University leads sector on animal research openness

The University has received a Leader in Openness Award in recognition of its sector-leading efforts to improve transparency around the use of animals in research.

white mouse sitting on gloved hands of an animal technician


Additionally, a project to deliver teaching kits to schoolteachers has won one of the annual prizes at the annual Understanding Animal Research awards.

Overall, the judges praised the University’s outstanding work on public engagement and commitment to media engagement and described the website as “interesting, thought-provoking and clear”.

One of the peer reviewers said: “This institution shows outstanding work on public engagement. They have shown active engagement with the media over the last few years. They have a comprehensive website and a multifaceted programme to provide information to staff and students."


In 2014, the University joined 120 UK institutions in signing a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, a commitment to be more transparent about the use of animals in scientific, medical and veterinary research.

Since then, it has engaged in a sustained initiative to meet the commitments of the Concordat, which include being clear about when, how and why we use animals in research and providing opportunities for the public to find out about our work.


The Leaders in Openness Award was established in 2019 to recognise those institutions that have signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK and who continually go beyond complying with the Concordat, leading the sector in meeting best-practice recommendations.

Assessment for the Leaders in Openness award involves members of the public, and specialist peers who are professionally involved in animal research.

Edinburgh is one of 14 institutions across the UK to hold the accolade, which is held for three years.

Research involving animals represents a small but significant part of our world-leading research and is undertaken with serious regards to the surrounding issues. A large team of researchers, animal technicians and vets work with, and care for, our animals under tight legislative control. These awards recognise the commitment of staff and students across our University over a period of many years to make research involving animals transparent and better understood. This is a courageous and important endeavour aligned to our core value of being open about our work and the benefits that it brings for society as a whole.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal of the University of Edinburgh

 Annual awards

The annual Openness Awards recognise the innovation and courage shown by individuals and their organisations in supporting greater openness around the use of animals in research. The University has been a finalist in the awards in four out of the past five past years.

2020: Winner, Public Engagement Award

2019: Winner, Public Engagement Award

2018: Highly Commended, Media Engagement Award

2016: Highly Commended, Website Award

Experiment kits

The University also won one of the 2020 annual prizes for a project to provide experiment kits to school pupils across the UK and beyond, developed by the Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre.

The kits aim to give teachers and pupils an insight into the experimental process and demonstrate the value of animal research. They were made available freely online to aid home schooling at the beginning of the pandemic.

Related links

Find out more about the University’s animal research

Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre experiment kits