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Rat Genetics Offer Medical Insights, Researcher Says

Wisconsin Medical College Earns Grant For Rat Genome Work

Jason Snyder (CC-BY)

The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a four-year, $8 million grant to continue its study of the rat genome.

The rat gets a bad rep for spreading disease and scavenging food. But the rodent has also helped advance science through their use in drug testing and basic research. One indication of their importance is the fact that theirs was the third genome sequenced, said Howard Jacob, director of the Human and Molecular Genetic Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“This will depress your listeners: We are 90 percent identical to a rat,” he said. “So from a medical perspective, that a great deal, right?”

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Jacob oversees the Rat Genome Database, which is accessible worldwide.

“This has a huge number of users, so 180,000 visits in 2014,” said Jacob.

Those using the database include biotech companies, along with academic and research institutions.

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