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Center for Rodent Genetics

Mouse-DNA-Male-Female graphic The NIEHS has created the Coordinating Center for Rodent Genetics to bring together a concerted approach to the use of genetically-defined experimental animals for projects unique to the mission of the NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program (

The CRG is charged with four specific goals:

  • To foster increased, improved and more predictive genetics-based models of environment-disease relationships
  • To serve as a national conduit for defined lines for study of environmental agents and disease susceptibility
  • In the short term, to review all mouse genetics initiatives carried out at the NIH and to define the utility of these resources for environmental health research
  • In the longer term, to represent the NIEHS in matters dealing with rodent genetics to insure that the Institute's unique requirements are addressed

Achieving Our Goals

The vast majority of research on human diseases is first investigated in rodent models, and predominantly in the mouse. Therefore, understanding the organization of the mouse genome, as well as what genetic components make a particular strain of mouse susceptible to a given disease, is a key step in identifying what genetic factors play a role in human disease. Of particular interests to the NIEHS community are those diseases that are impacted by environmental exposures and how an individual's genetic makeup may make him/her more susceptible to such diseases. Almost all human genes have counterparts in mice, and by understanding the environmental triggers of disease in various genetically-distinct mouse strains, researchers can gain insight into the environmental triggers of the same diseases in humans.

Towards this goal, the NIEHS entered a collaborative contract with Perlegen Sciences termed the Resequencing and SNP Discovery Project (, a $13 million investment to sequence the genomes of 15 diverse mouse strains, chosen both for their routine use as research models and their genetic diversity. The resequencing was completed in June, 2006 and the data can be accessed via ( or via ( Exit NIEHS. By comparing and contrasting the development of various diseases across many of these different mouse strains, researchers will be able to use the genetic information gained from the Resequencing Project and begin to determine which genetic factors make an individual mouse strain more or less susceptible to a particular disease.

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Last Reviewed: October 17, 2007