Mouse lab culture

This is a very exciting new forum for me. I am working on a book about the rise of the mouse as the preeminent biological model for human disease, and one of the most challlenging aspects of the research is accessing what might be called blue collar lab culture--the guys who clean the auto-claving machines, run the routine PCR routines, pack and ship, etc. I wonder why that is? As most labs are run by people who pride themselves on being enlightened, it seems odd that there are so few labs whose labor force is organized. Perhaps this is because of the ad hoc nature of how a lab often evolves--it is not something people are thinking about much. But I think it doubly interesting that in one workplace you can have such huge class divides of people all working around one 20 gram mammal.

Today I began reading Snell's classic "The Biology of the Laboratory Mouse" (1951). It is a true trip back in science time. Throuhout Snell makes several brilliant asides, as when he notes that the preservation of the yolk in the mouse embryo is so similar to that of the primitive reptile as to make it almost homologous." Then there is evidence of Jackson Labs' well known coed factor; illustrations are all by Bernette Bohen, young wife of Dr Law, another Jax eminence. I note this because anyone who scans the photo archive from the labs early days is struck by the youth, vigor and attractiveness of the staff. It must have been a refreshing place to be after the dry rigors of Boston and New York.