Imperial College London: Imperial receives second award for openness around animal research

Imperial openness about the use of animals in research has been recognised for the second time with a Leader in Openness Award.

Imperial College London was one of 13 organisations to be granted Leader in Openness status by Understanding Animal Research in 2019, when the scheme was first launched. The Leader in Openness position has now been reconfirmed for the period 2022-2024.

The College is a signatory member of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, meaning that along with 120 other organisations it has made the following commitments:

We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals
Examples of openness
Imperial regularly publishes news stories and features about new discoveries and developments that have involved animal research. Alongside this, staff have worked with the website Reddit to produce live Q&As where the public can ask scientists questions about animal research, including one talking about work on a COVID-19 vaccine and the animal research involved in it.

We want people to understand how we work with animals, the care we take with their welfare, and the significant role of our animal work in making scientific and medical advances.
Robert Floyd
The College has also published articles about how Imperial staff ensured animal welfare was maintained despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. In December 2020, the Imperial animal unit also launched a podcast series to share the voices of animal technicians working in the facilities during lockdown.

In September 2021 Imperial published its latest animal research report, detailing some of the recent developments in the animal research facilities at Imperial and exploring how work involving animals has contributed to important research at the College, including work to tackle COVID-19.

In 2021 a new Hub was created for the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement). The primary aim of the Hub is to promote the 3Rs principles across the College and influence the College culture of care.

These projects are in addition to a dedicated animal research section on the Imperial website where people can learn about Imperial’s work in this area.

Assessing openness
To confirm its Leader in Openness status, Imperial went through several stages of assessment. These were designed to evaluate organisations that commit considerable resources and energy to following best practice, embedding openness within their organisations and making the aims of the Concordat a reality.

The award was made after a thorough assessment process from a public panel, a peer review process and a second round of public review.

Robert Floyd, Director of Central Biomedical Services, said: “This is fabulous news and reflects our continued efforts to promote openness and awareness of animal research.

“We want people to understand how we work with animals, the care we take with their welfare, and the significant role of our animal work in making scientific and medical advances. Many people have contributed to this award, and it recognises their creativity and efforts. Well done everyone.”

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