Research Support Facility

Model Pipelines

The Research Support Facility serves the Institute and worldwide community by providing and caring for mice and zebrafish used in research studies.

In May 2019, the Sanger Institute made the difficult decision to close the animal facility over the next few years, driven by its scientific strategy.

The facility serves the Institute and the worldwide research community by:

  • offering a range of services to Institute researchers
  • distributing the model organism resources it maintains to the scientific community
  • upholding welfare initiatives
  • providing animal handling and maintenance training for other model organism facilities (in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust Advanced Courses team)
  • acting as an exemplar of ethical and regulatory working practices
  • delivering comprehensive training and development opportunities for Facility staff.

We are a signatory to the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research, and we organise tours for staff, school trips, partners and media to demonstrate the care and attention we give our animals and explain how the strong law of the UK upholds animals’ welfare during procedural activity. In addition we are a Licensed establishment that upholds and exceeds the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012. To make the real impact of procedures on the animals we care for even more transparent we are working with the Home Office and other UK institutes on how we can improve Welfare and Severity Assessments related to our work.

We are passionate about continually improving the environment and care of our animals. Our work to develop and implement a new feeding regimen that improves zebrafish growth and reduces the development of deformities has been recognised with an award. More than 20 facilities worldwide are adopting our concept and our feeding regimens.

The close work of the RSF and the Mouse Pipelines has also allowed us to reduce animal usage by utilising archiving concepts and genotyping to store lines for future use. This is done via cryopreservation and excellent quality assurance. The distribution to archiving consortiums and other facilities allows us to provide efficiently and well defined Fish and Mouse models to avoid duplication of animal usage.

Another area that we constantly refine is our management and accounting systems. Our Mouse Colony Management System enables us to demonstrate, at the highest standards, our high levels of efficient production, colony management and archiving. The database is continually improved by the Mouse Informatics Team in conjunction with the Mouse Pipelines and Research Support Facility teams. The value of our database to optimise colony management and phenotypic data collection is evidenced by the fact that five major facilities in the UK have elected to use our system.


We work with the following groups


The Home Office

The Home Office web site explaining the UK approach and legisaltion around research and testing using animals


National Center for the 3Rs

The NC3Rs is a UK-based scientific organisation dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research and testing (the 3Rs).


The Institute of Animal Technology

Founded in 1950, the IAT is the foremost professional body in the field of Animal Technology.Their purpose is to advance knowledge and promote excellence in the care and welfare of animals in science and to enhance the standards and status of those professionally engaged in the care, welfare and use of animals in science.Members have expertise across all aspects of animal welfare and technology and we actively support the three R's – Refinement, Reduction & Replacement.They continually strive to advance and promote excellence in technology and the practice of laboratory animal care and welfare through advice, guidance and initiatives such as the IAT Career Pathway.