The use of animals in the Institut Pasteur's research programs

In the pursuit of its mission to prevent and combat diseases in France and throughout the world, the Institut Pasteur operates in four main areas: scientific and medical research, public health and health monitoring, education, and development of research applications.


The Institut Pasteur is a globally recognized leader in infectious diseases, microbiology and immunology. Other avenues of investigation include cancer, genetic and neurodegenerative diseases, genomics and developmental biology. This research aims to expand our knowledge of the living world in a bid to lay the foundations for new prevention strategies and novel therapeutics.

The use of animal models for biomedical research is part of the scientific process that takes place prior to research on human subjects, but it raises legitimate concerns among the general public. The French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) and the Parliamentary Office for the Assessment of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST)  launched a period of scientific and ethical reflection to monitor changing perceptions on this topic in society and among the communities affected.

Research using animals has resulted in major advances in our understanding of biology and contributed to the development of virtually all types of treatment used in medical and veterinary practice today.

National and international scientific organizations recognize the need to use animal models, in compliance with ethical rules and regulatory requirements, for the continued development of knowledge and to meet society's expectations for progress.

The use of animals in scientific research continues to be vital for our understanding of health and human and animal disease, and for the development and improvement of treatments that benefit patients worldwide. For many diseases, especially complex diseases affecting several organs such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, scientists need to study the interactions between these organs in the entire body.

The Institut Pasteur is fully aware of its responsibilities; it is committed to protecting the well-being of animals used by its staff for research, especially through strict compliance with regulatory provisions, and to encouraging the development of experimental methods that avoid using animals wherever possible.

The Institut Pasteur is one of the signatories of the French transparency Charter on the use of animals for scientific and regulatory purposes.

Find out more

Major discoveries linked to medical research (source: Gircor):

10 medical discoveries made using animal testing since 1920

The role of research using animals in Nobel Prizes in Medicine

Regulatory requirements on the use of animals for research:

  • The use of live animals for biomedical research is governed by European Directive 2010/63/EU[1] on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes, transposed into French law by a decree and four orders dated February 1, 2013.[2]
  • In accordance with regulatory requirements, the "3 Rs" rule described in Directive 2010/63/EU is applied.

This involves:

  • Replacing the use of animals wherever possible;
  • failing that, Reducing the number of animals used;
  • Refining procedures, in other words optimizing methods to reduce any pain experienced by animals to a minimum, while guaranteeing high quality scientific results.

The use of animals must also be fully justified by clearly defined scientific objectives.

The use of animals in Institut Pasteur research projects complies with regulatory provisions:

  • The Institut Pasteur has a Committee for Ethics in Animal Experimentation (CETEA) that is registered with the French Ministry of Research. This committee examines any research projects on animals planned by the research units at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. It makes sure that the "3 Rs" rule is applied and especially that every possible measure is taken to reduce the impact on animals during experiments.
  • Any projects using animals that receive a favorable opinion from the CETEA then need to be issued with an authorization from the French Ministry of Research.
  • Projects using animals can only be devised and implemented by people who have completed regulatory training suited to their specific role (designing research projects, performing experimental procedures or animal care). Holders of non-domestic species must have been issued with a certificate proving that they are able to handle these animals (a certificat de capacité).[3]
  • All facilities housing animals at the Institut Pasteur have been issued with a certificate by the veterinary department of the Paris Police Prefecture. They undergo regular inspections.


[2] - in French

[3] Research using animal models. Article R.213-4-III of the French Rural Code


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