Your Very Special Bacterial Cloud

I mentioned this in a post a few months ago, but there is some seriously cool microbial community work coming out of Jessica Green’s lab at the University of Oregon.

And as luck would have it, Science Friday has done a cool segment all about our tendency to resemble Pigpen.

So listen up as Dr. Roxana Hickey and Dr. Jessica Green tell us about our own personal bacterial clouds.

 

Why we need money for basic science

The funding rates for science are not good (understatement…). Which has lead some in the popular science community to claiming that we don’t need government in research. We can do it on our own! We can make our own money! YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!

This argument is dangerously and terribly wrong. Very wrong. What we need from governmental funding is the ability to be able to conduct basic scientific research. Not research focused on questions that have the potential to bring large profits. And governmental funding provides that.

Read about it over at Scientific American. 

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Reasons academia is NOT the worst

There are plenty of reasons to be frustrated by academia (anyone on the job hunt knows this all too well). I’ve spoken extensively about my hesitations about joining the academic workforce.

So it’s pleasant to find a post that does exactly the opposite, and lists the reasons being in academia is not only not so bad, but really pretty good.

Read about it over at the Guardian!introduction-h2

 

The CRISPR revolution: Where are the profits?

Usually when an industry gets a booming industry it is largely due to profitability, which garners interest from investors.

But in biotech there is a section of the industry that is gaining investors and various firms chasing a similar goal. However, how that is happening is a mystery. The companies are burning through millions, hasn’t started clinical work on a drug candidate and it will be years, “if ever” before it has something commercializable.

What industry am I referring to? CRISPR-Cas9 technology. We’ve talked on the blog before about the possibilities CRISPR has to offer human health, but over at The Economist here’s a post about whether or not it can be all we dream it to be.

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Have you heard of the Zika virus?

The Zika virus has been a rare tropical disease since it’s discovery in 1947. It’s a mosquito born virus that has been spreading at an alarming rate. It was previously confined to a few dozen cases ever (all in Africa) to millions of cases across South America.

The initial symptoms are quite mild. But there is evidence that it may in fact cause microcephaly, or babies born with small heads/brains. Which isn’t mild at all.

Consider Brazil. Over the past year ~ 1.5 million people have been infected. The virus is thought to have arrived with World Cup travelers in 2014, and spread rapidly. But what’s alarming, rather than simple flu like symptoms the rate of microcephaly in Brazil has increased 10 fold. (From several hundred to several thousand).

And what’s more, it has just been found in Puerto Rico, suggesting it could soon appear in the US.

Read about it over at Vox.

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Jose Wesley, a Brazilian baby shown here on Dec. 23, 2015, was born with microcephaly. His mother was diagnosed with the Zika virus that researchers think may cause the birth defect. (AP Photo)

 

 

 

Preventing Flies from Interbreeding

“Pour some cold cream into a cup of hot, black coffee, and you end up with a drink that’s midway between the two ingredients in color, temperature, and flavor. A similar kind of blending can occur if members of closely related species frequently mate with each other, but many species have mechanisms to prevent such mixing.” -HHMI News

My new favorite analogy about species inbreeding, and one that every academic can relate to.

But seriously, over at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Jay Shendure and Harmit Malik (a researcher I have long admired) has come up with a clever series of experiments to find the gene responsible for keeping two fly species separate.

Read about their new technique here!

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