We seek funds to renovate and expand the Centralized Zebrafish Animal Resource (CZAR), the Core Facility for Zebrafish Research at the University of Utah (U of U). Research with zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a significant focus of biomedical research at the U of U. Our investigators use this model organism to uncover mechanisms responsible for heart disease, cancers, muscular dystrophies, response to pathogens, development of the nervous system, and other medically important conditions. More than 20 faculty members from eight Departments currently use the CZAR. Research performed in the CZAR has been supported by major biomedical funding agencies, including NIH, HHMI, ACS, AHA, MDA, and March of Dimes, and is currently supported by ~$7,800,000 in annual direct cost funding from grants. Pending grant applications (as of July, 2013) request an additional ~$2,000,000 in annual direct cost funding. Research performed in the CZAR has been published in top-tier biomedical journals, including (past 5-6 years) Science, Nature, Cell, Nature Genetics, Nature Methods, Neuron, Cell Metabolism, Developmental Cell, PNAS (USA), PLoS Genetics, Genes &Development, and Development. Thus, the facility we seek to expand facilitates cutting edge biomedical research and plays a highly significant role in supporting biomedical research at the U of U. The CZAR was established in 2001 with matching funds from the U of U and the NIH through the G20 funding mechanism. It was designed to support the research programs of five early-to-mid-career investigators. In a bold and innovative move, in 2002 the CZAR became an open-access shared-use Core Facility serving the entire U of U community, receiving yearly operational support and periodic instrumentation funds from the U of U. In addition to animal housing, care, and uniform oversight, as a Core Facility the CZAR provides: 1) space and equipment for experimental procedures;2) teaching and expertise;3) access to sophisticated technologies;and 4) opportunities for collaborations among multiple research groups. As best we know, the CZAR was the first University Core Facility for Zebrafish Research in the US. The Core has attracted many established researchers at the U of U to begin working with the zebrafish and has become the basis of our ability to recruit many junior zebrafish investigators to the Health Sciences Center at the U of U (five new faculty in the past four years). The CZAR is in desperate need of expansion. More than 80 researchers of all levels currently utilize the Core, which has been operating at 90+% housing capacity for the past 5 years. Newly recruited faculty, recently awarded grants from the NIH "Programs to Enhance Zebrafish Research" (PAR-11-130 and -131), and the "Director's New Innovator Award Program" (RFA-RM-12-016) funded to generate new mutants and transgenic lines for use by the worldwide zebrafish research community, and new research opportunities afforded by the gene knock-out and gene-targeting technologies recently developed at the U of U require increased housing and experimental space in the CZAR. The current CZAR comprises 3646 sq ft;it contains 70 6- shelf 60" racks (5040 3-liter tanks) for standard housing of zebrafish, and one rack for holding animals in quarantine. The proposed $1,129,380 project will expand the capacity of the CZAR by over 50%. We request $500,000 from the NIH;the rest will be provided by the U of U.
The specific aims of this project are to: 1) Renovate 1,923 sq ft of existing building space that is immediately adjacent to the current CZAR to expand the current CZAR;2) Purchase and install 36 new 6-shelf 60" racks and thus increase zebrafish the housing capacity in the CZAR by 51%;3) Double our quarantine capacity;and 4) Create new experimental procedure areas, including a room for off-cycle production of eggs. The project addresses several objectives of the FOA. It efficiently accommodates demonstrated needs for conducting PHS-funded biomedical research. Because it functions as a shared-use Core Facility, the facility can be used efficiently to accommodate the changing needs of individual research projects. By expanding zebrafish housing capacity at the U of U within the purview of the current CZAR Core Facility, which is operated under the supervision of a full-time, highly experienced profession staff, the project guarantees the highest quality of care to animals and rigorous compliance with USDA Animal Welfare Act and the DHHS policies related to the care and use of laboratory animals. Finally, the proposed renovation project has employed sustainable design technologies and design approaches throughout.