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European Mouse Disease Clinic

Prior to the launch of the IMPC, MRC Harwell led a pilot high-throughput mouse phenotyping project, EUMODIC.

The aim of the European Mouse Disease Clinic (EUMODIC) was to conduct primary phenotyping of 500 mutant mouse lines. The consortium was formed from 18 research institutes from eight different countries across Europe.

The EUMODIC consortium agreed a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be used in a phenotyping pipeline across multiple centres to give a comprehensive assessment of the phenotype of a mouse. Four of the centres then performed the high-throughput phenotyping assessment: the Helmholtz Zentrum München German Mouse Clinic (HMGU), Germany; the Institut Clinique de la Souris (ICS), France; the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI), UK; and MRC Harwell.

As part of EUMODIC, our Biocomputing group developed the first open source databases to hold detailed information on phenotyping data and the processes used to obtain it. Built on the work of the EUMORPHIA project, the EMPReSS portal was developed to hold an extensive range of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to determine the phenotype of a mutant mouse. This was then refined to give EMPReSSslim, a select set of these SOPs for high-throughput mouse phenotyping, which was used to assess the phenotype of the mice in EUMODIC. 

All of the phenotyping results from EUMODIC have been made available to the scientific community via the open source EuroPhenome database, also developed by our Biocomputing group. This portal allowed researchers to search for a particular gene or phenotype, browse the ontology tree for a particular phenotype with an unknown annotation term, and track the progress of the project. Knock-out mouse lines produced in EUMODIC are available as frozen sperm and embryos via the European Mutant Mouse Archive.

EUMODIC established the groundwork for the IMPC, a much larger scale international consortium launched in 2011 that aims to determine the phenotype of 20,000 mutant mice. MRC Harwell was a central part of EUMODIC and continues to play a vital role in the IMPC.