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MF 3: Animal Facility

Nancy Erickson
Annette Dietrich


The unit MF 3 Animal Facility is the central laboratory animal facility of the Robert Koch Institute. As a service facility, MF 3 supports all employees of RKI working in the field of animal experiments with scientific work in the field of infection research. The goal is to contribute to a valid and reproducible animal experimental research at RKI based on animal husbandry in conformity with animal protection by engaging in a need-based animal husbandry under standardised conditions and in accordance with current scientific guidelines.

The operation of the animal facility is based on compliance with the requirements of animal protection and hence the national and European provisions under animal protection law. This includes the German Animal Welfare Act (Tierschutzgesetz) and the Animal Welfare Regulation Governing Experimental Animals (Tierschutz-Versuchstierverordnung). In the same way, recommendations of recognised scientific societies dealing with laboratory animal science are taken into account and implemented.

The main task of MF 3 is laboratory animal husbandry in conformity with animal protection as well as their breeding and procurement. The husbandry of the laboratory animals is carried out exclusively by qualified expert staff. MF 3 advises the directors of animal experiments also in planning and applications for their research projects – in Germany, all animal experiments must be notified and / or authorised. The tasks of MF 3 also include the provision of knowledge on laboratory animal science and experimental techniques for the qualification of those carrying out the animal experiments in order to ensure the necessary expert knowledge of all employees participating in the animal experiment.

Both animal husbandry and the use of animals in animal experiments are based on the internationally recognised 3R principle: Refinement – Reduction – Replacement. In line with these principles, the living conditions of laboratory animals in animal experiments is to be improved (Refinement), e.g. through the definition of criteria which lead to an early stop of the experiment. At the same time, animal husbandry is optimised in such a way that the laboratory animal is stressed in the least possible manner. Another goal is to reduce the number of laboratory animals (Reduction): to do so, it is already examined within the framework of the planning for an animal experiment how the parallel use of substitute methods can, for instance, reduce the number of laboratory animals. Replacement means to replace animal experiments – whenever possible – by alternative methods such as cell culture models or organ cultures and reduce the number of laboratory animals in this way. At the same time, the further development and future application of alternative methods is promoted in order to be able to waive the use of animals as a whole in the long term for certain scientific and diagnostic issues. The promotion and advice for the heads of animal experiments concerning the development of substitution and supplementation methods to animal experiments is one of the tasks of the Animal Welfare Committee which is also managed by the unit MF 3.

Date: 08.07.2020