convened the workshop “U.S. and European Animal Research Regulations: Impact on Neuroscience Research.” Held at the Kavli Royal Society International Centre in Buckinghamshire, UK, on July 26-27, 2011, the workshop brought together neuroscientists, legal scholars, administrators, and other key stakeholders to discuss current and emerging trends in animal regulations as they apply to the neurosciences. As outlined by co-chairs Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford, and Arthur Sussman, of the University of Chicago Law School, the workshop was designed to

  • identify and discuss current international animal use regulations;
  • examine the implications of current policies on the research enterprise, including the impact of disparate policies;
  • discuss developments in law school curriculums, animal law practice, and activity in the courts that may affect the use of animals in research;
  • explore the reasons for the establishment of specific regulations; and
  • discuss opportunities for harmonization of regulations and/or the development of global core principles.


As background for the workshop discussions, Blakemore highlighted some of the current issues surrounding the use of animals in neuroscience research. In research involving animals, he acknowledged a necessary tension between the desire to benefit from the advances in knowledge that accrue from studies in animals and the desire to avoid deliberate harm to the animals. Opinions on the use of animals in research are polarized. Researchers, clinicians, and institutions that support animal research, along with a portion of the general public, accept its importance for progress in medicine. The principal argument for using animals in biomedical research states that it is ethically more acceptable than neglecting the suffering of the sick (human or animal, as animal research also benefits animals). Some individuals and organizations, however, oppose animal research on ethical grounds; they contend that humans should not benefit from animal suffering (a deontological argument: actions are either intrinsically right or wrong, regardless of the consequences). Some challenge the validity of animal models and the unreliability of treatments developed through the study of non-human species (a utilitarian argument: the correct action is the one that maximizes the overall good, specifically considering the consequences). Others claim that alternative methods to animal use are already available or could be available with increased efforts to develop them.

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