The MRC Harwell Institute is at the international forefront of the study of mammalian models of disease.
Most human diseases have a significant genetic component. Many variants in our DNA predispose us to disease, yet our knowledge of these changes in our DNA and how they cause disease is limited. We use animal models to study and understand the genes that underlie diseases, from diabetes, to dementia, to deafness. Although outwardly a mouse looks very different to a human, its development, physiology and biochemistry are remarkably similar. We, in fact, share around 98% of our genes with mice. Studying genes in mice can therefore reveal important insights into the function of genes in humans.
The study of genetics is advancing at a remarkable rate. The determination of the genome sequences of human and mouse was a major step forward for our understanding of human disease. This allied to extraordinary advances in genome engineering technology, such as gene editing, is enabling an unparalleled era of mammalian genetics, leading to breakthroughs in our understanding of the function of genes and their role in disease. It is these advances that will help us identify new therapeutic targets and develop novel therapies to treat disease.
The MRC Harwell Institute is comprised of the Mary Lyon Centre, the Mammalian Genetics Unit and the Centre for Macaques.
Mary Lyon Centre
Our world class mouse facility the Mary Lyon Centre offers a range of mouse services to researchers. Services include free archiving of mouse lines, distribution from the archive, breeding and mouse phenotyping, and a bespoke service to generate genetically modified mouse strains. The centre also has a comprehensive searchable catalogue of mouse models. Read more about the Mary Lyon Centre and its involvement in a new national network for mouse genetics here.
Mammalian Genetics Unit
The Mammalian Genetics Unit is a major international research centre in mouse genetics investigating a range of diseases and their underlying mechanisms.
Centre for Macaques
The Centre for Macaques is a state-of-the-art primate breeding unit to breed and house rhesus macaques whilst also developing scientific programmes to refine primate behavioural studies. The centre supports a wide range of research projects including fundamental studies of brain function.
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