Research

Disease Modeling Unit

Master
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About the Unit

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The diagnostic challenges posed by undiagnosed diseases have solutions in animal models that precisely model human disease-associated genetic variation. Genetically modified Drosophila melanogaster (fly) and Mus musculus (mouse), are critical tools for interpretation of variants identified in human through exome and genome sequencing. Flies are an effective model organism to rapidly characterize the functionally consequence of disease-associated variants and to further probe pathogenic mechanisms. Mice are essential for mimicking human disease phenotype, modeling variants that affect systems for which fly may not be appropriate, and for pre-clinical therapeutic studies. Moreover, naturally occurring, spontaneous mutations remain an important resource for human disease modeling, particularly, in non-human primates. In non-human primates, these types of mutations can provide important models for coronary artery disease, social cognition, addiction, depression, and autism.

The Disease Modeling Unit is responsible for producing and phenotyping the center’s precision fly and mouse models. The unit leverages the genome modification techniques and phenotyping capabilities of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network Model Organism Screening Center (UDN MOSC) Fly Core and the Knockout Mouse Phenotyping Project (KOMP2) site at Baylor. Moreover, the unit uses a resource of over 800 rhesus macaque whole genome and exome sequences with paired phenotype information from the Human Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) at Baylor to identify putative disease models in the national primate colonies. This provides investigators who are interested in a primate disease model with initial phenotype-genotype information and a potential collaborator for additional primate studies.

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Core Members

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  • Jason Heaney, Ph.D. (Lead)
  • Hugo Bellen, D.V.M., Ph.D. (Co-Lead)
  • Mary Dickinson, Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey Rogers, Ph.D.
  • Michael Wangler, M.D.