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Building on basics

The mouse that roared

The National Cancer Institute considers mouse biology so important that last December the agency launched the Mouse Model of Human Cancers Consortium. Nineteen new groups of investigators at more than 30 institutions in the United States received funding towards this effort. Cardiff is working with Cory Abate-Shen, Ph.D., a researcher at Rutgers University in New Jersey, on the nationwide project.

The importance of transgenic mice is underscored by the Jackson Laboratory's development of a new West Coast collaboration with UC Davis to produce and maintain genetically customized mice. Jackson Laboratory is the world's foremost nonprofit institution for mouse-based research. The lab's distribution station at UC Davis will make mice available faster and more conveniently to cancer researchers on campus and throughout the western United States. It will also open the door to new educational research programs.

"Genetically engineered mice allow us to test the cancer-causing potential of a particular gene, so we have a rational basis for developing treatments," says Cardiff. "So much of the rationale for current cancer treatment boils down to, 'it worked.'"

Cardiff's depth of knowledge on mouse biology has earned him an international reputation. It helps that he's maintained a transgenic histopathology laboratory in the Department of Pathology at UC Davis since 1990. His archive of 8,000 animal cases drawn from 200 different strains of mice is one of the most comprehensive repositories of genetically engineered mice in the world.

More than 200 investigators at 40 institutions in eight countries have sought his opinion. Among the more than 8,000 animal cases he has consulted on he has identified more than 1,600 breast cancers, 800 leukemias and lymphomas and hundreds of false positives.


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