Animal Models in Light of Evolution

by Niall Shanks and C. Ray Greek


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The central concern of this book is with the "prediction problem" in biomedical research. In particular, the authors examine the use of animal models to predict human responses in drug and disease research. The arguments discussed are drawn from both biological and biomedical theory (with numerous examples and case studies drawn from evolutionary biology, complex systems theory, oncology, teratology, and AIDS research), and analyses of empirical evidence (concerning, for example, data on intra- and inter-species differences revealed by recent results from genome analyses of various species, human population studies, and statistical studies of the predictive utility of animal models). This book comes to the unique conclusion that while animals can be successfully used for many endeavors in science such as basic and comparative research, they cannot be used to predict drug and disease response in humans. The arguments presented are rooted in the history, philosophy, and methodology of biomedical research. This book will be of interest to anyone involved, directly or indirectly, in biomedical research (including physicians, veterinarians and scientists), and anyone interested in the history, philosophy and methodology of science.

In contrast to books written by and for the animal rights movement and books written by and for the animal-based research industry, this book honestly examines all sides of the scientific arguments for using animals in science and concludes that each group in turn exaggerates the flaws or strengths of using animals. There are areas in science where animals can be viably used but there are also areas where they cannot be so used.


See Philosophies, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 17 August 2010

About The Author

Niall Shanks, Ph.D. is currently the Curtis D. Gridley Distinguished Professor in the History and Philosophy of Science at Wichita State University and Vice-President of Americans for Medical Advancement. Shanks has served as President of the SWARM Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2008-2009). Shanks’ recent research interests have focused on the implications of evolutionary biology for the practice of biomedical research. His recent books include Animals in Science (2002),God, the Devil and Darwin (2004), and (with C. Ray Greek) FAQs about the Use of Animals in Science (2009).

C. Ray Greek received his MD from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and trained in anesthesiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Along with his wife Jean Greek, DVM he has written Sacred Cows and Golden Geese (2000), Specious Science (2002), and What Will We Use if We Don’t Experiment on Animals? (2004). Ray and Jean Greek founded Americans For Medical Advancement (, a not-for-profit dedicated to advancing medical science. Specifically, AFMA studies the use of animal models. He currently resides, with his family, in southern California.