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Report of the NIH Rat Model Repository
On behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the
National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute (NHLBI) convened this workshop to develop a plan for a Rat Model
Repository. The workshop was designed to plan what is needed by the
research community, to recommend how to set up such a repository, to identify
the most able group to establish this resource, and to decide how to assess and
solve the problem of genetic heterogeneity among members of rat strains.
The NHLBI currently coordinates a consortium of 13
NIH Institutes and Centers to develop important genomic tools and resources for
the rat through the Rat Genome Project (genomic libraries, genetic map,
radiation hybrid cell lines, normalized cDNA libraries, allele
characterization, cytogenetic map) and the Rat EST Project (array and
distribute cDNA libraries, produce ESTs from cDNA libraries, and construct a
gene-based EST map). The Institute is also providing leadership for NIH
to define the parameters and needs required to establish a significant,
comprehensive rat database.
As the reagents, information, and materials from
these efforts become increasingly available, they will create a significant,
increased demand for the available models and will, at the same time, provide
the ability to generate new model strains. Hence, it is critical to have
a Rat Model Repository for the collection, characterization, standardization,
maintenance, development, and distribution of current and future rat strains.
In addition, the repository would address a number of other important
problems. For example, lack of accessibility is a major limitation to
studies using inbred rat models because commercial suppliers carry a very small
subset of inbred rat models. Another problem is the lack of quality
control and genetic monitoring of the maintained strains. The lack of
models of known genetic purity can impede research progress, compromise the
value of many studies, and lead to wasteful and inefficient experiments.
It is also important to maintain existing strains because they have
extensive physiological, pharmacological, and toxicological data sets.
Since exact re-derivation of a strain is not possible, their loss would
be both scientifically and financially wasteful.
This workshop was structured to enable as much work
as possible to be done in advance of the meeting (including the use of a Web
site that provided a forum for posting predefined questions and the answers
developed by participants) and was designed to promote maximal interaction for
the development of implementable recommendations through the Breakout Groups
and Plenary Sessions. The report developed by this workshop will be used
to guide the NIH in this most important endeavor.
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