systems of multisystemic—organisms. The committee recognized the importance of in vitro models, but did not cover them in this report for a variety of reasons detailed in the report. The authors of this report also studied model preservation and looked for evidence that useful animal models or strains had been lost because of a lack of financial support. The data and perspectives provided in this report represent the consensus of the committee and were derived from a survey of a cross-section of the scientific community, discussions with scientists in academe and industry (both those who receive NCRR support and those who do not), a workshop, and the committee members’ own expertise.
Recurrent themes in all the sources of information on which this study drew were training of whole-animal scientists, improved methods and instrumentation for physiologic assessment, infrastructure for animal-based research, databases for phenotypic information, sophisticated computer programming to handle statistical analysis of complicated data and to model complex biologic systems, multidisciplinary approaches, and shared resources.
The committee found that expanded and stabilized competitive research funding would provide a better and more cost-effective infrastructure to enhance the utility and availability of animal models and the quality of animal-related research and laboratory animal welfare. Issues that need to be addressed include laboratory animal health and welfare (investigation of laboratory animal diseases, advanced diagnostics, and behavioral research); methods of animal acquisition, maintenance, propagation, and preservation; genetic maps of additional model species; advanced technology relevant to global National Institutes of Health (NIH) needs for animal modeling and animal-related research (such as methods for targeted mutagenesis, phenotype assessment, and so on); and alternatives to mammalian models or methods to reduce the need for them in research.
The failure of precision phenotyping to proceed at the same rate as genetic engineering and molecular technology has hampered the exploitation of genetically engineered model organisms. Reliable phenotype assessment was a need that arose repeatedly in the information that we gathered from all fields of research. The most common needs described were for accurate and reliable behavioral assessment, biotechnology development for physiologic assessment, pathologic assessment, and analysis of complex data.
For example, behavioral assessment in genetically engineered mice is a rapidly growing field of research. Yet many investigators entering the field are molecular biologists who know how to “knock out” genes but have little or no experience in behavioral assessment. There is frequently disagreement among laboratories about the meaning of results of particular tests. Some investigators use learning in the Morris water maze as a measure of spatial hippocampal learning; others disagree that the test clearly measures