Choosing the Best Research Model Organism

By: Alexandra Schnoes
Date: Feb. 7, 2020

Research model organisms are key to biological science. A significant number of the experiments that scientists do require the use of some sort of model organism. And many (if not most) important discoveries have come from research that uses one or more model organisms. These model systems can be varied and unusual (spiders!), or far more prosaic-seeming (yeast, fruit fly, corn, mouse...). 

But how do you know which model organism to use for your experiments? There isn’t always an easy answer, but there is help. We address this question in our course on experimental design called “Let’s Experiment: A Guide for Scientists Working at the Bench.” So if you are struggling with this issue, make sure to check out that lesson in the course. 

Additionally, the NIH has recently continued its work in helping scientists determine what organisms to use. Take a look at the recording of their daylong workshop on “Choosing the Best Organism for Your Scientific Question,” and their shorter 1-hour webinar entitled “Diversifying the Research Organism Landscape.”