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February 2013

Evolution and Animal Models—Reply

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Biology, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri.

JAMA Neurol. 2013;70(2):271-272. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.748

In reply

I agree with Hansen and Greek that basic research using animal models is no substitute for human-based research into disease, and I am puzzled at their assertion that I have conflated the two. I did not claim that basic research translates directly into clinical treatments or even address the ways in which clinical applications may derive from basic research. Instead, my concern was with the limited diversity of animal models being used in modern neuroscience research.1 Precisely because every species is unique, it is dangerous to focus our research efforts on a small number of species chosen solely because of their utility as genetic models. When our general understanding of neuroscience becomes based on such a small sampling of evolutionary diversity, we run the risk of partaking in the exact kind of extrapolation that Hansen and Greek are wise to caution against.

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