Markets & Materials

Exploring the changing networks formed around the origins and fates of laboratory animals via in-depth interviews and ethnography.

There is increasing emphasis on the whole life of experimental animals, from new guidelines from funders and regulators on animal breeding and supply, to the encouragement of strain archiving and tissue sharing through biobanks, and to the rehoming of animals used in regulated procedures. At the same time, breeding has been a visible target for past anti-vivisectionist activity, with multiple attempts to disrupt and reduce the supply of experimental animals to the UK. This has not straightforwardly improved the life experiences of animals used in UK research, nor reduced numbers, instead often increasing imports of animals and overseas research. Altogether, these changes raise questions about the implications of these increasingly complex networks for efforts to protect animal welfare and for future scientific research.

This project therefore approaches the animal research nexus by exploring the changing networks formed around the origins and fates of laboratory animals through in-depth interviews and ethnographic methods.  We seek to map these evolving networks of animal breeding, supply, and rehoming and understand them within the cultural economies of doing different types of scientific research using animals. We will address questions about value, quality, assurance and welfare within animal supply chain practices.

This project is carried out by the team at the University of Southampton. If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact the Project Lead, Dr Emma Roe, or to direct specific questions about breeding, biobanking and supply to Dr Sara Peres or rehoming to Miss Tess Skidmore.

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Engagement Activities


Laboratory animal science represents a challenging and controversial form of human-animal relations because its practice involves the deliberate and inadvertent harming and killing of animals. We propose that different notions of care are enacted alongside, not only permitted levels of harm inflicted on research animals following research protocols, but also harms to ATs in the processes of caring and killing animals.

The application of genome editing to animal research connects to a wide variety of policy concerns and public conversations. In this paper, we explore three key roles that publics are playing in the development of genome editing techniques applied to animals in biomedical research: as publics, as populations, and as participants.

Despite its increasing attention from animal welfare organisations, there is currently a lack of research which explores the numbers and species rehomed after being used in animal research. This paper, using a semi-structured questionnaire, explores rehoming practice across UK animal research facilities in order to provide an overall picture of current rehoming practice.

This poster introduces investigations into the implications of laboratory animal rehoming on stakeholders, ethical and regulatory issues, and the relations people have with animals both inside and outside of the laboratory space.

This poster discusses the management of animal numbers in our research examining the breeding, supply, and biobanking of lab animals within the economies of biomedical science.

Blog entry

Written by: Emma Roe
Written by: Tess Skidmore
Written by: Sara Peres
Written by: Bentley Crudgington, Emma Roe, Sara Peres
Written by: Tess Skidmore
Written by: Sara Peres



Project partners