Animal research

Ethical review and the AWERB

All animal research at the University is overseen by an Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB)

An AWERB is a legal requirement under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

The AWERB meets monthly to consider and advise the establishment licence holder on whether to support Project Licence applications involving the use of animals in research. The AWERB review process involves critical evaluation of all ethical, scientific and welfare issues related to any research project.

AWERBs should:

  • Raise awareness of animal welfare and the 3Rs-Reduction, Refinement and Replacement of animals in research
  • Provide a forum for discussion and development of ethical advice to the establishment licence holder on all matters related to animal welfare, care and use at their establishment
  • Advise all staff involved in animal research and care, on animal welfare, ethical issues and provision of appropriate training
  • Promote a 'Culture of Care' within the establishment and, as appropriate, in the wider community.


The key tasks of the AWERB are to:

  • Advise staff dealing with animals in the licenced establishment on matters related to the welfare of the animals, in particular to their acquisition, accommodation, care and use
  • Advise on the application of the 3Rs and keep the AWERB informed of relevant technical and scientific developments
  • Establish and review management and operational processes for monitoring, reporting and follow-up in relation to the welfare of animals housed, or used, in the licenced establishment
  • Follow the development and outcome of projects carried out on site, taking into account the effect on the animals used; and to identify and advise on elements that could further contribute to the 3Rs
  • Advise on re-homing schemes, including the appropriate socialisation of the animals to be re-homed.



The University of Edinburgh has two AWERBs - one general committee and one that specialises in large animals and poultry.

These are composed of:

  • Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer(s) (NACWOs)
  • Named Veterinary Surgeons (NVSs)
  • Named Training and Competency Officer (NTCO)
  • Named Information Officer
  • Scientific researchers
  • Lay members (from the community)
  • Studies design advisor

Home Office inspectors may also attend.


In addition to the AWERB, the University has a seperate 3Rs committee, which advises on the reduction, refinement and replacement of animals in research.

3Rs Committee

Home Office Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986