Tag: biology

  • Polio 2022

    The last three years with COVID and the current monkeypox outbreak have dramatically illustrated that viruses are and will remain persistent dangers to human health. In addition to these new threats, the usual panoply of human viruses is ever present and continually spreading among susceptible individuals. The recent polio case in New York (an unvaccinated […]

  • Understanding Molecular Biology Part II – DNA Replication (If you missed Part I, check it out before going on to Part II below.)

    As a cell grows and gets ready to divide in two, its DNA must duplicate so that each new daughter cell receives a complete genome. To do this, the double-stranded DNA of each chromosome separates, and every single strand is copied to regenerate the double-stranded forms. This copying process requires many cellular proteins that aggregate […]

  • Understanding Molecular Biology Part I – DNA Structure and Organization

    I usually write about recent scientific publications that I find interesting and important, usually in the general area of biology. My goal is to promote scientific literacy and an awareness of the many remarkable advances in all areas of science. I try to provide some background context for the published study and then summarize the […]

  • Sonogenetics – Controlling the Brain with Sound

    My neuroscience colleagues have long been proponents of the technique known as optogenetics, a procedure that was named the scientific “Method of the Year” in 2010. For this method, brain cells are genetically engineered to respond to a specific wavelength of light. Typically this involves using a virus or other delivery system to augment brain […]

  • Viruses: Intimate Invaders

    My book on virology for the general public is now available at Springer as either an ebook or a softcover bound volume. It is also available on Amazon.

  • Epstein-Barr Virus and Multiple Sclerosis – Another Link

    In a recent post, I reported on a massive retrospective examination of military personnel records that strongly implicated the ubiquitous Epstein-Barr virus (EBV-the agent of infectious mononucleosis) as a major risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS). What was lacking in this epidemiological study was a mechanism by which EBV could physically initiate […]

  • The DNA Packing Problem

    I think everyone can relate to packing problems – how to get a cart full of groceries into the fewest bags or how to strategically organize the needed clothes and accessories into one carry-on suitcase? Packing problems abound in life from our personal needs to manufacturing concerns about how to fit the most items into […]

  • In Memorium – Luc Montagnier, The Discoverer of HIV

    I don’t know how well-known Luc Montagnier is to the general public, but in my field of virology he was both a giant and a controversial figure. I only met him once as my wife and I had dinner with him and several other scientists at a small HIV meeting in Austin, Texas in 2012. […]

  • The Origins of Life

    As we contemplate the beginnings of a new year, an interesting paper by Wimmer et al. in Frontiers in Microbiology reexamines the beginnings of the first biochemical compounds. We know the Earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago and that life originated about 3.8 billion years ago, but a key question has always been how […]

  • A No Tail of Two Alus

    Nearly all vertebrate animals, including most mammals, have a tail, making tails an almost universal appendage and seemingly a very handy one. Clearly, instructions for tail development must be embedded in the genetic makeup of a diverse range of animals. A prominent exception to this developmental pattern is the great apes (gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and […]