Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) has a message for the biomedical research community: “We’re here, and we’re here to help.”
With about half of the world’s biomedical research labs closed, and another 39 percent operating at reduced capacity, JAX has been working with researchers to reduce the long-term impact of the closings and to get them on track to return to normal once restrictions are lifted.
In March, JAX from labs facing closure across the country by collecting and cryopreserving them, and launched production of transgenic for worldwide COVID-19 research. Now, the nonprofit biomedical research institution is helping other laboratories develop research resiliency plans.
“We will work with researchers as they reprioritize their programs, recover their valuable strains, develop new colony management strategies, and reprioritize preclinical studies,” says , JAX executive vice president and president of JAX Mice, Clinical & Research Services.
Nair is encouraging researchers to connect with JAX as soon as possible. “We can help ensure that when they are ready, they will have exactly what they need, from the right model at the ideal age to the preclinical services to keep their research on track.” He notes that JAX has decided to maintain prices at June 1, 2019 levels throughout calendar year 2020 to provide the research community some stability in what may be a highly volatile economic climate.
Stephanie Dion directs the team that supports academic researchers who use JAX® Mice and Services. “We’re actively reaching out to our customers and asking them, what are your pain points? What’s preventing you from reaching your research goals? What can you do now, so that when you’re ready to open your doors you’re not starting from scratch?”
The majority of customer institutions shut down, she says, requiring researchers to halt most of their projects and cryopreserve their animals. Rebuilding those mouse colonies “may take from three to six months,” she says, in order to get back to where they were before the shutdown. “We understand that people aren’t necessarily opening their doors right now, but they’re planning that comeback, so we want to help them. Maybe over these next four weeks we could help jumpstart their research so they don’t continue to lose that time.”
The situation is similar in the biotech and pharma sector, says James Keck, Ph.D., JAX senior director for innovation and product development. “I’m personally speaking to people at most of the major pharmaceutical companies about their research in oncology and drug safety. They have a great need for us to help them in services for a lot of their projects, outsourcing work they would normally do at their own facility.”
Working with these companies is more collaborative than transactional, Keck says. “Customers can come to us even when there is no business to be done. We can update them on our science, our capabilities and our mouse models. Then, in case of an emergency like this COVID-19 crisis, or if they simply have too many experiments to do, they will know that they have a potential partner to help them.”
The shutdowns of research projects at pharmaceutical and biotech companies and academic institutions have shown all too clearly the importance of and management, Nair says. “We’re here to help them rethink and rebuild their research programs and drug development efforts to be more resilient and successful than ever before.”