Responsible research

Research and responsibility go hand in hand

Two people working with a microscope.
Image: Uwe Niklas

Are there ethical limits to research? Can you push boundaries too far? This is something scientists have to consider on a daily basis: just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it is ethically acceptable. As one of the largest research universities in Germany, FAU carries considerable social responsibility. The University strives to uphold good scientific practice, ethical standards, transparency, open access and responsible care of laboratory animals.


Research and responsibility are inseparable. People are born with a thirst for knowledge and understanding. We have to actively and consciously commit to acting responsibly, however. This sense of responsibly guides us in all we do at FAU.

Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, FAU Vice President Research

Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, Director of Department of Medicine 3.
Prof. Dr. Georg Schett (Image: FAU/Erich Malter)

Transparent Animal Testing Initiative

Logo der Initiative Transparente TierversucheFAU is one of the first to commit to the Transparent Animal Testing initiative. For us, this underlines our commitment to taking a transparent and open approach to this sensitive and often controversial topic.

When using animals in research, we are always guided by the three ‘R’s’ – refine, reduce, replace. That means that we only use animal testing where there is currently no other alternative. We reduce the number of animals we use to the absolute minimum and use the latest technology to minimise the animals’ stress during experiments. We are aware of our responsibility, a 4th ‘R’ to add to the list.

Website of the Transparent Animal Testing initiative (Initiative Transparente Tierversuche)

Committees and points of contact

FAU has set up various committees focussing on responsible research which are aware of the specific aspects and challenges this entails and which are on hand to help researchers in general and with more specific research-related questions.

Ethics Commission

A commission for the assessment of ethic and legal aspects of medical research in humans belongs to the Faculty of Medicine at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

Ethics Committee for Security-Relevant Research

The Ethics Committee for Security-Relevant Research is responsible for making recommendations for how to deal with research in the area of potential conflict between freedom of research and scientific responsibility protected under the German constitution, and assesses the extent to which research findings may be used for dual purposes (dual use research).

Commission for the Investigation of Scientific Misconduct

Good scientific practice is of pivotal importance to FAU. Claims of scientific misconduct are taken very seriously indeed. Such issues are conscientiously and thoroughly investigated by the Commission for the Investigation of Scientific Misconduct.

Franz Penzoldt Centre and Animal Protection

Animal testing is an essential part of gaining fundamental knowledge and making medical breakthroughs. In recent years, research methods have been discovered which have allowed us to reduce or replace animal testing with alternative methods in certain areas, but there is no sign that we will be able to refrain entirely from animal testing at any time in the near future. It is therefore all the more important that we handle animals used for research responsibly. At FAU, the bodies responsible for ensuring that this is the case are the Franz Penzoldt Centre and Animal Protection.

Working Group for Memory Culture

The Working Group for Memory Culture was founded as a working group for all faculties in March 2019. It advises the Executive Board on questions regarding the history of the University and its responsibility for its actions in research, teaching and administration.