Understanding Ownership and Privacy of Genetic Data

by Julian Segert figures by Aparna Nathan In Mountain View, California, near the headquarters of Facebook and Google, lies 23andMe, a company that set out to make genetic testing approachable and affordable for the general public. The company started with the goal of providing risk assessments for genetic diseases, but has recently gained more popularity by offering insights into geographical ancestry. 23andMe is unique among … Continue reading Understanding Ownership and Privacy of Genetic Data

Next Generation Forensics: Changing the role DNA plays in the justice system

by Mary May figures by Rebecca Clements As anyone who has watched an episode of CSI can attest, catching a killer is only a DNA sample away. Due to advances in DNA testing technology and its omnipresence in forensics (as portrayed on TV and in pop culture), the public has come to expect and trust genetic testing as evidence in criminal trials. As these methods … Continue reading Next Generation Forensics: Changing the role DNA plays in the justice system

Science Diplomacy: Collaboration in a rapidly changing world

by Trevor Haynes figures by Daniel Utter “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.” – Louis Pasteur Today’s world is extremely interconnected. Most of us take this fact for granted, but its implications cannot be overstated. The rate at which information, resources, and people are able to move from one part of the world to another … Continue reading Science Diplomacy: Collaboration in a rapidly changing world

When Politics Trumps Science: Why asbestos is still legal in the USA

by Christopher Gerry Weathering over fifty years’ worth of damning scientific evidence, asbestos, a known carcinogen, appears as resistant to American legislation as it is to fire, electricity, and heat. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous substance with properties that make it an attractive material for use in construction and manufacturing. An overwhelming amount of evidence, however, has linked ingestion or inhalation of microscopic asbestos … Continue reading When Politics Trumps Science: Why asbestos is still legal in the USA

Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Aparna Nathan Too Much of a Good Thing? Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming happened upon the chemical compound penicillin and sparked a medical revolution. It was a serendipitous occasion – Fleming had been growing plates of bacteria in his lab when he noticed some mold growing on one of them. Just some classic contamination, he probably thought, ready to discard … Continue reading Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

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

The Most Widely Used Pesticide, One Year Later

by Xindi (Cindy) Hu figures by Lillian Horin In March 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided not to ban Chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide. One year later, in February 2018, a bill was introduced in Hawaii to ban the manufacturing, distribution, and use of chlorpyrifos across all Hawaiian islands. Hawaii House Rep Richard Creagan said the legislation was prompted by the inaction in … Continue reading The Most Widely Used Pesticide, One Year Later

Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human

For as long as humans have conceived of making hybrid organisms, an ethical debate has been waged over whether or not we should. The pros and cons are vast and poignant. Each new scientific advancement towards making hybrids stokes the fire of controversy. This year, researchers presented work at a conference detailing the most recent hybrid: a sheep-human chimera. To create these chimeras, scientists used … Continue reading Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human

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

The Scales of Federal Land Management: Balancing spacious skies and purple mountains of paperwork

by Olivia K. Foster Rhoades On December 4th, President Trump declared both the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante would be reduced by 1 million acres each–an unprecedented change in federal land policy. As we near the end of 2017, four more monuments totaling 12.3 million acres in size have been slated for reduction. To put that in perspective, the state of Massachusetts … Continue reading The Scales of Federal Land Management: Balancing spacious skies and purple mountains of paperwork