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Media tour of new lab previews specialized mouse facility and new genetic research programs in veterinary and human medicine

The School of Veterinary Medicine's connection with the new world of genomics was underscored June 26, 2000 at a campus media tour and mouse biology symposium taking place the same day that representatives of government and private enterprise announced completion of a "rough draft" of the human genome.

As a result of a campus-wide, cross-disciplinary collaboration, the not-for-profit Jackson Laboratory (JAX Labs) of Bar Harbor, Maine, has joined the University of California, Davis (see participating units below), in establishing a facility capable of breeding and housing up to 20,000 genetically modified mice. The 10,000-square-foot facility has been remodeled at a cost of $2.8 million shared by both institutions.

During the tour, reporters saw where new mouse strains will be developed by the UC Davis Murine Targeted Genomics Laboratory. Media conducted interviews and observed the unique features of the separate mouse housing quarters-including specialized air filtration systems and other built-in precautions of biologically secure facilities designed to reduce contamination and prevent infection of these valuable animals. Reporters also visited briefly with two mouse siblings, one of which has been bred to display "high growth" characteristics useful to scientists studying breast cancer and growth regulation.

Scientists have already begun studying the human genome to learn how genetic material functions "in concert" within living systems and find solutions to serious disease problems in humans and animals. Mice are a key component in the study of human disease because they share genetic similarities with humans and other mammals.

"All human genes are in mice to a large extent," said Leonard (Larry) Hjelmeland, a professor of ophthalmology at the School of Medicine and assistant to the Provost. "We will use the mouse as a model for the next hundred years to study pulmonary disease, diabetes, lupus and other diseases."

Dr. Kent Lloyd, director of the UC Davis Murine Targeted Genomics Laboratory and an associate professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that, because of its importance in comparative genetic research, "Within the next two years, we'll have completed the mouse genome."

According to Lloyd, School of Veterinary Medicine faculty and other scientists working at the facility will:

  • Create new strains of genetically modified mice
  • Conduct new genetic studies using mice as models of human and animal disease
  • Provide the utmost in laboratory animal health care for genetically modified mice

"JAX West" will manage the mouse housing section of the facility, which will provide mice to researchers at UC Davis and scientists throughout the region. Officials anticipate bringing in mice and starting operations in late July.

Cooperating units:
School of Veterinary Medicine
Division of Biological Sciences
School of Medicine
The Jackson Laboratory
Center for Comparative Medicine*
UC Davis Mouse Biology Program*
Murine Targeted Genomics Laboratory*
Animal Resource Services
UC Davis Mutant Mouse Resource Center - National Institutes of Health
UC Davis Office of the Provost

*Interdisciplinary centers administered by School of Veterinary Medicine

For more information, read the Jackson Labs Backgrounder, as published by UC Davis News Services.