The Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility Utrecht
The Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility (CLARF) Utrecht is a shared research facility of Utrecht University (UU) and the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU). The main task of CLARF is to support research and educational projects that make use of laboratory animals. Since 2008 CLARF has been embedded in UU’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, but it operates as a stand-alone facility with its own management and accountability.
CLARF provides support to researchers from several UU faculties, (the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Faculty of Science departments of Biology, Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences) and departments of the UMCU, and to a limited extent to third parties (commercial and non-commercial organizations). The extent of the support varies from a basic level of support (housing and care of the laboratory animals and basic biotechnical techniques) to more advanced support (additional biotechnical techniques) and may involve the conduct of the entire experiment. CLARF is AAALAC (the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International) and ISO 9001: 2008 accredited.
CLARF is constantly optimising its working methods and thereby the overall quality of its performance: animal welfare and health remain its most important priorities. CLARF employs its own veterinarian who is specialised in laboratory animals. His main responsibilities are i) to monitor the health and welfare of the laboratory animals and to intervene where and whenever necessary, and ii) to conduct applied research to further improve and/ or refine methods in order to improve the welfare and health of laboratory animals. Results are published in reports and journals and are presented at scientific meetings.
CLARF also offers courses and hands-on training ranging from secondary vocational education to university level.
CLARF can handle a large variety of animal species, such as rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, poultry and other birds, goats, sheep, pigs, dogs and cats. CLARF has 3 units:
- The experimental surgery unit. This unit provides technical and (image guided) surgical support in the framework of new developments (e.g. surgical (implantation) techniques, devices, new strategies of intervention and/or therapeutics) in the fields of cardiovascular research, gastro-enterology, neurology, immunology, oncology and orthopedics. This unit handles both large (sheep, goat, pig, dog and rabbit) and small (mouse and rat) animal species.
- The breeding and cryopreservation unit. This unit works under a high bio-exclusion regime, and breeds a wide range of different mice and rat strains (including transgenic and inbred strains) under strict hygienic conditions and can make use of individual ventilated cages if case even higher levels of bio-exclusion are required. The unit is also responsible for the rederivation and cryopreservation activities.
- The experimental studies unit. This unit is suitable for experiments with both large and small laboratory animals. The unit offers various levels of biocontainment allowing for studies up to BSL3 levels for small to medium sized laboratory animals (up to cats, dogs, poultry and other birds).
In addition, CLARF has a Transgenesis unit for the generation of transgenic mice and rats using different techniques (pronucleus, blastocyst and lentiviral injection techniques). Furthermore, CLARF hosts a diagnostic laboratory facility to monitor laboratory animals’ microbial status, water, feed and other critical provisions and processes of CLARF activities.