The Immortal Life of HeLa Cells

The problem with research on humans is that everyone wants it, but no one wants to be the guinea pig. Enter cell lines! The problem is that most human cells don’t survive in the lab. In fact, prior to HeLa cells, all cells died within 24 hours or so.

The excellent book by Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, details how the HeLa line came into being, and raises the questions if she should have had consent over what was done with the cells from her tumor. And while I think that it’s misleading to say “Henrietta lived on through her cells” (hence the title of this post), it is worth considering the bioethical quandaries that have resulted from the HeLa lines, and other potential cell lines.

And the new Oprah movie, these questions are likely to be raised again soon.

Read about it here!

Screen_Shot_2017_04_21_at_10.16.53_AM.0.png

 

Thanks for Marching

I am not sure how to measure the success of protests, but the March for Science was unquestionably heard around the world. People Marched in 600 locations around the globe to stand up for scientific research in the face of the US President being an unabashedly against science funding/communication/reality. So to celebrate scientist and science enthusiasts standing together, I have collected a few of my favorite videos. Or read more about the march here.

March of the Penguins for Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

The Underwater March for Science at Wake Island:

And a video summarizing some great signs from the March for Science on Washington DC.

And just remember, this is only the first 100 days. Curbing the potential damage this administration can have on the planet will require staying vigilant for the next 4 years. As Aminatou Sow said during the women’s march “I can do this every week”. Bring it.

Arguments against anti-science arguments

In the best titled blog post ever “Scientists aren’t Stupid, and Science Deniers are Arrogant” the anonymous author Fallacy Man openly confesses:

“Debating those who reject scientific facts has been a hobby of mine for several years now. It’s not a very rewarding hobby, and it comes with high stress levels and periodic fits of rage, so I don’t particularly recommend it.”

This in and of itself would make me love this post. But he then goes on to talk about how the biggest problem with science deniers is their arrogance. They genuinely believe that they know more than people who have years, and sometimes decades of experience studying science. While this makes my blood boil, the more important part of post for me was an outline of different arguments that science deniers have made, and good peer-reviewed sources to respond. 

Read it here!

epitome-of-arrogance.gif

 

Why science is important to everyday citizens?

Since the election, I have found myself wondering fairly frequently “What is the role of a government?” Answering this question will lead to the ability to answer other questions, like should we fund healthcare/unemployment/social safety net, and should we fund science?  I’ve mentioned before, that because scientific advances are often not immediately profitable, but rather, scientific discoveries now can lead to changes that we all use in the future. Knowledge is great! And addressing the problem of fear of/disbelief of science is going to really hurt us, now and down the road.

SAY IT NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON!

Nature Supports the March for Sciece

The journal, Nature, has come out in support of the march for science.

While the journal recognizes there are some strong arguments against marching, being a scientist who stand up and speak up globally for research have a chance to make a greater one.

Read about it here.

And read about the march/consider marching/support your local march/donate/call your representatives for SCIENCE.

WEB_GettyImages-633026622.jpg

We Are Never Just Scientists

During the Women’s March on Washington, a group formed called 500 women scientists. Their mission statement is to promote minorities and women in science and to make the inequality inherent in this system known.  Read about them here.

Along those same lines, for international women’s day, a few female scientists (Krista Bywater, Kristy L. Duran, Rukmani Vijayaraghavan, Claire Horner-Devine, Kelly Ramirez, Jane Zelikova) posted this excellent post on Scientific American about how as women and minorities we are never just scientists.

Please read the post, and consider marching (as a woman, as a minority, or as a white male ally) in the March for Science on April 22.

0BA23CBE-1E5E-4605-A8B3B5B12D2AFD92.png

 

EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why.

“To move backward didn’t make any sense.”

In his resignation letter, Ali attempted to make the case for the Office of Environmental Justice by appealing to Pruitt’s interest in economic growth. He described what happened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which received a $20,000 grant from the EPA to address the community’s abandoned dump sites that were leaching toxic chemicals. The mostly low-income, African American residents of the region experienced high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Local black leaders leveraged that grant into $270 million from investors and the government to revitalize the city, “creating jobs and improving their environments through collaborative partnerships,” Ali wrote. “When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most.”

Read the rest of it here. And check out yesterday’s post about the budget slashing funding for scientific research, and gutting the EPA budget.

And finally, call your representatives, this fight is far from over (and consider marching for Science in April).

NYCEPA.gif