Article ID: CBB001221635

Stages in the Development of a Model Organism as a Platform for Mechanistic Models in Developmental Biology: Zebrafish, 1970--2000 (2012)


Model organisms became an indispensable part of experimental systems in molecular developmental and cell biology, constructed to investigate physiological and pathological processes. They are thought to play a crucial role for the elucidation of gene function, complementing the sequencing of the genomes of humans and other organisms. Accordingly, historians and philosophers paid considerable attention to various issues concerning this aspect of experimental biology. With respect to the representational features of model organisms, that is, their status as models, the main focus was on generalization of phenomena investigated in such experimental systems. Model organisms have been said to be models for other organisms or a higher taxon. This, however, presupposes a representation of the phenomenon in question. I will argue that prior to generalization, model organisms allow researchers to built generative material models of phenomena -- structures, processes or the mechanisms that explain them -- through their integration in experimental set-ups that carve out the phenomena from the whole organism and thus represent them. I will use the history of zebrafish biology to show how model organism systems, from around 1970 on, were developed to construct material models of molecular mechanisms explaining developmental or physiological processes.

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Authors & Contributors
Morange, Michel
Morgan, Gregory J.
Gerovitch, Slava
Brown, Andrew P.
Chadarevian, Soraya de
Franklin, Sarah Brooks
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Science in Context
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Duke University Press
Columbia University Press
Harvard University Press
Blackwell Publishers
University of Pittsburgh
Molecular biology
Animal experimentation
Developmental biology
Experimental organisms
Animal physiology
Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich
Brenner, Sydney
Jacob, François
Kammerer, Paul
Steinach, Eugen
Lane-Petter, William
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
19th century
21st century
Great Britain
Soviet Union
Human Genome Project
International Committee on Laboratory Animals

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