Research involving animals

Almost every major breakthrough in human and veterinary medicine has depended on the use of animals in the research, development or testing of new therapies. 

At this time, research involving animals remains an essential tool to increase our understanding of how human and animal bodies work, how diseases affect them, and how diseases can be prevented or treated.

Our position

Wellcome supports the use of animals in research if the potential health benefits are compelling, appropriate welfare standards are met and where there are no alternatives.

We strongly support developing a more open dialogue between the research community and the public on:

Read our position:

See our analysis of Wellcome grants involving animal research 2016/17.

What we're doing

We’re committed to being open about research involving animals:

Replacing, reducing and refining animal research: the 3Rs

The 3Rs is a framework established over 50 years ago to ensure humane and high-quality scientific research. 

The 3Rs stand for:

  1. Replacement  promoting the use of other methods
  2. Reduction  reducing the number of animals used 
  3. Refinement  minimising pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm, as well as improving the welfare of the animals used. 

The 3Rs are critically important. Our funding is contingent on researchers meeting the 3R standards and we’ve embedded them throughout our grant processes. 

How we work with the NC3Rs 

We support the work of the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) and are a long-standing funder of their activities. 

When we consider a grant application from a researcher who will use non-human primates, cats, dogs or horses in their project, we send their application to the NC3Rs for its opinion and guidance to inform our decision making. 

More information

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact Sam Alvis


Influencing policy

Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.


Regulation creates an environment where research and innovation can flourish. 

Reports and consultations