The SIG Beat


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New SIG: Interspecific Modeling

NIH researchers use a variety of animal models including mice (Mus musculus), fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), zebrafish (Danio rerio), chicken embryos (Gallus gallus domesticus), frogs (Xenopus laevis), and flatworms (Schmidtea mediterranea) to study diseases, physiology, and other mechanisms. Animals represent humans well because they are evolutionarily related. Mice and humans have almost the same embryogenesis process. Fruit flies and humans share the same neural-transmission physiology. Fish and humans have very similar blood-vessel formation. From the perspective of evolution, we and animals are all cousins. Scientists commonly use the principle “what is conserved in evolution must be important” to identify key genes, functions, and mechanisms of biological processes.

The new Interspecific Modeling Interest Group (ISMIG) promotes collaboration among researchers who work on developmental and disease models of different species via 1) technical expertise exchange; 2) comparative analysis of multispecies datasets; 3) functional cross-validation; and 4) cross-validation with clinical sets. Kent Hunter (acting chief, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics, NCI) is the advisor for the ISMIG. The ISMIG will organize workshops to teach technologies for interspecific modeling and invite potential collaborators to participate in panel discussions.

Everyone is welcome to attend ISMIG’s activities and take part in the brainstorming, exchange of information, and discussions. For more information, go to To join the LISTSERV email list and receive event notifications of meetings and events, please contact the chair, Chi-Ping Day (

For information and a list of other SIGS, go to