Tag: health

  • 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 […]

  • Mosquitoes, Scents, and Viruses

    Many viral diseases are spread via mosquitoes. Some of the more familiar viral diseases in the Americas that are transmitted by these insects include West Nile, Saint Louis encephalitis (SLE), Zika, and dengue fever. Mosquitoes are typically not the primary host for these viruses and are just vectors that carry the virus from animal to […]

  • 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 […]

  • Sniff, Sniff, Bite (Mosquitoes are Hunting You)

    Mosquitoes, the bane of summer, are persistent pests that can plague our outdoor activities. Not only do they produce itchy bites, but they can also carry a variety of disease-causing viruses including Zika virus, West Nile virus, dengue virus, and St. Louis encephalitis virus. There are 176 species of mosquito found in North America, with […]

  • A Mutational Limit for Lifespan?

    It has long been known that mammalian lifespan roughly correlates with animal size, i.e. larger animals live longer than smaller ones. Mice generally live less than 2 years, your average dog lives 10-13 years, and humans have a typical lifespan of 73 years. What is less clear is the mechanistic basis for this observation. Differences […]

  • Viruses and Gene Therapy

    There are around 6000 known genetic disorders that cause health problems with the number continuing to grow as more are discovered each year. The clinical effects can vary from just an increased risk for disease (e.g. breast cancer and BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations) to an inevitably fatal condition (e.g. progeria). Many of the more frequently […]

  • 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.