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Mice are the most widely used animal models in biomedical research. Mouse models are used in all disease areas, ranging from cancer research, research on complex diseases such as the metabolic syndrome or neurodegenerative diseases to the study of rare diseases. Two steps are vital for the provision of mouse models to the biomedical research community:

  1. Comprehensive functional and molecular characterisation (systemic phenotyping) of mutant mouse lines in mouse clinics like the German Mouse Clinic (GMC)

  2. Archiving and distribution of mouse models by repositories like EMMA – The European Mouse Mutant Archive.

Mouse clinics and mouse repositories are highly advanced research facilities, requiring for their successful operation a high degree of sophistication with respect to applied technologies, logistics, data management systems and managerial expertise. Europe has successfully built up a number of mouse phenotyping and archiving facilities, among them the German Mouse Clinic (GMC) and the German EMMA node at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.
However, the currently existing capacities are not sufficient to accommodate the growing demand by the biomedical research community, and to fulfil the international goal to complete the functional analysis of the first mammalian genome. Moreover, a sustainable funding concept for the existing facilities is often missing.
Based on these deficits Infrafrontier Project was initiated to primarily address two urgent issues:

  • Building sufficient European capacities for systemic phenotyping, archiving, and distribution of mouse models embedded into a sustainable funding concept;
  • Providing a pan-European organisational framework for seamless access by the biomedical research community to scientific platforms, services and data related to the systemic phenotyping, archiving, and distribution of mouse models.

To achieve this, a consortium of currently 29 partners was formed. It is composed of the leading European research institutions in the field of mouse phenotyping, archiving and distribution, and of the associated national ministries and funding agencies. All the operating and emerging mouse clinics in Europe and Canada, as well as the existing and emerging partners of the EMMA Repository are represented in the consortium. Infrafrontier Project was included in the ESFRI roadmap in 2006 and receives EU funding since 2008.
The EU-funded Infrafrontier Project will run until February 2012. The main focus during the remaining project duration will lie on the establishment of the Infrafrontier Legal Entity to progress to the implementation phase for the Infrafrontier Research Infrastructure This will mark also the transition from EU funding to Member State Funding for the activities of the Infrafrontier project office.

The implementation phase of the Infrafrontier Research Infrastructure will be characterised by the establishment of operative procedures for trans-national access and pan-European capacity management to the scientific platforms and services for systemic phenotyping, archiving, and distribution of mouse models.