The Mary Lyon Centre at MRC Harwell has developed into a centre of excellence for thecreation, breeding, archiving and phenotyping of the laboratory mouse. It continues toadvance, harnessing new technologies, such as those in genome engineering,to provide awide range of services and training for mouse genetics research.The Centre now stands asa mature research facility with the capacity to accommodate new partnership programswith both academia and industry.
The Mary Lyon Centre opened in 2004 as a large, purpose-built mouse facility. It is integrated within MRC Harwell, a site with a long history of research in mouse genetics, including the discovery of X-chromosome inactivation by the eminent geneticist Mary Lyon. Today, MRC Harwell conducts innovative, translational research into many aspects of mouse genetics. The Centre houses approximately 55,000 mice and one of the largest repositories of frozen genetically altered mouse lines in the European Mouse Mutant Archive (EMMA). It is a major partner in the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC). We offer a comprehensive range of services for using the mouse for biomedical research. Our portfolio covers services for the creation, breeding, housing and archiving of genetically altered mice.
We provide a wide range of specialist phenotyping support, including the analysis of embryonic developmental defects, metabolism, behaviour and sensory assessment, clinical chemistry, haematology and pathology. In addition to these services, the Centre also offers an extensive portfolio of training opportunities for those who use the mouse as a laboratory animal, including training courses in Home Office modules, cryopreservation of sperm and embryos, and conditional transgenic techniques. We have gained ISO accreditation by introducing management processes that maximise capacity whilst ensuring a high quality of service delivery. The Centre now stands as a national facility for the use of the laboratory mouse in medical research, with robust processes for quality control. The Centre has demonstrated its capability through its key contribution to the IMPC, which has the ambitious goal of creating and phenotyping knockout mice lines for every gene in the mouse genome, providing a wealth of functional genomic data and novel mouse models for medical research. Data from this can be freely accessed and mouse lines ordered at mousephenotype.org.
A considerable proportion of these lines were produced and phenotyped by the Centre. We are sponsors for the CRACK-IT initiative established by the NC3Rs, and are developing a novel phenotyping paradigm to promote the ethical use of mice in biomedical research in partnership with both academia and industry. CRACK-IT supports the development of new technologies and approaches that will contribute to the reduction and refinement of animals in bioscience research. Our home cage monitoring system, one of the CRACKIT Challenges, could allow behavioural phenotypes to be identified with minimal intervention, by enabling assessment of the activity, behaviour and interaction of mice in the cages they were reared in. Through these initiatives and others, the Mary Lyon Centre at MRC Harwell has shown itself to be an exceptional facility. It has demonstrated its capacity to accommodate ambitious collaborative programs, and is now looking to establish new partnerships with both academia and industry.