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Searching for Answers to Alzheimer’s via the Microbiome

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Searching for Answers to Alzheimer’s via the Microbiome

As medical technologies continue to develop, the average human life span is increasing along with them. The world population is getting older on average, a trend that will continue as members of the Baby Boom generation enter their later years. However, as humans live longer and longer, they are more at risk for certain diseases that tend to manifest later in life. One of the diseases we are increasingly susceptible to is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting 48 million people as of 2015;...

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Zebrafish and the Microbiome

Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Zebrafish and the Microbiome

Human beings can never truly be alone. Even when apart from other humans, we still share our body with trillions of microorganisms. In fact, there are likely more non-human cells in your body than there are human cells; the most recent estimates of that ratio approximate that you have three non-human cells in our body for every human cell. This complex system of microbial organisms living inside us is referred to as the microbiome. Some of these bacteria live in your mouth or on your skin, but a majority of them (around 100 trillion or so)...

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A Possibility of Prions in Plants

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on A Possibility of Prions in Plants

In the 1960’s, two researchers in London were investigating why diseases like scrapie and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) resisted ionizing radiation. What they hypothesized was that these diseases were caused by proteins, rather than a biological agent. However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that these hypothetical proteins, dubbed prions, were isolated and purified. Prions are proteins that can fold in multiple structurally distinct ways. These folds can be transferred to other prion proteins, and this propagation results in diseases...

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The Science of C. elegans

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on The Science of C. elegans

In 1963, Dr. Sydney Brenner, a South African biologist, went looking for a model organism to advance the study of biological development, specifically targeting the nervous system. What he found was Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans for short. C. elegans is a small, free-living (i.e. non-parasitic) roundworm. Dr. Brenner chose C. elegans to be the model organism since it is one of the simplest organisms with a nervous system. The nervous system of every C. elegans specimen contains exactly 302 neurons, and this consistency between...

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Light Intensity in Rodent Incubators

Posted by on Jun 23, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Light Intensity in Rodent Incubators

Many rodents are nocturnal. However, even rodents that are active during the day tend to prefer darker areas. Most rats, for example, have adapted to be accustomed to spending daylight hours largely sheltered from light sources. This makes lighting control in habitats used for rodent research an important variable to be considered. However, lighting control encompasses more than just light intensity. Things like the duration of exposure, pigmentation of the animal, age, species, and sex of the animal are just some of the other factors that...

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Tissue Polarity Experiments in Drosophila and Mice

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Tissue Polarity Experiments in Drosophila and Mice

 “Complexity that works is built up out of modules that work perfectly, layered one over the other.”      – Kevin Kelly Living creatures are almost incomprehensibly complex. Take the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells creating thousands of different parts. Our mass of interconnected systems, and indeed the complex biological systems of many members of the animal kingdom, have slowly built up over the course of millions of years as life forms have grown in complexity and adapted to become more specialized. One of...

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Vaccine Storage Options for Pediatricians

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Vaccine Storage Options for Pediatricians

One of the classic images of pediatric medicine in the United States is the image of a physician giving a vaccination shot. Like many other classic images of twentieth-century life in the US, this one is unsurprisingly immortalized in a Norman Rockwell painting. However, over the last few decades, it has become much more difficult for small practices to provide the vaccination services that they have historically been relied upon to give. The cost to administer vaccines has risen sharply over that time period. In 1986, the cost of the five...

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The Zika Virus and Mosquito Research

Posted by on Mar 24, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on The Zika Virus and Mosquito Research

For thousands of years, humans have struggled against infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitos. Records describing the symptoms of malaria can be traced back to 2700 B.C. in China. Other mosquito-borne diseases, such as yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile virus are a perennial threat to the health and safety of people all over the world. One mosquito-borne illness that has rapidly gained notoriety recently is the Zika virus. This disease was first documented in monkeys in Uganda in 1947, and then in humans in 1952.  However, recent large...

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Water Conservation with Humidity Chambers

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Water Conservation with Humidity Chambers

Last week, the New York Times reported that two-thirds of the world is facing severe water shortages at least once a year. A large chunk of the affected population is in India and China, but areas of the United States like Texas, Florida, and California are included in the impact area. California, specifically, has experienced a well-publicized drought for the last several years. California has been under drought conditions since 2011. Their water infrastructure relies heavily on snowpack. During the winter months, snow accumulates in the...

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The Past, Present and Future of Refrigeration

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on The Past, Present and Future of Refrigeration

Artificial cooling is not a particularly new technology. The practice of using ice-storehouses and iceboxes to preserve food dates back to the early 19th century. Harvesting ice in areas like New England for shipment to places like the American south and the Caribbean islands was big business for much of the 19th century. However, the technology used to keep things cool has changed greatly over the last hundred years. The main advancement was the development of vapor-compression cycle refrigeration systems in the early 1900’s. This...

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