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Mouse Pathology Training

Mouse Pathology Training - Where Next?

Despite their importance to biomedical science there is a worldwide shortage of trained laboratory animal pathologists which includes both toxicological pathologists and comparative mouse pathologists[1][2]

A small, hairless mouse sitting on a humans hand
A famous Glaswegian: the nude mouse, first identified at Ruchhill Hospital by Professor Norman Grist in 1962. Picture courtesy of Norman Grist.

This shortfall is affecting national and international capacity in biomedical research, pharmaceutical development and undergraduate and postgraduate training. In answer to the call for training in this area the British Society of Toxicological Pathologists ( organized a one day programme on mouse pathology at the RCPath in April this year. The meeting was well attended, with around 70 delegates enjoying some excellent talks on tissue sampling, infectious diseases, background pathology and artefacts related to methods of genetic manipulation.

Three main categories of people attended: medical and veterinary pathologists with an interest in mouse models and scientists with no background in histology who wished to assess mouse models themselves. In a single day it wasn’t possible to cover all the training needs of the various interested parties and the last session was designed to be a discussion about training needs and how to fulfill them.

Quote1Veterinary pathologists are almost by definition comparative pathologists and often have some grounding in rodent pathologyQuote2

It became clear during the discussion that although there is likely to be a healthy demand there are a number of barriers to be overcome to solve the problem of providing appropriate training in this area. Firstly the training needs of the 3 main groups are very varied. Veterinary pathologists are almost by definition comparative pathologists and often have some grounding in rodent pathology, medical pathologists (in general) have less experience of comparative pathology and may have a more focused interest in a specific organ system and non-pathology trained scientists may need considerably more basic help in terms of tissue recognition. Another important factor is funding for CPD and training.

Most of the organizations which employ veterinary pathologists are happy (when funds are available) to fund training in other species whereas this may be more difficult to justify for pathologist working in the NHS or research scientists who need to channel any travel money they have into attending appropriate scientific conferences. Lack of time away from the day job available for training was also identified as another problem.


Number of options for obtaining training in mouse pathology

There are already a number of options for obtaining training in mouse pathology but these largely consist of on-line course run from the USA or accessing lecture notes and book on the subject [3][4][5][6][7][8]. These options may be of most help to pathologists who already have a sufficient framework of experience to enable them to teach themselves. The main stumbling block to a more coordinated approach to training provision in the UK is the lack of any obvious source of financial support. The BSTP, which this year celebrates 25 years of providing postgraduate training in laboratory animal and toxicological pathology, is an obvious partner to help co-ordinate training in this area having both the experience of running courses and access to probably the largest pool of pathologists with rodent experience. While the pharmaceutical industry supports BSTP by providing speakers and supporting registrants to attend its courses it does not provide direct financial assistance and so the BSTP cannot take on this challenge alone.

The Research Councils have so far not supported training in this area while supporting a great deal of research based on mouse models. It seems clear that to ensure that further opportunities are created it is important that there is collaboration between a number of interested organizations which should include PathSoc, BSTP and RCPath. BSTP is currently organizing a one day meeting for 2011 with the Laboratory Animal Veterinary Association targeted towards mouse health and husbandry which may be of interest to PathSoc members and are exploring other options for a further 2-3 day meeting focused towards the pathology of genetically modified mice.

If PathSoc members have any further comments or suggestions on future collaborations or financial support please contact us This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Prof Cheryl Scudamore, Chair of Toxicological Pathology, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield Herts (Chair of BSTP education subcommittee)
Dr Liz Soilleux, Consultant Pathologist/ Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust/ Oxford University


  1. Schofield PN, Brown SD, Sundberg JP, Arends M, Warren MV, Dubus P, Ellender M,Fiette L, Rozell B, Quintanilla-Martinez L, Raspa M, Song JY, van der Valk M,McKerlie C. PRIME importance of pathology expertise. Nat Biotechnol. 2009 Jan;27(1):24-5.
  2. Warren MV, Studley ML, Dubus P, Fiette L, Rozell B, Quintanilla-Martinez L,Raspa M, Breuer M, Song JY, Gates H, Brown SD, Schofield PN. An impending crisis in the provision of histopathology expertise for mouse functional genomics.J Pathol. 2009 Jan;217(1):4-13.).


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