At face value, animal health, like human health, is no longer a great mystery.

We don’t have to look any further than the barn, cattle pen, family clinic or hospital to know that veterinarians and medical doctors are using all types of newly developed medicines and vaccines to fight a plethora of microbial diseases that affect both human and animal health systems.

From the latest flu vaccines and medications to treat conditions like Aids and Alzheimer diseases in humans and enteritis, leptospirosis or infectious bovine rhinotracheictis (IBR) in cattle and porcine pneumonia in swine, modern medicine is providing a first and last defense against dangerous diseases in both the home and on the farm.

But thanks to a new and novel mouse population there is now hope that a new era of human and animal health research is just around the corner, one that has the potential for extending the long arm of medical research and possibly providing not-too-distant treatments and cures for such fatal diseases as cancer, rabies and other serious deadly diseases.

It started back in 2001 when a group of geneticists sitting around enjoying a round of beers after a long day at a conference table stumbled on an idea for systems genetics, namely, a lab mouse with greater genetic diversity than the mouse population being used at the time for medical research, one whose genetic structure would more align with that of the human species.

Researcher Gary Churchill suggested genetically defined mouse models would offer a tractable experimental system for mapping the genes underlying disease and for examining their function in the context of a complex human body.

The lab mice of the time were limited addressing the important role of genetic variation and incapable of providing researchers a method of strong mapping gene resolution, hampering their effectiveness to illustrate how genetic engineering might benefit the human-animal genome.