Pre-Clinical Translational Research Unit

Led by Greg Palmer, PhD, chief director, and Gabi Hanna, MD, executive director, the Duke Pre-clinical Translational Research Unit provides Duke Cancer Institute members the opportunity to perform critical in vivo experiments in a semi-independent laboratory, with input and oversight from experts in cancer biology, statistics, medical device and animal experimentation.

“Our goal is to generate high quality, documented data, focusing on traceability, scientific rigor, documentation and timeliness,” said Hanna. “We access and utilize tens of animal models, and can establish new animal models, big and small. The Pre-Clinical Translational Research Unit supports and increases the chance of grant funding and help to ensure publication in high impact journals.”

The Preclinical Translational Research Unit Shared Resource has established SOPs for commonly used protocols among which are tumor inoculation, tumor growth delay, TCD50, metastasis assays, and toxicity testing. These services are undertaken by skilled technicians and the data is collected in accordance with the highest standards of GLP. The unit keeps records of all original data produced to assist the PIs in future analysis and investigations.

“We are able to support researchers at any stage of their research,” Hanna said. “However, to utilize the full spectrum of services, we encourage investigators to contact us at the beginning or before starting an animal study, prior to submitting a grant. For commercialization and translation support, we also work with researchers at the end of the preclinical phase.”

The facility assists investigators with navigation of FDA regulations, IACUC regulations and compliance with IRB and clinical trials regulations. The services provided will ensure that data collected will be standardized and of the highest quality, meeting the requirements of publications and funding bodies.

The core uses LABCAT preclinical data management software. This is GLP compliant software, facilitating secure electronic medical record keeping for preclinical studies. Features include data collection, study management, data analysis and reporting system for pre-clinical investigations. Original study data is managed through this software which maintains data security and provenance from study design and setup, through data collection and analysis.

“The biggest challenge in preclinical and translation research is poor reproducibility of animal data, which is currently at just 11 percent,” Hanna said. “We study all factors contributing to this challenge. Having available all of the resources and expertise present at Duke, we address each point and establish the solution to make the Duke Pre-Clinical Translational Unit the standard for reproducibility of preclinical research.”

The Pre-Clinical Translational Research Unit is located in Room 201 of the Medical Science Research Building (MSRB-1) on Research Drive. For more information, including scheduling and fees, please contact Gabi Hanna, MD, by email at or call 919.667.8571.