Areas we study

The types of animal research carried out at the university range from:

1. Fundamental biology

Fundamental biological and medical research helps us to identify key physiological mechanisms that control how our bodies work, effect health and disease and that could lead to medical breakthroughs in the future

2. Veterinary

To identify and develop ways of assessing welfare in order to influence standards of care in farms and improve care of sick animals, such as developing better pain relief in pet dogs with arthritis.

3. Translational

To develop better treatments for sick people or animals, such as implanting and testing new medical devices in farm species.

The types of studies our animals may be involved in include blood tests, behavioural studies and imaging. Other studies might involve surgery to implant monitoring devices that measure changes in the body, or new medical devices that could help save human lives.

Animals used in research

In 2018, the University carried out 28,308 scientific procedures using animals in research regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The vast majority of these involved rodents (57.4%) and fish (40.16%).

SpeciesProcedures PercentageUse
Mouse  13,714 57.4% Rodents play a vital role in helping us to answer a wide range of questions, including understanding fundamental aspects of our physiology, our genetic pathways and the mechanisms of disease that support the development of future medicines and treatments for both humans and animals.
Rat  2,539
Zebrafish  11,368 40.16% Zebrafish allow us to model the effects of cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoarthritis as well as to study the genetic changes that can contribute to these debilitating diseases. They are incredibly good at regenerating cells, tissues and organs, something that we cannot do. By studying how they are able to do this we hope to find better ways of treating people in the future.
Bat  431 1.52% We study bats to assist with their conservation. Understanding their genetics could help us work out how we can protect them from the effects of global warming.
Pig  106 0.4% Pigs and sheep can help us develop new treatments and devices to benefit both human and animal health. Pigs are also used in studies of infectious disease to develop new vaccines for humans and better medicines for farm species in the future.
Sheep  8
Guinea pig  63 0.22% Guinea pigs are used as a source of tissues for the study of aspects of physiology that are important for improving patient treatment.
Rabbit  35 0.12% Rabbits are the most suitable species for our researchers to study important aspects of cardiac physiology that are key to improving our understanding and in the long-term patient treatment.
Xenopus 28 0.11% Our researchers use tadpoles bred from Xenopus laevis (African clawed toads) to support studies relevant to human disease, such as Parkinson’s.
Rainbow trout  16 0.07% Rainbow trout are studied to help identify and develop new ways to improve their welfare and fishing practices in the future.

Previous years

Facts about animal research

  • All animal research in the UK is regulated and inspected by the Home Office.
  • It is illegal in the UK and Europe to use animals in research if an alternative approach is available.
  • It is illegal in the UK and Europe to use animals to test cosmetics or their ingredients.
  • It is a legal requirement that all potential new medicines intended for human use are tested in two species of mammal before they are given to human volunteers in clinical trials.
  • The law states that all potential veterinary medicines must be safely tested in animals.
Image credit: University of Bristol
Image credit: University of Bristol
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