New role reflects expansion in rare disease research

BAR HARBOR — Cat Lutz was recently named vice president of the Rare Disease Translational Center at The Jackson Laboratory. 

For the past six years, the Rare Disease Translational Center has worked with dozens of rare disease foundations and their associated research teams to generate custom mouse models that represent rare conditions in order to pursue new therapeutic interventions. The center’s expertise has been in assessing the mouse models currently available for rare disorders, determining if new resources are needed and studying rare diseases through these models. 

“JAX is honored to play such a unique role in the fight against rare diseases,” said Lon Cardon, president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. “As a nonprofit organization, we focus on enabling and empowering medical progress for rare diseases of all kinds by collaborating with top academic research institutions, foundations ranging from family-run to global in scope, and companies that are using the latest technologies to produce therapeutics for rare disease communities.” 

Under Lutz’ leadership, the center will bring together core capabilities in genetic engineering, phenotyping and in vivo pharmacology to support research and therapeutic advancement for patients and families with rare diseases. The program will expand to leverage developing technologies in genetic medicine and delivery, using the extensive collection of mouse models that exist in the lab’s repository as well as newly engineered models. 

“I’m extremely honored to be in a position that allows me to focus on the incredible people who make up the rare disease community,” said Lutz. “After over 25 years in this field, and with the growth of the Center, I’m thrilled to continue and expand on the work we have been doing to make strides for this community.” 

Lutz has worked in mouse genetics throughout her career and previously held the position of senior director for the In Vivo Pharmacology and Efficacy Testing Service at The Jackson Laboratory. Throughout her career, she has been involved in major milestones within the rare disease community such as with the first FDA approved therapy for spinal muscular atrophy.  

“I believe that with this increased focus on the Rare Disease Translational Center at JAX, we can reach important new milestones for even more patient populations,” Lutz said. “There are over 7,000 known rare diseases, and with new technologies and scientific advancements, we will be able to make a significant impact for many, many people around the world.”