Taconic Biosciences History

A Longstanding Commitment to Quality, Service, and Innovation

Seven-decade transformation to a leading provider of genetically engineered disease models and services

From its humble beginnings in the Phelan family garage in 1949, Taconic has grown into a global biosciences corporation providing cutting-edge research tools to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and academic institutions. Taconic has remained true to its values: integrity, quality, commitment to both employees and customers, and ethical animal care.

Along the way, Taconic grew from a single facility in upstate New York with six employees, to a network of facilities and lab sites throughout the U.S. and Europe.


Taconic over the years:

  • Pioneered the commercialization of germ-free mice (initiating the project back in 1961), and is still the only proven commercial source
  • Was the first commercial breeder to receive full accreditation from the American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animals (AAALAC)
  • Spearheaded the establishment of the Global Alliance for Laboratory Animals Standardization (GALAS).
  • Set the standard for industry quality with its International Health Monitoring System, an enduring health quality program for mice and rats. 
  • First animal model to license CRISPR technology to complement its extensive gene editing tool kit
  • Developed an alliance with the Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA), bring cutting edge immunodeficient mice to market
Black man, portrait or science laboratory for medical research, gmo studying or healthcare for genetic engineering. Smile, happy or plant scientist with biology documents clipboard of growth research.


Robert K. Phelan founds the predecessor company to Taconic in his 18 x 24 ft. garage in Canajoharie, NY. Before the end of the year, he’s shipping 1,000 mice per week. Mice are raised in wooden boxes with wire mesh covers.

RAF Taconic Mouse Illustration


1952 Robert Phelan purchases farm land in Germantown, NY, and begins Taconic Farms’ operations in one building with six employees. By the end of the year, average weekly sales are 9,000 mice per week.

1954 Program to add air conditioners to production facilities is initiated.

1955 Robert Phelan dies unexpectedly, leaving ownership of Taconic to his wife, Sally Phelan, and their three sons, Joseph, Richard, and Samuel. The brothers remained involved in Taconic as executives into the 2000s and on the Board of Directors until 2015.

1956 Initiates development of operations to provide pathogen-free mice.

1958 Blow-molded polyethylene trays replace wooden cages and rolling metal racks replace wooden racks.

1959 Average sales are around 14,000 mice per week.


RAF Taconic Mouse Illustration


1960 Herman Brant and Paul Quimby of Taconic learn how to raise germ-free mice and rats at the Lobund Institute at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Staff grows to 13 full time and 6 part time employees.

1961 Taconic begins paying health benefits for its employees.

1962 Average sales are around 16,000 mice per week

1963 Awarded a contract to produce BDF1 mice for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the first contract with a federal government agency

1969 Taconic begins offering rats including the Sprague Dawley® rat, which rapidly becomes a staple in research labs worldwide and is still widely used today. Taconic is the first breeder to receive full accreditation from the American Association for the accreditation of Laboratory Animals (AAALAC). Staff grows to 22 full time and five part time employees. Joseph Phelan joins Taconic 


1970 Taconic is awarded the contract to supply the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with Sprague Dawley rats. The contract with NCI to produce BDF1 mice is renewed for the eighth consecutive year.

1973 Builds state-of-the-art animal facility with clean/dirty corridor design - decreasing positive pressure (clean to dirty) - circular cage washers, and double door autoclaves.
Richard Phelan Joins Taconic

1975 Begins offering SHR hypertensive rat, followed soon by the control strain, WKY. Debuts the Transit Kit, providing sterile water to animals while in transit, thus eliminating the need for potatoes. Introduces rolling aluminum racks with suspended cages and S/E automatic watering. Temperature alarms are installed in all production rooms. Begins offering surgical procedures.

1977 First commercial breeder to provide NIH Swiss Nude mice.


1980 Taconic develops the first Isolated Barrier Unit (IBU) system, an improved method of housing rodents in a murine pathogen-free (MPF) environment.

1981 Samuel Phelan joins Taconic as Director of Marketing

1982 Adds Fischer 344 rats and asthmatic rats from Merck-Frost, Montreal, to the product offerings.

1985 Awarded contract from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science to raise various strains of inbred/hybrid mice and rats. Awarded contract to supply MPF and germ-free mice and rats for the NASA Space Science shuttle missions. Starts producing BALB/c mice. All Taconic animal colonies are free of rodent viruses.

