Entangled Life pp 167-183 | Cite as

Thinking Outside the Mouse: Organism-Environment Interaction and Human Immunology

  • Eric DesjardinsEmail author
  • Gillian Barker
  • Joaquín Madrenas
Part of the History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences book series (HPTL, volume 4)


Several review articles in immunology indicate that while we have an increasing body of knowledge about the immunology of the mouse, this is translating very poorly into clinical outcomes for humans. This raises several issues for the scientific community, including some related to the apparent inadequacy of the mouse as a model for understanding and predicting human immunity. This paper has two purposes. First, we offer an explanation for why the typical approach to animal model research will most likely fail to produce satisfying clinical outcomes for human immunology. The standard approach to this problem focuses on the lack of similarity between the genes and molecular pathways of model and target systems. Our analysis focuses instead on differences in the ways in which model and target organisms interact with and adapt to their respective environments. We argue that in order to find a proper model organism for studying human immunity we need to think outside the mouse. Second, we advocate abandoning purely reductionist, gene-centered research, giving greater importance to observational studies of humans, and using new emerging technologies for information-processing for in vivo observation.


Biomedical Research Adaptive Immunity Target System Network Effect Human Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Desjardins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gillian Barker
    • 1
  • Joaquín Madrenas
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Rotman Institute of PhilosophyWestern UniversityLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyMontrealCanada

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