Accepted Paper:

The value(s) of archiving transgenic mice: exploring the bioeconomies of animal research through a case study of mouse biobanks  


Sara Peres (University of Southampton)
Emma Roe (University of Southampton)

Paper short abstract:

We explore bioeconomies of animal research via a case study of UK mouse biobanks. We argue that, in archiving mouse strains, they materialize assumptions, commitments and social relations central to animal research into frozen tissue laden with promissory ontological, ethical, and economic values.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper we illustrate the importance of understanding contemporary animal research through its bioeconomies (see also Davies, 2012, 2013) with a case study of mouse strain biobanks in the UK, based on interview data with scientists and animal technologists. As post-genomics biomedical research continues to drive the production of very large numbers of new transgenic mice models, some stakeholders (regulators, funders and scientists) are increasingly encouraging researchers to archive mouse models for reasons of animal health, but also efficiency and maximising use. Previous work in STS has suggested that biobanks containing 'resources' ranging from embryonic stem cells to DNA or seeds enable the disentanglement, accumulation and circulation of value in bioeconomies (Parry, 2004; Waldby and Mitchell, 2006; Peres, 2016). We suggest that mouse biobanks, too, can serve to disentangle, decorporealise and pacify (Callon, 2002, Parry, 2004, Caliskan and Callon 2011) mouse strains into frozen cells with attached promissory ontological, ethical and economic values. Our analysis shows how biobanks therefore materialize, in some sense, assumptions, commitments and social relations fundamental to animal research. It suggests how empirical research into the bioeconomies of animal research can contribute valuable insights into understanding this topic.

Panel V01
Promises and practices of biotechnologies