Policy on the use of animals in research

Wellcome supports the use of animals in research if researchers can show that it is legally, ethically and scientifically justified.

All researchers and organisations we fund must comply with the guidelines outlined on this page.

What we expect from the researchers and organisations we fund

Research that takes place in the UK must:

Research that takes place outside the UK must:

Researchers must still get the relevant regulatory approvals if they plan to collaborate with other laboratories or use a Contract Research Organisation (for example, contract out animal research). This is regardless of the species they use or where in the world they conduct the research.

Researchers don't need to have these approvals before they submit their grant application, but they must have them in place before they start their project.

The 3Rs standards

The 3Rs is a framework established for performing more humane animal research.

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) is the UK’s national organisation for the 3Rs. The centre defines the 3Rs as follows:

When you apply for a grant

Applicants must meet the 3Rs standards if they plan to:

Applicants must include details about how they have considered replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals in their research. This should be done from the earliest stages of research design.

Applicants must:

They should develop their grant using the NC3R’s guidelines on the use of animals in research.

Researchers can also use the Experimental Design Assistant. This is a free online tool from NC3Rs to help with the design of their experiments. The outputs of this tool can be added as an appendix to the grant application.

NC3Rs peer review

We send grant applications to the NC3Rs for independent review if the research involves:

This is in addition to the expert peer review we ask for as part of the grant application process.

The relevant Wellcome advisory committee will consider the NC3Rs’ review when they assess the grant application.

If we award a grant, funding may be conditional on the applicant addressing any concerns raised by NC3Rs.

Read about the NC3Rs peer review process.

When grantholders must contact Wellcome

Grantholders must tell us if their use of animals changes during their grant. For example, if the number of animals they use is significantly more than the amount we funded.

This is a requirement of our grant conditions.

We may ask for more information if there is a significant overspend on animal costs.

Grantholders must contact Wellcome immediately if:

More information


This policy was last updated in November 2018.

Contact us

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.