The University of California, Davis, has been awarded over $29 million from the National Institutes of Health under the next five-year phase of the Knockout Mouse Project, or KOMP. UC Davis is the lead organization in a consortium involving research partners at The Center for Phenogenomics in Toronto, Canada; the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, or CHORI; and Charles River Laboratories in Wilmington, Massachusetts.
“Knockout” mice are laboratory mice bred with specific genes silenced or “knocked out.” These mice have been an invaluable tool for fundamental research on a wide range of diseases and conditions.
The goal of this phase of the Knockout Mouse Project is to produce and phenotype knockout mouse models for up to 1,000 genes in an effort to better understand the genetic basis for diseases in humans and animals, said principal investigator Kent Lloyd, professor in the Department of Surgery in the UC Davis School of Medicine, and director of the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program.
International effort on mouse models of disease
The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and a consortium led by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, also received separate NIH awards under this phase of the KOMP program. All three awardees will continue to participate in the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium of 18 institutions in 12 countries that have, to date, produced and studied nearly 2,500 knockout mouse lines, including models for human diseases ranging from Parkinson’s disease to cancer.
The NIH initially funded the Knockout Mouse Project, a consortium including UC Davis and other partners, in 2006, and the project was renewed in 2011.
$5 million for mice for diabetes, obesity studies
In addition, UC Davis recently received more than $5 million from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (part of the National Institutes of Health) to continue the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center for another five years. The UC Davis center is one of the largest participants in a national consortium established to understand the underlying mechanisms of diabetes, obesity and diabetic complications in humans using mouse models.
“The mouse biology program distinguishes UC Davis as a worldwide leader in biomedical research,” said John Rutledge, chief scientific officer of the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center and professor of internal medicine. He has used knockout mice to study the link between blood lipids, vascular disease and cognitive impairment.
“We can literally create a model for any disease, including for our own researchers who are finding answers to metabolic changes that lead to disorders like diabetes and obesity,” Rutledge said.
A major emphasis of the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center will be on how interactions between microbes in the gut and the host influence normal metabolism and pathophysiology. The center is a joint effort between scientists, clinicians and technicians at the UC Davis School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Biological Sciences, and College of Engineering.