Froggy Ethics

“Frogs are nice, gentle creatures, and you are powerful and you have the right and responsibility to look after them properly.”

Xenpus laevis, commonly known as the African clawed frog, has been used to study topics as diverse as development, neuroscience, and cloning.  However, their treatment in research labs has not always been on par with their valuable contributions.  Dr. Hazel Sive, the Associate Dean of the School of Science and Professor of Biology at MIT, has a long history of working with Xenopus and early in her career, spearheaded a movement toward more humane treatment of these slippery model organisms.

frog-AfricanClawed

Sive first encountered the African clawed frog while doing undergraduate research in South Africa, where she was raised.  She returned to frogs for her postdoctoral work in the lab of Dr. Harold Weintraub at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington.  It was there that she began to notice differences between the ways frogs were kept and treated in South Africa and the US.

In South Africa, where Xenopus are native, they can be harvested from the wild and mate spontaneously, after which eggs can be collected for use in research.  However, in the US they are not found in the wild and must instead be injected with hormones which cause them to lay eggs.

Read more at The Graduate, MIT

Kirtland Peterson

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