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Biomedical research plays an important role at the University of Zurich (UZH). Many experimental questions in this research area still rely on animals, e.g. cells or organs need to be taken for primary cell culture, organotypic slice or biochemical experiments or in vivo experiments need to be performed since the research aim can only be tested in an entire organism.
The University of Zurich (UZH) is now one of the world's leading institutions in many life science fields. Biomedical research has always been associated with animal experiments. Although the development of new methods has been able to replace many animal experiments, replacement is not yet foreseeable in many important areas, especially in research areas where complex interactions are studied in the whole organism.
The UZH is aware that animal experiments are only accepted with reservations by large sections of the population. It has therefore committed itself to rigorously implementing the ethical principles and guidelines for experiments on animals of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences and the Swiss Academy of Sciences (PDF, 75 KB). The UZH also supports the goals of the Basel Declaration. Laboratory animal husbandry and scientific animal experiments at the UZH must be exemplary and must comply with both legal regulations and internal guidelines. Special attention is paid to the implementation of the 3Rs, i.e. the replacement of animal experiments by alternative methods ("replace") whenever possible and reasonable, the optimisation of the number of animals used in animal experiments ("reduce") as well as the continuous improvement of experimental and husbandry conditions ("refine").
In summary, animal welfare and the 3Rs should be taken into account through exemplary animal husbandry, appropriate training of the persons involved, careful experimental design and the use of all possibilities to reduce animal suffering. The Office for Animal Welfare and 3R, consisting of the Animal Welfare Officers, a 3Rs coordinator and a biostatistician, support the members of the UZH in implementing these requirements. It reports to the Vice-President Research.
The Animal Welfare Officers, the 3Rs Coordinator and the Biostatistician support researchers in the planning and implementation of experiments. Special attention is paid to the "3Rs" (replace, reduce, refine). The Animal Welfare Officers advise the researchers on the preparation of applications for animal experiments (see TSchV Art 129 and 129a) with the support of the 3R Coordinator and the Biostatistician. All applications are critically reviewed and evaluated by the Animal Welfare Officers before they can be submitted to the Cantonal Veterinary Office. The 3R Coordinator is responsible for coordination between UZH and the 3R Competence Centre Switzerland. She promotes the implementation and enforcement of 3RCC initiatives. The Biostatistician offers support in the statistical design of animal experiments, i.e. in the biometric planning for animal experiment applications.
The Office for Animal Welfare & 3R
The staff of the Office for Animal Welfare and 3R participates in the training of specialist personnel for animal experiments (e.g. LTK modules EGA, 2, 6, 11, 13, 14, 21, 23 or research group-specific seminars on specific topics) and provides practical support. In particular, they support the transfer of experience and skills between research groups. The 3Rs Coordinator initiates research projects, training and further education on the topic of the 3Rs and ensures that the 3Rs are given appropriate consideration in degree courses. more information
Animal husbandry and experimental procedures at the UZH should be exemplary. The Animal Welfare Officers ensure that the legal requirements for animal welfare are fulfilled. Violations of the legislation on animal experiments or licensing requirements are not tolerated. As independent experts, the Animal Welfare Officers report directly to the Vice President for Research and are the contact person for the Cantonal Veterinary Office in Zurich and the Animal Experimentation Commission.
The Office for Animal Welfare & 3R
In case of severe shortcomings or suspected violation of the UZH animal welfare policy the Animal Welfare Officers will act as follows:
The Office for Animal Welfare and 3R is also involved in UZH's public relations work with regard to questions about animal experiments, 3Rs and animal husbandry. It also organises guided tours of animal husbandry facilities and lectures as part of the UZH Laboratory Animal Day or school projects.