BiologyOur Savior and Our Executioner: Evolutionary Standoffs Between Infectious Disease and Genetic Disorders
Genetic susceptibility to infection refers to how an individual’s genes influence their likelihood of contracting infection or the likelihood of a severe reaction. Included are three examples of inherited genetic diseases that one would not have expected to persist in human populations (without modern medical care) for as long as they have, that have also been associated with conferring a benefit by reducing susceptibility to an infectious disease.
November 16, 2020
BiologyMicrobiome Series 3/3: Microbiome & Consumer Goods
As our understanding of the microbiome increases, our ability to apply that understanding to consumer products is similarly accelerating, potentially even faster than that of the microbiome therapeutics space. In this article, we walk through some of the consumer-focused areas that are utilizing microbiome science in their products.
October 12, 2020
BiologyMicrobiome Series 2/3: Microbiome Therapeutics
Fast on the heels of understanding what makes a healthy microbiome were the many investigations of what causes an unhealthy microbiome -- and what could be done to fix it. In this post, we’ll talk about how the microbiome is being harnessed in therapeutics and healthcare.
September 14, 2020
BiologyMicrobiome Series 1/3: Introduction to the Microbiome
We know it’s all the rage; we know it’s important. But what exactly is the microbiome, and why is everyone so excited about it? This is the first in a series of three posts where I dive into what the microbiome is, why it matters, and applications of microbiome research in both therapeutics and consumer goods.
August 21, 2020
Beliefs, Ideas, OpinionsYes, I Would Take a COVID-19 Vaccine
With the rapid pace of vaccine development in the face of COVID-19, it's understandable that some people may feel reticent to volunteer for a vaccination. But the major vaccines in development are less worrisome than you think, and getting vaccinated may be the most helpful thing you can do for your community.
July 24, 2020
Beliefs, Ideas, OpinionsIs Evolution a Good Answer?
Evolutionary justifications occur any time someone tries to explain the behavior of an individual with a perceived inherent characteristic of Homo sapiens or of their subgroup of Homo sapiens, e.g. all males. These characteristics were once matched to an evolutionary environment. Are these justifications help or harmful?
May 4, 2020
BiologyReconsidering COVID-19 and the Spanish Flu: a follow up post
At the end of January, I posted a discussion about how the comparison between the Spanish Flu and COVID-19 was overblown. In this post, I cover what I got right, what I got wrong, and where we go from here.
July 20, 2020
BiologyA Novel Delivery Pathway for Origami-Paper Diagnostics In LMICs
The lack of access to diagnostic tools for febrile illnesses in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries results in inaccurate diagnoses and delayed treatment, increasing the overall burden of disease. Origami Paper Diagnostics offer an economically feasible solution to accessible nucleic acid amplification testing in LMICs.
March 13, 2020
BiologyA Breath of Fresh Air: Personalized Medicine and COPD
Considering novel applications of personalized medicines towards improved diagnostics and treatment of asthma and COPD
February 17, 2020
Beliefs, Ideas, OpinionsLong-Distance to Quarantine: 5 Surprisingly Similar Relationship Lessons
5 surprisingly similar relationship lessons I found were consistent across being long-distance and being in quarantine with my partner.
April 22, 2020
Beliefs, Ideas, OpinionsMegxit and the Legacy of American Individualism
Reactions to the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from royal life run from furious feelings of betrayal to reluctant understanding and, of course, complete indifference. But how is the couple's choice reflective of a deeper tension between Britain and America: the role of individualism in government?
January 26, 2020
BiologyMore than a hundred years later, is Coronavirus the next Spanish Flu?
The spread and death roll of the new coronavirus has some people claiming that it is poised to become the next Spanish Flu—a global pandemic that began in 1918 and killed up to 40 million people. But what was the 1918 Flu, and why is the comparison important?
January 26, 2020
Vaccines prevent 2-3 million deaths per year, but there is a lot of work still to be done on providing safe, effective protection against infectious diseases. What are examples of innovation going on in the biological mechanisms of vaccines today, and what implications do they have for infectious diseases and beyond?
January 9, 2020
BiologyPlague was around for millennia before epidemics took hold – and the way people lived might be what protected them
Recent paleogenetics research reveals that plague has been with us for millennia longer: Ancient DNA (aDNA) from the bacteria was recovered from human skeletons as old as 4,900 years. This means people were contracting and dying from plague at least 3,000 years before there’s any archaeological or historical evidence for an epidemic. How did people survive the disease for thousands of years? The answer may be lifestyle.
November 7, 2019
BiologyI'm immune to HIV. Having access to that knowledge is a problem.
In November 2018, He Jiankui announced to the international scientific community that he had edited the embryos of twin baby girls to be immune to HIV via the inactivation of CCR5. I am one of the natural carriers of this mutation. But the science surrounding the mutation is complex, and many individuals are not provided with the resources to understand their own DNA results.
October 16, 2019
BiologyDidn't Nature Make It First?
Biotechnology companies in the United States rely on our country’s robust patent protection system to make up for the incredibly expensive and laborious process of therapeutic development. But why are these patents so important, and why is patenting biological technologies morally complex?
August 26, 2019
BiologyZombie Viruses: Can Smallpox Come Back From the Dead?
Smallpox was eradicated in the 1970s, but what happens when rising temperature levels melt permafrost containing victims of this infectious disease? Could the virus be re-released into the world?
August 9, 2019
BiologyDateNA: George Church and Genetic Tinder
Imagine creating a profile on your new favorite dating app. You’re asked to fill in your name, age, interests...and personal genome? George Church believes a genetic dating app could be the key to preventing genetic diseases.
August 6, 2019
BiologyCould Neanderthals Talk?
The linguistic capability of Neanderthals has been an ongoing debate for decades. Research on the physical characteristics and genetics of these ancient hominins has proven that they were at least capable of language, but it remains unclear to what extent Neanderthals harnessed that capability. This paper examines the body of evidence for Neanderthal behavior—such as interbreeding, tool usage, hunting, care giving, and burials—to support the hypothesis that based upon the complex structure of their communities, Neanderthals utilized some sophisticated form of language.
February 3, 2018
BiologyWhy getting the flu shot isn't about you
We all know anti-vaxxers pose a threat to national health, but what about passive vaxxers? Specifically for the flu, what risk are we taking every year when flu season roles around and we brush off the vaccine with "I never get sick"?
August 1, 2019