Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)


The following essay is based on the keynote address the author delivered at the annual meeting of the Michigan Society for Medical Research last April in Lansing. It appears here with permission of the author, © Joseph Vining.

The subject I was asked to think about with you today is raised by a very large change in the focus of biomedical research. In raw percentage terms, the animals involved in experimentation are now overwhelmingly rats and mice, and perhaps because they are rats and mice, they are used in large numbers, numbers in thousands and tens of thousands at some institutions.

Legal, ethical, and practical accomodation to this fact on the ground presents a host of questions. There are questions of cost of care. There are questions of the training of veterinarians, principal investigators, and laboratory personnel. With mice particularly, there are questions about the creation of conditions in an animal that do not yet exist, a future animal, by knocking out a gene and, as we say, "seeing what happens": new quesitons, really, that move us away from the traditional focus on the details of how an ivestigator treats a living animal.