US gov shutdown means imminent death for thousands of lab mice


Not to mention all the livestock at the various agricultural research stations. Hopefully they can become “essential” somehow.

Not to mention the impact to experiments in process. It can take years to work with a mouse model, so in some cases we’d be wasting years of government funding, research, and someone’s work efforts/life/passion.

Just one more reason not to be a scientist in the US. Especially a government funded one.

I hear the surveillance industry is booming though.

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I don’t know if any of the actual-working-scientists have any way to get a say (I’d guess not; but maybe there are lobbying channels of some kind); but I suspect that there are incentives that do make certain animals markedly more ‘essential’ than others.

Mice have short lifecycles, and for common strains, supplies are good and prices are low, low enough that paying to store them becomes uncompetitive with just calling Charles River Laboratories for another batch in surprisingly short order.

Animals with longer lifespans, or with more exotic genetics, ongoing experimental interventions (specific surgeries, experimental vaccinations, etc, etc.) are, at best, subject to longer lead times and, at worst, probably can’t be replaced by any means short of another researcher sinking the better part of their career into retracing the steps of the researcher who built the current experimental population.

If the budgeting process is in any way remotely sane, (and as much as it sucks for all the garden-variety Black 6’s of the world) some lab animals should be marked ‘Essential, no, seriously, not like the Congressional Gym essential, actually Essential’; while others would probably have been euthanized and re-ordered within a couple months even without budget disruptions.

(Even something like E. Coli could qualify as ‘Essential’ if the right trajectory led up to them. I, for one, would not want to be the lucky guy who gets to rebuild Dr. Lenski’s 40,000-generations-over-20±years e. coli evolution study were that particular set of sample fridges to suffer an incident…)


I have to think that for big animals they have one staff member who has a little bit of leftover funding from 2013 to come in each day and feed them. White mice are cheap and those experiments might be ruined, but having them die off isn’t the biggest hardship ever. The sequester probably hit them harder than losing one iteration of mouse testing. A lot of work happens at FFRDCs as well, which aren’t directly affected by the shutdown in most cases, but simply have no 2014 money to work with yet.

(not a fed, but at one of the DoE National Labs)

We’re apparently treating those responsible for the care and feeding of “big, long term” experiments and critical facilities that just shouldn’t be shut down like particle accelerators and supercomputers as essential and keeping them at work for the duration. In our case at Los Alamos, the computer minders = the plutonium guards.

Shouldn’t laboratory animals easily meet the definition of “long term, shouldn’t be shut down”?

A lot of people probably feel like you do. The existence of people who are willing to fill in the blanks with probablys, have to thinks, most cases, and other blase non facts is something politicians absolutely rely on.

Well which is more important - that, or a futile quest to stop a three-year-old law from making health care available to the working poor?

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These mice are all purebred strains. None of them are cheap. .

Furthermore, some of them will be transgenic mice worth hundreds or thousands of dollars each.

Other will be part of long term experiments where they have been treated with rare drugs so each mouse represents an investment of thousands of dollars in time, labor, and materials. .

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False dilemma.

Tell that to the nice people who shut down the US government.

Let’s instead keep track of actual people who die as a result of the shutdown.

(Next month’s headline) US gov resumption means imminent death for thousands of lab mice

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