Component 3: Animal Core

John Crabbe, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

The Animal Core serves the MARC by purchasing mice, creating selected lines, maintaining genetic mouse models, behaviorally testing drinking traits, distributing mice, and maintaining an animal tracking database to be used in conjunction with experimental results databases maintained by the MARC Biostatistics and Genetics Core.

Careful genetic record-keeping and identification practices for the maintenance of a large number of genotypes have been in place for several years. Key advantages of the Animal Core are cost savings associated with centralized development, behavioral testing and distribution of the selected line mice, quality-controlled behavioral testing of drinking traits that will initially serve Components 8 and 9 and can be extended to other users, controlled environmental conditions, genetic quality control, and removal of the animal-production burden from Component PIs.

The Animal Core will provide and maintain multiple genotypes of mice for all scientific components of the MARC and for new pilots on an as-needed basis. Animal Core-generated resources will also be made available to outside investigators. All animals are housed in AALAC-accredited facilities under the full-time supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Procedures are in place for the avoidance of viral and bacterial contamination, and a sentinel screening program is used to quickly identify contamination and avoid spread.

Decisions about animal distribution will be centralized and based on a number of criteria, including date of request, whether the request is for a MARC project, potential for scientific progress, and date of last distribution to that project. The core will be able to distribute littermates across projects to minimize litter effects within studies and will increase the potential for cross-experiment association analyses.

On the whole, the practices employed by the core will strengthen data generated by other parts of the MARC.