The National Facility for Gene Function in Health and Disease (NFGFHD) was inaugurated in Pune on Friday by Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education.


The NFGFHD will be established at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune. It was funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). Of the 59,000 square foot area, approximately 25,000 square feet is dedicated space to house specific pathogen free (SPF) animal labs for both mice and rats.

It will be a primary center where transgenic animal models will be produced internally (transfer of genes within animals, naturally or artificially using genetic engineering methods). Animal models of rats, mice and rabbits will be present. Otherwise, these are imported at enormous cost, take considerable time to procure, and are often subject to strict import restrictions.

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In total, the NFGFHD houses 53 clean rooms and 30 service or experiment rooms that will ensure the preservation of these animal models in the pathogen-free, temperature-controlled environments necessary for scientific and disease research.

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Why is it necessary

With an increasing burden of zoonotic diseases on human health, there is an increasing urgency to perform disease studies based on physiological evidence and methods. Since human trials alone cannot suffice for such studies, the need for experimental devices using animal models has become imperative. Consequently, models based on animals, plants and microorganisms are now deployed significantly to study diseases over time.

The NFGFHD Genome Engineering Facility at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune. (Source: IISER, Pune)

The most commonly used animal models are those of mice, rats and rabbits.

The Pune-based NFGFHD aims to manufacture such models in-house, thereby also reducing India’s reliance on imports and related costs.

Technological facilities

The new facility houses molecular biology labs and microinjection setups to generate knockout or knockin mouse models. A knockout or knock-in mouse is one in which scientists literally eliminate existing genes and replace them with external or artificial genes of interest that are closely related to the disease being studied. This is done through CRISPR/Cas9 systems.

There is also a facility to make embryonic stem cell-based models and traditional transgenic mouse models here.

In addition, the latest facility is equipped with embryo and sperm cryopreservation and in vitro fertilization, stereotactic surgery.

Researchers can use animal resources, flight facilities, bio-imaging, zebrafish, and genome engineering facilities here.