Animal Research

In biomedical research carried out at the NMS, when there are no other alternatives, animal models are sometimes used.


NMS Commitment

NMS is strongly committed to best animal welfare practices and follows the highest regulatory standards and humane principles (Decree-Law No. 113/2017 and Directive No. 63/2010/EU). NMS researchers are committed to using as few animals as possible and actively seek refinement and replacement strategies for conducting their experiments.

In NMS, animal models are only used in biomedical research when there are no compatible alternatives.

Research in the biomedical and in health sciences areas developed at NMS focuses on several areas, using cell cultures, organoids or yeasts and, when there is no alternative, animal models are used.


The research developed at NMS comprises the use of 5 different animal models for research in the biomedical and health sciences areas. Namely:

Rats and Mice

Rattus norvegicus e Mus musculus

  • The most used models in Biomedical research
  • Existence of many strains, facilitating the analysis of results and reducing the number of animals;
  • Capability of stable and directed manipulation of the genome, allowing the creation of model animals of Human Genetic Diseases.

Fruit Fly

Drosophila melanogaster

  • Ease in maintenance
  • Fast gestation and similarities with humans
  • Large number of genetic tools available

Chicken Embryo

Gallus gallus

  • High similarity to the development of the human embryo
  • Ease of obtaining fertilized eggs
  • Embryo easily accessible inside the egg allowing its manipulation


Danio rerio

  • High fertility: 1 couple can produce 150 eggs per week
  • External fertilization and early development can be followed under a microscope
  • It shares many genes with humans and has a regenerative capacity, which will allow the development of new therapies for humans.

Animal welfare is a priority of the Faculty's animal facilities, always taking into account the good practices regulated by the 3R: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

At NMS we have more than 40 research laboratories and some of them use these 5 animal models for the study of various chronic and non-chronic diseases. The number of labs per model is:


The NOVA Medical School(NMS) is committed to proving open and transparent information about the research involving animals and the standards of animal care and welfare carried out in the institution. NMS|FCM signed the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal, an initiative supported by the Portuguese scientific community in collaboration with the European Animal Research Association (EARA) to promote a more consistent approach to communicating the scientific, ethical and moral justifications for animal research in Portugal.

The scientific work developed in NMS only uses animal models when there is not a validated alternative method. NMS respects the Portuguese (Decreto-Lei no. 113/2013) and European laws (Directive 2010/63/EU) that rule the use of animals in research and follows the principles of the 3Rs - replacement, refinement and reduction – to use methods which avoid or replace the use of animals; to look for methods which minimise any suffering and improve animal welfare; and use methods which minimise the number of animals used per experiments.

“The use of animals has been essential to understand the mechanisms underlying chronic diseases. NOVA Medical School is committed to proving open and transparent information about its research involving animals and the standards of animal care and welfare carried out in the institution. For us signing the Portuguese Transparency Agreement has helped to demonstrate our engagement in a dialogue with the society to improve the level of understanding the reasons why animals are still needed for biomedical research.”

Ana Isabel Moura Santos
Presidente do Orgão Responsável pelo Bem Estar dos Animais da NMS (ORBEA)


The Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal is an initiative proposed by the European Animal Research Association (EARA) in close collaboration with the Portuguese scientific community to promote accurate and up-to-date information about the use of animals in basic and biomedical research. 

In June 2018, 16 Portuguese institutions, including Universities and Research Centres, signed a declaration co-ordinated by EARA and the Portuguese Laboratory Animal Sciences Association (SPCAL), on transparency and openness in animal research. Following this declaration, steps were taken to develop it into the current proposal for a Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal.

The aim of this Agreement is to improve the Portuguese public’s understanding and acceptability of animal research by promoting openness and transparency on this topic. 

This approach is based on the previous examples in Europe as the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK launched in 2014; the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain launched at 2016, and the Statement in support of animal research and a transparent approach in Belgium in 2016. 

The Agreement comprises Four Commitments, each underpinned by practical steps that institutions can or may undertake. Exactly how the Commitments are fulfilled will differ between institutions depending on their purpose, their resources and their different legal obligations. The commitments are the following ones: 

  • Commitment 1: We will be clear about when, how and why we use animals in research
  • Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals
  • Commitment 3: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals.
  • Commitment 4: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences 

The signatories of this Agreement are intended to facilitate access to relevant information about animal research models and contribute to public clarification and, consequently, to a conscious and informed position in this debate of general interest

Download document here

The Animal Welfare Body (Órgão Responsável pelo Bem-Estar dos Animais - ORBEA), at NOVA Medical School, is an independent body of a deliberative nature, with the purpose of ensuring and promoting the welfare of animals generated and used in research or teaching, according to the legislation in force, namely under the terms of the regulations Artigo 34.º do Decreto-Lei nº 113/2013, de 7 de agosto.

ORBEA's activity at NOVA Medical School is carried out in accordance with the applicable legal principles, establishing a set of rules on internal procedures and guidelines to be observed when using animals for scientific and educational purposes.

ORBEA members have scientific and technical skills in line with current legislation, and act independently, allowing them to carry out the assigned functions.

NOVA Medical School's ORBEA members are:

  • President: Ana Isabel Moura Santos
  • Responsible for the Rodents Facility: Sílvia Conde
  • Responsible for Rodents Welfare: Sara Marques
  • Veterinary Physician Responsible for Rodents: Dolores Bonaparte
  • Specialist in Statistics and Experimental Design: Sofia Azeredo Lopes
  • Researchers using Rodents: Gabriela Silva, Sandra Tenreiro, João Conde, João Araújo
  • Representative of the Civil Society: Mário Rui Silva

For project approval by the NMS ORBEA please fill out the form here.


NMS Case Study for the EU Report

NMS Transparency


Respecting the Transparency Agreement, we promote the communication of the use and good practices in the use of animal models in NMS Research through various public awareness actions, including our institution's Open Day stands:


Find all the news about animal experimentation on the EARA website