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Jackson Laboratory

Coordinates: 44°21′56″N 68°11′47″W / 44.3655°N 68.1965°W / 44.3655; -68.1965
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The Jackson Laboratory
EstablishedMay 4, 1929; 95 years ago (1929-05-04)
FounderC. C. Little
TypeNonprofit organization Research institute
HeadquartersBar Harbor, Maine, U.S.
ProductsMice, C57BL/6J
Model Organisms
Laboratory Animals
LeaderLon Cardon
Budget (2023)

The Jackson Laboratory (often abbreviated as JAX) is an independent, non-profit biomedical research institution which was founded by Clarence Cook Little in 1929.[2] It employs over 3,000 employees in Bar Harbor, Maine; Sacramento, California; Farmington, Connecticut; Shanghai, China; and Yokohama, Japan.[3] The institution is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center[4] and has NIH Centers of Excellence in aging[5] and systems genetics.[1] The stated mission of The Jackson Laboratory is "to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community."[6]

The laboratory also provides more than 13,000 strains of mouse models to more than 2,400 organizations in 68 countries around the world.[1] Additionally, JAX is the home of the Mouse Genome Informatics database, and an international hub for scientific courses, conferences, training and education.[7]

Major research areas[edit]

The Jackson Laboratory has two research campuses, the Jackson Laboratory for Mammalian Genetics located in Bar Harbor, Maine, and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine located in Farmington, Connecticut.[8] Each campus maintains affiliations with a variety of other academic institutions. In the Bar Harbor location, cooperative Ph.D. training is offered in conjunction with the University of Maine[9] and Tufts University.[10][11] At the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, cooperative Ph.D. training is offered in conjunction with the University of Connecticut Health Center. There are more than 60 faculty members maintaining independent labs across these campuses, who perform research in six primary areas:[12]

  • Cancer: The Jackson Laboratory Cancer Center (JAXCC) has a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. Cancer areas of focus include: brain, leukemia, lung, lymphoma, prostate, breast; cancer initiation and progression; cancer prevention and therapies
  • Development/reproductive biology: birth defects, Down syndrome, osteoporosis, fertility
  • Immunology: HIV/AIDS, anemia, autoimmunity, cancer immunology, immune system disorders, lupus, tissue transplant rejection, vaccines
  • Metabolic diseases: atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity
  • Neurobiology: blindness, Alzheimer's, deafness, epilepsy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neurobehavioral disorders: autism, addiction, depression


The Jackson Laboratory was founded by Clarence Cook Little, a former University of Maine and University of Michigan president, in 1929 in Bar Harbor, Maine under the name Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory with the purpose of discovering the causes of cancer and other diseases through research on mammals.[13][14] The campus was built on 13 acres of land donated by George Dorr. Initial funding for the laboratory campus came from Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, and from Roscoe B. Jackson, a one-time head of the Hudson Motor Car Company, for whom the institution is named.[13][15] As well as providing funds for the first laboratory building, Roscoe B. Jackson provided support for the first five years of operation.[15]

The sale of mouse animal models began in 1933 with early sales to the United States Public Health Service and The Jackson Laboratory now provides a high proportion of the mice used in biomedical research [16] In particular, the C57BL/6J strain, which is widely used and cited is maintained at The Jackson Laboratory.[16][17] The demand for mice generated at The Jackson Lab increased in 1937 when the Surgeon General supported a grant from National Cancer Institute to the lab that made mice produced there a de facto industry standard due to federal standardization requirements because it was the only large-scale mouse provider before World War II.[17]

The research performed at The Jackson Laboratory is associated with at least 26 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine via research, resources, or educational programming. Some notable findings from the institution include:

  • Established that cancer is a genetic disorder, a novel concept before the Laboratory's founding in 1929.
  • Dr. Leroy Stevens first described cells that can develop into different tissues – today known as stem cells.[18]
  • Dr. Elizabeth Russell performed the first bone marrow transplants in a mammal, leading to new treatments for blood and immunological diseases.[18]
  • Dr. George Snell won the Nobel Prize in 1980 for providing an in-depth understanding of the immune system's major histocompatibility complex, making organ transplants possible.
  • Dr. Douglas L. Coleman discovered the hormone leptin, central to obesity and diabetes research, earning him the Shaw Prize, the Albert Lasker Award, the Gairdner International Award, Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, and the King Faisal International Prize in Medicine.
  • Use of cancer avatars – mice with implanted human tumors – to test targeted therapies for cancer patients.
  • Recent research has provided insight into cancer stem cells and treatments for leukemia; progress with type 1 diabetes and lupus; and a breakthrough in extending mammalian life span.


