By Connie Chen, Microbiology, ’15-’16 Author’s Note: “Metagenomics is the study of genetic material directly from environmental samples such as the soil or the human gut. With whole metagenomic sequencing, it is possible to obtain and analyze every piece of genetic material in the sample. As we being to learn more about the world, it becomes evident that there is more that is unknown. The crAssphage is an example of a “known unknown” because through metagenomics, the virus’s genome has been built and certain properties can be interpreted from the genome, but it has never been seen under a microscope and there is much still unknown about the virus. Metagenomics have opened the doors to analyzing multiple sequences and determining […]
By: Lauren Forsell, Biological Sciences ’16 and Parnya Baradaran, Computer Science Engineering, ’16 Author’s Note: “Parnya and I collaborated on this piece for a Science and Religion: The Case of Galileo seminar assignment. This assignment was inspired by the seminar’s focus on religious controversies surrounding scientific advancements, theories, and concepts. Another main reason why we wrote this piece is because of our backgrounds. Parnya, a computer engineer major, and myself, a biology major, both attended Catholic high schools. We enjoyed writing this piece because analyzing science and technology in the face of religious teachings and practice is something we will have to consider in our future careers. We chose to analyze abortion because it is one of the most popular […]
By Shivani Kamal, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’17 Author’s Note: “I am pursing a career in pediatrics and wanted to familiarize myself with new research regarding health and development of children. I was amazed at the advancements of medical technology which allow us to understand diseases and create potential cures, previously never thought possible. My purpose for writing this review is to show scientific audiences the most current research on how bacteria in the respiratory microbiome has an impact on asthma. Recently, much research initiated by the Human Microbiome Projects (HMP) proved that the bacteria living on and inside humans contribute to the health and disease of the body. This review is meant to educate scientists on the most recent information […]
Exciting, new gene therapy treatments for breast cancer are on the verge of making a breakthrough. With proper funding, these procedures could reduce the need for the surgical removal of organs. By Rayan Kaakati, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior Being born female automatically enters one in a game of Russian roulette: About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime; for American women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death (U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics). Breast cancer is a disease that starts in the tissues of the breast and is statistically fatal for one in thirty-two women (Breast Cancer Facts). Many women, throughout recorded history, have succumbed to this malignant disease. Rapid advancements […]
By Oyang Teng, Biological Sciences ’14 Microbes are the planetary engineers of the biogeochemical cycles that sustain all life on earth. At the molecular scale, the biological turnover of such key elements as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, iron and sulfur depends on the enzymatic transfer of electrons from reduced (electron-donating) to oxidized (electron-accepting) forms of these elements. On the global scale and over geological time, reduced substrates and oxidized products map to a vast, often circuitous flux between the interior depths of the mantle and the oceans, land, and atmosphere.
By John Tran, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ’14 Have you ever wanted to learn more about the plant model organism? Plants have many unique properties that make them especially important to all aspects of life. They provide oxygen, food, and energy, so you could imagine that there are many cellular and molecular processes that are involved in plants. For these reasons, we want to better understand plants using a model organism called Arabidopsis. Here, we talk about the properties of Arabidopsis and present an example of a genetic experiment, which could be used to improve the quality of apple trees. Photo credit: “Arabidopsis thaliana – Acker-Schmalwand” by Nuuuuuuuuuuul is licensed by CC BY 2.0
One of the central pursuits of modern human genetics is to move beyond genomic correlation. That is, to demonstrate experimentally why a specific genetic variant may be associated with a disease. New work in Nature Genetics from an international team lead by Philippe Froguel at Imperial College in London does just this – demonstrating an interesting link between saliva and obesity. Basically, all humans express amylase, a salivary enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into absorbable sugars. The researchers found that people with more copies of the gene had a significantly decreased risk of developing obesity. People with fewer copies expressed less amylase, and it was hypothesized that this alteration in gastrointestinal carbohydrate metabolism affected insulin signaling, blood sugar levels, […]
By Mubasher Ahmed, Genetics ‘15 Viral evolution is an emerging field in biology that has great implications for human health. T7 is a phage virus, meaning it infects bacteria, and is a powerful model system in evolutionary virology. In a recent experiment, a team of biologists sought to understand the degree to which genetic elements engineered into the T7 phage genome affected the phage’s rate of propagation. In this context, the genetic elements are sequences of DNA that are inserted between genes that allow for researchers to manipulate gene regulatory networks. This allows biologists to probe how phenotypes change when gene-gene interactions are perturbed. Previous studies had shown that such genomic elements led to decreased fitness for the virus, but […]
By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology ‘15 The genomes of male and female mammals differ by one chromosome. The Y chromosome is only present in males, and is responsible for initiating the physiological and morphological differences between the sexes. This has not always been the case though; at one point, the X and Y were identical, and over time the Y chromosome began to differentiate from the X chromosome and shrink in size. The Y chromosome today only has 20 genes, whereas the X chromosome has over 1,000 genes.
By Isra Uz-Zaman, Genetics ’14 Cheating in sports in not a new phenomenon. In the modern era, numerous athletes participate in blood doping by injecting erythropoietin (EPO) into their blood to increase the amount of red blood cells and thus improve their athletic performance. EPO is a protein hormone produced by the kidney which stimulates the production of red blood cells when released into the bloodstream. Increased red blood production increases the amount of oxygen available in the body and boosts an athlete’s performance. Yannis Pitsiladis, a psychologist in Scotland, is at the forefront of developing anti-doping testing based on the genetic fingerprint left by drugs. Conventionally researches developed tests to find the drug, but Pitsiladis has taken another approach. […]