When planning and carrying out animal experiments, Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht are always striving for replacement, reduction and refinement of the animal experiment, the so-called '3 Rs'.

Replacement: the animal experiment is replaced by an alternative that does not involve animals.

Reduction: the number of animals involved in the experiment is kept as low as possible.

Refinement: the animals' discomfort (pain/distress) is prevented as much as possible before, during and after the experiment.

How 3R-methods have changed the use of animal experiments

Over the past 35 years the development and use of the 3R method has contributed to a change in the use of animal experiments for biomedical research:

  1. The use of experimental animals has been more than halved.
  2. The animals’ suffering has decreased. Severe discomfort is less prevalent.
  3. The animals’ welfare has improved, i.e. due to enrichment and socialising.
  4. The research into and use of animal-free methods has increased.

3R-methods and the transition to animal-free methods

Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht work to promote 3R-methods and alternatives to experiments on animals in various ways:

  • In Utrecht many researchers work on the development and application of the so-called 3R’s.
  • The Department of Animals in Science and Society at the faculty of Veterinary Medicine is responsible for optimising the welfare of animals using research, education and communication.
  • The 3Rs Centre encourages the development, acceptance and implementation of 3R alternatives within Utrecht Life Sciences (ULS).
  • Utrecht University works with the organisations Proefdiervrij and Dierenbescherming to reduce the number of laboratory animals, using tools such as the Animal Donor Codicil.
  • The group TPU Utrecht is involved in accelerating the transition to animal free innovation.