Using animals in scientific research has been critical to the development of modern medicine. Animal research is also contingent on a complex network of social relations and ethical obligations across science and society, which are both formally constituted through law, and informal or assumed. These entanglements can be understood as the animal research nexus.
Our work seeks to understand the changing nature of these relations and obligations through new social and historical research on:
- the historical interrelations which forged the shared understandings across scientific practice, animal welfare and health benefits embodied in the UK’s Animals (in Science Procedures) Act in 1986
- the contemporary challenges which are emerging as scientific practices and social expectations change established patterns of laboratory animal use and supply, professional roles and responsibilities, project benefits and patient engagements
- the forms of dialogue between stakeholders, scientists and publics which might contribute to remaking social contracts across the animal research nexus in the UK
This research is funded by the Wellcome Trust (2017-2022) and builds on our collaborative research agenda exploring what the humanities and social sciences can contribute to the improvement of animal science and welfare. Our programme of research brings together leading researchers on the social and historical dimensions of animal research, uniting the strengths of five institutions, engaging creative practitioners, and advancing the work of early career researchers and PhD students.