Mr. Monk and the Tale of Mice and Men

Behavioral Biology

Dates: July 20-31, 2015

Cost: $700

Adrian Monk, from the popular movie “Monk,” is a brilliant San Francisco detective who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While the movie is funny, conditions such as OCD, depression, and anxiety can have profound impacts on people’s lives. In order to come up with good treatments, scientists need to explore how such disorders work. This module will explore the biological basis of OCD, using a mouse model. Students in the “Mr. Monk” module will make behavioral observations of mice and learn how to identify compulsive-like behaviors. They will also treat mice with a drug that is effective in reducing OCD, and collect data about the effects of the drug.

During the module, students will work in pairs. Each pair will be assigned their own sets of mice (for which they are responsible, i.e., they will perform all the behavioral tests on these mice, they will make sure the mice are housed, fed, and watered appropriately (over the weekend the instructors will take care of the mice), and they will assist in drug administration. Students will analyze data, develop a presentation, and present their research on the final day of the module.

Get ready to have fun and learn a lot about animal behavior and its implications for human behavior.


Abel Bult-Ito

Dr. Abel Bult-Ito is a Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has been at UAF for over 15 years. He teaches courses in human anatomy and physiology and neurobiology. Dr. Bult-Ito researches how the brain regulates behaviors in mice. Dr. Bult-Ito has taught at the university level for 20+ years, has graduated five Ph.D. students and three Master’s students, and has mentored 20+ undergraduate students in research and 10 high school students in research. He has worked with the OCD mice for over 26 years. Dr. Bult-Ito enjoys dip netting for salmon at the Copper River in Chitina, chopping wood for the woodstove, playing with his cats Copper and Hazel, listen to his wife and daughter playing the piano, watching movies and operas, and reading mystery and fiction novels.

Swarup Mitra

Swarup Mitra is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Bult-Ito’s research laboratory working on the role of sex hormones on compulsive-like, anxiety-like, depression-like, and cognitive-like behaviors in a mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Mr. Mitra has substantial experience mentoring high school and undergraduate students in research and he has been a teaching assistant in chemistry classes at UAF. Mr. Mitra was an adjunct faculty for a RAHI chemistry course in summer 2013. He also has four years of teamwork-based research experiences in pharmaceutical organizations. Mr. Mitra enjoys traveling in his leisure time and regularly plays tennis and badminton. He also has a passion for writing short stories and is an ardent fan of Sidney Sheldon murder mystery series.

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