CONGENTO - Consortium for Genetically-Tractable Organisms
Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
Rui M. Costa
The advent of model organisms where genetic manipulations became standard procedures revolutionized biomedical research. Among these organisms, fruitflies (Drosophila melanogaster), zebrafish (Danio rerio), and mice (Mus musculus) have been the most widely used. Studies using genetic manipulations in these species have led to fundamental findings in development, immunology, neuroscience, cancer, etc, that have been recognized with distinctions such as the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award. They also have led to clinical trials and applications as vast as immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and drugs for psychiatric and cardiovascular disorders. CONGENTO - a Consortium for Genetically Tractable Organisms is the first worldwide infrastructure to integrate the expertise in fruitflies, zebrafish and mice in one research supporting facility. CONGENTO was born from the realization of the needs in Portugal and the opportunity of synergizing efforts by the participating institutions. Three main domains of services were identified as being critically needed in Portugal: 1) maintenance and hosting of genetically modified lines from the 3 species, either live or cryopreserved, 2) generation of new genetic lines and technologies in the different species, and 3) continuous education and certification in animal research and technology. CONGENTO has internationally recognized experts in these 3 domains, and has the combined spatial and equipment resources to support the Portuguese (and also European) Biomedical Research Community. CONGENTO is the first infrastructure in the world to synergize technology development across these 3 species, and provides state of the art services in all 3 organisms.