Promoting validation and cross-phylogenetic integration in model organism research.
Model organism (MO) research provides a basic understanding of biology and disease due to the evolutionary conservation of the molecular and cellular language of life. MOs have been used to identify and understand the function of orthologous genes, proteins, cells and tissues involved in biological processes, to develop and evaluate techniques and methods, and to perform whole-organism-based chemical screens to test drug efficacy and toxicity. However, a growing richness of datasets and the rising power of computation raise an important question: How do we maximize the value of MOs? In-depth discussions in over 50 virtual presentations organized by the National Institutes of Health across more than 10 weeks yielded important suggestions for improving the rigor, validation, reproducibility and translatability of MO research. The effort clarified challenges and opportunities for developing and integrating tools and resources. Maintenance of critical existing infrastructure and the implementation of suggested improvements will play important roles in maintaining productivity and facilitating the validation of animal models of human biology and disease.