Viruses, not all are bad for you

When you think of viruses, the yearly flu or even the Ebola or Swine flu outbreaks may come to mind. However, not all viruses cause disease – some even provide cures! Adeno-associated virus (AAV) can infect humans, but is not known to cause disease. In other words, this virus is good at getting its genetic information (genes) into human cells. What if its genes were … Continue reading Viruses, not all are bad for you

Risky Business: The far-reaching consequences of slashing the orphan drug tax credit

by Christopher Gerry The routes that lead to a career in biomedicine are as diverse as they are plentiful, but one of my colleagues has taken a particularly unorthodox path. Sonia had just graduated from law school when she learned of a “typo” in her genetic code that will almost certainly induce a fatal and untreatable brain disorder called prion disease. She and her husband, … Continue reading Risky Business: The far-reaching consequences of slashing the orphan drug tax credit

All Wound Up: DNA sequencing reveals the 3D structure of our DNA

by Gemma Johnson figures by Olivia Foster You might remember being in a biology class where molecular biology is often represented by cartoons in bright colors on the pages of a textbook. What’s happening inside our cells, however, is much more complicated than what’s depicted in those caricatures. The DNA molecules that constitute our genetic code look like a twisted ladder (the formal name is … Continue reading All Wound Up: DNA sequencing reveals the 3D structure of our DNA

In a sitting culture, our bones could be responsible for obesity

Despite all of the amazing discoveries science has made, we are still trying to understand  the human body. For example, this time last year, scientists defined a new human organ, the mesentery.  Now, scientists might finally have an answer to why prolonged periods of sitting are linked to increased fat storage. Humans might have a mechanism that acts as  internal weight scale. Scientists probed this … Continue reading In a sitting culture, our bones could be responsible for obesity

Vaccination: More than just your health

by Madeleine Jennewein figures by Rebecca Clements Vaccines have dramatically increased life expectancy over the last 100 years, radically reshaping our communities, our economy, and the way we live our lives. As vaccination has become more widespread, the memory of the devastating impacts of infectious disease has faded, and the diseases that vaccines guard against seem less threatening. Misinformation and a lack of understanding about … Continue reading Vaccination: More than just your health

It takes two to see (infrared photons anyway)

In a rainbow, the shortest visible wavelength of light is approximately 400nm (blue) and the longest 700nm (red), where all others colors outside this range are invisible to humans.
Except not quite. Artal et. al. demonstrate that the eye’s visual acuity for infrared light (1000nm), is almost the same as for visible green light. The exploited effect in the eye converts two-invisible photons into a single visible one. Importantly, this demonstrated sensitivity to infrared light could enable future ophthalmic devices to help patients with eye conditions, such as cataracts, that make them opaque to visible light. Continue reading It takes two to see (infrared photons anyway)

Lightning Strikes Trigger Atmospheric Nuclear Reactions

On February 6th, 2017, four detectors surrounding a nuclear power station in Niigata, Japan simultaneously observed a striking signal. An hour before dawn, the detectors recorded a short burst of light from a lightning strike, which quickly decayed in intensity, and was followed by an afterglow of radiation that lasted for about a minute. These unique signals caused by lightning strikes have been predicted for … Continue reading Lightning Strikes Trigger Atmospheric Nuclear Reactions