The Research Animal Support Facility (RASF) exists to support ongoing research involving laboratory animals at MD Anderson. All animal facilities are accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, have Animal Welfare Assurance approval, and are registered as research animal facilities with the US Department of Agriculture. The RASF has two locations: RASF-Houston (RASF-H -112,990 ft^) and RASF-Smithville (RASF-S -30,000 ft^). Both RASF facilities provide housing, procedure space, veterinary care, and quality assurance programs for animals used in cancer research. Clinical, surgical, imaging, radiation therapy, and pathology laboratory facilities and services such as Genetic Services and Mutant Mouse Pathology Service are also provided. RASF-H veterinarians provide consultation services and participate in all relevant compliance committees. Major equipment includes individually ventilated rodent caging, automated bedding dispensing and waste collection, patient monitoring in vivo imaging systems, automated pathology specimen processing, and vehicles for materials animal transport. The RASF has 156 personnel, including 17 veterinarians and 97 animal care personnel. In the past 5 years, the RASF has been used by 378 investigators supporting all 19 CCSG programs. Publications cited using the RASF have appeared in several high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Med, Cell Stem Cell and PNAS. Peer-reviewed investigators represent 92% of the RASF-H and 95% of RASF-S user utilization. The RASF-H requests 5% of CCSG support for the next grant cycle, and 26.5% for RASF-S. User fees account for 52% (RASF-H) and 44% (RASF-S), institutional support is 43% (RASF-H) and 23% (RASF-S), and 2% other sources support RASF-S. FIASF-H. Future plans include renovation and expansion of the CRB basement animal facility, build-out of the animal imaging support holding facility on South Campus, and upgrading and implementing computer applications for business operations and preclinical drug development. RASF-S future plans include enhancing/expanding barrier facilities, continued customization of breeding colony management software, development of new research genetic services and new ante-mortem bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging services.
The RASF's purpose is to provide the highest quality animal care and support for animal research by delivering a wide range of cost-efficient veterinary services, including specialized genetic services and mutant mouse pathology services. Such services are essential for the conduct of cutting-edge research aimed at improving cancer prevention and treatment with the ultimate goal of eliminating cancer.
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