Animal Models Core - Duke O'Brien Center for Kidney Research

The objective of the Duke O’Brien Center’s Animal Models Core is to provide a panel of sophisticated tools to support and facilitate multidisciplinary, basic discovery research on the unique links relating the kidney, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

The DOCK Animal Models Core is configured to provide access to a range of experimental models of kidney, heart and vascular diseases, and Core personnel have comprehensive expertise in utilizing mouse models of CKD, CVD, and hypertension, as well as functional kidney and cardiovascular screens in non-mammalian models.

The DOCK Animal Models Core is designed to specifically service kidney or cardiovascular investigators who may be working in isolation, to raise their awareness of the clinical impact of the heart-kidney axis and to provide access to models and techniques that can entice them to expand their efforts into our broader area of thematic interest. We will also provide comprehensive phenotyping services for kidney functions, blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions to allow investigators to take full advantage of technology for genetic manipulation of mice for purposes of physiological investigation.

The DOCK Animal Models Core provides each of the available services

  • Access to mouse models of CKD, hypertension and CVD. Through a single core we will provide our users with easy access to a range of mouse models of hypertension, chronic kidney disease, atherosclerosis and heart failure to promote the cross-disciplinary studies that will be required to make progress in understanding interactions among CKD, CVD and hypertension.
  • State-of-the-art blood pressure, kidney, and cardiovascular phenotyping in mice. The Core provides state-of-the-art techniques for mouse phenotyping focused on parameters that reflect clinically relevant outcomes in nephrology and cardiology. These include assessments of renal, cardiac, and vascular function, along with methods for measuring arterial pressure in conscious, unrestrained mice. Core personnel will also provide training to investigators who wish to develop these methods in their own laboratories.
  • Models of kidney cross-transplantation for distinguishing between renal and systemic contributions to physiologic, metabolic and/or immunological functions in mice. The Core provides vascularized kidney transplants in mice using techniques that are well established at Duke, providing the capacity to isolate contributions of the kidney in hypertension, CVD or other physiological processes.
  • Provides rapid in vivo assays in zebrafish to test functional effects of genetic variants relevant to the kidney and/or heart. In partnership with the Duke Center for Human Disease Modeling, we will provide users with the capability to carry out physiologically relevant in vivo assays in zebrafish, focusing on phenotypes in the heart and kidney and supported by substantial robotic and imaging capabilities. We anticipate that these services will be particularly useful for testing genetic variants associated with cardiovascular and kidney diseases identified by the Renal Genomics Core.


DOCK investigators will be provided direct access to:

  • Advice in study design and interpretation from international leaders in the field
  • Assistance in generating mouse models of kidney disease, HTN, heart disease, and atherosclerosis
  • Cutting edge technologies for physiological assessments in mice
  • Functional genetic assays in zebrafish.