December 5, 2008

In January, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is moving its unique colony of 8,000 mice, known as the Collaborative Cross, to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC researchers have been involved in the development of this resource since its inception, making UNC a logical place for relocation. These mice will join mice transferred from several locations around the world to form the complete collection of Collaborative Cross mice that will reside at UNC.

The Collaborative Cross was first proposed at the Edinburgh Meeting of the International Mouse Genome Conference in October 2001 and in the journal Mammalian Genome in 2002 (Threadgill, Hunter and Williams in 2002).  The idea was motivated by the need for an integrative, affordable, retrievable, high-precision resource for the analysis of complex traits using the mouse as a model system. The project involves the randomized breeding of eight inbred mouse strains, and is designed to be the ultimate mouse reference population for scientists seeking to explore the genetic and environmental underpinnings of complex human traits.  The project aims to create 1,000 strains of mice that feature the genetic diversity of the world population. 

UNC, The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Oak Ridge have been partners in the science behind the Collaborative Cross, a partnership involving several universities and research institutions. Funding and support from the state of North Carolina (the University Cancer Research Fund) the federal government (National Institutes of Health), Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences (CCGS), has enabled UNC to make a substantial investment in bringing this unique resource to UNC.  UNC will assume responsibility to complete the Cross, take over the mouse breeding stocks and make them available to the research community.

The principal contact at UNC for the Collaborative Cross project is Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena (CCGS /Genetics).  Fernando is an active member of the Complex Trait Consortium which has spearheaded the Collaborative Cross and is an investigator on a UO1 grant to develop the resource in collaboration with several other CCGS members (David Threadgill, Wei Wang, and Leonard McMillan).

For more information on the Collaborative Cross:

Commentary in Science

The Collaborative Cross, A Community Resource for the Genetic Analysis of Complex Traits. The Complex Trait Consortium. Nat Genet. 2004 Nov;36(11):1133-7.

Genetic dissection of Complex and Quantitative Traits: From Fantasy to Reality via a Community Effort. Threadgill DW, Hunter KW, Williams RW. Mamm Genome. 2002 Apr;13(4):175-8.