About Us

About the BSU

The Biological Services Unit (BSU) was established to breed, supply and hold animals for research and teaching purposes in a strictly controlled environment as outlined by Irish and European Law. Animals are only used where there are no alternatives and even then only after a vigorous ethics application review and authorisation by the regulatory authority, the HPRA. All animals are monitored and checked by a qualified veterinarian.

The BSU is responsible for the welfare and security of all laboratory animals held by the University and ensures that all animal research  in the University conforms to the current Legislation and is carried out by authorised personnel. The BSU provides support and training facilities for researchers in animal handling, surgical and experimental techniques.  The BSU supports and encourages best practice in animal care and welfare. The BSU has a dedicated team of highly trained technical staff providing care 365 days a year. A designated Veterinarian is available at all times.

Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3Rs)

 The 3Rs refer to the terms Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, principles which were originally defined by William Russell and Rex Burch in 1959. The 3Rs aim to improve the welfare of animals used in science or education, while advancing the quality of scientific and medical testing. The 3R principles remain a fundamental concept in laboratory animal science today, underpinning EU and National legislation on the protection and welfare of animals used for scientific purposes. These principles also apply to the conduct of studies used in domestic animals as well as wild animals or birds that might be the subject of research projects.  

All research carried out in University College Cork (UCC) on live laboratory animals is performed under the conditions as laid out in S.1. 543 of 2012 and associated Directive 2010/63/EU. Research takes place under authorisations granted by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The animal welfare body (AWB) assesses all research projects in terms of impact on animal welfare. All research protocols are approved by trained and qualified members of an ethical review committee (AEEC). Research is overseen by trained and qualified animal care staff and by the AWB. All research studies and research facilities are audited by external regulatory bodies, for example, The Health Products Regulatory Authority  and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Research studies are undertaken in the University's Colleges of Medicine & Health and Science, Engineering & Food Science and research institutes associated with them. While alternatives to live animal models (for example: cell lines, tissue/ biopsy samples, bacterial and yeast models) are widely used in UCC, the use of animals in state-funded scientific research has produced beneficial results to human health that could not otherwise have been achieved. For example, the use of state-of-the-art in vivo imaging techniques has resulted in the development of successful methods for the delivery of targeted therapeutics and the use of non-invasive interventions and devices to alleviate chronic disease symptoms and reduce morbidity. Projects include Cancer research, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Cardiovascular disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's Disease, Anxiety & Depression, Ocular genetics and Obstetrics & Gynaecology. The University does not carry out research on live animals for the purpose of cosmetic testing.

Contact Us

Please email us at BSUAdmin@ucc.ie

Biological Services Unit