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National Experimental Biology Laboratory

The National Experimental Biology Laboratory (NEBL) provides animal care and housing services to the university community and outside companies. Its qualified personnel (preclinical scientists, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians) also offers expertise in preclinical research in a multitude of animal species, including the development of new vaccines and drugs against emerging or progressive diseases. The NEBL is the only laboratory at a Canadian university to be accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC).

The National Experimental Biology Laboratory (NEBL), one of the few animal facilities in Canada that can accommodate large animals, is located on the campus of the INRS Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie Research Centre.

In the heart of the Biotech City in Laval, this state-of-the-art facility is accredited for biomedical and preclinical research. The research conducted at the NEBL is subject to rigorous supervision and is carried out in full compliance with international standards regarding the protection and living conditions of animals, as well as environmental protection.

The NEBL offers housing services for various species of animals at biosafety levels 1, 2, and 3. It offers to its clients a research environment under controlled, confidential, and secure conditions.

The NEBL is one of the few animal facilities in Canada with a level 3 containment vivarium infrastructure available to external clients who wish to conduct contractual preclinical studies.

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Animal housing

  • 24/7 secure access
  • 74 animal housing rooms
  • Regular and specialized housing of animals ranging from rodents to non-human primates (including quarantine if necessary)
  • Housing and living expenses (per diem) including basic care, food and water, cage cleaning, clinical monitoring, and personal protective equipment
  • Animal purchasing service (permits and logistics)



  • Laboratories and equipment available on-site for rental (Containment Levels: CL1, CL2, CL3)
  • Surgical suite and two (2) necropsy rooms available for rental (daily rate)
  • Cage rental for external customers available (rodents, rabbits, dogs, or primates)
  • Oversized hallways for easy transportation



  • Animal handling training available to users
  • Animal experiments (pigs, goats, sheep, guinea pigs, hamsters, dogs, ferrets, shrews, rabbits, chickens, chicks, monkeys, turkeys, frogs, rats, mice)
  • Support for preclinical studies
  • Technical assistance for the development of animal models other than rodents
  • HPV decontamination
  • Surgical suite rental (daily rental)
  • Short- and long-term cage rental (monkey, ferret, guinea pig, rabbit)
  • Cage cleaning (high capacity)
  • Decontamination and sterilization (high capacity)
  • Colony maintenance and management for various animals
  • One-time and annual rental of housing rooms with per diem including basic care, cage maintenance, and clinical monitoring
  • On-site veterinarian
  • Technical support for the development of large animal, small animal, and livestock models
  • Veterinary quarantine service for all animal species


Animal species

  • Large animals: pigs, mini-pigs, dogs, sheep
  • Rodents: mice (including transgenic, nude, and SCID), rats (including transgenic, nude, and SCID), guinea pigs, hamsters
  • Non-human primates: cynomolgus macaques, rhesus macaques, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys
  • Other species: goats, turkeys, ferrets, rabbits, fish, chickens, chicks, cotton rats

The NEBL provides some in vitro services in collaboration with external partners. The experienced team is able to support clients in their projects, from the design of exploratory study protocols to the completion of a preclinical study.

The NEBL team includes veterinary technicians and scientists with expertise in many aspects of biological sciences. The team has developed numerous animal models for efficacy and early development studies. It serves both academic and industrial clients.


Data analysis

  • Assorted statistical analyses



  • Wound healing models


Drug development

  • In vivo pharmacokinetics
  • Dietary exposure and intake assessments


Immunology and infectious diseases

  • Bacterial infection models
  • Viral infection models (e.g. influenza)
  • Vaccines
  • Immunology
  • Antibody production


Disease models

  • Streptozotocin diabetic model (rats or mice)
  • Acute liver disease models
  • Infectious disease models (bacterial and viral)
  • Acute LPS response models


Agriculture and livestock solutions

  • Feed supplements and animal nutrition studies
  • Food consumption patterns
  • Milk and dairy nutrition



  • Tissues and fluids of various species
  • Specialized dosing route (e.g. intravenous infusion, intranasal)

The NEBL is the only Canadian university research facility to be accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), demonstrating compliance with the internationally recognized standards of the National Research Council’s Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Furthermore, it has a mandatory Good Animal Practice accreditation from the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), which has particularly stringent requirements. INRS has also developed an Animal Experimentation Ethics Policy (available in French only). All research protocols in use at the NEBL must therefore be reviewed and approved for compliance with the rules established by the Institutional Animal Care Committee (Comité institutionnel de protection des animaux – CIPA).


Why use animal models in research?

Biomedical research involves multiple steps before a drug or vaccine is brought to market. To evaluate the biological response induced by the drug or vaccine, experimental research very often requires the use of animal models. Given the multitude of physiological interactions involved, in vitro cellular approaches are not yet able to recreate an environment as complex as that of a human or animal body for the study of immune responses to a vaccine or drug.

Animal protection

The INRS Institutional Animal Care Committee (CIPA) is composed of researchers, students, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and members of the public who meet once a month. One of CIPA’s mandates is to ensure that animal experimentation complies with CCAC guidelines and that the staff and students performing the experimentation are adequately trained and follow the procedures and animal care best practices.

Use of large animals

Large animals are used for research only when absolutely necessary. They represent only a tiny fraction of the animals used in research (less than 0.5% at INRS). Because they are intelligent and social, large animals are paired and we avoid housing them alone. Great apes (like chimpanzees and baboons) are not used in research at INRS.

Research company Nexelis and the NEBL have a strategic partnership for preclinical animal testing and immunological analysis. This partnership provides expanded, integrated global contract research services in toxicology, pharmacokinetics, and biomarker identification; proof-of-concept studies with multiple animal models; and basic and complex immunoassay services that can be tailored to clients’ needs for the development of candidate compounds.


Julie Arcand

Director of the NEBL

Phone: 450-687-5010 ext. 4396

Jean-François Lavoie

Head of Preclinical Studies

Phone: 450-687-5010 ext. 4421

Marie-Christine Barma Hamel

BSL-3 supervisor

Phone: 450-687-5010 ext. 4410

National Experimental Biology Laboratory (NEBL)

531 des Prairies Blvd.

Laval, Quebec  H7V 1B7



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