New checklists to support the assessment of welfare standards in overseas research

Today the NC3Rs is launching a series of checklists that will support UK funding bodies to ensure animal research carried out overseas is conducted to appropriate standards of welfare.

As part of our peer review and advice service, we review research proposals involving the use of non-human primates, cats, dogs and equines for 20 other research funding bodies. This is to ensure that the 3Rs and appropriate standards of welfare will be implemented in any funded research. Approximately one-third of the proposals we review involve animal use outside of the UK. However, most of the proposals that these funding bodies receive involve the use of rodents or other species that fall outside of the remit of our peer review service.

In recent years many of the funding bodies, with the support of the UK Government, have launched schemes such as the Newton Fund and the Global Challenges Research Fund to support collaborative research aimed at addressing challenges faced by developing countries. This presents an additional concern for funders, as standards of research animal welfare in developing countries can be lower than those implemented in the UK, meaning applications can fall short of funding bodies’ expectations.

To address these issues, the NC3Rs developed a simple checklist to assist funders in assessing whether rodent research conducted overseas conforms to UK welfare standards. Applicants complete the checklist and upload it as part of their research proposal. Deviations from UK good practice can then be readily identified.

Today, we are releasing additional checklists for the use of rabbits, sheep, goats and pigs overseas, which funding bodies can incorporate into their application submission and peer review processes. Further checklists are planned for release later this year – please subscribe to our monthly newsletter for updates.

Funding bodies wishing to use the checklists are advised to contact the NC3Rs for guidance via enquiries@nc3rs.org.uk.

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