Ribbon cutting at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine dedication ceremony in October 2014
  • A grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences funds the development of new computational tools to understand how multiple genes interact in complex diseases.
  • The National Institute on Aging provides $25 million to develop new treatments, future therapies based on precision modeling.[19]
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds phase 2 of the Knockout Mouse Production and Phenotyping Project (KOMP2).[20]
  • Researchers link mutations to butterfly-shaped pigment dystrophy, an inherited macular disease.[21]
  • Jackson Laboratory researchers discover mutation involved in neurodegeneration.[22]
  • The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine opens in Farmington, Connecticut in October 2014.[23]
  • In October 2020, it received a $11.8M USD grant from Harold Alfond Foundation.[24]

The Jackson Laboratory Cancer Center[edit]

The Jackson Laboratory Cancer Center (JAXCC) first received its National Cancer Institute designation in 1983 in recognition of the foundational cancer research conducted there. The JAXCC is one of seven NCI-designated Cancer Centers with a focus on basic research.[25]

The Jackson Laboratory Cancer Center has a single program, Genetic Models for Precision Cancer Medicine, composed of three biological themes: cancer cell robustness, genomic and genetic complexity, and progenitor cell biology. The themes emphasize the systems genetics of cancer and translational cancer genomics, and all are supported by the JAX Cancer Center's technological initiatives in mouse modeling, genome analytics and quantitative cell biology.[25]

The Morrell Park fire[edit]

On May 10, 1989, a flash fire destroyed the Morrell Park mouse production facility.[26] The fire lasted for five hours, requiring over 100 firefighters from 15 companies and a total of 16 trucks for the fire to be contained. Four workers of the Colwell Construction Company who were installing fiberglass wallboard in the room where the fire broke out were injured, one with burns over 15 percent of his body. While none of the foundation strains were lost, 300,000 production mice (about 50% of their stock) died, resulting in a national shortage of laboratory mice and the layoff of 60 employees.[27]

This was the second fire to severely affect the laboratory; the 1947 fire that burned most of the island destroyed most of the laboratory, and its mice. Worldwide donations of funds and mice allowed the lab to resume operations in 1948.[28]


In October 2021, Jackson Lab bought Japan-based research animal business from Charles River Laboratories International for US$63 million.[29]

Research resources[edit]

Business model[edit]

The Jackson Laboratory is recognized by the IRS as a public charity.[31] According to organization literature, revenue comes primarily from the sale of materials and services (~70%) and from government support (~25%).[32] Less than 5% of 2012 revenue came from charitable donations.[32]

Notable researchers[edit]


In 2013, a jury in Maine found that Jackson Laboratory did not violate that state's whistleblower protection law when they fired an employee who claimed to have been terminated after reporting her concerns about the treatment of animals to the National Institutes of Health Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare. The worker accused the laboratory of "allowing mice to suffer and then die in their cages instead of euthanizing them" and of cutting off the toes of mice to identify them. Jackson Laboratory denied the allegations and stated the worker was fired for her confrontational demeanor.[33]

