The ethics of animal research is important to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the students, faculty and scientists on campus whose work incorporates animals.

The university believes the use of animals in biomedical research is ethical under strict regulation, with close monitoring by veterinary caregivers and in situations when alternatives are not available. Most importantly, the decision to undertake animal research considers a trade-off between the harm that may be done to the animals as part of the research and the potential benefits of the research findings to the health and wellbeing of people and animals now and in the future.

While UW–Madison researchers respect the views of those who oppose the use of animals in research, the vast majority of scientists believe the abolition of animal research is an unrealistic and untenable position. Nearly all modern advances in medical science stem from research performed on animals. Conducting research — to answer both basic and applied questions about complicated living creatures, systems and organs — without animal models would remove so many potential means to prevent and treat suffering that an argument can be made that refraining from this research would be unethical.

UW–Madison laboratories and oversight committees are committed to replacing animals with alternative research techniques when possible, incorporating the minimum number of animals necessary to answer their questions, and avoiding and minimizing the use of invasive and painful procedures whenever possible.

Further reading on the ethics of non-human primate research:

Human Subjects

In research, animals are often employed as a more ethical alternative to studies that would subject people to dangerous and invasive procedures, but that doesn’t mean research on humans is set aside. In 2015, as many as 2,000 UW–Madison scientists were running roughly 3,200 different studies of humans.