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Aged Rodent Colonies Handbook

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The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), maintains colonies of barrier-raised, Specific Pathogen-Free (SPF) rodents under contractual arrangement with commercial vendors, specifically for use in aging research. They are not available for use as a general source of adult animals for unrelated areas of research. Animals from the NIA aged rodent colonies are available to investigators at academic and non-profit research institutions under the terms described on the Eligibility Criteria page (link below). NIA rodents are provided through contracts with different contractors and information on the source of specific strains is provided on the Location of Colonies page.

Important Notices:

Eligibility Criteria revised in 2014

Change in F344 Foundation Stock

Temporary change in eligibility limit for non-NIA funded grants


Notice: C57BL/6 mice for NIA-funded grants ***LIFTED***

Effective March 1, 2022, the temporary limit of 10 C57BL/6 mice per month for NIA-funded grants will be lifted. Monthly allotments will now return to 20 per month.

Notice: MALE BALB/c

We are temporarily discontinuing the distribution of the BALB/c male mice to increase the size of the older age cohorts. We foresee reopening the distribution of these animals no earlier than Fall 2021.

Notice: FEMALE F344 rats

We cannot consider requests for special exceptions for Female F344 until Spring 2021.

Notice: Eligibility limit

Due to the extreme demands on the NIA rodent colonies, the eligibility limit for non-NIA funded grants has been reduced to 10 animals every other month, effective September 1, 2016. We regret the impact this will have on research on aging funded by other sources, but it is imperative that this resource, essential to many NIA grants, be protected.

Notice: Eligibility criteria

The NIA has long provided biological resources to the research community to facilitate research on the biology of aging. As of January 1, 2014, the NIA will no longer charge users for the biological resources, nor any related shipping fees due to a new interpretation of the regulations that govern contracting. The NIA is committed to continuing to provide these unique resources to the research community, but this change has significantly increased the cost to the NIA to provide the biological resources, particularly the aged rodent colonies.

As a result of the Budget recently passed by Congress, which restores a portion of the funding cuts made during the Sequester, the NIA is now positioned in fiscal 2014 to maintain its investment in the aged rodent colonies at a level sufficient to meet the demands of the broader aging research community, including grantees funded by the NIH, U. S. government agencies outside the NIH, and U. S. private foundations funding aging research. However, more stringent limitations on use of the aged rodent colonies are required to ensure the continued availability of the animals within the new fiscal environment.

Please review NIA's new eligibility criteria and restrictions on number of animals per month per grant. While there is a mechanism to apply for an exception to the resource limit, only a very limited number of such requests will be granted, based on scientific need and availability. NIA asks that the research community continue to exercise care and restraint when requesting animals from the NIA aged rodent colonies because even a small increase in the number of animals per order will quickly decimate the animal colonies. Questions about eligibility should be sent to the NIA resources order desk.