Mouse Specifics, Inc. is proud to provide a workshop entitled “Of Mice and Men: Translation
of Animal Studies to the Human Condition” at the Young People’s Project “Teen STEAM
Day”, Thursday July 24 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
What is a S.T.E.A.M. Day? Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics coming
together for an afternoon of fun and educational workshops lead by professionals and artists for
local Cambridge and Boston high school students with real world experience of S.T.E.A.M.
related skills and career paths. The Young People’s Project envisions a day when every
young person — regardless of ethnicity, gender, or class — has access to a high quality
education and the skills, attributes, and community support s/he needs to successfully meet the
challenges of their generation.
Mouse Specifics, Inc. will feature its ECGenie cardiac monitoring system at the S.T.E.A.M
workshop to demonstrate how the pillars of S.T.E.A.M. have come together to provide an
elegant solution for rapid non-invasive cardiac monitoring of awake laboratory animals.
Millions of mice and rats are used yearly by academic centers, biotechnology companies, and
pharmaceutical giants to model human disorders and test new potential therapies. Quite often,
a new promising drug cannot get approval for human use because of negative effects of the
drug on the heart. The ability to test and improve compounds in laboratory animals is very
important to human health and well-being. Because animal welfare is also of great importance,
the ECGenie enables non-invasive testing of drugs in awake mice and rats without having to
harm the animals with instrumentation to do so.
YPP uses Math Literacy Work to develop the abilities of elementary through high school
students to succeed in school and in life, and in doing so involves them in efforts to eliminate
institutional obstacles to their success. Here is where we at Mouse Specifics, Inc. identify with
the vision of YPP: before the introduction of the ECGenie, many researchers interested in
studying the heart in laboratory animals needed access to anesthetics and proper training in the
administration of anesthetics to keep animals from moving during electrocardiographic
monitoring. Of course, data from conscious moving animals is most often preferred to better
represent the human situation. But the radiotransmitters that can be used to monitor the heart
in awake laboratory animals are quite expensive and require surgery, far beyond the knowledge
base and access to resources for most elementary and high schools [and in many instances
even in the university environment!].
The ECGenie, instrumentation developed by MSI CEO Dr. Thomas Hampton at Harvard
Medical School makes it incredibly simple to monitor the heart of laboratory animals, from day 1
of life, through old age. Now, students of all ages can ask interesting questions about the
potential effects of genes, environment, drugs, foods, ingestibles, pollutants, disease, and
medicines on the heart, and test hypotheses in laboratory animals easily and non-invasively.
What teen doesn’t like a cold caffeinated soda? At the S.T.E.A.M. workshop, participants will
experience firsthand, in themselves, and in the laboratory animals, how caffeine, so readily
available, can impact the cardiovascular system. The students will learn how to collect the
physiological signals using state of the art engineering and technology, via an elegant platform,
artistically simple yet robustly sensitive to demonstrate how the heartbeat of a newborn animal
is so remarkably sensitive to the warmth of its mother. The students will apply their math
literacy to compare and contrast the data from themselves and the animals under basal and
caffeinated conditions. Wide awake, the students will come away with the knowledge and
confidence that they too can not only ponder, but also test, hypotheses about how health and
well being can be changed and measured.