1986 The Quimby Gnotobiotic Center is dedicated.

1987 New Surgery Suite opened in the #3 Building.

1989 NIH renews contract with Taconic for 17th consecutive year. Taconic opens an on-site day care center. Staff grows to 130 employees.


1991 Becomes the first commercial provider of the C.B-17 SCID mouse model.

1994 Awarded National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) contract to maintain a repository for inbred, congenic, and transgenic mice.

1995 Taconic sets the standard for rodent shipping with the introduction of the Taconic Transit Cage™ (TTC™), designed and constructed to ensure the safety and security of animals during transit, including protection from murine viruses. Becomes the first fully licensed producer of transgenic and knockout rodent models through the purchase of licenses to patented technologies from Genpharm.

1996 Taconic staff grows to 220 employees.

1998 Taconic Transgenic Exchange is established to provide researchers with ready access to small animal models.

1999 Taconic is instrumental in the establishment of the Global Alliance for Laboratory Animals Standardization (GALAS).


Over the decade, Taconic introduces a number of significant products:

  • Humanized HLA mice
  • Inducible Type II diabetes mice and rats
  • A new generation of immunodeficient mice
  • Inducible and reversible RNAi technology
  • A portfolio of ADME products

2000 Awarded Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center (MMRRC) grant for derivations, cryopreservation, and animal housing.

2001 Opens production facility in Oxnard, CA. Acquires Anmed Laboratories and enters the health testing marketing

2002 Purchases M&B Breeding in Denmark and begins European operations.

2003 Molecular Analysis Department expands throughput to 5,000 extractions per week. Samuel Phelan appointed President of Taconic. Joe Phelan elected as Chairman of the Board.

2004 Implements the International Health Monitoring System (IHMS) for rodents. Board approves funds for the construction of Taconic’s Cambridge City, Indiana facility.

2005 Corporate offices move to Hudson City Center. Joseph and Richard Phelan retire from Operations and continue to serve on the Board of Directors. Expands by a few thousand, the number of models offered through agreements with Lexicon.
Increases access to techniques enabling custom model generation through agreements with Artemis Pharmaceuticals

2006 The third generation of Phelan family members serve on Board Committees. Enters agreement with Transnetyx. Cambridge City and Albany sites receive AAALAC accreditation.

2007 Purchases 80% of Artemis Pharmaceuticals in Cologne, Germany to become a global leader in custom generation of genetically modified research models. Acquires rights to ASKA technology for kinase-related drug discovery. Todd Little becomes the first non-Phelan family member to be President of Taconic.

2009 Purchases Xenogen Biosciences to expand its microbiology and custom models generation capabilities.


2010 Company reorganizes to meet changing global needs for custom, genetically engineered mouse and rat models.

2012 Taconic commercializes its custom model generation and breeding integrated services offering, the only firm to offer both services as a package within one firm.

2014 Robert Rosenthal joins Taconic as Chief Executive Officer, replacing Samuel Phelan who focuses his efforts solely on Chairman of the Board activities for Taconic. Taconic’s legal name is officially changed from "Taconic Farms" to Taconic Biosciences globally in September, while continuing to do business as Taconic.

2015 Begins sponsorship of Rare Genomics Institute's BeHEARD Challenge. Launches Precision Research Models (Humanized).

2016 Launches huNOG-EXL model to predict humane immune response. Launches three new models for Neuropsychiatric Disorders research.

2017 Launches EZcohort® Program and ExpressMODEL® Embryonic Stem Cell Option. Corporate offices relocate to Rensselaer, NY. Launches Microbiome initiative.

2018 Begins a 6 year partnership with Cyagen Biosciences. Licenses Easi-CRISPR technology from the University of Nebraska. Establishes Scientific Advisory Board.

2019 Taconic Biosciences is acquired by H.I.G. Capital. Corporate offices relocate to Rensselaer, NY. Launches TruBIOME®.


2020 Opened a state of the art model generation facility in Leverkusen, Germany. Began local US-West Coast production and colony management in San Diego, CA. Launched a COVID-19 Toolkit, including a critical hACE2 model. Expanded the ExpressMODEL® portfolio with: ExpressMODEL® Random Integration Transgenic Service

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