Program Overview

The Laboratory Animal Sciences Program is a comprehensive resource for scientists performing animal-based research to better understand cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other infectious diseases. We provide veterinary care, regulatory support, and routine and specialized husbandry services.

Corridor in animal facility
Scientist in front of computer showing microscopy image
Reflection of person in scrubs
tissue samples on slides
scientist holding pipette at workbench
fixed tissue sample held in hand
Scientist in laboratory
animal facility mice
scientist at workbench in laboratory

We offer an integrated portfolio of state-of-the-art research animal programs spanning genetically engineered mouse models, gnotobiotics, genome modifications within cells and mice, assisted reproduction and animal husbandry, specimen preservation, pathology and histotechnology, imaging, molecular diagnostics, and regulatory support. 

Our staff operates the National Cancer Institute animal facilities in Bethesda and Frederick and provides high-quality animal care, including veterinary services, pre-operative and post-operative care, the quarantining of imported animals, reestablishing strains after an infection, clinical diagnoses, and molecular animal health monitoring to help investigators work with healthy animals appropriate for their research. 

Quality animal care is of the utmost importance in conducting research. We are dedicated to ensuring the welfare of animals through daily housing and health monitoring on the cage level and adherence to stringent husbandry guidelines.

Our Services News

Program Innovations

Our program also performs technology and process research to generate new animal models of cancer using genome modifications, patient-derived xenographs, and other micro-surgical techniques. We use these new models to evaluate drug toxicity, pharmacokinetics (distribution, absorption, metabolism, and excretion) and drug effectiveness, and validate these models using various biomarker assays, including DNA and RNA sequencing, immunohistochemistry, and analysis of in vivo imaging biomarkers. In addition, we leverage artificial intelligence to develop new experimental technologies to facilitate bioimaging and pathologic analysis of animal and human cancers.

Program Focus

Click on one of the areas we oversee to jump down on the page to read more about what they specialize in.


Veterinary services, animal facility, and colony management 

  • Provide preventative, clinical and emergency veterinary support with board-certified veterinarians and veterinary associates through the Laboratory Animal Medicine Program.  

  • Oversee breeding studies, environmental enrichment, maintenance of specific lines, breeding to establish congenic strains and speed congenics through the Rodent Holding/Breeding Program.  

  • House non-rodent species, including rabbits, xenopus and zebrafish, and provide pathogen testing, rederivations, and regeneration of imported and exported animal models through our Animal Holding Program. 

Vitruvian man

Center for Advanced Preclinical Research 

  • Partner with National Cancer Institute and outside investigators to develop strategies and test experimental treatments for preclinical research using genetically and biologically engineered mouse cancer models. 

  • Assist researchers to achieve optimal experimental outcomes using state-of-the-art GEM, PDX, spontaneous, and inducible models of pancreatic, ovarian, melanoma and lung cancers and glioblastoma. 

  • Support the availability of mouse models from the Center for Advanced Preclinical Research

Immunohistochemistry of urothelial carcinoma

Molecular Histopathology Laboratory

  • Provide comprehensive research pathology support, including:
    • Molecular pathology
    • Anatomic pathology
    • Toxicological pathology
    • Animal study design
    • Rodent necropsy
    • Non-human hematology and clinical chemistry
    • Fixed and frozen tissue processing/embedding
    • Tissue micro array (TMA) o Microtomy/Cryotomy
    • Histological staining o Immunohistochemistry (IHC)
    • RNAscope® in situ hybridization (ISH)
    • Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM)
    • Nucleic acid isolation, quantitation and quality assessments
    • Brightfield and Fluorescent digital whole slide imaging (WSI) with access to NCI MHL eSlide Manager and NCI HALO Link™, web-based resources that facilitate digital slide conferencing as well as advanced digital image analysis and quantification, including machine learning.

Imaging of mouse

Small Animal Imaging Program

  • Use in vivo imaging techniques to characterize mouse models of human cancer.
  • Monitor in real-time modification of a molecular pathway in response to a drug intervention implementing multi-modalities and imaging probes.
  • Access to standard clinical imaging probes and novel imaging agents.

Technician holding a white rat

Animal Research Technical Support 

  • Provide customized technical support for basic and translational animal-based research to the scientific community.  
  •  Offer a wide array of services, ranging from expert colony management to the performance and development of technical procedures for disease induction, characterization, and treatment of mouse and rat models. 

Gnotobiotics facility

Gnotobiotics Facility 

  • Assist research efforts focused on the role of microbiota in inflammation, pathogenesis, and anti-tumoral response. 
  • Provide services including the rederivation and breeding of germ-free (axenic) mice, or the introduction of single agents (gnotophoric) or known microbiota to generate gnotobiotic mice. 
  •  Perform a broad spectrum of technical procedures on mice, including certain ABSL-2 procedures.  Through these techniques, our staff assists scientists in research on mice under gnotobiotic conditions.


Mouse Modeling and Cryopreservation

  • Assist researchers at the National Institutes of Health with gene function in vivo analysis through generation and preservation of genetically engineered mouse strains. 
  • Provide services including: 
    • Scientific consultation 
    •  Gene targeting in embryonic stem (ES) cells 
    • Microinjections of nucleic acids, proteins, or ES cells into mouse embryos 
    • in vitro fertilization
    • Cryopreservation of germplasm
    • Rederivation of mice to Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) status

Mouse in front of an image of a tumor cell

NCI Repository of Mice and miR ES Cells

  • Maintain the NCI Mouse Repository, funded by the Division of Cancer Biology, containing over 150 genetically engineered cancer models and 1,500 genetically engineered mouse embryonic stem cell lines harboring conditional microRNA transgenes.
  • Distribute cryoarchived mouse models and frozen miRNA ES cells upon request to the scientific community based on the priority listed on the Repository website.

Rows of tubes

Genome Modification Core

  • Provide expertise and validated reagents to scientists seeking to use genome editing approaches to generate in vitro and in vivo models of cancer.
  • Services include generation of custom libraries to perform genetic screens using CRISPR technology.

Laboratory bench

Animal Diagnostic Laboratory 

  • Provide a full range of diagnostic capabilities, including: 
    • Microbiological cultures on various culture media
    • Microscopic screening for parasites such as mites and pinworms 
    • Serological evaluation of antibodies 
    • Molecular detection of pathogens 
  •  Provide animal genotyping services using quantitative and end-point PCR analysis, and speed congenics service.

Our Services

Laboratory Animal Services