Animal Models of Disease—Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick

Developing, characterizing, and refining animal models rely on sophisticated medical imaging equipment; aerosol capabilities; and virology, pathology, molecular biology, and immunology expertise. Animal models are key to advancing medical countermeasures for high-consequence pathogens and often provide the only opportunity to gain critical insights and develop clinical algorithms for effectively managing patients or establishing a regulatory pathway for product licensure.

The IRF-Frederick scientists have developed animal models with widely used routes of exposure for small animals and nonhuman primate models within animal biosafety level 4 (ABSL-4) laboratories. Unique to the IRF-Frederick is the ability to generate small-, medium-, or large-particle aerosols of viruses for exposure of small animals and nonhuman primates. The team is interested in innovative novel models, as well.

Scientists at the IRF-Frederick are proficiency in telemetry, tethered animals with in-dwelling catheters, natural history studies, sequential sampling studies, therapeutic intervention, vaccine efficacy, and studies using a variety of imaging techniques and radiotracers. As needed, these capabilities can be used with other core proficiencies to meet the needs of any given study. Repositories of samples and images have been and are continually being generated to examine common threads of pathogenesis for multiple agents and to explore cutting-edge technologies on archival samples.

Main Areas of Focus

  • Develop animal models of disease using high-consequence viral pathogens that accurately recapitulate human disease to the greatest extent possible
  • Develop animal models suitable for evaluating candidate medical countermeasures
  • Develop animal models that reflect viral persistence and/or disease seen in human survivors of infections with high-consequence pathogens

Collaborative Research Support

Established Animal Models—Species; Pathogens (Delivery Method)

  • Mouse: mouse-adapted Ebola virus (IP); Lassa virus (IP) 
  • Hamster: mouse-adapted Ebola virus (IP); Nipah virus (IP); SARS-CoV-2 (IN)
  • Guinea Pig: guinea pig-adapted Ebola virus (IP); Lassa virus (IP), guinea pig-adapted Lassa virus (SC, IP); Lujo virus (IP); Junin virus(IP); Machupo virus (IP); Guanarito virus (IP)
  • Ferret: Ebola virus (IM)
  • Nonhuman Primate: Ebola virus (IM); Marburg virus (IM); Nipah (A); Lassa virus (IM); Junin virus (IM); Machupo virus (IM); SARS-CoV-2 (A, IN, IT)

A=aerosol, IN=intranasal, SC=subcutaneous, IP=intraperitoneal, IC=intracerebral, IM= intramuscular, IT= intratracheal, IV=intravenous, IN=intranasal


Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick (IRF-Frederick)

Contact Information



All procedures are well-documented and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), methods, or study-approved plans and agreements.

Collaboration Opportunities

  • Studies relevant to human disease
  • Use of surrogate systems to test clinical hypotheses
  • Use of biological systems to answer questions regarding disease pathogenesis and strategies for intervention including antimicrobials, vaccines, and other countermeasures
  • Developing and incorporating cutting-edge technologies to understand infectious diseases

Read more about how to work with the IRF-Frederick.