About the Zebrafish Core Facility

Why zebrafish?

The zebrafish is an outstanding non-mammalian model vertebrate with significant impact on human health. With ongoing support by the National Institute of Health, this system is pushing the molecular genetics of vertebrates into a new scientific realm. This model is supported internationally as well, with the Sanger Institute nearly completed in their sequencing, annotation and polishing of the zebrafish genome [http://www.sanger.ac.uk/Projects/D_rerio/].

Why a core facility?

With the unique housing and technical expertise requirements of this model system, the establishment of a Zebrafish Facility as a scientific Core leverages real synergism in the deployment of this model system at Mayo.

How does the ZCF enhance the missions of research, education and practice at Mayo Clinic?

The zebrafish as a model system has implications for many different programs at the Mayo Clinic. The facility has current impact in the areas of the molecular genetics of vascular development, heart disease, cell signaling pathways, to the genetics of cancer prevention.

Research is a main focus for the use of the zebrafish as a model system. The full list of projects underway at Mayo is below. Faculty are represented from seven departments/divisions at the Mayo (Rochester) location.

The zebrafish is an excellent system for education at all levels, from the lay to graduate school. The ZCF supports the thesis projects of undergraduates, grad students and post docs in user laboratories. In addition, the zebrafish is a fantastic model for outreach and K-12 science education. The ZCF has already helped sponsor a visit to a local Rochester grade school as a part of a health science outreach effort.

The use of the zebrafish for direct analyses for clinical practice is new at Mayo. An example program is in the area of nicotine addiction treatment. In this work that is a collaboration between Richard Hurt, MD and Stephen Ekker, PhD, the zebrafish is being used as a model vertebrate to understand the basis of nicotine addiction and the genetics behind differences in addiction and available treatment options for patients. This effort includes new programs for the implementation of both physiologically and genetically determined individualized medicine treatment approaches. Basic science components include the development of new biomarkers, new understanding of the biological basis behind addiction, and further elucidating the mechanism of action of ongoing treatment options.