Research

"Animal welfare and ethical considerations are at the heart of our animal research"

Professor Tim Warner, chair of the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body, explains its important work.

Scientific research using animals has resulted in enormous benefits for human and animal health and welfare. However, this research may result in pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm for the animals.  It is necessary to ensure that the benefits justify the harm done. It is a difficult balance to strike, and the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB), as an independent body, is an effective way of achieving this.

Constitution and composition

The AWERB is an advisory body and its role is set out by law. It gives advice to QMUL’s Establishment Licence Holder (ELH) who has the responsibility to ensure QMUL complies with the legislation on animal welfare and ethical review issues and who would not normally go against AWERB advice. The AWERB is not required to report to any other person or group inside or outside QMUL.

At QMUL, the AWERB is made up of:

  • A chair
  • At least three members who have a knowledge of animal research through being project licence holders, either currently or in the past
  • The Named Care and Welfare Officer
  • A lay member
  • A statistician
  • The Named Veterinary Surgeon
  • The ELH often attends
  • The Home Office Inspector attends occasionally

Of these, the lay member, statistician and ELH at QMUL do not have training in biological research or animal welfare. Lay people can bring a broader view to the crucial ethical question of whether the potential benefits of the research are worth the harm to the animals.

Background of the Chair

Prof Warner is a trained pharmacologist principally researching in the area of cardiovascular health.  He is also Director of the Blizard Institute, the largest school of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.  Prof Warner has held a personal Home Office licence since 1984 and has over 35 years’ experience of laboratory research involving experimental animals.  A more detailed profile can be found here https://www.qmul.ac.uk/blizard/staff/all-staff/profiles/tim-warner.html

The RSPCA run annual seminars for lay members of AWERBs which are useful in keeping up to date with the issues.

Animal welfare and ethical considerations are at the heart of our animal research.

Professor Tim Warner, chair of the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body