MA Life Sciences Center Joins Boston Childrens for Opening of Renovated Karp Aquatics Facility

Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) and Boston Children’s Hospital today joined members of the healthcare community for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the official opening of the newly renovated Karp Aquatics Facility at Boston Children’s.

The renovation of the Karp Aquatics Facility has dramatically improved the ability of Boston Children's scientists to leverage their zebrafish model system to better understand stem cell biology and various forms of cancer.  The renovations included: 1) replacement of the original aquaculture systems (installed in 2003) with state of the art, custom designed systems; 2) addition of a customized, automated breeding system that incorporates BCH-patented technology to produce embryos for drug screening; 3) addition of three robotic feeders to deliver diet to the fish; 4) rearranged/improved wet workspace for fish research; 5) installation of a new, dedicated aquatic tank washer; and 6) upgraded feed production infrastructure.

“The capital investments made by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center in the research capacity of hospitals and academic institutions across the Commonwealth have been crucial to our growing global leadership in the life sciences,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We congratulate Boston Children’s Hospital on the grand opening of its newly renovated Karp Aquatics Facility and look forward to seeing the new treatments and therapies that will come from their state-of-the-art zebrafish research.”

This ambitious project incorporates an impressive blend of state-of-the-art, sophisticated recirculating aquaculture systems, BCH scientist-patented and licensed breeding tanks for producing embryos on demand, and bar-code reading robots that deliver experimental diets to the fish in precise quantities. The newly remodeled infrastructure has the capacity to support a population of over 250,000 fish, all of which can be used by researchers to characterize genes involved in stem cell renewal and maintenance, and to rapidly identify potential new therapeutics for human blood diseases and cancers. 

“The zebrafish field has had a great impact on understanding biology and disease,” said Leonard I. Zon, MD, director of the Stem Cell program at Boston Children’s. “Several therapies have been developed at Boston Children's Hospital that originated from the zebrafish. Massachusetts is a leader in the world for this research.”

“This project is a great example of the goals of our capital program, as this newly-renovated facility will serve as a unique resource that will strengthen Massachusetts’ position as the global leader in life sciences innovation,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC. “The mission of the Karp Aquatics Facility at Boston Children’s Hospital is the be on the cutting-edge of research and development of new therapeutics for blood diseases and different forms of cancer, and I’m excited to see the results of their work using the zebrafish model system.”

In 2013, the MLSC awarded a $4 million capital grant to Boston Children’s Hospital to help establish the Children’s Center for Cell Therapy (CCCT) and support new equipment and facility renovation, including the renovation of the Karp Aquatics Facility.  The project will allow for additional cell culturing facilities and a robotics area designed to perform highly specialized chemical screening on stem cells. The CCCT is a specialized center focused on developing novel stem cell therapies for currently untreatable or incurable diseases.

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development and commercialization. The MLSC is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1-billion, state-funded investment initiative. These investments create jobs and support advances that improve health and well-being. The MLSC offers the nation’s most comprehensive set of incentives and collaborative programs targeted to the life sciences ecosystem. These programs propel the growth that has made Massachusetts the global leader in life sciences. The MLSC creates new models for collaboration and partners with organizations, both public and private, around the world to promote innovation in the life sciences.  For more information, visit

About Boston Children’s Hospital

Boston Children’s Hospital is home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 members of the Institute of Medicine and 14 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Boston Children’s research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children’s today is a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care. Boston Children’s is also the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

For more information about research and clinical innovation at Boston Children’s, visit:

This announcement is not intended to be a commercial endorsement by the MLSC of any products or services provided or developed by the entities referenced in the release.