Tag: biology

  • Did Mutation Shape the Homo Sapien Brain?

    Neanderthals are cousins to modern humans and both are grouped in the genus Homo. While designated as different species (Homo neanderthalensis versusHomo sapiens), Neanderthals and humans are genetically close and likely co-existed for thousands of years, primarily in Eurasia. Once considered a more primitive species, evolving science indicates that Neanderthals had brains similar in size […]

  • The Viruses Within

    One of the most startling findings from sequencing the human genome is that humans aren’t entirely human. Approximately 8% of our DNA is viral, the result of ancient viruses invading our cells and inserting their DNA into our genomes. These insertions are scattered throughout our genomes and are primarily the remnants of a family of […]

  • Human Brain Evolution

    Primates are our closest relatives with chimpanzees sharing almost 99% of our DNA genomes. Neanderthals are even closer to modern humans with genomes 99.7% identical to ours and with brains nearly the same size as modern humans. Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and humans (Homo sapiens) were so genetically similar that successful interbreeding occurred, resulting in a […]

  • Artificial Sweeteners and the Microbiome

    Obesity, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and type 2 diabetes are major medical concerns whose prevalence among adults and children has risen in recent decades, at least in part due to our sugar-rich diets. To reduce sugar intake, a variety of artificial sweeteners have been developed and marketed, including saccharin (e.g. Sweet’N Low), sucralose (e.g. Splenda), […]

  • 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 […]