The research team combines scientific expertise in laboratory mouse behaviour and welfare, maternal behaviour and veterinary epidemiology with practical experience of laboratory mouse breeding. To get more information about the context and the project, click here.


Anna Olsson, Ph.D., Researcher at i3S – Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (University of Porto, Portugal), is the coordinator of the project. She is an animal scientist and ethologist and also head of the Laboratory Animal Science group at i3S. Placed at the largest biomedical research institute in Portugal, she combines her own experience in ethology and animal welfare studies with insight into the challenges and demands of breeding and using laboratory animals for biomedical research. Maternal behaviour and perinatal mortality in laboratory mice is one of her main research interests.

Research collaborators:


Sara Capas Peneda is a veterinary surgeon who has been working in laboratory animal science since her graduation in 2016. In the past, she acted as designated veterinarian at the University of Aveiro, and as a research assistant in the Laboratory Animal Science group at i3S (University of Porto).  Since November 2020, she is completing a residency for the European College of Laboratory Animal Medicine at the Francis Crick Institute, and a PhD in laboratory animal welfare under the supervision of Anna Olsson. Her research focus on applying behavioural and pathology techniques to understand mechanisms of preweaning mortality in laboratory mice.


Sophie Brajon, Ph.D., was a postdoctoral research fellow of the Laboratory Animal Science group at i3S – University of Porto) during 2016 and 2017. She is a biologist with a combined background in animal cognition, emotions, behaviour and welfare (Ph.D.) and behavioural ecology (B.Sc. and M.Sc.). Her research in the project has addressed behavioural aspects of pup mortality.


Gabriela M Morello, Ph.D., was a postdoctoral research fellow of the Laboratory Animal Science group at i3S – University of Porto) 2017-2020. She has a combined background in agricultural engineering (B.Sc. and M.Sc.) and animal science (Ph.D.), with emphasis on applied environmental controls to animal welfare and behaviour studies. Her research in the project has used data mining to determine patterns leading to pup survivability using historical data on breeding efficiency, and biosensors to investigate the associations between mice environment and pup mortality. She is also responsible for using Artificial Intelligence


Colin Gilbert, Ph.D., is the former Veterinary Services Manager at the Babraham Institute (Cambridge, UK) with clinical responsibility for large colonies of inbred and genetically altered rodents within a facility recognised as a National Capability. Besides his specialist qualifications and his experience in laboratory mice medicine and breeding, he has a publication record in aspects of maternal behaviour, particularly nest building, maternal aggression and the endocrine control of parturient behaviour.


Jan Hultgren, Ph.D., is senior lecturer at the Department of Animal Environment and Health, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Skara, Sweden). He has expertise in animal welfare, veterinary epidemiology survey design and multivariable statistical analysis.

Jan-Bas Prins is the Director of the Biological Research Facility at the Francis Crick Institute (London, UK) and Professor of Laboratory Animal Science at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands). Jan-Bas’ interest concerns all welfare aspects of animals used for scientific purposes especially small rodents and fish. Hence, his enthusiasm for this project that addresses an underestimated problem in breeding laboratory mice.

Yolanda Saavedra Torres is the Head of Veterinary and Microbiology Services at the Francis Crick Institute (London, UK) with clinical responsibility for the mouse colonies and other species of the largest biomedical research institute in Europe. Besides 20 years’ experience working in the field, she has specialist qualifications in laboratory animal science and welfare and laboratory animal medicine.

Collaborating animal facilities:

This project involves several research facilities. Experimental and observational research is taking place at i3S, Babraham Institute, and The Francis Crick Institute. Data from breeding records from these facilities as well as from The Wellcome Sanger Institute are used for retrospective analysis. We are also forming a wider international consortium for data sharing and analysis.

Funding source:

Between 2016 and 2020, this research received project funding (PTDC/CVT-WEL/1202/2014) by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Technologia. Earlier project funding has come from the Swedish Board of Agriculture (2008-11) and the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency (2006-08).