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Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour

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Animal research at the SWC

Studies using laboratory mice and rats are essential to helping us understand the way the brain is organised and how it functions. Our research groups are variously studying the way that the rodent brain computes external stimuli and uses social and sensory clues to evoke patterns of behaviour, how the brain locates in familiar and unfamiliar environments and how it learns. All these aims involve studying the normal behaviour of mice (and occasionally, rats) using methods that permit us to map the areas of the brain associated with different behaviours.

All our animal research is undertaken under stringent requirements of the law. We are fully compliant with and strongly support the intention and purpose of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, as amended, which encompasses EU Directive 2010/63/EU. We have in place the required three levels of legal authority from the Home Office to conduct our animal research: an Establishment Licence defining the management controls and dedicated facilities at SWC for animal work; Project Licences authorising the various programmes of work and justifying the need for animals; and Personal Licences for those trained and competent persons who carry out defined techniques on the animals. We are regularly visited throughout the year by inspectors from the Home Office's Animals in Science Regulation Unit to ensure the laws are being enforced.

The welfare of our animals is of paramount importance, both for the animals and the validity of our science. All research is critically challenged by the Animal Welfare & Ethical Review Body to ensure it is fully justified and that the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement of animal research) have been rigorously applied. We have several appointed Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers (NACWOs) and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons provides round-the-clock veterinary advice.

We are committed to providing open and transparent information about our research involving animals and our standards of animal care and welfare. We work closely with Understanding Animal Research, an organisation that explains why animals are used in medical and scientific research. We are part of UCL and are funded by Wellcome, both of whom are signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. As our research develops, we shall explain more through the pages of this site and through public engagement activities, how and why rodents are used in our work. We welcome your questions about our use of animals in research which can be emailed to us.