In 2009, Jackson Laboratory was fined $161,680 by the EPA for improperly handling and storing hazardous materials.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Fast Facts". The Jackson Laboratory.
  2. ^ "Jackson Lab to remove founder's name from conference center". 20 July 2020.
  3. ^ "About The Jackson Laboratory". Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Find an NCI-Designated Cancer Center – National Cancer Institute". cancer government. 13 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence". National Institute on Aging.
  6. ^ "Personalized Medicine Coalition – Advocates for precision medicine : The Jackson Laboratory". personalizedmedicinecoalition.
  7. ^ "JAX Mice and Research Services Provided Through Charles River". Criver.com. Archived from the original on 2015-08-18. Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  8. ^ "Our Campuses & Communities". The Jackson Laboratory.
  9. ^ "GSBSE @ JAX – Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering – University of Maine". Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering.
  10. ^ "Neuro at JAX | Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences". gsbs tufts education.
  11. ^ "Mammalian Genetics at JAX | Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences". gsbs tufts education.
  12. ^ Latter, Carol. "JAX Labs uses biomolecular modeling to advance patient health".
  13. ^ a b "Jackson Laboratory | Bar Harbor, ME – Official Website". barharbormaine government.
  14. ^ "The Jackson Laboratory Milestones: 1900 – 1929". The Jackson Laboratory Timeline. Jackson Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  15. ^ a b "85 Years of Discovery". Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 2019-03-24.
  16. ^ a b Johnson, Mary (8 July 2022). "Laboratory Mice and Rats". Materials and Methods. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  17. ^ a b Griesemer, James R.; Gerson, Elihu M. (1 June 2006). "Of mice and men and low unit cost". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 37 (2): 363–372. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2006.03.005.
  18. ^ a b "LittleSis: Jackson Laboratory". littlesis. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  19. ^ "National Institute on Aging funds new Alzheimer's disease center at Indiana University and The Jackson Laboratory". The Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  20. ^ "Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP)". The Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  21. ^ Hollander, Anneke I. den; Nishina, Patsy M.; Hoyng, Carel B.; Peachey, Neal S.; Leroy, Bart P.; Roepman, Ronald; Boon, Camiel J. F.; Cremers, Frans P. M.; Simonelli, Francesca; Banfi, Sandro; Walraedt, Sophie; Baere, Elfride De; Abu-Ltaif, Sleiman; Moorsel, Tamara W. van; Neveling, Kornelia; Letteboer, Stef J.; Charette, Jeremy R.; Collin, Gayle B.; Rowe, Lucy; Shi, Lanying; Yu, Minzhong; Hicks, Wanda; Schoenmaker-Koller, Frederieke E.; Krebs, Mark P.; Saksens, Nicole T. M. (1 February 2016). "Mutations in CTNNA1 cause butterfly-shaped pigment dystrophy and perturbed retinal pigment epithelium integrity". Nature Genetics. 48 (2): 144–151. doi:10.1038/ng.3474. PMC 4787620. PMID 26691986.
  22. ^ "Jackson Laboratory researchers discover mutation involved in neurodegeneration". The Jackson Laboratory. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  23. ^ STURDEVANT, MATTHEW (2 October 2014). "Jackson Lab Opens To Big Hopes for Bioscience Growth". Courant.com. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Jackson Lab to get 11.8 million dollar grant for cancer research". newscentermaine.com. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  25. ^ a b "The Jackson Laboratory Cancer Center – NCI". cancer.gov. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  26. ^ Harbour, Kathy (August 21, 1989). "Probable causes given for Jackson Lab fire". Bangor Daily News (Hancock County ed.). p. 8. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  27. ^ Mathewson, Judy (June 26, 1989). "Debris Cleared, Jackson Begins Recovery From Fire". The Scientist. Retrieved 2013-02-28.
  28. ^ "The Jackson Laboratory Milestones: 1940–1949". Jackson Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  29. ^ "Jackson Lab buys Japan-based research animal business for $63M". Mainebiz. 2021-10-13.
  30. ^ Blake, Judith A.; Bult, Carol J.; Kadin, James A.; Richardson, Joel E.; Eppig, Janan T.; The Mouse Genome Database Group (2011). "The Mouse Genome Database (MGD): premier model organism resource for mammalian genomics and genetics". Nucleic Acids Res. 39 (Database issue). England: D842-8. doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1008. PMC 3013640. PMID 21051359.
  31. ^ "Exempt Organizations Select Check" (search results). IRS. EIN 01-0211513. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  32. ^ a b "2012 Annual Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  33. ^ Trotter, Bill (3 June 2013). "Former worker who accused Jackson Lab of mistreating mice loses whistleblower lawsuit". BDN Maine. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  34. ^ Trotter, Bill (2 April 2009). "Jackson Laboratory to pay $161,680 EPA fine". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 6 August 2015.

44°21′56″N 68°11′47″W / 44.3655°N 68.1965°W / 44.3655; -68.1965