Biology

Microbiome 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

September 14, 2020

Biology

Microbiome 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 21, 2020

Beliefs, Ideas, Opinions

Yes, 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

July 24, 2020

Beliefs, Ideas, Opinions

Is 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?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

May 4, 2020

Biology

Reconsidering 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

July 20, 2020

Biology

A 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

March 13, 2020

Biology

A Breath of Fresh Air: Personalized Medicine and COPD

Considering novel applications of personalized medicines towards improved diagnostics and treatment of asthma and COPD

By

Sonja K. Eliason

February 17, 2020

Beliefs, Ideas, Opinions

Long-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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

April 22, 2020

Beliefs, Ideas, Opinions

Megxit 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?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

January 26, 2020

Biology

More 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?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

January 26, 2020

Biology

InnoVAXation

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?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

January 9, 2020

Biology

Plague 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

November 7, 2019

Biology

I'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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

October 16, 2019

Biology

Didn'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?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 26, 2019

Beliefs, Ideas, Opinions

A Case for Mortality

Over the last decade, an increasing number of clinical trials and investments have focused on technologies striving to increase human longevity—but should we really be trying to extend the human lifespan?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 19, 2019

Beliefs, Ideas, Opinions

Swimming Lessons

What scuba diving taught me about life, the universe, and everything.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 14, 2019

Biology

Zombie 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?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 9, 2019

Biology

DateNA: 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 6, 2019

Biology

Could 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.

By

Sonja K. Eliason

February 3, 2018

Biology

Decoding Genetic Privacy

The reduced cost of sequencing genomes holds incredible promise for personalized medicine and diagnostics. But who is responsible for keeping that data safe? And what happens if it falls into the wrong hands?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

March 8, 2018

Biology

Why 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"?

By

Sonja K. Eliason

August 1, 2019