The Animal Model of Human Disease – A Core Concept of Medical Research: Historical Origins, Significant Manifestations, and Some Implications

history   |   philosophy   |   sociology   |   science
יום חמישי 04/04/19, 14:00 עד 16:00
מיקום האירוע: 
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: The Edmond J. Safra Campus (Givat Ram), Levy Building, Hall 324

Within the framework of the Bar-Hillel Colloquium for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science 2018-2019

The study of animal models of human diseases is an essential method of biomedical research to understand disease mechanisms and develop effective interventions. The underlying idea is that phenomena and processes observed in laboratory experiments on suitable animal models may be used to predict intended effects and hazards of interventions in humans. The knowledge derived from such laboratory experiments is claimed to be highly valid. Nevertheless, the final transfer of such knowledge from the animal model to human beings to start clinical trials is associated with some risk, as regular cases of massive failure document. The lecture will describe three exemplary historical cases of such failure and look into various types of explanations of the involved actors. Following this, the origins of the idea of an animal model of human disease in the laboratory of Julius Cohnheim (Breslau) in the mid-19th century will be reconstructed. Cohnheim’s explicit reservations will be employed to better understand the intrinsic limitations of the concept and its precarious validity. In conclusion, the concept of the animal model is used to draw attention to scientists’ strategies of turning precarious (“weak”) into “strong” knowledge.
The Bar-Hillel Colloquium for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science was named in memory of Prof. Yehoshua Bar-Hillel in 1987. Before the Colloquium was named The Israel Colloquium for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science and it was founded in collaboration with R.S. Cohen and M. Wartofsky of the Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science, in 1981. 
The Colloquium now in its 38th year, is a cooperative partnership between Tel Aviv University’s Cohn Institute, the Hebrew University’s Edelstein Center, the Yehoshua Bar-Hillel Fund, and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. The Colloquium meets over the course of the academic year to address a wide range of subjects. Each meeting comprises a lecture by invited scholar followed by an open discussion.