Jun 25th, 2021 | By | Category: CMP in the News

Discovery Ridge at Mizzou: A unique NextGen Precision Health
resource and one of a kind in the USA

Not many at MU are aware of the truly unique research facilities we have here on our campus that make us a global center for animal research. Animal model research uses similarities between humans and other species to understand biological processes and develop disease therapies that would not be otherwise possible.

I visited Discovery Ridge in December to get a tour of two unique NIH-funded research centers at Mizzou that enable our investigators and other scientists around the country and world to take on leading edge scientific biologic discovery: the Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center (MMRRC) and the Rat Resource and Research Center (RRRC).

In my field of specialization, neuromuscular disease, astonishing treatments have been developed in the last 20 years that have dramatically changed the outcomes of patients who inherit damaged and mutated genes that can result in death. Two such examples are spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Scientists have been able to produce animal models of both of these diseases to show that various types of gene therapy can slow down, and in some cases essentially stop, disease progression.

Pictured, from left to right, are Dr. Craig Franklin, MMRRC co-director; myself; Dr. Elizabeth Bryda, RRRC director; Dr. Bill Fay, senior associate dean for research at the School of Medicine; Dr. Chris Lorson, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. Jim Amos-Landgraf, MMRRC co-director.



MU is home to four NIH-funded animal model resource centers of global importance, making it an essential part of the NextGen Precision Health pipeline that will efficiently transform research findings into clinical therapy. The centers encompass the major animal models used in research:

  • the National Swine Resource and Research Center (NSRRC) and the Swine Somatic Cell Genome Editing Center, led by Randall Prather, PhD, and Kevin Wells, PhD
  • the RRRC, led by Elizabeth Bryda, PhD
  • the MMRRC, led by Craig Franklin, DVM, PhD, and Jim Amos-Landgraf, PhD

Researchers around the world are dependent on these facilities to serve as primary repositories and distribution systems for rodent and porcine research models that are critical to biomedical research.

Three related programs housed at Discovery Ridge include:

  • the MU Comparative Medicine Program, a program that trains the next generation of scientists, under the direction of Dr. Franklin, Erin O’Connor, DVM, MS, and Dr. Bryda
  • the MU Metagenomics Center (MUMC), where DNA samples from animal models can be stored and analyzed, under the direction of Aaron Ericsson, DVM, PhD
  • the MU Animal Modeling Core (AMC), where genetically engineered animals can be created, under the direction of Dr. Bryda

MU is a national leader in comparative medicine, collaborating to share discoveries, innovations, and treatments for animals and humans. Under the leadership of Dean Carolyn Henry, DVM, MS, ACVIM (Oncology), the MU College of Veterinary Medicine is an essential partner in this research.

We also have an industry partner in the facility, IDEXX BioAnalytics, a diagnostic lab which was developed at MU and provides services to laboratories around the country to ensure their animals are free of microbial contaminants.

This expertise empowers NextGen Precision Health by providing animal models for human disease, technical expertise to investigators and services for testing therapeutics in pre-clinical animal models. It is only by having assets like these that scientists have the resources to take on extraordinary research challenges. With these tools, we have demonstrated they can succeed. This is NextGen Precision Health at its finest.


Richard Barohn, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Missouri

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