Disease Never Sleeps: Yellow fever and the importance of vaccine stockpiles in emergency epidemic prevention

by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Daniel Utter There are tens of thousands of buildings in São Paulo, the largest city in the Western hemisphere and Brazil’s financial center. From the sky, São Paulo looks like a fossilized forest of concrete trees. From the ground, it’s a pulsing behemoth, every avenue crammed with cars and people. The urban sprawl of Metropolitan São Paulo engulfs 39 municipalities … Continue reading Disease Never Sleeps: Yellow fever and the importance of vaccine stockpiles in emergency epidemic prevention

Mother’s Mitochondria

While celebrating Mother’s Day over brunch, don’t just thank your mom for all her love and nurture, remember to also mention mitochondria, like Leah Bury, our featured artist for June, suggests in her science-y Mother’s Day card. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells, which means they generate the energy that keeps cells (and by extension you) running. Interestingly, we inherit our mitochondria entirely from … Continue reading Mother’s Mitochondria

Leah Bury

Hi, I’m Leah – a cell biologist and a triplet, originally from Frankfurt, Germany. Having shared a womb with my two brothers probably genetically predestined me to become a scientist, as I wanted to learn more about the fascinating ways in which organisms grow, develop, and reproduce. In my current postdoc work at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA, I am driven by my passion … Continue reading Leah Bury

No Good Options: Fighting diagnostic and treatment challenges for women with endometriosis

by Emily Poulin figures by Brad Wierbowski “Have you heard of endometriosis?” As a scientist and a woman, I was embarrassed to say that I hadn’t. Although I had seen two doctors about my pelvic pain, it was a friend who first mentioned endometriosis to me. My reaction turns out to be pretty common. Although endometriosis affects about ten percent of women, many have never … Continue reading No Good Options: Fighting diagnostic and treatment challenges for women with endometriosis

Viruses to the Rescue: Can we use viruses to find bacteria in our environment?

Is this apple safe to eat? Did that course of antibiotics work? To answer these types of questions we often need to know how to find and count illness-causing bacteria. Several bacteria counting techniques already exist. However, these approaches are slow and sensitive to laboratory conditions. Sam Nugen and his team from Cornell University are streamlining this process using a type of virus called phages, … Continue reading Viruses to the Rescue: Can we use viruses to find bacteria in our environment?

May 16 – Much Ado about Mumps: Using genomics to track virus outbreaks in Massachusetts and beyond

Time: 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, May 16th Location: Pfizer Hall, Mallinckrodt Chemistry Labs, 12 Oxford St, Cambridge (link to directions) Speakers: Shirlee Wohl After decades of decline, mumps — once a ubiquitous childhood illness — is on the rise again. In this lecture, we’ll focus on the recent mumps outbreak right here in Massachusetts and learn about why mumps is back, why vaccinated people are getting sick, and how … Continue reading May 16 – Much Ado about Mumps: Using genomics to track virus outbreaks in Massachusetts and beyond

You Asked: How are pets different from wild animals?

by Katherine J. Wu The pets in our households are all descendants of wild animals, many of which still run free today. But dogs, cats, and rodents are all domesticated to varying degrees, with a wide range of consequences for their behavior and genetics. To understand the nitty gritty of this, let’s get some terminology out of the way first. When we discuss domestication, we’re … Continue reading You Asked: How are pets different from wild animals?