Cognition and MicroRNAs

In a previous blog (Calculating Dementia), I wrote about an online health and lifestyle questionnaire that could predict your risk of dementia over the coming 5 year period. The algorithm behind the questionnaire was based on data from about 50,000 men and women in Canada. However, the algorithm didn’t take into account family history or …

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 …

I Taste, Therefore I Reject

Science isn’t always about far-reaching ideas or solving major issues. Sometimes it’s just about trying to understand everyday problems like why don’t kids like vegetables, particularly those of genus Brassica. More commonly known as cruciferous vegetables, this group includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, radishes, and many others. Members of this group are low in …

A Nobel Prelude

The Lasker Foundation was created in 1945 by Mary and Albert Lasker to recognize and honor advances in medical science. Albert was an advertising executive and Mary was a powerful national advocate for medical research funding. Mary was especially ardent about cancer research, and her lobbying efforts helped pass the National Cancer Act in 1971. …

Microbes and Aging

The human digestive tract, primarily the colon, typically contains between 300 to 1000 different bacterial species, collectively known as our gut microbiome. Studies from the last 20 years have repeatedly shown important connections between the composition of our gut microbiome (i.e. the number of different species and the relative quantities of each species) and various …

Move Over COVID, Influenza Is Coming to Town

Seasonal influenza sweeps around the world year after year infecting millions of people across the Northern and Southern hemispheres. In a typical year, influenza causes 30-40 million cases in the United States with an average of 37,000 deaths per year from 2010-2019. However, because of the COVID-19 precautions (masks, social distancing, lockdowns, and cancellation of …

Let There Be Light

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disease where cells in the retina called rods and cones slowly die off leading to diminished sight or complete blindness. Rod and cone cells, collectively called photoreceptors, absorb light and convert it to electrical signals. The electrical signals are transmitted through other intermediate cells and eventually pass to retinal …

Our Viral World

If the COVID-19 epidemic has taught us anything, it’s that for all our scientific and medical advances, the human race is still very vulnerable to novel viruses. These novel viruses lurk in wild animal populations and can spread to people who come in contact with infected animals. Alternatively, wild animal viruses can infect domestic animals …