ABSL3 and Animal Models   

ABSL3 and Animal Models

Program Overview

Part of the HMH-CDI strategy to rapidly harness innovations arising from a new renaissance in biomedical sciences to restore patient health includes an animal research program targeted at translational science. The animal research program infrastructure and oversight is a coordinated effort between the Research Animal Facility, the Animal Model Core, and individual investigators. This modernized approach to in vivo research is integral to the institutional mission of preventing, reducing, and curing acute and chronic diseases related to cancer, infectious diseases, and other life-threatening and debilitating conditions.

Research Animal Facility (RAF)’s Mission

The CDI Research Animal Facility (RAF) is an AAALAC accredited facility that supports the cutting-edge scientific research of CDI, The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine (HMSOM), and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) Research Consortium faculty, as well as biotech and pharma collaborators through state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology. Our animal care and use program is managed by highly qualified and experienced veterinarians, animal care technicians, and support staff committed to maintaining the health and welfare of the research animal population.


  • Individually ventilated rodent housing systems
  • High-Containment Facility includes 3,000 GSF of ABSL-3 space - including rodent aerosol delivery suite
  • Irradiator suite
  • Advanced preclinical imaging including micro-ultra sound (Vevo 3100), multi-modal optical (fluorescence, bioluminescence, x-ray; Bruker Biospin)
  • Six (6) advanced procedure rooms

Currently available animal models

The Animal Model Core is a resource dedicated to the CDI’s thematic research areas, including specialty expertise in animal models of infectious disease and cancer applied in the context of preclinical drug discovery programs. Specific animal models include:

  • Mouse infectious disease models (viral, bacterial, and fungal), including SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV
  • Hamster infectious disease models
  • Rabbit infectious disease models
  • Rodent Wound Models
  • Cancer models


  • Complete preclinical study management
  • Conduct of preclinical pharmacology and efficacy studies including:
    • Rapid assessment of the efficacy of candidate microbials targeted against high threat pathogens
    • Pharmacokinetic and pharmacokinetic studies conducted alongside the Pharmacology Core
  • Infection and test article administration routes: intravenous, intraperitoneal, subcutaneous, oral, inhalation (intratracheal instillation and aerosol)
  • Necropsy
  • Ex vivo assays: TCID50, PFU, CFU, qRT-PCR
  • Advanced preclinical imaging assays
  • Orthotopic Transplantation

Imaging Capabilities

Our state-of-the-art Imaging capabilities include:

  • Micro-ultra sound (Vevo 3100),
  • Multi-modal optical (fluorescence, bioluminescence, x-ray; Perkin Elmer IVIS Lumina X5)
  • Leica Stellaris 8 confocal microscope for intravital imaging
  • PIXImus small animal Densitometer (DEXA).

The Animal Model Core also provides consultation to investigators on in vivo study design, model development and characterization, procedure optimization and refinement, and the selection of clinically relevant readouts.

Faculty or industry scientists interested in using the Animal Model Core can contact Dr. Nelson (AndrewM.Nelson@hmh-cdi.org).

Animal Models Rodent Shared Resource (AMSR)

The animal research program, through the NCI-designated Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) Research Consortium, provides comprehensive support to member faculty in the form of study specific consultation and hands-on study study support.

Faculty interested in using the AMSR can contact Dr. Nelson (AndrewM.Nelson@hmh-cdi.org).

Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL3)

The facility also contains a dedicated floor for ABSL3 rodent and small animal studies. The facility was designed according to the latest CDC Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th edition guidelines. All biocontainment-related studies are approved by the HMH IACUC and IBC. The CDI RAF maintains 24/7/365 security. Only qualified users, as determined by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) according to the latest federal guidelines, may enter the ABSL-3 RAF. Electronic door locks with pass-card access at the entrances of the ABSL3 to maintain a computerized log of all people entering the facility. In addition, 24 hour video surveillance cameras with tape back-up are operational at the ABSL-3 entrance.

Billing and Scheduling

Pricing depends on the scope and complexity of a study.

To discuss scheduling and to receive a custom quote for your study, please contact Dr. Nelson (AndrewM.Nelson@hmh-cdi.org).

Key Staff/Faculty

David Blocker
Research Animal Facility Supervisor
Office: 201-880-3671

Juanita Vakerich
Research Animal Facility Manager
Office: 201-880-3015

Mariya Morris, DVM, DACLAM
Attending Veterinarian

HMH Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Leigh-Ann Tulleson
HMH IACUC Coordinator

Andrew Nelson, DVM
Director, Research Animal Models
Co-Leader, Animal Model Core (MAVDA and CETR)
Co-Director, Animal Models Rodent Shared Resource, Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

Vijeta Sharma, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate, Perlin Lab, Animal Model Core (MAVDA and CETR), Infectious Diseases

Steven Park, BS
Director, Laboratory Support Operations, CDI
Co-Administrative Director, Shared Resources,  Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Co-Director, Animal Models Rodent Shared Resource, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

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