University of Sheffield’s commitment to greater openness about animal research

  • Animal research has played a key role in the development of virtually every medicine that we take for granted.
  • Sheffield is one of 10 leading universities signed up to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research to publicise their figures.
  • All universities are committed to the ‘3Rs’ of replacement, reduction and refinement.

The University of Sheffield has reinforced its commitment to greater openness about animal research - as one of 10 world-leading universities to publish their research figures today (6 November 2017).

Animal usage pie chart

The new figures show that the 10 leading universities conduct over one third of all UK animal research completing a combined total of 1.4 million procedures. Over 99 per cent of these procedures were carried out on fish or rodents, and in line with national data they were almost evenly split between research and breeding.

The University of Sheffield is eighth on the top 10 list, conducting 83,130 procedures in 2016. The University of Oxford conducted the most animal research with a total of 217,765 procedures.

More than 69 per cent of animal research at the University of Sheffield was conducted on zebra fish in an aim to use species of the lowest neurophysiological sensitivity.

The University of Sheffield is committed to the ‘3Rs’ of replacement, reduction and refinement. This means avoiding or replacing the use of animals where possible, minimising the number of animals used per experiment and minimising suffering to improve animal welfare.

However, as universities expand and conduct more research, the total number of animals used can rise even if fewer animals are used per study.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: “As part of our efforts to remain at the forefront of medical and scientific advances, which results in lifesaving treatment for people with chronic and degenerative diseases, we conduct a limited amount of research using animals.

"The University is currently undertaking more biomedical research as part of a drive to increase our UK and international standing as a centre of research excellence.

This research contributes to ground breaking developments in understanding and treating major diseases such as cancer, deafness, heart disease Parkinson's and other neurological conditions which devastate millions of lives every year.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of sheffield

"This research contributes to ground breaking developments in understanding and treating major diseases such as cancer, deafness, heart disease Parkinson's and other neurological conditions which devastate millions of lives every year.

"Wherever possible the University of Sheffield is committed to using species of the lowest neuro-physiological sensitivity such as zebrafish.

"Our scientists are fully committed to finding other alternatives to research which is currently dependent on animals."

Animal research has played a key role in the development of virtually every medicine that we take for granted today.

However, despite decades of dedicated research, many widespread and debilitating conditions are still untreatable. Medical research is a slow process with no easy answers, but animal research helps to take us incrementally closer to treatments for cancer, dementia, stroke and many other debilitating conditions.

In 2015, scientists from the University of Sheffield discovered MRI scanners, normally used to produce images, can steer cell-based, tumour busting therapies to specific target sites in the body. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners have been used since the 1980s to take detailed images inside the body – helping doctors to make a medical diagnosis and investigate the staging of a disease.

This ground breaking study, which found MRI scanners can non-invasively steer cells injected with tiny super-paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to both primary and secondary tumour sites within the body, would not have been possible without animal research

The University of Sheffield is a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, a commitment to be more open about the use of animals in scientific, medical and veterinary research in the UK. 116 organisations have signed the concordat including UK universities, charities, research funders and commercial research organisations.

Wendy Jarrett, Chief Executive of Understanding Animal Research, which developed the Concordat on Openness, said: “The Concordat has fostered a culture of openness at research institutions up and down the country. Institutions now provide an unprecedented level of information about how and why they conduct medical, veterinary and scientific research using animals.

"Almost two-thirds of the university Concordat signatories provide their animal numbers openly on their website – accounting for almost 90 per cent of all animal research at UK universities.”

Additional information

The University of Sheffield
With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Contact

For further information please contact:

Amy Huxtable
The University of Sheffield
Media Relation Officer
0114 222 9859
a.l.huxtable@sheffield.ac.uk