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.

Science for the People

The March for Science has gained scorn, ridicule, and enthusiasm since the inauguration. Confused? Concerned? Want to help anyway?

Check out Science for the People, a new organization who’s primary goal is :

  • Growing an international organization of STEM workers, educators, and activists who work to serve the people — ­especially in poor, oppressed, and marginalized communities

sftp-logo-300

They give an excellent overview of the controversy and go into lots of interesting detail about the march, and what their goals are specifically.

 

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!

The impact of the border wall on wildlife

Sadly, the people who want the border wall, likely will not care that it will drastically impact wildlife along the border.

But over at Vox, an excellent piece by Eliza Barclay and Sarah Frostenson lays out an amazing argument (and demonstrates visually) how this will impact biodiversity along the border.

Sadly, as this wall becomes a reality (if it becomes a reality) this is not the first or the last time we’ll be having this discussion.

border_wall_wildlife.jpg

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

It’s hard to overstate what a disaster cutting the NIH budget will be

Although the proposed budget cuts are still just that (“proposed”), the amount of cuts they are suggesting to scientific research is no joke. In an excellent post over at “Butterflies and Wheels”, it’s explained exactly why this will be a disaster not just for academia, but for industry in the United States.

“Some people may think that what I and my fellow scientists do is so removed from their everyday life that making our lives harder won’t affect them. I guarantee that it will. It might not be obvious, at least at first. But as the US falls behind in scientific research in all disciplines, a new powerhouse will emerge. And businesses who rely on that basic research for their applied research, may decide it’s easier to just move to whichever country comes out on top.”

Read it here!