Animal Phenotyping Herz

Animal Phenotyping

Arnd Heuser


Our platform provides a large set of validated approaches for investigating physiological and morphological characteristics in mice and rats and sensitively screening for phenotypic variations. This gives researchers an important resource for studying animal disease models.

Despite numerous advances in research techniques such as in vitro methods and advanced computer modeling that avoid the use of animals, there is still a need in preclinical research to study the morphological, physiological, metabolic or behavioral characteristics – the phenotype – of animals. Such a holistic approach to health and disease provides data that would otherwise not be available. Specifically, animal phenotyping allows researchers to gain a better understanding of the complex interactions between the cardiovascular, respiratory, and central nervous systems, which is critical for the development of many human pharmaceuticals and therapies.

Studying model animals in non-invasive ways

A comprehensive collection of tools for the physiological and morphological assessment

The Animal Phenotyping Platform at the Max Delbrück Center houses a comprehensive collection of tools for the physiological and morphological assessment of experimental mice and rats. We focus on techniques that minimize animal use and enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.

Using a wide variety of preclinical imaging techniques – such as high-frequency ultrasound, photoacoustic imaging, micro-computed tomography, quantitative bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging, and time-domain nuclear magnetic resonance imaging – allows researchers to characterize disease progression and ascertain therapeutic effects throughout the entire experimental period.

Additionally, we use various non-invasive in vivo examinations that allow physiological, metabolic, and bioelectrical variables to be monitored in conscious animals (e.g., blood pressure and heart rate measurements, electrocardiography, and respiratory analysis). We provide state-of-the-art services, innovative techniques, and helpful advice on pathophysiological questions to both experienced and novice investigators.

A holistic approach to functional genomics

The Max Delbrück Center is currently building a dedicated facility for in vivo pathophysiology experiments (the In Vivo Pathophysiology Laboratory) to promote preclinical translational research and functional genomics. Our platform will pool and further improve well-established phenotyping approaches, ensuring the highest technological and quality standards.

We will give investigators the capacity to accurately assess developmental, behavioral, cardiovascular, and metabolic characteristics in rodent disease models over long periods of time and to sensitively screen for phenotypic variations. The planned laboratory is expected to have multiple benefits for researchers at the Max Delbrück Center and for collaborating external scientists.

Our tools

  • High-frequency ultrasound
  • Photoacoustic imaging
  • Micro-computed tomography
  • Bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Hematology
  • Metabolic phenotyping
  • Body composition analysis
  • Electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Blood pressure measurements
  • Respiratory analysis