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Animals in Research

Countless health advances that exist today, including medications, flu shots, veterinary interventions, and minimally invasive surgery, have been made possible through decades of responsible animal research.

Carefully regulated, humane animal research is the foundation of nearly every major medical advance in the last century, and promises to be equally essential to the next century’s progress.

Neuroscientists are key players in charting a path to greater understanding of diseases and disorders of the brain and improved health outcomes. Researchers have found new treatment options for soldiers who have lost limbs as well as potential ways to spot and treat Alzheimer’s disease earlier. All of this progress relies on animal studies to understand brain function and ensure safe and effective therapies.

SfN engages in advocacy efforts in support of animal research, while also implementing strong programs to educate the public on the importance of animal research, helping researchers who experience animal rights extremism, and providing other support to members conducting animal research.


  • Nearly all research animals are rodents—mice and rats—bred specifically for research. Dogs, cats, and non-human primates together account for less than one percent of the total.
  • Animal research for animal health has resulted in many life-saving and life-extending treatments for cats, dogs, farm animals, wildlife, and endangered species.
  • The 1999 USDA Annual Report revealed that 55 percent of all research procedures with animals involved no more than slight or momentary pain or distress (i.e. an injection). Thirty-six percent of the research procedures employed anesthesia and postoperative painkillers.
  • Some achievements of animal research:
    • Smallpox has been eradicated from the face of the earth.
    • More than 553,000 men and women undergo, and survive, coronary bypass surgery each year.
    • The 420,000 patients who receive hip and knee replacements each year no longer face confinement in wheelchairs or great difficulty and pain when walking.
    • More than 1,200 leukemia patients, many of them children, receive life-saving bone marrow transplants each year.

Animals in Research News

Upcoming NABR Webinar on Animal Legal Personhood Issues

Mar 14, 2014

The National Association of Biomedical Research (NABR) will host a webinar on April 16 on why a new wave of lawsuits presents a threat to biomedical research.

American Bar Association Likely to Consider Recommending Amendment to Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

Mar 12, 2014

A resolution recommending an amendment to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is likely to come before the American Bar Association at their 2014 annual meeting in Boston.

UK University Pledges to Change the Culture of its Animal Research

Feb 03, 2014

Imperial College London, one of the UK's leading universities, outlined a "wholesale reform" of the ethical review and governance of its animal research, following criticisms last year.

Inside Animal Research Facilities at Oxford

Feb 03, 2014

Oxford University has opened its doors to the BBC to allow them to film animals in its research facility.

A Response to Animal Activism in Wisconsin

Jan 06, 2014

Michael Goldberg, past president of the Society for Neuroscience and chair of the Society's Committee on Animals in Research, spoke out in support for animal research in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Judges Deny Chimpanzees 'Personhood'

Dec 16, 2013

Three lawsuits filed that attempted to achieve "legal personhood" for four chimpanzees living in New York have been struck down. The suits, brought by the animal rights group the Nonhuman Rights Project, involved two chimps that reside in a research lab at Stony Brook University.

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