Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center established the Veterinary Sciences Division of the Science Park in 1975. The original mission of the center was to provide a wide range of veterinary services and develop specialized animal species to support biomedical research. In accomplishing this mission, the center conducts research aimed at improving the care and management of these resources and research to improve human health.

Located on 381 acres near Bastrop, Texas, it is one of two MD Anderson research facilities in Central Texas. In 2004, the Science Park Veterinary Division was renamed the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research in honor of the late Michale E. Keeling, D.V.M., the first director of the center, and to better reflect the expanding research and educational roles of the center.

The center employs more than 120 staff and faculty, which include veterinarians, animal care staff, basic scientists, research technicians and administrative staff. The facility offers training opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and veterinary medical students from several universities, including The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. The Keeling Center currently has federal and private grants and contracts totaling more than $40,865,000. These extramurally supported programs include research in cancer, hepatitis, HIV, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, vaccine development, cellular immunology, aging and behavior.

The Keeling Center has led the way at MD Anderson by developing a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) research program that provides an essential part of the institute’s translational research program. Research at the Keeling Center has led to the development of synthetic peptide-based candidate vaccines for the prevention and treatment of AIDS caused by HIV and for the treatment of cervical precancerous lesions caused by high-risk human papillomaviruses, and other Keeling Center research has led to techniques to prefabricate molded bone to replace cancerous bone. Pain medications for use in cancer patients have been safety tested at the center, as have other drugs that were subsequently approved for clinical trials. Other studies conducted by faculty at the Keeling Center have contributed to improvements in the health and welfare of laboratory animals. The center’s research programs include studies of chemoprevention of ovarian cancer as well as early detection of ovarian and breast cancer. Members of the Keeling Center faculty have strong collaborative relationships with researchers at a variety of institutions in the United States and Europe.

Mission and Vision

The vision of the Keeling Center is to use the center’s unique biomedical research resources to create a center of excellence like no other in the United States. The highly successful programs and expertise with research involving a wide range of animal models create a unique set of research assets to expand and strengthen the center’s research and education mission. This places the Keeling Center in a leadership position in research that requires nonhuman primate models of human diseases, especially cancer and cancer-related diseases. The center’s GLP program is an essential part of MD Anderson’s translational research program. The major activity areas at the Keeling Center include:

  • Veterinary services supporting MD Anderson Cancer Center faculty research programs
  • Federally supported national biomedical research resources of squirrel monkeys, owl monkeys and chimpanzees
  • A breeding resource of rhesus monkeys for pharmaceutical research and testing
  • Investigator-initiated grants and contracts in cancer and cancer-related diseases
  • Investigator-initiated research projects in primate behavior
  • GLP testing in support of MD Anderson’s translational research programs
  • Post-professional and post-graduate education and training

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Veterinary Sciences of MD Anderson is to eliminate cancer and allied diseases as significant health problems throughout Texas and the nation by developing and maintaining specialized programs in animal models, research and education.


The Department of Veterinary Sciences at MD Anderson will be acknowledged as the premier combined veterinary medical/research department within a cancer center. We will attract and nurture outstanding faculty, staff, students and volunteers to carry out our mission.

Animal Care

We will continually set, refine and advance the world's standards for the humane care and management of laboratory animals in cancer and allied disease research. Our standard will be defined by quality of care and research service as well as compassion and respect for the needs of research animals.


We will foster advances in understanding cellular, molecular, genetic and behavioral processes related to cancer, allied diseases and health through science and the development and use of specialized animal models. We will apply these specialized models and the related knowledge to conduct and support translational, preventive and clinical research designed to understand, detect and treat cancer and allied diseases.


We will educate future leaders in veterinary, comparative, laboratory animal, immunological, virological and behavioral sciences to assist in the reduction of the burden of cancer and allied diseases. We will educate students, teachers, community professionals, the public and patients with accurate and helpful information about our research and about the vital role that animal research plays in understanding, preventing, detecting and treating cancer and allied diseases.

Continuous Improvement of Resources

Through a philosophy of continuous improvement, we will effectively manage the animal, human, financial and physical resources; the remote administrative processes and information systems; and the key departmental processes needed to support our mission areas and vision.