‘Model’ or ‘tool’? New definitions for translational research
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The term ‘model’ often describes non-human biological systems that are used to obtain a better understanding of human disorders. According to the most stringent definition, an animal ‘model’ would display exactly the same phenotype as seen in the relevant human disorder; however, this precise correspondence is often not present. In this Editorial, I propose the alternative, broader term ‘tool’ to describe a biological system that does not obviously (or precisely) recapitulate a human disorder, but that nonetheless provides useful insight into the etiology or treatment of that disorder. Applying the term ‘tool’ to biological systems used in disease-related studies will help to identify those systems that can most effectively address mechanisms underlying human disease. Conversely, differentiating ‘models’ from ‘tools’ will help to define more clearly the limitations of biological systems used in preclinical analyses.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. School of Science; Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Disease Models and Mechanisms
Company of Biologists, The
Sive, H. “‘Model’ or ‘Tool’? New Definitions for Translational Research.” Disease Models & Mechanisms 4.2 (2011): 137–138.
Final published version