Ever since their existence, humans have been seeking knowledge. Such knowledge enables them to evaluate the possible consequences of their actions and, where appropriate, look for alternatives. The insights gained in basic research also serve as the basis for new technologies, materials, treatments, and drugs. However, to gain biological and medical insights scientists often must rely on studies with living organisms.
The Max Planck Society acknowledges its responsibility for the welfare of the animals kept in its laboratories. Animal welfare, the best possible holding conditions and responsible treatment are not only ethical obligations, but also a prerequisite for obtaining valid scientific results. Accordingly, the Max Planck Society makes great efforts to provide excellent care and accommodation for the animals.
The scientists of the Max Planck Society apply the 3R principle (reduction, refinement, replacement) in the planning and implementation of animal research. This principle states that the minimum number of laboratory animals required should be used in experimental research, everything possible should be done to protect the welfare of the animals and alternative methods should be developed where possible. In accordance with the 3R principle, animal research is only carried out at the Max Planck Institutes if there is no possible alternative. Cell cultures, computer models and studies on human volunteers are always used when they are suitable for providing answers to a scientific problem.
Why are animal experiments indispensable to basic research today, and likely to remain unavoidable in the future? Which animals are used in such tests? How do researchers fulfil their responsibilities in this regard? Answers to these and other questions can be found here.