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Dalhousie set to expand biomedical research with new zebrafish lab

Posted by Media Centre on October 30, 2014 in Health, News

Dalhousie Medical School is opening a new zebrafish lab that will provide researchers with access to state-of-the-art facilities for developing and studying zebrafish models of disease, and for testing potential new treatments in these disease models.

Zebrafish share many genes with humans and generate large numbers of offspring – making them an efficient, robust and cost-effective model system for biomedical research.

Key Points:

  • One of the largest facilities of its kind in North America, the zebrafish lab has the capacity to house up to 75,000 adult fish, providing the opportunity for biomedical research at Dalhousie to grow exponentially. Zebrafish are increasingly being used for multicellular vertebrate research. The use of transparent embryos and mutant adult fish lacking pigmentations provide unique visual access to the animal’s internal anatomy, developmental processes, and provide the ability to evaluate genetic modifications and therapeutic responses to transplanted human cells in real time.

  • As one of Dalhousie’s CORES (Centralized Operation of Research Equipment and Support) facilities, this multi-user space increases collaborations to support a variety of clinical translational applications. Cancer, cardiovascular and behavioural experts are already gaining insights into human diseases like leukemia; breast cancer; cardiac development and function and other phenomena.

  • With the inherent ability to rapidly screen the effects of drugs in a whole animal context, the zebrafish offers the prospect of new drug discoveries and other commercial possibilities.

  • Researchers around the world will have access to the facility. On a fee-for-service basis, health researchers will be able to order stock zebrafish from Dalhousie’s lab, request customized zebrafish breeding, and arrange a variety of on-site studies.

  • Funding for the zebrafish lab came from the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, Dalhousie Medical School, Dalhousie University, the Department of Pediatrics, the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) and Irving Shipbuilding.

Pull Quotes:

  • - “On behalf of our board of directors, Foundation team, and our generous donors, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation is proud to contribute $800,000 towards the creation of the zebrafish core facility. In this new facility, groundbreaking, collaborative research will flourish and lead to a deeper understanding of cancer and many other diseases, along with new possibilities for treatments and cures. We are grateful for the opportunity to help create change and growth at Dalhousie Medical School.” – Jyl MacKinnon, executive director, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation

  • - "Dalhousie is proud to support this growing collaborative research space for researchers who use zebrafish. If the studies currently underway are an example to the quality and importance of work that this facility will produce, it will provide outstanding contributions to the health of Nova Scotians and health research in general. Both are among the highest priorities of the university." -- Dr. Martha Crago, vice president, research, Dalhousie University

  • - “The conduct of research is increasingly dependent on sophisticated and remarkable new technologies that often require specialized facilities. The new zebrafish CORES facility is one such example of an emerging technology that will equip our researchers with modern tools to explore human health and disease.”-- Dr. Gerry Johnston, associate dean, research, Dalhousie Medical School

  • - "This initiative provides a unique and exiting opportunity for rapid and cost effective preclinical chemical screening and development of diagnostics and interventions for cancer and a wide range of other health problems." – Dr. Patrick McGrath, integrated vice president research and innovation, IWK Health Centre and Capital District Health Authority


Tanks in the new Zebrafish lab
Photo Credit: Cory Burris
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  • Cory Burris, Communications Coordinator - Dalhousie Medical School: +1 (902) 494-4247 /