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Home Animal Research Our Commitment to Responsible Research

Replace, Refine, Reduce

At the University of Utah, we recognize that high-quality science and humane animal care are inseparable. That’s why we are committed to internationally accepted guiding principles called the “3 R’s”: replacerefine, and reduce.

When scientists design a research study, they must evaluate all available ways to test their hypothesis. Whenever possible, they choose alternative methods to replace animals. A number of questions can be answered using other methods, such as computer modeling, cell culture, or bacterial systems.

However, none of these techniques are capable of imitating the complex nature of how a disease or a drug affects the entire body. A new candidate drug could have unexpected side effects that would not be detected through testing in artificial systems. While technology is improving at a rapid pace, there are still no suitable alternatives to animals for many areas of medical inquiry.

Our scientists must refine their studies by optimizing procedures to maximize the comfort and welfare of animals. They are also required to reduce the number of animals to the minimum needed in order to obtain accurate and informative results.

The University of Utah goes above and beyond these guiding principles in many ways including by placing animals in adoption homes and sanctuaries whenever possible. We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of scientists, highly-skilled veterinarians, and a team of professional staff that monitors every animal every day. It would be difficult to find people who are more devoted to responsible, ethical, and meaningful research and animal care.