MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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 90 individuals. In March 1998 the Division moved its administrative, diagnostic and research laboratories to the newly renovated eighth floor of Building 16. This space is contiguous to the eighth floor of the newly renovated Building 56, which also houses quarantine, diagnostic and research space for DCM.

The final phase of major renovations in the animal facilities was completed during FY98. Buildings E20 and 45 have been vacated. The eighth floor of Building 56 has been renovated and this space now accommodates quarantine animals. The state-of-the-art animal facilities now include 30,000 gross square feet in Building 68, which has been occupied since November, 1994, and a fully renovated E17/E18 facility (13,200 gsf), which has been occupied since March, 1995. Also, a new addition of 11,300 net square feet to the Whitehead facility along with renovations to the existing animal area were completed in 1997. These facilities support transgenic and gene "knockout" in vivo experiments. The average daily census of laboratory animals was approximately 8 percent higher during FY98 than in FY97. Mice remain the primary species used by MIT investigators and represent more than 98 percent of the animal population.

Current NIH-funded grants support in vivo study of nitrite carcinogenesis, in vivo study of Helicobacter hepaticus carcinogenesis, in vivo study of the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease, in vivo study of the etiology of lymphoma in ferrets, in vivo studies of H. pylori pathogenesis and the role of Helicobacter felis and H. mustelae in inducing gastric cancer. Private pharmaceutical firms have provided funding for research on the efficacy of anti-Helicobacter agents and H. pylori pathogenesis studies. FY98 was the tenth year of the Division's NIH postdoctoral training grant and a competing renewal was funded for the next five years. There are currently six postdoctoral trainees, one of whom is enrolled in the graduate programs in the Division of Toxicology. Two postdoctoral fellows completed the program this year. One was recruited by the University of Oregon and the other joined the staff of a pharmaceutical firm. Seventeen of 18 eligible postdoctoral fellows have now passed the board examination of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine.

DCM faculty and staff published two chapters, 18 papers and 28 abstracts in FY98 and presented numerous research papers at national and international meetings.

Dr. Susan Erdman, an ACLAM boarded veterinarian was promoted to the Clinical Veterinarian position that was vacated by Dr. Charmaine Foltz. Dr. Erdman had been a Research Scientist in DCM for the past five years. Dr. Zhongming Ge, a Molecular Biologist, joined the Division last autumn. Dr. Marisa Esteves, a former DCM postdoctoral fellow, returned to the Division as a Research Scientist. She is supported by a NIH research supplement for underrepresented minorities. DCM faculty and staff taught the graduate courses Toxicology 201 and 214.

The Committee on Animal Care moved to new quarters on the fourth floor of Building 16 in March 1998. 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 continued to distribute to other institutions in the United States and abroad two instructional videos, one focusing on the role and responsibilities of Institutional Committees for the Care and Use of Animals and the other focusing on the use of anesthesia in laboratory animals. Both are available to MIT researchers at the Division or in the Schering-Plough Library.

James G. Fox

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98