Taming anxiety and variation in laboratory mice

Routine handling and restraint of laboratory animals has profound - but variable - effects on anxiety, stress physiology and underlying neurochemistry. Recently, we have shown remarkably strong differences in anxiety, aversion and behavioural variation in response to alternative methods for routine handling of laboratory mice. The aim of this studentship will be to extend our initial studies to establish practical approaches that can easily be implemented to reduce anxiety and stress responses of laboratory mice to routine handling, restraint and mild procedures. This has the capacity to substantially improve the lifetime experience of mice used in research. The student will also explore whether such approaches reduce variation in experiments that are likely to be influenced by stress and anxiety responses, and will increase reproducibility between experimenters. This has the potential to reduce the numbers of animals needed for research.



Gouveia K, Hurst JL (2013) Reducing Mouse Anxiety during Handling: Effect of Experience with Handling Tunnels. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66401. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066401

Gouveia K, Hurst JL (2017) Optimising reliability of mouse performance in behavioural testing: the major role of non-aversive handling. Scientific Reports 7: 44999. doi: 10.1038/srep44999

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PhD Studentship



Principal investigator

Professor Jane Hurst


University of Liverpool

Grant reference number


Award date:

Oct 2010 - Sep 2014

Grant amount