Human Immune System Mouse Core

Despite great effort, an ideal animal model in which to study HIV pathogenesis and test vaccine efficacy remains elusive.

Recently, we and others have developed a markedly improved humanized mouse model of HIV by transplanting human CD34+ stem cells and autologous human thymic grafts into immunodeficient mice (see the article Brainard DM et al. Induction of robust cellular and humoral virus-specific adaptive immune responses in human immunodeficiency virus-infected humanized BLT mice).

In this model, we have achieved robust repopulation of mouse lymphoid tissues with human immune cells, and have generated robust anti-HIV cellular and humoral immune responses in these humanized mice. We believe this improved humanized mouse model will allow us to study questions regarding the biology of HIV-1 not readily approachable through human studies.

The Harvard University Center for AIDS Research Human Immune System Mouse Core was established in order to further develop this model, and to make it available to the wider research community, both locally and globally.  Highly experienced personnel produce these animals and perform experiments in collaboration with HU CFAR investigators and investigators at other CFARs, as well as in collaboration with non-CFAR HIV investigators throughout the USA and countries around the world.


The Human Immune System Mouse Core offers several different versions of humanized mice, useful for a broad array of investigations into human disease.  For collaborating investigators, the Core will generate humanized mice, perform models of human diseases (most commonly but not exclusively HIV infection), and acquire blood and tissue samples, as directed by collaborating investigators, for transfer and analyses in their laboratories.

  • Humanized mouse models provided:
    • BLT (Bone Marrow-Liver-Thymus) mice:  These mice are generated by adoptive transfer of human CD34+ stem cells, and transplantation of autologous human thymic grafts, into immunodeficient mice.  This version of humanized mice have the most functional human immune systems, and is illustrated in the article by Brainard, et al.
    • Hu-HSC mice:  These mice are generated by adoptive transfer of human CD34+ stem cells into immunodeficient mice.
    • Hu-PBL mice:  These mice are generated by adoptive transfer of human peripheral blood leukocytes into immunodeficient mice.
    • Hu-CD4+ mice:  These mice are generated by adoptive transfer of purified human CD4+ T cells into immunodeficient mice.
    • Potential collaborating investigators are encouraged to contact the Core Director and/or Associate Director to discuss which model(s) will best serve their experimental needs.

Publications:  A list of publications the HMP has collaborated on can be found here:

Because the Human Immune System Mouse Core Director and Associate Director work closely with investigators in the design, performance, analyses and description of all humanized mouse experiments, we ask to be recognized as co-authors on publications including these experiments.

  • Prices: A list of prices for the generation of the various types of humanized mice and for the procedures performed on them by the Humanized Mouse Core are contained in this Fee Schedule
  • Payments:  Payments for mice purchased are due prior to the initiation of experiments with them.  Payments for procedures performed on mice in the course of experiments are due upon completion of the experiments.  Collaborating investigators whose funds are at Partners Healthcare institutions can simply designate a fund number for costs to be applied to.  Collaborating investigators at non-Partners institutions can either send a check or a purchase order number.  Payment questions can be addressed to Karla Murga, Humanized Mouse Core administrator.  

Request For Proposals Announcement

For more detailed information on the Human Immune System Mouse Core Program, please refer to our partner website:

For questions related to the Human Immune System Mouse Program, please contact:
Core Director: Andrew Luster, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Core Director: Vladimir Vrbanac, D.V.M.
Associate Core Director: Maud Deruaz, Ph.D.