Education and training

Having adequate knowledge about animals is essential to ensure the respect of their welfare

Every person working with animal must complete specific educational courses and engage in continuous training.

In Switzerland, qualifying and continuous education courses are organized by the "Swiss network in Education for Laboratory Animal Science" which comprises ResAL (Réseau des Animaleries Lémaniques) and LTK (Institut für Labortierkunde). The duration and content of these courses are defined by a federal ordinance and are accredited by federal and cantonal veterinary authorities.

The courses are attended by a diverse range of professionals including experimenters, animal caretakers, facilities managers, study directors, animal experimentation directors, animal welfare officers and veterinarians.

To ensure the follow-up of continuing education, certificates of participation must be submitted to the Direction of Animal Experimentation (DEA), specific to each institution, for their recording in Animex.

Roles in animal experimentation

Within each institution, animal experimentation is tightly regulated, and different roles are well-defined by the law:

  • Director of Animal xperimentation (DEA): Responsible for processing all applications and authorizations from the institution. She/he receives license applications, ensures that all methods described in the experimental protocols respect the 3R principle, animal protection and Swiss legislation. She/he also verifies that the experimental facilities comply with the law and respect animal protection. She/he transmits authorization requests to the cantonal veterinarian or her/his delegate.


  • Director of Experiment or Study Director: Responsible for the monitoring of experimented animals and their welfare. She/he defines the scientific project and the experimental plan. She/he submits the authorization application to the DEA and receives the decision from the cantonal veterinarian or her/his delegate.


  • Experimenter: Responsible for the monitoring of experimented animals and their welfare. She/he carries out experimental procedures and works under the supervision of the director of experiment.


  • Animal Facility Manager: Responsible for the housing conditions and animals kept within. She/he ensures that equipment and procedures respect animal welfare and legal requirements.


  • Animal Facility Veterinarian: Responsible for monitoring the health and welfare of animals in the facility. She/he advises scientists on the most respectful and up-to-date procedures.


  • Animal Keeper: Responsible for the daily cares and welfare of animals housed in the facility. She/he performs certain procedures in collaboration with the veterinarian or experimenters.


  • Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) or Animal Welfare Body (AWB): Responsible for the application of the 3R principle and animal welfare. She/he ensures that the procedures used are the most up-to-date and appropriate ones and advises researchers on possible alternative methods.


  • Cantonal Veterinarian Office (SCAV): Responsible for the application of the law and ordinances. It issues licenses, monitors experiments and inspects animal facilities. It receives Cantonal Committee for Animal Experimentation concerns regarding acceptance or rejection of authorization applications and makes the final decision. The cantonal veterinarian may be assisted by a delegate.


  • Cantonal Committee for Animal Experimentation (CCEA): Composed of members from various animal protection associations, an ethicist, a veterinarian and representatives of academic institutions and private companies. The CCEA receives and evaluates license applications, ensures that the procedures described respect legislation and animal welfare and that the justifications provided support a fair balance of interests. The CCEA transmits its evaluation to the cantonal veterinarian or her/his delegate and also plays a role in contolling experiments and inspecting animal facilities.


  • Federal Office for Health and Veterinarian Affairs (OSAV): Responsible for public health, food safety, animal health, animal protection and animal import/export. It oversees federal legislation including proposing laws, ordinances and directives, as well as updating existing ones. The OSAV establishes the framework and conditions for all animal experiments and can appeal against cantonal decisions.


  • Federal Veterinarian committee: Composed of members from academic institutions, private companies and cantonal veterinarian institutions. It advises the OSAV on all procedures involving animal experimentation and animal welfare in Switzerland.
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Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV)Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG)Ludwig Cancer ResearchUniversité de GenèveUniversité de LausanneÉcole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)