The Biological Research Facility (BRF) at St George’s, University of London is a highly-regulated area within the university. It is responsible for ensuring that whenever research requiring animals is approved by St George’s, and with authorisation of the UK government, that such research is carried out with the best possible welfare standards – within a great ‘culture of care’ that society, as a whole, would expect.
The BRF comprises specialist animal laboratory facilities that have been purpose-built and maintained for the housing and care of a range of laboratory animal species required by St George’s scientists for medical research. These laboratory areas are staffed by a dedicated team of experienced animal technologists, who have gained qualifications from the Institute of Animal Technology (IAT) and who provide specialist assistance to the research groups at the university on all aspects of animal care and welfare. This involves ensuring a high standard of laboratory animal husbandry through provision of a hygienic environment (within suitable animal holding systems such as cages, pens and tanks), high-quality diet and clean water, which allow the ‘five freedoms’ of animal welfare to be achieved.
Our commitments and obligations
The staff of the BRF are responsible for maintaining the high standards of animal care and welfare expected by St George’s Animal Welfare Ethical Review Body (AWERB), and for ensuring the university’s legal compliance with UK Home Office regulations under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
Inspectors from the Home Office conduct unannounced inspections at the BRF to ensure the various licence conditions are being complied with. Failure to comply can result in revocation of any or all of the three levels of licensing applicable, may also include a fine and, for a major breach of licence conditions, a custodial sentence for the person named on ‘The Establishment Licence’ could apply.
The animal technologists (BRF team) at St George’s work closely with the Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS) on all welfare aspects, with certain members of the team, eg Named Animal Care & Welfare Officer (NACWO), Named Training & Competency Officer (NTCO), Named Information Officer (NIO), having additional legal responsibilities for upholding the high standards defined within the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, as amended in 2012 and subsequently.
St George’s has a Use of Animals in Research policy, which is regularly reviewed and updated in line with new developments, progress and refinements as recommended from many national and international sources, but in particular from NC3Rs, the Fund for Replacement of Animals in Medical Research (FRAME) and Norecopa.
St George’s was an early signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research and strongly embraces the commitments and obligations signed ‘up to’ within this agreement. The BRF team are proactive in activities which ensure Concordat commitments continually progress at the university.