Impending crisis in provision of histopathology expertise for mouse functional genomics

The generation of new mouse models of human disease is accelerating rapidly due to the completion of whole-genome sequencing efforts and technological advances in the manipulation of the mouse genome.

The speed of progress in this endeavour has highlighted the shortage of experts to fully characterise the new mouse lines produced.

A European Commission (EC)-funded strategy initiative (PRIME) now reports a study on the provision of the specific pathology expertise in mouse functional genomics. The paper by Warren et al. reveals that in Europe there is a critical lack of the specific expertise needed to understand the pathology of mutant mice, and that much of the work is being carried out by pathologists in clinical diagnostic posts, often with little support or training in comparative pathology. Similar concerns have recently been voiced by pathologists in North America.

The results indicate a lack of both trainees and provision of specialist training in this field, with the availability of diagnostic expertise and advice falling far short of the number of genetically engineered mice (GEM) being generated for analysis. This has lead to the worrying trend of "DIY" pathology and the inaccurate reporting of pathological data in scientific journals.

The paper highlights the critical need for a coordinated approach to the specialist training of pathologists in laboratory mouse pathology and genetics, and the urgent need for investment in a training infrastructure for Europe.

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