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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Animal Models, Model Animals? Meanings and Practices in the Biomedical Sciences

image of obese mouse, Wellcome Images

Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester

Thursday 20 and Friday 21 September 2012

Recent years have seen increasing scholarly interest in the discursive and material analysis of ‘animal models’. This workshop brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore the practices and consequences of the modelling of human diseases in nonhuman animals across the biomedical sciences.

Animal modelling requires human disease to be transposed to nonhuman animals, a process that is by no means linear. Furthermore, models possess duel identities: operating to describe new knowledge whilst simultaneously prescribing what knowledge can be known. These multiple roles raise many questions. How are animal models created, communicated, and institutionalised? How have animal models gained utility within experimental research whilst sustaining clinical relevance? How are do these processes inform, and how have they been informed by, communications between experimental and clinical understandings of specific diseases? To what extent has the development of an animal model, and its subsequently institutionalization as a standard model, served to open up or close down innovation within specific trajectories of disease research? Put another way, what is lost and what is gained when an animal model becomes a model animal? What labour have animal models performed outside of experimental research, for example by sustaining or focussing large scale funding about a particular approach? How have models been aligned with clinical research, therapy, and the human patient?

Though the language of ‘models’ is broadly a mid to late twentieth century phenomenon, emerging with and catalysed by molecular biology, genetics and the human genome project, we also seek to explore continuities and discontinuities with earlier approaches to experimental animal research. By doing so we hope to develop situated studies addressing how, when, and why, experimental animals became models within the biomedical sciences.

The workshop is supported by the European Science Foundation's DRUGS networking programme.



There is no charge to attend the workshop, but all attendees must register in advance so that we can make venue planning arrangements. To register, or if you have any queries, please contact the lead organisers, Dr Robert Kirk or Professor Michael Worboys.


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