We have all likely benefited from the results of animal research. The polio vaccine, for
example, and other vaccines preventing devastating childhood diseases would not
have been possible without testing in animals. At its peak in the 1950s before
vaccinations became available, polio paralyzed or killed an estimated half a
million people a year. Today, polio has been virtually eradicated in much of
Most major medical advances of the past century are due, in part, to research with animals.
many serious diseases still threaten our well-being: AIDS, Alzheimer's, cancer
and Parkinson's disease, to name a few. Research toward developing ways to treat
and prevent these and other ailments likely will involve the use of animals
before the treatments are used in humans.
than ever, researchers understand the responsibility that comes with the
privilege of working with animals. Their work involves not only a duty to
provide a humane environment for their animal subjects, but to minimize the
number of animals used, to make their involvement in research as comfortable as
possible and to look for alternatives to their use in scientific studies whenever
principles were published in a 1959 book called The Principles of Humane
Experimental Technique. The authors William Russell, a zoologist, and Rex
Burch, a microbiologist, were the first to introduce the concepts of reduction,
refinement and replacement, also known as the "Three R's." Although
perhaps not known specifically by Russell and Burch's label, the Three R's are
widely accepted today as the basic principles of good laboratory animal
Reduction refers to methods to reduce or minimize the number of animals used in experiments to acquire necessary information.
Refinement refers to improved experimental techniques that eliminate or reduce animal stress and discomfort.
Replacement refers to methods that allow a research goal to be achieved without conducting experiments on animals.
site is dedicated to promoting a greater awareness and understanding of the
Three R's among the research community, the news media and the general public.
The Three R's and their history are discussed in greater detail on subsequent
California National Primate Research Center is committed to the humane care and
use of animals used in research and endorses Russell and Burch's concepts of
the Three R's. Research proposals using animals provided by the CNPRC address
the Three R's. Studies using animals require prior approval by UC Davis's
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which ensures that the
project also meets all federal laws governing animal care and use.
In addition, the UC Davis campus, which includes CNPRC, is
accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory
Animal Care (AAALAC), a private, nonprofit group that promotes the humane
treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation. UC Davis is
one of more than 770 research institutions and other organizations that have
earned AAALAC accreditation, demonstrating its commitment to responsible animal
care and use.