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Making Nice With Mice

Archive

May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

TRITON TIDBITS FROM CAMPUS AND BEYOND

May 2004
Making Nice With Mice

 
     

Their every move is televised 24 hours a day. Their food is monitored and maybe even their sex life. Is it an episode of MTV's The Real World or Survivor ? No, it is the brave new world of mice monitoring devised by computer scientists, bioengineers and animal care experts at UCSD. In an effort to provide better health care for laboratory animals—while improving the quality of animal research—the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT) 2 ] funded the Smart Vivarium project. “Today a lot of medical research is an entirely manual process, so there are limitations on how often observations can be made, and how thoroughly those observations can be analyzed,” says Jacobs School of Engineering computer science professor Serge Belongie.

To overcome these limitations, the Cal-(IT) 2 team has come up with ways to automate the monitoring process. Each cage will have a video camera and sensors registering temperature, food and water intake, etc. The data will be fed to a microchip that integrates these multiple functions.
The video images will be transmitted and processed through pattern-recognition software so that animal movements can be recognized and analyzed.

This continuous stream of measurements could eventually yield major breakthroughs in drug design and medical research, as well as aid in the early diagnosis and monitoring of sick animals in zoos and veterinary hospitals. It could also make for happier mice!

RELATED LINKS

Cal-(IT)2
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Smart Vivarium
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"Is it an episode of MTV's The Real World or Survivor? No, it is the brave new world of mice monitoring."