This is a translation of the original document in German. The translation is provided for information purposes only and has no legal bearing. Only the German document is legally binding.
The University of Zurich is a leading international institution in the area of life sciences. The knowledge gained in this area of rapid scientific progress is of great significance, both socially and economically. The importance of Zurich as a research center is also determined to a large extent by its ability to integrate results gained across various disciplines, ranging from findings at the molecular level to assessments of entire populations. Each research area has its own methods, which are being constantly developed in order to open up new avenues of research and explore new questions. Experiments on live animals are essential to many research areas within the life sciences.
The original University of Zurich Policy on Experimental Animal Research, which first entered into force upon approval by the Executive Board of the University on 3 October 2013, is based on the CRUS (Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities) Policy for Animal Research1. The current policy (revised on 2 February 2021) was amended again following a consultation process and approved by the Executive Board of the University on 16 November 2021.
Policy on Research Involving Animals (PDF, 127 KB)
UZH employees involved in animal research, as well as their line managers and management bodies, commit to the following strategic principles:
1 CRUS Policy for Animal Research
2 Animal Welfare Act (cf. footnote 3) as well as the "Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Experiments on Animals", Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (2005).
3 The 3R principles (replace, reduce, refine) refers to a concept developed by William Russell & Rex Burch (Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, 1959). Today, the principles are internationally recognized and, in accordance with legislation on animal protection (e.g. Art. 137 AniWO), must be taken into account when designing experiments with animals.
The following guidelines apply for implementing the strategic principles on research involving animals:
4 Swiss 3R Competence Center
5 Art. 129a AniWO (in German)
6 Standard operating procedures
7 PREPARE: guidelines for planning animal research and testing
8 Basel Declaration
9 swissuniversities: Scientific integrity as a central pillar of academic values
Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences: Scientific integrity
Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences: Code of conduct for scientific integrity (2021)(Chapter 3.2, p. 15.)
ALLEA: The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2017)
UZH is committed to upholding high ethical principles for experiments involving animals, whether carried out in Switzerland or abroad.
This policy provides a framework for conducting research involving animals (as defined in Art. 112 AniWO12) carried out abroad by UZH researchers. Collaborations should not be restricted, provided that the ethical principles of the other institution are consistent with those of UZH.
While experiments involving animals carried out in Switzerland are assessed by the relevant cantonal commission on animal experimentation as well as by cantonal authorities, there is not always an equivalent evaluation and ethical assessment for animal research performed abroad. However, it is the view of UZH and other institutions in Switzerland that their researchers should not participate in animal research projects abroad if these projects were or could not be carried out for ethical reasons in Switzerland. UZH researchers planning and conducting research involving animals abroad are thus required to ensure that the principles of the present policy, the ethical principles applying in the country where the research is carried out as well as the Nagoya protocol13 are respected in the context of their project.
The researchers overseeing a project involving animals abroad must inform the Office for Animal Welfare and 3R about the planned project before starting their research.
UZH and its staff members present their position on research involving animals in an open dialogue with policymakers, law enforcement officials and the general public based on UZH’s communications concept on research involving animals (Kommunikationskonzept Forschung mit Tieren) and the position statement14 and core messages contained therein. UZH joins a nationally and internationally recognized transparency initiative for animal research.
Furthermore, UZH ensures that staff members are sensitized to the complexity of experimental animal research and are aware of the divergent societal perspectives on animal experimentation, thus promoting the formation of informed and differentiated opinions.