The Gnotobiotic Core Facility (GCF) at Harvard Medical School, jointly directed by Drs. Jun Huh and Dennis Kasper, is a fee-for-service core established in 2022 in a newly renovated space in the Goldenson Building.

The term gnotobiotic comes from the Greek root gnostos meaning “known” and bios “life”.  Gnotobiotic animals can be bred with a defined bacterial community, where specific strain(s) of bacteria are introduced.  Gnotobiotic animals can also be devoid of all bacteria present in their systems (known as axenic or germ-free). 

Gnotobiotic animals are bred and maintained in completely sterile environments that require special housing conditions (isolators).  Housing for our gnotobiotic mice includes a combination of plastic flexible film isolators (CBC) and Park Bioservices semi-rigid isolators. We also have Tecniplast Isocage™ positive pressure isolation cage systems. These are quite versatile and allow for specific sterile manipulations, and are useful for short-term experiments such as housing mice colonized with specific microbiota.  

The facility has three dedicated high-vacuum autoclaves (including one pass-through), our own HVAC system, dedicated cage wash, and emergency backup electrical service. We also have an ethylene oxide sterilizer for sterilizing sensitive electronic equipment.

The GCF offers a range of services from basic breeding to mouse manipulations such as injections, gavage and sample collection.  We are also able to create unique transgenic mouse lines in a germ-free condition (rederivation).  Our facility-dedicated staff is well versed in gnotobiotic techniques. We provide the flexibility to allow investigators to be trained in gnotobiotic techniques, or to have our highly trained staff perform studies.  We offer our services to HMS researchers, as well as to the broader academic community.