A neglected population? Not by us.

With leading scientists, international networking, precision animal models, and next-generation genetics and genomics technologies, The Jackson Laboratory is investing in the futures of people living with rare diseases.

Chris Brannigan receives send-off at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine during his barefoot march

Hear Chris Brannigan's story about his family's fight with rare disease and comments from JAX-GM's Director and Professor Charles Lee in this video from the Jackson Laboratory.

While individually rare (by definition, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S.), rare diseases collectively affect about 350 million people globally, and thus represent a major health issue. About 80 percent of rare diseases are genetic in origin, about half affect children, many are fatal, and very few have cures. Rare conditions are often described as “orphan” because they receive relatively little attention and investment from pharmaceutical companies.

To our researchers, that just does not seem fair. Through the work within the Rare Disease Translational Center, our researchers are developing custom genetic tools that bring real hope to families with rare diseases.


Meet Our Rare Disease Scientists


Cat LutzNeuroscientist Cat Lutz, Ph.D., is the vice president of the Rare Disease Translational Center, and she works closely with many rare disease foundations and researchers to support their research and drug discovery goals. Research by Lutz and her collaborators led directly to the development of Spinraza, the first FDA-approved drug to treat spinal muscular atrophy. Now, her team is developing new mouse models for dozens of rare diseases, including SETBP1, Multiple Sulfatase Disorder, Friedreich’s Ataxia, and more.




Rob BurgessJAX Professor and neuroscientist Rob Burgess, Ph.D., studies Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, which causes damage to the bundles of nerve cell fibers that connect the brain and spinal cord to muscles and sensory organs. Affecting one in about 2,500 people each year, CMT includes more than 80 different genetic mutations, each with very different disease processes and symptoms. Currently, there are no cures. 




Greg CoxJAX Associate Professor Greg Cox, Ph.D., is at the hub of a network of researchers, mouse model experts, clinicians and patient families, all dedicated to finding the genetic causes and potential treatments for neuromuscular diseases. In his own lab Cox focuses on SMA and its very rare variant, spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress (SMARD), as well as ALS and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.