Week 3 blog-Shiwei

Although I have never had any pets, I have worked with lab rats when I volunteered in a research lab. To handle the lab rats (just handle, not performing surgeries, injections, or any procedures), I had to take a few trainings. The lab focused on the study of traumatic brain injury, so I had to say that the treatment to those lab rats were very invasive. I would help the researchers transport the lab rats to the lab and hold the lab rat while they injecting anesthetic into the rat abdomen (surgical procedures must be performed on anesthetized animals). Later, the researchers would open up the rat’s skull, destroy certain brain tissues, and close it using surgical staples. To test if a drug was helpful to traumatic brain injury, the researchers would inject the drugs into the rats and perform some tests. Nowadays, people become more and more concerned with the ethics in experiments with animals. The lab inspection on animal handling became more frequently in that research facility. When I was volunteering last year, I heard that a whole lab in another department got shut down because the lab inspectors found undead lab rats in a fridge there. All the employees in that lab had to undergo animal handling training again.

Lab rats.

Transgenic animals are used in research, and they are also used for entertaining. For instance, GloFish is a type of genetically modified fluorescent zebrafish, which is sold as pet. The techniques used to create such fluorescent zebrafish is quite simple. The scientists can insert the genes that code for fluorescent proteins into the zebrafish embryos, and after the gene is integrated into the zebrafish genome the zebrafish will be fluorescent. I wish I could have some GloFish as pets, but unfortunately they are not sold in California.


Strange Culture tells the story of Steve Kurtz, whose work dealt with genetically modified organism. He and his colleagues tried to alert people about the risks of GMO using their artwork.  When his wife died, the paramedics suspected him had something to do with his wife’s death after they found petri dishes in their house. I think it is reasonable suspicion. However, the situation became ridiculous after that. Kurtz’s wife’s body was autopsied, and people found out that her death was not related to the bacteria he worked with. The bacteria he worked with were available online and harmless. The FBI still charged him of bioterrorism. The movie suggests that Kurtz was targeted because his work questioned government industry policies. I think Kurts is innocent, and I am glad to know that he was set free in 2008.

The poster of Strange Culture.


Bell, Mark. “Film Threat-Strange Culture” Nov. 4, 2007 <http://www.filmthreat.com/reviews/9553/>

Carr, David. “M dot Strange Finds a Way at Sundance” Jan. 22, 2007. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/22/business/media/22carr.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin>

“GloFish, Experience the Glo” <http://www.glofish.com/>

“Medical tests on lab rats Right or wrong,” Sep. 9, 2011 <http://www.selfdiscipline.com/2011/09/who-will-live-longer/medical-tests-on-lab-rats-right-or-wrong/>

“Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.” Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare,  August 7, 2002  <http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/phspol.htm#USGovPrinciples>