Tag: science

  • 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 […]

  • Did Nature Put a “HEX” on Babies?

    Pheromones are chemical compounds released by animals that trigger specific reactions in the recipient, such as mating behavior or aggression. These chemicals are in essence a form of nonverbal communication that is widespread from insects to mammals. However, while the existence of pheromones is well established in animals, it remains controversial for humans. Humans with […]

  • Eliminating Cervical Cancer

    In 1976, Harald zur Hausen, a German physician and researcher, first proposed that human papillomaviruses (HPVs) were the cause of cervical cancer. This hypothesis was controversial as the few known HPVs all caused benign skin warts. Additionally, many scientists believed that herpesviruses were implicated in cervical cancer and that the poorly studied HPVs were unlikely […]

  • Viruses and Brain Disease

    Humans may produce upwards of 100,000 proteins. Each different type of protein normally folds into a unique shape (its tertiary structure) that is essential to its function. Proteins can misfold due to mutations that change the amino acid sequence of the protein leading to a defective protein. Alternatively, sometimes a wild-type protein (the normal protein) […]

  • 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 […]

  • Coming Soon

  • COVID

    Here is an outstanding YouTube video on COVID science and vaccination created by one of my Texas A&M colleagues, Dr. Andrew Dessler. He developed it to show to his new students in his fall classes, but everyone should check it out.