Thousands of lab mice drowned on Monday night as the Sandy storm surge flooded into New York University's Smilow Research Building at the eastern edge of Manhattan. It will take several years—and many generations of careful inbreeding—to rebuild the colony, which included animals that had been genetically engineered for the study of melanoma and many other forms of disease. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of these animals' lives and the impact this has on the many years of important work conducted by our researchers," the university announced on Wednesday.
What makes this story even sadder is the thought of how it might have been prevented. When it comes to saving animals from storms—and saving expensive lab equipment, too—the nation's leading research institutions have a shaky record of achievement. In 2001, a tropical storm called Allison flooded Houston with several feet of rain and pushed 10 million gallons of water into the medical-school basements at the University of Texas. The disaster drowned at least 4,000 rats and mice, along with 78 monkeys, 35 dogs, and 300 rabbits. (More than half the animals on campus had been living underground.) Nearby, at the Baylor College of Medicine, basement flooding killed 30,000 mice.* "We will never place animals or critical equipment in the basement again," said the president at U.T.....
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