G-COHR Gnotobiotic Animal Core

The Medical University of South Carolina Gnotobiotic Animal Core offers investigators a unique opportunity to address research questions that require the use of gnotobiotic animals (germfree or defined flora mice). The facility is one of only a handful in the United States with the expertise and resources to conduct such experiments. Facility services are available to scientists at academic institutions, biotechnology companies, and large pharmaceutical corporations.

Gnotobiology is the scientific discipline of using live model systems in which the identities of all microbes are defined or excluded. The ability to raise animals in the absence of microbes is a powerful tool to understand the relationships between animal hosts and their microbial residents. A large body of work has established that microbes shape human health by influencing biological processes such as development, physiology, immunity, and lifespan. The microbiome has also been linked to metabolic phenotypes and is intimately involved in nutrient acquisition and drug metabolism. Moreover, microbes have been implicated in the etiology of a number of diseases, including allergy, cancer, autoimmunity, and gastrointestinal disorders. Therefore, gnotobiotic research will continue to play a key role in clarifying our basic understanding of host microflora interactions that affect so many facets of our health and well being.

Service Offered

Mice can be purchased and shipped to non-MUSC investigators or experiments can be performed within our facility. Investigators wishing to use our services should contact the facility director (westwatc@musc.edu) prior to grant submission to discuss the specific needs of your project.

Standard Services (Facility IACUC Protocol)

  • Provide germfree mice (e.g. BALB/c, C57BL/6)
  • Derive new strains of mice into the germfree state by caesarean section
  • Collect tissue and/or fluid from mice that have not received treatment or manipulations
  • Export germfree mice in sterile transporters to other institutions

Non-Standard Services (User IACUC Protocol)

  • Maintain and breed newly derived germfree mice
  • Administer specialized diets
  • Administer compounds (therapeutic or disease-inducing agents)
  • Collect tissue and/or fluid from mice that have received treatment or manipulations

Collaborative (Requires Consultation with Director Prior to Grant Submission)

  • Associate germfree mice with single or multiple species or strains (commensal and/or pathogenic microbes)
  • Maintain and breed defined-flora mice
  • Provide quality control tests to confirm gnotobiotic status

Contact Us

G-COHR Director
Caroline Westwater, Ph.D.
Medical University of South Carolina
MSC 507
173 Ashley Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425