Animal & Phenotyping Core

Core Leader: Gary Churchill
Phone: 207-288-6391

The Jackson Laboratory Nathan Shock Center (JAX NSC) provides diverse animal resources to enhance research in the genetics of aging. The overall goal of the Animal and Phenotyping Core is to increase the diversity of mouse resources available for aging research. The JAX NSC remains the preeminent aging research center for the development and dissemination of aging mouse models and resources. These resources include 32 common inbred strains for which the JAX NSC freely provides comprehensive lifespan and healthspan data via the interactive Mouse Phenome Database (MPD). In the current funding period, JAX investigators established models to study the genetics of aging using highly diverse strains, including Collaborative Cross (CC) inbred strains and Diversity Outbred (DO) mice. In addition to animal resources, a robust phenotyping pipeline ideally suited for large-scale, non-invasive testing of aging mice was developed. The Animal and Phenotyping Core will continue to generate valuable, high-demand animals and phenotyping resources for the aging community and distribute these resources effectively to ensure their widespread use. The Core will also promote the overarching goals of the NIA Nathan Shock Center Program through extensive interactions with all other JAX NSC cores, with other NSCs and the NSC Coordinating Center (NSCCC), and with the aging community at large. The Specific Aims of the Animal and Phenotyping Core are to: Aim 1. Provide unique animal resources to support aging research. Specifically, in Aim 1A, aging colonies of DO, CC, and C57BL/6J mice will be continuously maintained “on the shelf” and available for Pilot Awards. In Aim 1B, in conjunction with the Data and Statistical Core, the lifespan, extensive healthspan phenotyping, and QTL analyses of the dietary intervention study initiated in the prior funding period will be completed. Aim 2. Enable characterization of animal resources by providing robust and novel phenotyping assays relevant to human lifespan and healthspan. Affordable, novel, targeted phenotyping, and tissue and blood samples will be provided to researchers in the aging field to facilitate a comprehensive characterization of aged mice. Aim 3. Implement a large-scale study on the impact of genetic diversity on senescence and the effect of senolytics in DO mice and couple phenotypic responses to the underlying genetics. Senescence and the effect of senolytics have only been studied in C57BL/6J mice. Male and female DO control mice and mice treated with senolytic ABT263 will be extensively phenotyped in order to couple senescence and senolytic treatment in various tissues and phenotypic responses at 24 months of age to the underlying genetics. Aim 4. Coordinate with the Data and Statistical Core to analyze data and streamline dissemination efforts to the aging community via the JAX NSC website and the MPD. The Animal and Phenotyping Core will support aging research by continuing to generate and distribute valuable, high-demand mouse genetic and phenotyping resources for the aging research community.

Below please find Nathan Shock Center project details including open resources available to the scientific community.

The Center maintains and distributes valuable aged biospecimens currently available to researchers upon request. Interested researchers should contact:

Gary Churchill
The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609

Aging Studies


Cross Sectional Study using 9 Collaborative Cross (CC) strains placed on  an ad lib diet for health span and lifespan analysis.


Cross Sectional Study using Diversity Outbred (J:DO) mice undergoing phenotyping assays, blood and tissue collection at various timepoints for health span and lifespan analysis.


Characterization of healthspan and lifespan in CC mice investigating early, mid-life and late life biomarkers of aging. Robust fecal collection, blood collection and phenotyping pipeline.


Characterization of healthspan and lifespan in DO mice investigating early through late life biomarkers of aging. Animals were placed in high-throughput phenotyping pipelines to investigate lifespan traits.