC members have different strategies for how they fund high quality research. Although not all fund or have funded research involving animals, all AMRC charities support the principle of using animals when it is necessary to better understand health conditions and diseases and to develop new and better treatments. Charities only use animals when there are no alternatives.

It is important that AMRC members are aware of our policies and guidance around the use of animals in research. To help you, we have put together this guidance pack explaining more.

Requirements for AMRC members are:

  1. Supporting the 3Rs through peer review
  2. Promote the 3Rs in your terms and conditions
  3. Publicly supporting AMRC’s Statement on the use of animals in research
  4. Providing details of the use of animals in the annual grant data collection

This pack contains a number of resources to help you implement the four policies listed above. For a full list of the resources available and where to find them, see Annex 1.

Introduction

The NC3Rs

This guide has been produced by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), an independent scientific organisation tasked by the government to drive and fund 3Rs research and innovation.

The accompanying resources have been developed jointly by AMRC and the NC3Rs, except where individually branded as the AMRC or NC3Rs.

What are the 3Rs?

The welfare of animals used in research is very important. Researchers would prefer not to use animals at all so they work hard to find alternatives and, where there are currently none, they use the smallest number of animals they can and ensure these are looked after well and do not feel any preventable discomfort.

These principles are called the 3Rs:

  • Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques, or avoid the use of animals altogether.
  • Refine the way experiments are carried out, to make sure animals suffer as little as This includes better housing and improvements to procedures which minimise pain and suffering and/or improve animal welfare.
  • Reduce the number of animals used to a minimum by seeking ways to find out information from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals.

Support the 3Rs through peer review

The AMRC Principles of Peer Review have been amended to state that all AMRC members consider the 3Rs in their peer review process. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you meet our requirements:

You may wish to nominate a member or subset of your scientific advisory committee to focus on reviewing this additional information. This may be suited to committee members who have experience in this area.

These processes became mandatory in 2017.

AMRC research management workshops are run regularly to help charity staff with the practicalities of managing peer review and research grants in medical research charities, including the 3Rs. For more information and to see when the next workshop is please visit our events page.

Promote the 3Rs in your terms and conditions

The following are best practice for charities to include in grant terms and conditions to support the 3Rs:

  • Grant holders should make use of the ARRIVE guidelines when designing their experiments and should ensure that they report animal-based studies in accordance with the ARRIVE guidelines as far as possible, taking into account the specific editorial policies of the journal concerned.

See the Promoting the 3Rs in your terms and conditions for suggested wording. We recommend you use this to ensure that your cover all the necessary areas and can hold grant holders to account if difficulties arise.

Further ways to support the 3Rs

There are many other ways charities can support the 3Rs. We have produced a briefing Further ways to support the 3Rs featuring case studies of ways charities are already doing this. NC3Rs will also be producing a newsletter showcasing 3Rs news specifically for AMRC members, allowing you to keep up to date with scientific advances in the 3Rs. Sign up by emailing NC3Rs.

Publicly support AMRC’s statement on the use of animals in research

All AMRC members support our position statement on the use of animals in research. To increase transparency and demonstrate unity we have introduced a new requirement for all AMRC members to now publicly indicate this on their website.

The statement sets out medical research charities’ support for research using animals where there is no alternative and where there is a clear link between the research and advancing the understanding of disease, preventing disease or developing potential treatments. Although some funders may not fund animal research themselves, as AMRC members they must indicate their support for this statement and so recognise the important role of animal research in the medical research process.

This became mandatory at the 2014 AGM.

See our guidance on supporting the AMRC policy statement on the use of animals in research for further information and suggested wording.

Provide AMRC with data on the use of animals in research

All AMRC members must provide three additional pieces of data for each grant reported annually:

  1. Does the grant involve animals protected under UK law?
  2. Which animal species is used (including non-protected species such as flies)?
  3. Are any animals genetically modified?

You may need to update your grant database in order to record this information so that you can report it to AMRC. You may want to include these questions in your application form, or you may decide to add the information yourself based on information in the application.

These data became mandatory for grants awarded from 2015 onwards (reported in February 2016).

We will never release these data about individual charities and will only use them in relation to the whole membership, in line with our Privacy Notice.

Annex 1: full support pack contents