MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Division of Comparative Medicine

The Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) provides animal husbandry and clinical care for all research animals on the MIT campus. From its inception in 1974, the Division has evolved into a comprehensive laboratory animal program that provides a full range of veterinary and surgical support. Additionally, the Division has a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded training program for veterinarians specializing in laboratory animal/comparative medicine and conducts externally funded research focusing on comparative medicine. Total personnel in the Division now comprises 75 individuals.


Some significant facilities changes occurred during FY95. Animals were moved into the new, state-of-the-art 30,000 GSF animal resource in Building 68 in November, 1994. This facility supports transgenic and gene "knockout" in vivo experiments. The animal facilities in E17/E18 were vacated while these faculties undergo major renovations due to be completed this autumn. Likewise, all animals in 56 and 16 were transferred elsewhere while these buildings are being renovated. The average daily census of laboratory animals increased approximately 12 percent during FY95. Mice remain the primary species used by MIT investigators and represent more than 98 percent of the animal population. Mr. Steve Young joined the Division in March as the Animal Resource Manager replacing Scarlett Dalton.


The NIH funded Diagnostic and Investigative Laboratory grant has enabled the Division to pursue research projects associated with diseases of laboratory animals and development of relevant in vivo models for the past 19 years. NIH ceased funding such projects this year. Current NIH-funded grants support in vivo study of nitrite carcinogenesis, in vivo study of Helicobacter hepaticus carcinogenesis and the effects of Helicobacter felis on gastric cancer. Additionally, NCI funded a two year study of Helicobacter hepaticus which has been linked to liver cancer in mice. Private pharmaceutical firms have provided funding for the derivation of specific-pathogen-free ferrets and for research on vaccines for Helicobacter pylori. FY95 was the seventh year of the Division's NIH postdoctoral training grant. There are currently six postdoctoral trainees, two of whom are enrolled in graduate programs in the Division of Toxicology. Demand for veterinarians with training in comparative medicine remains particularly strong in both academia and industry. Three former postdoctoral trainees passed the board examinations of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. Michael Blanco was the recipient of the Henry and Lois Foster Award for receiving the highest score on the examination.

DCM faculty and staff published four chapters, 17 papers and 12 abstracts in FY95 and presented numerous research papers at national and international meetings.


The Division has recruited a number of new staff members. Dr. Karen McGovern, a molecular biologist, joined the Division as Assistant Director for Research. Mark Whary, DVM, PhD, and an ACLAM boarded diplomat joined the Division as the Associate Director. DCM faculty and staff taught the graduate course Toxicology 218.


Didactic training sessions were conducted throughout the year by DCM staff in conjunction with the Committee on Animal Care to train Institute personnel on topics pertaining to the care and use of laboratory animals. The committee received extramural funding to complete an instructional video for investigators focusing on the use of anesthesia. This is the second instructional video completed by the committee and DCM staff and will be available to MIT researchers both at the Division and in the Schering-Plough Library.

James G. Fox, DVM

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95