Animal Welfare and 3R at UZH

Biomedical research plays an important role at the University of Zurich (UZH).  A lot of experimental question 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.

UZH believes that animal experiments are indispensable for the research and understanding of an integrated view of the entire organism. While today's experiments have little common with what was previously referred to as ‘vivisection’, the topic of animal experimentation may nevertheless have negative connotations. It is thus essential that UZH researchers understand that their legal duties and abide by the ethical guidelines of the Academies ('University of Zurich Policy on Experimental Animal Research (PDF, 326 KB)', which demand that animal experiments are reduced to the minimum, either by replacing them or by using the minimum amount of animals possible, and by taking that measures to reduce stress and discomfort to animals throughout the entire period of the experiment (3Rs).

The Dept. Animal Welfare with Animal Welfare Officers (AWO) and a 3R coordinatior has a key role to play in supportings the staff members of the UZH and in overseeeings the correct implementation of legislation, internally agreed measures and the 3Rs. The statistic consultant can support researchers in the statistical design of their experiments.

Organisation Chart Dept Animal Welfare

The main duties and responsibilities of the Dept. Animal Welfare are:

  1. Counseling and Support:
    To support and advise researchers who plan or currently conduct animal experiments. The AWO advises the Study Director in the preparation of license applications for animal experiments and ensures that the increasingly stringent requirements are met, particularly for the case of complex experiments.
    The 3R coordinator facilitates and supports the implementation of 3R measures and initiatives and may also initiate 3R research.
    The statistic consultant helps with statistical design, sample size calculatoin and statistical evaluation of results.
  2. Training and Education:
    The members of the Dept of Animal Welfare are involved in teaching and training to support the transfer of knowledge (animal welfare, 3Rs, statistics) and practical skills among researchers. The Dept. of Animal Welfare also initiates specific or on-demand training and education.
  3. Internal controls:
    Animal husbandry and animal experimentation shall be exemplary at the University of Zurich. Violations of legal obligations or deviations from agreed protocols must not be tolerated. Thus, AWOs as well as the 3R coordinator can visit animal husbandries (unannounced internal inspections) and perform spot-checks of animal experiments.

The Head of the Dept. Animal Welfare has the right to issue directives.