The Jackson Laboratory collaborates to help the NIH fight rare diseases

Independent nonprofit biomedical research institute The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) has teamed with Lovelace Biomedical, Exemplar Genetics, Iontox and the University of Pennsylvania to win a new $17M contract with the National Institute of Health’s National Center for the Advancement of Translational Sciences, for the purposes of creating new animal models and performing pharmacology studies to better understand and study diseases or treatments, especially for rare and neglected diseases.  

The combined capabilities of the team members represent some of the best talents in the world to help the NIH in creating or characterizing novel disease models to address unmet needs.  Diseases such as sickle cell disease or other ailments have been difficult to fight without proper animal model resources, indicates Dr. Jake McDonald, Principal Investigator of the overall contract. 

Cat Lutz, Ph.D., is the principal investigator at JAX and leads the organization’s Rare and Orphan Disease Center.  The Center addresses conditions that, while individually are rare (by definition, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S.), collectively affect about one in 10 Americans, according to the National Association for Rare Disorders, and thus represent a major health issue.  The Jackson Laboratory is also the world's source for more than 11,500 strains of genetically defined mice, is home of the Mouse Genome Informatics and Mouse Phenome databases, and is a hub for scientific courses, conferences, training, and education.

The discoveries that come from this contract will help advance new therapeutics and create new resources to better understand the natural history of these rare diseases.