Why Animal Research?

Photos of animals and humans. Graphic reads: Better care for our family, Better care for our pets, Better care for our farm animals, Safer and healthier lives for all.

Animal Research Saves Lives, Cures Disease and Gives Hope

How research with animals helps make life better. For all of us.

Why animals play a crucial role in research

gloved hands holding a petri dish with pink liquid

From the development of insulin to the latest life-prolonging cancer drugs

From the development of insulin to the latest life-prolonging cancer drugs and virtually every major medical advance in between, animals have played vital roles in scientific research that have led to cures and treatments for a wide array of human diseases. They have helped scientists improve the nutritional value of our food supply and – thanks to agricultural and veterinary research – have helped bring about a better quality of life for many animals and a safer environment as well.

Millions of lives have been saved, improved and extended thanks to the results of humane scientific research that has relied upon animals at various stages. Without the use of animals, men, women and children around the world would simply not enjoy the quality and length of life they do today



a gloved hand gently holding a white rat

Researchers are sincerely concerned about the welfare of animals that are part of the research process

Researchers and everyone involved in research with animals – including veterinarians and animal-care technicians – are sincerely concerned about the welfare of animals that are part of the research process. But researchers are also concerned about the sick and disabled among us who are desperate for ways to deal with pain or the prognosis of fatal illness or who seek better ways to ease their suffering from a chronic medical condition.

Thousands, perhaps millions, of lives can be improved by a successful research project that leads to better care and treatment – for the grandfather taken by Alzheimer’s disease, the mother stricken with breast cancer, the child learning to live with diabetes, the whole segment of a community trying to cope with excessive levels of cholesterol or heart disease. Those are the people the researchers are trying to help.

a graphic explaining how research on animals has led to many medical advancements

Read the text-based version of the graphical image above.


There are, in fact, too many medical research breakthroughs to list them all here. But it is accurate to say that cancer patients are living longer, HIV sufferers are living longer, diabetics are living longer thanks to research that has involved animals. Those diseases used to be automatic – and almost always rapid – death sentences. Now, they needn’t be.

Animals in laboratories around the world have played an invaluable role in helping us understand disease and what we need to do to treat it or cure it.

Non-Human primate research FAQs

The Three Rs

close-up of a microscope

Animals are used in research when there is simply no alternative that will produce the necessary results. Before scientists at McGill are allowed to employ animals in research, they must follow what are called the “Three Rs.”

Safeguard Process

Doctor writing on a clipboard

It isn’t easy to get a research proposal involving animals approved at McGill. Before animals are involved in research, two levels of review must occur.

Myths and Realities

two white rats walking on a metal tube

A number of myths or misconceptions have arisen in the discussion about the involvement of animals in scientific research. It is important to know the facts.

 McGill University and Affiliated Hospitals / University Animal Care CommitteeWhere to find out more

There is a wealth of information about humane animal research available on the internet. Here is a sample of sites you might want to visit to learn more:

You can also send us an animalcare [at] mcgill.ca (email) if you have more questions of comments.

McGill University regards the use of animals in research and teaching, to be an integral component of continued progress in medicine, science, education, environmental sciences and agriculture that results in enormous benefits for human and animal health. McGill University is committed to conducting the highest-quality research and to providing animals with the best care and in accordance to the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

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