Current Environment:

Animal Behavior & Physiology Core | Overview

*The Animal Behavior and Physiology Core is now open. Please review our new COVID-19 standard operating procedures before booking or arriving to the core.

Our mission

The Animal Behavior and Physiology (AB&P) Core is designed to provide a comprehensive state-of-the-art in vivo preclinical, translational platform for in-depth phenotyping of models of neurodevelopmental disorders, development of reliable and quantitative biomarkers, and to measure the effects of therapeutic interventions. AB&P leadership and expanded research team includes expertise in translational neuroscience, rodent behavioral and physiological metrics, drug testing, biomedical engineering, and in core management to facilitate efficient planning, execution and analyses of experimental data.

We recognize the need to enhance and integrate multilevel phenotyping capabilities used for characterizing our animal models both at the behavioral and physiological level at Boston Children’s Hospital within one rodent phenotyping core. The AB&P has been serving investigators since 2011 and has contributed to the publication of over 50 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and provided facilities for scientists to obtain data to support numerous successful grant applications. In 2019, the AB&P was recognized for excellence and broad appeal across multiple domains by being made an Institutional Core Facility at Boston Children’s.

AB&P advanced technologies

The AB&P facilities include a wide range of advanced technologies for acquiring data at single cell, network and the behavioral level. Such technologies can be combined in the majority of cases in conscious freely behaving rodents, allowing top-down and bottom-up analysis. By design, each available technology is modular with capacity for upgrade, thus minimizing risk of obsolescence in coming years. The behavioral and physiological assays of the AB&P are designed to enable deep model phenotyping, and early phase CNS drug discovery and development by collection and analysis of in vivo behavioral and physiological signals. Services that provide a high-throughput platform for preclinical neurophysiological monitoring to support translational research are absent within the greater Boston area (inclusive of industry facilities). The AB&P thus addresses a conspicuous, unmet need and fosters Boston Children's collaboration with industry and academia both in the Boston area and nationally.

As itemized on the equipment page, the equipment includes unique and modular platforms that will enable multi-layered, comprehensive neurodevelopmental disease model phenotyping. As well, these assays provide measures of target engagement by pharmacological agents and enable necessary preclinical PK/PD studies once a therapeutic is deployed in any of the available models.

Our offerings

Specifically, the unique features of the AB&P Core include:

  • ability to house mice in customized modified environments
  • a 24-cage wireless video telemetry setup for continuous recording of EEG, EMG, EKG, actigraphy, body temperature and other metrics
  • a setup for rodent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • in vivo calcium imaging by multifiber photometry coupled with behavioral analysis such as operant behavior, social or anxiety tests,
  • in vivo microdialysis for sampling neurochemicals and other constituents of the peripheral and central nervous systems in a conscious, freely moving rodent.

Notably, AB&P measures are by design translational, and available in human studies at Boston Children's for immediate extension of hypotheses formulated in the preclinical AB&P studies to clinical trials.