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Thinking About Model Organisms with Jessica Bolker

November 26, 2017

From October 31 to November 2, Dr. Jessica Bolker, University of New Hampshire, participated in a number of events and met with students and faculty in the School of Life Sciences as a visiting scholar in the Life Science Ethics Program.  Dr. Bolker’s forthcoming publication on uses and misuses of animal models in translational research served as a foundation for many interesting conversations across the school.

During the Biology and Society Conversation Series on Wednesday, November 1st, Dr. Bolker shared some of her latest thinking about preclinical animal model trials.  There, audience members questioned the use of the term model, some calling it unproductive, and some suggesting alternative language.  Others wondered about what made animal models so successful in biology that they are continually used, uncritically, in preclinical research today.  Some even wondered what, philosophically, was the conceptual baggage behind the ‘model-ness’ of animal models in biology.

Dr. Bolker continued the conversation with School of Life Sciences faculty and graduate students over the next two days.  She met with faculty from the Center for Evolution and Medicine, led the Neuroscience Journal Club, and lectured in Professor Matt Chew’s Bio 311, Biology and Society, which included 100 SOLS undergraduates.  In all, the visit opened broad opportunities for members of the school to consider the idea of aligning animals with research questions and broadening the set of animals used in preclinical experimental research.

More information: Karin Ellison (karin.ellison@asu.edu)

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