Preclinical Research Services & Comparative Orthopedic Research Laboratory

CORL surgery, Penn Vet

In the current medtech landscape, investors, and ultimately payers (insurance companies, hospitals and patients), require medical innovation that provides value – reducing health care costs through better clinical outcomes and/or reduced procedure costs. This means product development decisions need to be thoughtful of 1) the overall cost for developing a product and its ultimate release, as well as, 2) the value it brings.

Appropriately aligning your product development efforts, including your preclinical testing, can make your team more efficient and ultimately increase the likelihood of a successful product. For over a decade, we have taken time to listen to you and to understand the product development plan, intended market, and the value proposition for your investigational therapy or device. Our objective is to ask the right questions in order to choose a refined preclinical model with high translational fidelity. This approach has delivered answers in the context of the intended clinical indication of your technology. Together, we have successfully moved numerous new therapies to market; and we have failed, but failing at the preclinical stage is a whole lot better than later in clinical trials.

The Preclinical Research Services Core at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is focused on non-clinical and clinical (VICH-GL9) translation. Leveraging the multi-disciplinary specialties at Penn Vet, PRS & CORL provide a refined platform of successful translation using experimental and naturally-occurring disease models. We partner with pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, government agencies, and academic institutions to meet a broad range of R&D needs.

Specialties: Preclinical study design and execution from proof-of-concept to pivotal trials compliant with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Regulations, 21 CFR Part 58 and VICH-GL9. Bioskills training and prototype testing.

PRS & CORL at Penn Vet can assist with any stage of translational research from early stage product development, proof of concept, lead optimization, and pivotal trials for regulatory submission.  

  • Project planning
  • Test article prototyping and testing
  • Model development and refinement
  • Feasibility / pilot studies
  • Execution of pivotal studies
  • Acute and chronic data collection
  • Data mining and analysis
  • Support of regulatory submissions
  • Reports and publication
  • GLP archive

Compliance: PRS & CORL at Penn Vet has a well-established infrastructure to ensure studies are conducted in compliance with Good Laboratory Practices (21 CFR, Part 58 - GLP).  The internal Quality Assurance Unit works to maintain adherence to study protocols and SOPs and produce robust data. All laboratory team members are continuously trained in this rigorous process. Additionally, regulated studies with the goal of FDA submission are monitored by an external Q/A entity.

Animal Housing

CORL Facilities, New Bolton Center

Penn Vet CORL is part of New Bolton Center’s 700-acre campus. Animal housing is designed to the highest standards for humane treatment and hygienic conditions. Species that can be accommodated include sheep, goats, pigs, horses, dogs, rabbits and rodents. Dedicated large animal housing provides the capability for large-scale, long-term studies lasting up to two years.

Surgery Suite

A fully-equipped surgery suite with separate prep and recovery areas can accommodate a wide range of surgical procedures. Intra-operative imaging capabilities include CT, C-arm fluoroscopy, arthroscopy and laparoscopy.

Veterinary Care

All animals under the care of Penn Vet CORL are monitored daily by dedicated veterinarians. In addition to routine care, the veterinarians perform examinations and treatments of animals enrolled in studies. As part of New Bolton Center, we have the unique opportunity to employ clinical services not available to most pre-clinical laboratories. Large animal hospital facilities such as the Intensive Care Unit are utilized as needed. Board-certified specialists in internal medicine and neurology, anesthesiology, imaging, ophthalmology, etc. are available for consultations. The resultant collaborative resources and expertise ensures the highest standard of care possible.

Bioskills Laboratory

The laboratory includes a purpose-built space for mechanical testing, cadaveric studies and ex vivo analysis. Acute in vivo exercises can be arranged for training purposes.

Histology Laboratory

The specialized in-house histology team is supported by state-of-the-art equipment for calcified and non-calcified tissue processing and imaging.

Ancillary Facilities

The affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania provides a myriad of resources from advanced diagnostics to cutting-edge data extraction.

  • Clinical Pathology Laboratory
  • Pathology and Necropsy Service
  • Microbiology, Toxicology and ISO certified Drug Laboratories
  • Additional imaging modalities including MRI and nuclear scintigraphy
  • Treadmill facility
  • Telemetric accelerometer systems
  • Advanced imaging including SEM, micro-CT and specialized microscopy
  • Bioinformatics, proteomics and sequencing

Penn Vet CORL has extensive experience with in vivo evaluation of biocompatibility and bioperformance of novel materials in acute and chronic animal models. Safety and efficacy evaluation of test articles follows ISO 10993 standards.

Long Bone

  • Osteotomy
  • Segmental defects
  • Osteointegration
  • Osteomyelitis


  • Intervertebral fusion
  • Non-fusion stabilization
  • Laminectomy
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Nucleus pulposus replacement
  • Vertebral body augmentation


  • Craniofacial fixation
  • Craniotomy
  • Dural defects
  • Alveolar ridge augmentation


  • Articular cartilage resurfacing
  • Meniscal defects
  • Meniscal replacement
  • Septic arthritis
  • Periprosthetic joint infection
  • Synovial fluid sampling


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Thrombosis
  • Hemostasis
  • Vascular injury

Soft Tissue

  • Laparoscopy
  • Skin-implant interface
  • Wound healing


  • Anti-infection technology
  • Biomarker assays
  • Implant-associated infections

Ziehm Vision R

  • Mobile C-arm fluoroscopic unit


  • Portable 8-slice computed tomography

Logiq 200 Pro Ultrasound

  • Digital ultrasound

In addition to the laboratory’s own imaging systems, we have access to all modalities housed at New Bolton Center. Board-certified veterinary imaging specialists consult as needed.

  • Digital radiography
  • MRI
  • Nuclear scintigraphy
  • Echocardiography


Histology Services are performed by a highly trained technical team under the supervision of veterinary pathologists.

The Histology Laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for tissue sampling and processing. Tools include tissue processors for plastic and paraffin embedding, EXAKT systems, microtome and cryotome.

Routine and specialized techniques for both hard and soft tissues and tissue-device interface histology are available.

Data analyses can be performed in-house for non-regulated studies.

Specimens of projects supporting regulatory submission are analyzed by one of our collaborating test sites.

Please contact us for more information about our Histology Services.

CORL histology, Penn Vet
CORL Histology at Penn Vet Penn Vet, CORL histology