The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will break ground in October for a new facility to breed and house zebrafish (Danio rerio) for intramural research. When completed in 2005, the $10 million, 5000-square-foot facility will house more than half a million zebrafish in some 25,000 tanks. The facility will be built as an addition to Building 6, an existing animal lab on NIH's main campus in Bethesda, Md.

Demand for zebrafish at NIH has been fast growing as word spreads that the tiny, black-striped creature makes an excellent supplement and, in some cases, alternative to lab mice for research. "We feel the need for a centralized and more expanded facility to serve the needs of the NIH community," said Paul Liu, a senior investigator with the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

Liu, a leukemia researcher, uses both mice and...

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