Frequently Asked Questions

I have to use a level 2 biological hazard, how do I get approval and what do I need to consider?

A valid University of Toronto Biosafety Permit is required for all laboratory work which involves the use of potentially hazardous biological agents and materials containing such agents. Working with EHS, DCM has developed standard operating procedures (SOP) for working safely with RG2 pathogens in animal models. The specific precautions for work with your RG2 biological hazard will depend on risk assessment as performed as part of the Biosafety Permit review process overseen by the Institutional Biosafety Committee. These precautions are to be detailed in the relevant Animal Use Protocol so that all staff exposed to the hazard (animal care staff as well as investigative staff) can work safely.

Once the Biosafety Permit has been approved, appropriate training must be completed. Training is to include University of Toronto (EHS) as well as DCM facility specific CL2 instruction. Contact us with any questions.       

I think one of the drugs I need for my work is a controlled substance, how do I order it?

Commonly used controlled substances include buprenorphine and ketamine. They are used as part of a balanced anesthetic plan. If your protocol contains any controlled substances, contact us to determine if you must apply for an exemption from Health Canada to use and store the drug for scientific purposes. 

I would like to plan my budget for a grant application, who should I contact?

Feel free to contact our professional staff to assist you. 

I’m just starting out, who can I contact for questions?

DCM offers considerable expertise and support for your in-vivo project, please feel free to contact us. Veterinary staff are available for consultation if you are new to the Faculty or do not have in-vivo experience. Veterinary staff can provide an overview of all necessary approvals required for your projects and assist you through the process. For technical support, feel free to get in touch with any of our veterinary staff, managers or supervisors. For an overview of what you will need to do to get started, please visit our ‘New to Us’ webpage.  

What facilities does the Division of Comparative Medicine have to offer?

DCM administers two animal facilities located in the Medical Sciences Building (MSB) and the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR). Both facilities are stand alone, offering a full complement of holding, procedural, surgical, laboratory, necropsy, CL2 and cage processing space. Standard holding and procedural space includes biological safety cabinets or laminar flow hoods for animal handling. Surgical areas are outfitted with anesthetic and monitoring equipment, microsurgical instrumentation and microscopes. The facility’s laboratories offer a CO2 incubator, centrifuges, fume hoods, a -30C and -80C freezer as well as diagnostic equipment. Imaging modalities include high resolution x-ray, bioluminescence, fluorescence, DEXA and bone density testing.      

  • MSB vivarium:  a 38,000ft² multipurpose SPF facility 
  • CCBR vivarium:  a 25,000ft² rodent only SPF facility operated at a high biosecurity level, including:
    •  a CL3 in-vivo unit
    •  a germ-free core with capacity for generation of germ-free or gnotobiotic strains of interest

What is comparative medicine?

Comparative medicine is a discipline within experimental medicine concerned with the study of mechanistic questions of diseases common to humans and animals. The discipline includes the development and validation of animal models to study the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of human and animal diseases. Comparative medicine also includes the study of the etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention and treatment of infectious and non-infectious diseases affecting laboratory animal species.

What services does the Division of Comparative Medicine have to offer?

  • In-vivo expertise: consulting on model selection & development, experimental design,   protocol review, biomethodology, anesthesia and analgesia, experimental surgery 
  • Surgical support: surgical modeling & assistance, anesthesiology, sterilization, instrumentation, and equipment 
  • Technical support: blood and tissue sampling, administration of compounds via various routes,  colony management, identification, tissue collection, supportive care, health assessment and monitoring
  • Training: biomethodology, anesthesiology, surgery, CL2 and CL3 practices, chemical safety, ethics & regulatory framework, environmental variables with impact on research, biosafety
  • Imaging: x-ray, bioluminescent, fluorescent modalities with bone density testing 
  • CL3 in-vivo unit
  • CL2 suites
  • Germ free/gnotobiotic core
  • Diagnostics: Clinical pathology and histopathology
  • Polyclonal antibody production
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