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Large Animal Resources Division of Animal Research and Training Core

The Department of Surgery’s Large Animal Resources Division of Animal Research and Training Core, led by Frank Leopardi, provides expertise and support for large animal-based investigations and training. Services provided include performing and providing technical expertise for research and training related large animal procedures. The Core offers services to investigators within and outside of the Duke Department of Surgery. 

Currently, supported species include non-human primates (various species), cattle, sheep, swine, dogs, and rabbits. The Core also supports skills and techniques courses open to fellows, visiting scholars, residents, mid-level and laboratory personnel, medical students, faculty, and college students from Duke and outside institutions both nationally and internationally. The Core has access to six dedicated operating rooms, including one operating room designed with six tables to accommodate large teaching classes, through the Duke Department of Laboratory Animal Research (DLAR)’s Vivarium. The Core owns and maintains its own equipment, including anesthesia machines, monitoring devices, instruments, ultrasound, cardio bypass equipment, and more.

Selected Achievements

  • Currently supporting 24 research protocols
  • Support for “wet lab” for ASSET Program
  • 31 training courses supported in 2015 across five training protocols

Available Services

  • Set-up, animal handling, pre-medication, intubation, intra-operative support, monitoring, surgical assist, recovery, and post-operative monitoring of study animals for all large animal model species
  • Support for classes from 1-100+ trainees
  • Research model development
  • Budget preparation
  • IACUC protocol and grant proposal writing assistance
  • Flexible scheduling for time point accommodation

Equipment and Facilities

  • Access to state-of-the art facilities, including six climate-controlled operating rooms, and a farm, through Duke’s Division of Laboratory Animal Resources (DLAR)
  • Staffed by on-site veterinarians 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to oversee all aspects of animal care and handling and are consulted regularly with regard to protocol development and the pre- and post-operative care of animals within a facility fully accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC)


  • Bradley Collins, MD
  • Frank Leopardi, Department of Surgery Animal Research Operations Manager
  • Mike Lowe
  • Christie Holmes

Group Policies

  • All new studies will be required to have a pre-study meeting at least a month prior to starting any cases to discuss objectives, overall planning, booking dates, ordering animals, drugs, fund code, etc.
    • The Department of Surgery will create a study sheet for all to review prior to starting the first case.
  • If there are any changes to the protocol, the PI/lab manager needs to email an updated copy to so all parties involved are up to date.
  • PI’s need to book cases 2 weeks in advance to ensure the team is available.  
  • If a fund code is not provided before the start of the case, then the case will be postponed until one is received.  
  • If a study needs to be cancelled, 48 hours’ notice is required or the PI will be charged for half a day’s work.
  • Equipment rentals need to be placed 2 weeks in advance (C-Arm, Echo, Instruments, etc.), as many groups use them, to ensure they are available for the case. A signed Equipment Rental Agreement form is required.

Collaborate with Us

To collaborate with us, please contact

For scheduling and billing, please visit the Core Research at Duke website.