The health and welfare of research animals are of paramount importance to Imperial. The College employs more than 60 members of staff to care for animals.
Day-to-day care is provided by dedicated animal technicians who work in specially designed animal houses. Technicians ensure that laboratory animals are supplied with food and water; clean, comfortable cages; and enrichment materials, such as cardboard tubes and boxes. Between them, they check on each animal every day.
Technicians work closely with scientists, making a major contribution to research at Imperial. Research staff regularly give presentations about their data to technicians to engage them with their work and give them the opportunity to provide input.
Among the technicians are 15 Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers who are independent from scientific research and authorised by the Home Office to monitor the care and welfare of animals in accordance with the law.
Imperial also employs a group of trained vets who are specialised in caring for research animals. Their roles include advising researchers on topics such as designing the most ethical experiments, and the use of pain relief and anaesthesia. These vets are on call round-the-clock to provide emergency care to animals when needed.
Before researchers can get a licence to work with animals, they must receive appropriate training on ethical and welfare issues, techniques and skills, and legal responsibilities. Following training, researchers are assessed to ensure they are competent to carry out animal research. The College provides a programme of continuing professional development for technical and research staff to maintain and improve their skills and knowledge of working with animals.