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The University of Southampton
Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body

The Role of AWERB

Rats in red tunnel
Group housed rats with environmental enrichment

The Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) oversees the use of animals for teaching and research at the University of Southampton.

What Does AWERB Do?

The AWERB is a local framework acting to ensure that all use of animals is carefully considered and justified; that proper account is taken of all possibilities for replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs); and ensure that appropriate standards of accommodation and care are met.

List of AWERB Tasks

The AWERB advises staff involved with work with animals on all matters that can affect their welfare. This includes where and how the animals are obtained or bred, how they are reared, handled, transported, as well as the accommodation in which they are kept, how they are cared for and how they may be used in research.

The AWERB also reviews the management and operational reporting processes regarding the welfare of animals involved in University activities. This includes any concerns that may be raised.

A major activity of the AWERB is the scientific and ethical review of research proposals involving animals under ASPA and to advise the Establishment Licence Holder whether to support these. Neither student nor staff can start any research before this approval is given. This applies equally if the animals to be researched are fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and cephalopods. There are two categories of animal research; research regulated under ASPA but is regulated by other legislation as well as University oversight. Currently AWERB remit does not include projects involving insects.

This process enables the University of Southampton to fully meet its legal obligations under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and thus hold a licence to conduct research that falls within this act. This responsibility is delegated to the Establishment Licence Holder whose work is supported by the AWERB. This rigorous review of project proposals and of any desired amendments to the project also provides assurance that all aspects of the 3Rs have been fully considered.

How Often Does the University of Southampton AWERB Meet?

The AWERB meets 4 times a year, though additional meetings for staff development and for working groups, including project review groups, may happen on a more frequent basis.

Who Sits on the AWERB? 

The AWERB chair
The Establishment License Holder
A Named Animal Care & Welfare Officer reporting for all NACWO's from university animal facilities
The chair of the Animal Users Group
Three Procedure Project License Holders
One or more Expert Lay Representatives
An Animal Behaviourist
The Biomedical Research Facility Operations Manager
The Named Veterinary Surgeon
The Named Compliance Officer
The Named Training and Competency Officer
The Named Information Officer
The Cancer Sciences Unit Representative
A Postgraduate Student Representative
The Home Office Inspector for UoS may also be present

NORECOPA

NORECOPA is Norway's National Consensus Platform for advancement of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) in connection with animal experiments. It's a fantastic resource of over 10,000 pages of alternatives, databases, guidelines, education, meetings and news related to animal research.

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