The MRC National Mouse Genetics Network is a major new £22 million investment in mouse genetics for disease modelling that will capitalise on the UK’s international excellence in the biomedical sciences. The Network is comprised of 7 challenge-led research clusters, with members distributed across the UK. Researchers from across Medical Sciences are involved in five of the clusters, including:
- Cancer: Simon Leedham, Nuffield Department of Medicine
- Congenital Anomalies: Stephen Twigg, Weatherall Institute of Molecule Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine
- Haem: Claus Nerlov, Weatherall Institute of Molecule Medicine (MRC HRU), Radcliffe Department of Medicine
- Microbiome: Fiona Powrie and Jethro Johnson, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences and Holm Uhlig, Nuffield Department of Medicine
- MURIDAE (Modalities for Understanding, Recording and Integrating Data Across Early life): Peter Oliver, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
The Mary Lyon Centre at MRC Harwell will act as the central hub of the Network, sharing access to specialist facilities, resources, data, and training with all other Network members, and is receiving £5.5 million to support this role. The partnerships established by the Network will enable integration of basic science research with clinical findings in order to accelerate our understanding of human disease and translation to patient benefit.
Brief descriptions of the clusters
The Cancer cluster, led by Prof Karen Blyth at the CRUK Beatson Institute/University of Glasgow and Prof Louis Chesler at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), aims to use complex state-of-the-art mouse models of cancer to improve the understanding and treatment of human disease. Cancer is a complex disease and the next generation of modelling will better replicate this complexity and more accurately predict therapeutic outcomes through the use of deep molecular phenotyping and novel strategies for generation of sophisticated mouse models which reflect all stages of disease progression.
The Congenital Anomalies cluster, led by Prof Karen Liu at King’s College London, aims to make precisely engineered mouse models of gene variants identified in patients to assess how they lead to disease, often through effects on multiple organ systems. As many of the genes implicated in congenital anomalies play multiple roles in different tissues during development, this cluster will bring together diverse expertise to determine disease mechanisms and identify potential therapies for these disorders.
The Haem cluster, led by Dr David Kent at the York Biomedical Research Institute, University of York, aims to develop new tools to revolutionise how we study and manipulate haematopoietic/immune cell function for clinical benefit. Despite remarkable progress in the transcriptional and genomic profiling of normal and diseased blood cells, an urgent need exists to develop tools to dissect the cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning normal, malignant, and stressed haematopoiesis.
The Microbiome cluster, led by Prof Fiona Powrie at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford, aims to develop an experimental pipeline for creating and studying mouse models that allow investigation of the impact of the microbiome on genetic diseases involving barrier surface malfunction. This cluster brings together a range of clinical, immunological, and microbiome expertise to establish a national infrastructure for cutting-edge mouse microbiome research on inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, and combined immunodeficiency syndrome.
The MURIDAE (Modalities for Understanding, Recording and Integrating Data Across Early life) cluster, led by Prof Anthony Isles at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University, aims to establish new approaches for studying the early postnatal period in mouse models of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disease. The key to this will be linking changes in behaviour in early life with changes in brain development through integration of home-cage behavioural monitoring data with measures of brain structure and physiology, all guided by clinical partners to ensure relevance to human disease.