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Animal Research, CF-LAS, weiße Maus
Helmholtz Munich / Matthias Balk

Animal Research

We conduct research for a healthier future. Our goal is to develop novel therapies and to prevent the onset of diseases. To do this, we depend on animal research and animal-free methods.

We conduct research for a healthier future. Our goal is to develop novel therapies and to prevent the onset of diseases. To do this, we depend on animal research and animal-free methods.


Helmholtz Munich follows the "3R principle" - Replace, Reduce, Refine. We conduct our research with animals according to these ethical codes of action. It is our goal to expose as few animals as possible to a minimum of stress. With the help of new technologies, we are able to reduce the number of animal experiments and in some cases already eliminate them altogether. This is possible, for example, through the use of organoids, artificially produced mini-organs. In principle, animal experiments are only carried out if no alternatives are available to answer the scientific question and after the competent authority has approved the animal experiment with the involvement of a commission (according to §15 German Animal Welfare Act). With our research in bioengineering, artificial intelligence and medical imaging, we are driving the trend towards animal-free research ourselves with groundbreaking innovations.


Helmholtz Munich is part of several initiatives that provide fact-based information about animal experiments at publicly funded research institutions. We participate in the public dialogue on animal testing and animal welfare and communicate our research methods transparently.


Housing of the animals complies with the regularies of Directive 2010/63/EU, ETS 123 (Annex A), the German Animal Welfare Act and the German regulation on the welfare of animals used for experiments or for other scientific purposes. A maximum of 5 adult mice, for example, are housed in a cage with 501 square centimeters of floor space with bedding made of wood fiber, a shelter and nesting material. Food and water are always freely available. Animals are checked at least once a day and placed on new bedding every one to two weeks. The housing of laboratory animals is approved by the competent veterinary offices through the issuance of a permit according to §11 of the German Animal Welfare Act. The animal facility is controlled by veterinary offices at regular intervals in unannounced visits.

Animal experiments may only be carried out if no alternative method is available for the scientific question. For this purpose, scientists submit a detailed, scientifically and ethically justified application to the authority. Only after consultation with a commission (according to §15 German Animal Welfare Act) and approval by the authority may researchers conduct animal experiments. Scientific questions concerning, for example, heredity, the interaction in the whole organism, social behavior or higher brain performance cannot yet be answered in various aspects without animal experiments. Helmholtz Munich itself develops both in silico and in vitro methods that can be alternatives to animal experiments. Furthermore, our research center has an important role in improving animal testing and husbandry.

Animal experiments are approved by the competent authority after a detailed application has been submitted. The authority is advised by  a commission (according to §15 German Animal Welfare Act). This commission is open to anyone with an appropriate professional background - for example, veterinarians and representatives of animal welfare associations. The veterinary offices control animal experiments in research facilities during regular unannounced visits. At our research center, there are also several animal welfare officers who monitor animal welfare and advise the scientists on research that is appropriate for animal welfare.