All through the rooms and hallways of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), not a creature is stirring, at least not any mice. The facility that once housed more than 200,000 mice no longer contains a single animal. But the silence is temporary.
In a few weeks, researchers at the Department of Energy lab plan to begin the laborious process of "cleaning up" their mouse collection by restocking it from scratch with pathogen-free mice, to be housed in a new sterile 30,000 square-foot facility.
In the past, working with potentially contaminated mice has sometimes prevented ORNL from distributing them or collaborating with researchers at other facilities, who feared the spread of bugs such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites, said ORNL geneticist Dabney K. Johnson.
Now, "Our animals are healthier, and they're sharable," she said.
ORNL has spent decades conducting research on mice, creating mutants, and testing how the mice responded...