Maastricht University conducts groundbreaking research in the areas of medicine and health sciences. The university is both nationally and internationally renowned for our research efforts in these areas. This research sometimes requires experimentation on animals. Both the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences and the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience conduct research that requires experimentation on animals. The Central Animal Services department manages the facilities used for this research.
Maastricht University is aware of the ethical objections regarding experimentation on animals. The university only conducts animal experiments when the scientific necessity of this research has been established. The respectful treatment of animals, the search for alternatives, the reduction of the amount of animals used and the minimisation of suffering for the animals (also known as the 3Rs – replacement, reduction and refinement) serve as points of departure in all of our research.
The Animal Experiments Act
In 2014, a new Animal Experiments Act was adopted in the Netherlands. The act stipulates that animal experiments should not be conducted unless there are good reasons to conduct them and there are no alternatives available. Animal experiments are subject to strict regulations. Only licensed institutions may conduct them. In the Netherlands, these licenses are predominantly held by universities and research centres. UM complies with the Animal Experiments Act and works according to the Code of Conduct of the Central Animal Experiments Committee , as well as the Animal Experiments Openness Code (Code Openheid Dierproeven or COD in Dutch) . The COD aims to provide openness about the scientific research conducted on animals.
There are strict directives regarding animal experiments that ensure that research is conducted in a careful and responsible manner. Each individual study requires an additional license. The licensing process involves multiple parties, ensuring a thorough decision making process. For each research proposal that involves animal experiments, researchers have to submit a proposal that has to comply with a number of perquisites. The Animal Welfare organisation (Instantie voor Dierenwelzijn or IvD in Dutch) checks the proposal and helps researchers who would like to request a project license. The mandated licensee submits the request to the Animal Experiments Committee (Dier Experimenten Commissie or DEC in Dutch ). The DEC reviews the application and provides the Central Animal Experiments Committee (Centrale Commissie Dierproeven or CCD in Dutch The CCD either provides the permit or refused the request. The CCD is the only organisation in the Netherlands that can provide licenses for animal experiments in the Netherlands.