The Case for Animals in Research and Teaching

Animal Research and Use

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, research is conducted with respect to a wide range of health concerns. In certain cases, it is necessary to use laboratory animals in studies to advance science and achieve breakthroughs that improve human and animal health and save lives. In fact, all research institutions around the globe rely heavily on the use of animals in health research. We are committed to humane, responsible, and ethical treatment of all animals, including abiding by all relevant federal and Massachusetts regulations and requirements.

Why Animal Research?Lab work

Animals are used in research only when no better options exist. Over the past two decades, significant progress has been made in developing alternatives such as cell cultures and computer models, yet there are still cases in which research involving animals is necessary to study the complex interactions of different physiological processes and systems. In these situations, animal models can help by mimicking the human disease, defect, or ailment in order to allow for therapeutic research. The use of laboratory animals is vital to research conducted in many fields, including immunology, neuroscience, behavior, nutrition, and conservation research in field settings. For example, at UMass Amherst, animal research is leading to improved understanding of breast cancer susceptibility factors, effects of age on cognitive abilities, women’s health, the effects of certain chemical on human health, and the impact of shift work on the circadian clock as it relates to metabolism and various diseases. In some cases, animal research leads to discoveries that improve the health and well-being of animals, such as research into contraception in feral animals.

Our Commitment to Animal CareLivestock

We follow the highest ethical standards and all applicable laws in our policies and practices relating to laboratory animals. All researchers must go through a rigorous process to justify the use of animals in research, including demonstrating that there are no viable alternatives. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews all research and teaching studies involving living, non-human vertebrate animals to ensure humane care and use.

The Attending Veterinarian/Director of Animal Care Services oversees the care of animals, with additional oversight from the IACUC. To promote the animals’ health and comfort, our facilities are regulated for heat, air conditioning, ventilation, humidity, lighting, and access, and are located close to classrooms and laboratories to minimize transportation stress. Facilities are cleaned and checked on a regular schedule in compliance with federal animal welfare laws. Animal Care staff feed, water, and check the animals’ health and well-being every day, year-round. In addition, animals benefit from environmental enrichment, such as toys and treats.

For more information on animal research programs, protocols, and oversight, please visit the Animal Subjects FAQ.

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