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 …

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 …

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 …

Dangerous Vocations

Accidents happen. Even in laboratories where safety is a priority they occur despite our best (and sometimes not so best) efforts to keep ourselves and our co-workers protected from injury and disease. Scientists working with infectious agents are particularly at risk even though there are numerous physical and procedural requirements in labs to ameliorate the …

A New Factor in Pancreatic Cancer?

Around 60,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Unfortunately, about 75% of the newly diagnosed will live less than 1 year, leading to around 45,000 deaths per year. Overall, the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only 9%. A big reason for this low survival rate is …

Measles Are Breaking Out All Over!

As has been widely reported in the media, the US and the entire world is having a measles outbreak of record numbers. Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963 there was an estimated 3-4 million cases of measles each year in the United States with 400-500 deaths, 48,000 hospitalizations, and around 1,000 …