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Mammalian Genetics Unit

The Mammalian Genetics Unit is a major international research center at the forefront of studies in mouse genetics and functional genomics, investigating a wide variety of disease models and enhancing our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of disease.

The Mammalian Genetics Unit (MGU) was first established in 1995 as part of an expansion of the genetics division at MRC Harwell. It is now where the vast majority of our research is conducted.

Our research is based around lifetime studies, from development to ageing. Using mouse models developed within the Mary Lyon Centre, the MGU conducts research into developmental disorders and age-related conditions such as diabetes, deafness and neurodegeneration. Through close collaborations with clinical geneticists and medical practitioners, the findings from many of these research programmes are now moving towards the clinic. For example, genes first identified by researchers at the MGU now form part of the Genetics of Otitis Media Study, which seeks to identify genes responsible for the most common cause of hearing loss in children.

MRC Harwell is part of various large-scale projects to study mammalian functional genomics; how alterations to the genome affect the function of the gene and the overall phenotype. The MGU works closely with the Mary Lyon Centre to generate and study knockout mice for the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC), which aims to discover the function of every gene in the genome by systematic phenotyping. The MGU plays a central role in the coordination and integration of all of the data collected, and dissemination to the wider scientific community via the IMPC portal. In addition, the MGU Disease Model Discovery team employs the Harwell Ageing Screen to investigate mutations involved in ageing and age-related diseases and develop new disease models for use in further research. The Biocomputing team makes this data openly available via MouseBook.            

In the future, researchers at the MGU will continue to extend our knowledge of mouse functional genomics, as well as provide a platform on which future research and therapies can be built. Utilising the resources available to them at MRC Harwell, they will continue to make great advances in our understanding of the genetics underlying development and disease.