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National Mouse Genetics Network

The MRC is investing more than £20m in a major new network in mouse genetics for disease modelling to accelerate our understanding of human disease and improve diagnosis and treatments.  The National Mouse Genetics Network will bring together a package of distinctive research clusters across the UK and long-term partnership with the Mary Lyon Centre  at Harwell.


Network overview

The Network, led by National Director Professor Owen Sansom, will capitalise on the UK’s international excellence in mouse and human genetics, and wider biomedical sciences.

The new investment will comprise a small number (ca 4-6) of distributed research clusters pursuing distinctive, but complementary, challenge-led research and will be embedded within UK research organisations. The Network will include a new Harwell research cluster, co-located with the Mary Lyon Centre, that will capitalise on the specific interdisciplinary opportunities on the Harwell campus. All clusters will draw directly from the specialist facilities and capabilities of the Mary Lyon Centre (including genome-engineering, phenotyping and animal care) to deliver their science ambitions.

Director-led UK network diagram

Network mission

The mission of the Network will be to drive:

  1. the integration of mouse genetics, cell and tissue systems and deep phenotyping with human / clinical genomics and pathology in centres of excellence across the UK;
  2. national partnerships and coordination within and between disease/thematic science areas to help tackle the major challenges and national ambitions in priority disease areas; and
  3. the open science and 3Rs agendas by optimising the production, archiving and availability / sharing of mouse resources and data for national use through the Mary Lyon Centre.

The Network will provide an attractive platform for industry engagement at a time when the life sciences sector is seeking better predictive models for drug and therapeutic development. 

Role of the Mary Lyon Centre

The Mary Lyon Centre will continue to act as a national facility hub providing world-class expertise, tools, resources, and specialist technologies and services not readily available elsewhere. It will act as a central repository for, and provider of, the genetically engineered mice and associated data delivered through its own phenotyping platforms and those of the clusters, manage the distribution of mouse models to the wider national/international communities, and act a national training hub to support specialist skills and capacity needs.

Challenge-led research clusters

The distributed cluster investments will provide a platform to support ambitious, multi-dimensional and thematically-focused research that brings together mouse genetics with complementary capabilities across human, cell, tissue and in silico systems. Their core investment will be focused on addressing the critical needs of the relevant theme, and will be enhanced through grant support won in open competition. The Harwell cluster co-located with the Mary Lyon Centre will capitalise on the specific, interdisciplinary opportunities on the wider Harwell campus.

Why is the MRC re-shaping its investments?

The MRC recognises the critical importance of the mouse as an experimental model. Following a Strategic Review in 2019, the MRC Council concluded that in light of scientific advances to create more complex clinically-relevant mouse models, it was timely to focus new investment on targeted programmes that are integrated with human disease modelling. Future investment in mouse genetics should also move away from large, hypothesis-free genome-wide programmes. The Council therefore agreed that the MRC’s investments should be re-shaped to create a new, national network of challenge-led clusters under national leadership.



Further information

For further information, see our FAQs (PDF, 138KB) and presentations from the virtual information event on 20 May 2020 (PDF, 2.62MB).

Find out more about the outcomes from the Interactive Workshop held on 25 November 2020 (PDF, 201KB).

If you have any additional queries or if you would like to sign up to our mailing list, please email MouseGeneticsNetwork@mrc.ukri.org