New role reflects expansion of rare disease research

BAR HARBOR — Cat Lutz was recently named vice president of the Rare Disease Translational Center at the Jackson Laboratory.

Over the past six years, the Rare Disease Translational Center has worked with dozens of rare disease foundations and their associated research teams to generate custom mouse models that represent rare conditions to pursue novel therapeutic interventions. The center’s expertise has been to assess currently available mouse models for rare diseases, determine if new resources are needed, and study rare diseases through these models.

“JAX is honored to play such a unique role in the fight against rare diseases,” said Lon Cardon, president and CEO of Jackson Laboratory. “As a non-profit organization, we are focused on facilitating and empowering medical progress for rare diseases of all kinds by collaborating with top academic research institutes, foundations ranging from family to reach world, and companies that are using the latest technologies to produce therapies for rare disease communities.

Under Lutz’s leadership, the center will bring together core capabilities in genetic engineering, phenotyping and in vivo pharmacology to support research and therapeutic advancement for patients and families with rare diseases. The program will expand to take advantage of developing technologies in genetic medicine and delivery, using the extensive collection of mouse models that exist in the laboratory’s repository as well as newly designed models.

“I am extremely honored to take on a position that allows me to focus on the incredible people who make up the rare disease community,” said Lutz. “After more than 25 years in this field, and with the growth of the Center, I am excited to continue and expand the work we have done to move this community forward.”

Lutz has worked in mouse genetics throughout her career and previously served as senior director of the in vivo pharmacology and efficacy testing department at the Jackson Laboratory. Throughout her career, she has been involved in milestones within the rare disease community, such as the first FDA-approved therapy for spinal muscular atrophy.

“I believe with this increased focus on the JAX Translational Center for Rare Diseases, we can achieve new milestones for even more patient populations,” said Lutz. “There are more than 7,000 known rare diseases, and thanks to new technologies and scientific advances, we will be able to have a significant impact on very many people around the world.”

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