Mice are most commonly used.
Today, mice are frequently used as test animals as it is possible to genetically modify them.
Photo: Göteborgs universitet

Animal testing at the University of Gothenburg

Research based on animal testing is an important and crucial part of medical and scientific research. The research provides new knowledge that is of crucial importance to the life and health of animals as well as humans.

Why animal testing is necessary

Animal testing is carried out for scientific purposes, primarily within medical, veterinary and scientific research. The objective is to develop new drugs, new therapies or to increase our knowledge of how the body operates in order to improve the health of animals and humans. Animal testing is currently an important part of basic medical and veterinary research and within scientific research it may involve investigating the impact of pollution in the environment.

Ethics assessment

Using animals in scientific research is strictly regulated and governed by Swedish law and regulations, as well as by EU directives on animal welfare.

To be able to conduct animal testing in Sweden, you must first apply for permission from an ethics committee for animal testing, which will make an ethical assessment of the intended research. The ethics committees for animal testing comprise research representatives and laymen, including representatives from animal welfare organisations. The committee’s task is to assess the impact on the animals in relation to the public benefit of the research.

Overarching approach

The use of animal testing is an area that gives rise to important questions. For that reason, it is important to explain why animal testing is necessary, why it is not possible to fully replace animal testing with other methods and what our work with animals entails and how it works.

The animals must be used in a responsible manner and any animal testing conducted by researchers at the University of Gothenburg must comply with the 3R Principle for Replacing animals or Reducing their numbers, as well as Refining the methods. 

Supporting a discussion on the importance of using animals for scientific purposes is also tremendously important. 

What animals are used?

Mice, rats and zebra fish are the species most commonly used within medical and scientific research conducted at the University of Gothenburg. Depending on the area of research and the project, other species are sometimes used. The majority of all animal testing is conducted on mice, because of their potential for genetic modification. 

The County Administrative Board monitors animal testing to ensure it complies with the applicable legislation and regulations. Among other things, the animals’ environment is strictly regulated.  This means that the University of Gothenburg bases the work on enrichment plans customised for each species.

Research based on animal testing abroad

International collaboration is of the utmost importance for medical and scientific research. For researchers at the University of Gothenburg who conduct research based on animal testing, the adopted standards for research ethics in Sweden (including the rest of the European Union) shall constitute the guidelines. Researchers must apply for ethical permits in the country where the research is being conducted, and a copy of the permit must be sent to the Animal Welfare Body at the University of Gothenburg. 


The Animal Welfare Body at the University of Gothenburg comprises representatives for the welfare of the animals, veterinaries, permit holders, animal keepers and researchers. This body informs and advises the relevant departments and acts as a consultative body in matters concerning animal testing. It is required by law to have an Animal Welfare Body.


Everyone who works with research involving animal testing at the University of Gothenburg – researchers, students and animal keepers – must undergo training in Laboratory Animal Science, in accordance with applicable legislation. The training is based on the 3R principle: Replace, Refine, Reduce.  Skills must be maintained and updated. All researchers must  incorporate 3R into their research.

The 3R Principle

·       Replace animals with alternative methods whenever possible.

·       Refine methods and execution to continuously improve the conditions for the animals, and to reduce the stress and pain that some animals are subjected to during testing.

·       Reduce the number of animals.

Zebra fish
Zebra fish are used to investigate the effects of various environmental pollutants, but also the effects of possible pharmaceuticals. Primarily, it involves using eggs and fry for so-called in-vitro testing of chemicals.
Photo: Göteborgs universitet