Animal welfare and good research go hand in hand
Although the development of methods replacing animal experiments is constantly advancing, some scientific questions still require the use of animal models. The complexity of a living organism is indispensable, especially in understanding multifactorial diseases such as autoimmune disorders, in which a multitude of organs and cell types are involved.
Therefore, the DRFZ runs a state of the art animal facility and houses numerous different mouse strains. Genetically modified mice are an invaluable component of biomedical research. The facility is divided into an experimental facility in Berlin Mitte and a separate breeding area in Berlin Marienfelde. Specially trained animal care takers and veterinarians ensure optimal husbandry conditions and a seamless monitoring of the animals in favour of animal welfare.
All mice are kept under so-called SPF (specified pathogen free) conditions to ensure that they are free from pathogens which could interfere with their well-being and also with experimental studies. For this purpose, the facility is equipped with personnel locks and all supply material is thoroughly autoclaved before being introduced to the facility. Moreover, mice undergo a regular health-monitoring in order to detect potentially pathogenic microorganisms.
As a part of the Leibniz Association, the DRFZ is obliged to be transparent and openly communicate with the public regarding animal experimentation. It is a member of the German research institutions´ information initiative „Tierversuche verstehen“ (engl.: understanding animal research; www.tierversuche-verstehen.de), which informs about animal experiments conductedat publicly funded research institutions and promotes the dialogue between science and public. Scientists involved in animal experiments at the DRFZ are obliged to follow the 3R principle – replace, reduce, refine – in order to minimize any animal distress in the experiment and to improve animal welfare. They are consulted by independent animal welfare officers who furthermore ensure and supervise their adherence to respective rules and regulations.
The institute’s animal welfare committee* meets on a regular basis and supports the animal welfare officers in their duties and their animal welfare surveillance.
Furthermore, the DRFZ provides a training programme conducted by veterinarians which educates scientists in compliance with European Union and German animal welfare legislation and under close consideration of animal welfare. This training programme is comprised of a theoretical and practical part after which successful participation is officially certified. For all employees working with animals, regular training and further education concerning laboratory animal protection and the 3R principle is offered.
* The animal welfare committee consists of animal welfare officers, animal care staff and scientists working experimentally.
Animal welfare, animal protection, 3R principle
Animal facility management:
Dr. med. vet. Anja Schulz
Animal welfare officers:
Administration and Technical Staff:
Dr. Uwe Klemm, Experimental Animals, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin
Dr. Geert Michel, Transgen Facility, FEM, Charité University Medicine Berlin
Ronald Naumann, Transgenic Core Facility, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden
Frank Zimmermann, Biotechnology Laboratory, University Heidelberg
Ullmann K, Jourdan T, Kock M, Unger J, Schulz A, Thöne-Reineke C, Abramjuk A (2018): Recommendations for the development and use of Score Sheets as a tool for applied refinement. Berl Münch Tierärztl Wochenschr 131(7/8):292-298.