Following a rigorous review process, the Institute’s Biological Support Unit (BSU) has been awarded full accreditation by the international organisation Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). The voluntary accreditation programme provides an international standard for responsible animal care and use.
Accreditation involves a detailed internal review and facility description, followed by external peer review where evaluators undertake a comprehensive on-site assessment of the facility before a final decision by the AAALAC Council. The application process specifically looks for demonstrations of good practice embedded throughout the operations of the animal unit.
“As an Institute we are proud of our outstanding facilities, and to have our animal facility recognised on an international level is a huge achievement. The comprehensive review of our facility highlighted the hard work of our staff, not only those who have direct responsibilities caring for animals, but the many additional roles that allow for the smooth operation of the facility.” said Dr Simon Cook, Institute Director.
In addition to fundamentally supporting the Institute’s life sciences research, the facility is also used by a number of commercial companies and is recognised across the UK as a gold-standard facility. This accreditation confirms the Institute’s animal facility as working at a leading international standard.
What accreditation means to the Institute
The BSU staff have implemented many improvements to the facilities over the years, going beyond the legal Home Office requirements to ensure high levels of care and scientific integrity. They were keen to find a formal way to benchmark their practices and a process for receiving feedback from peers. AAALAC accreditation allowed the facility to fully document their processes and practices for scrutiny and feedback from peers, leading to further improvements.
Paul Symonds, co-Head of the BSU, said: “We are delighted to have received full accreditation, the process was a fantastic way to get input on our ways of working. The application is a thorough assessment from a description of how animals are used in research across the Institute, down to the types of plastic protectors used on bottles of flammable liquid for health and safety purposes. We welcome the valuable feedback we were given, and are always looking to make improvements to how we operate.”
“I was pleased to see the passion of our staff noted in our feedback and in particular their knowledge and commitment. Being among the small number of accredited facilities in the UK is a great achievement.” said Marc Wiltshire, co-Head of the BSU.
The facility’s AAALAC accreditation lasts for three years before the next review, where reviewers will expect to see that the facility has continued to make progress.
Running a leading animal facility
The facility’s expertise and success involve a team of 55 specialists, with a core commitment to developing and training its staff as well as commitments to the highest standards of animal welfare and continuous improvement across the facility’s operation. Certain specified roles, such as the Named Veterinary Surgeon and the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer, which are required by the Home Office for all organisations undertaking animal research, lead on animal welfare but the commitments are shared by all facility members. For a look inside the Institute’s facility, which is operated as a barrier unit to protect the health status of the animals inside, watch the introductory video.
Openness around animal research at the Institute
In 2014 the Institute became a founding signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK. The Concordat serves to promote best practice within the bioscience community by encouraging transparency and openness within animal research.
The Institute and its staff communicate openly about the ways in which animals are used in research, and the ways that we replace, reduce and refine animal research. In 2019 the Institute achieved Leader in Openness status for our activities informing staff, the public and the media about animal research. In 2022, this status was renewed. Details of our animal research and our animal welfare practices are shared in the animal research section on our website.
Honor Pollard, Communications Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Image description: A mouse held by a technician in the Biological Support Unit
Animal research statement:
As a publicly funded research institute, the Babraham Institute is committed to engagement and transparency in all aspects of its research. Please see our dedicated web pages for further details of our animal research and our animal welfare practices.
About the Babraham Institute
The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Learn more about the BSU and animal welfare
Insights into animal care roles
A facility supervisor shares how their views around animal research have changed
30 June 2022