Science

Nearly 73,000 adults will be diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, and for more than one third, their tumor will be declared incurable. Large, collaborative efforts like The Cancer Genome Atlas have helped scientists better understand the genetic changes that define primary tumors, but this information alone is not enough to beat cancer.

As a member of the Science Policy Group, people frequently ask me what science policy entails.

For thousands of years, explorers, adventurers, and conquerors have searched for the “fountain of youth,” a magical spring that grants longevity to those who drink from it. Today, the search continues, now led by explorers of a different kind — research scientists.
In human cells, three billion base pairs arrange themselves into sequences of As, Ts, Gs, and Cs to form genes. However, despite its large size, only 1% to 2% of the human genome is actually organized into genes. So, what does the remaining, mysterious, 98% of the human genome do?
With the successful creation of DNA vaccines that elicited immune protection from Zika infection, hope is on the rise in the fight against this awful virus.
Information is instant. I remember the moment when this fact of the digital age was made unequivocally clear to me. It was the summer of 2014 in Montreal and I felt my room shake. A truck? Thunder? An earthquake? An earthquake. The news was up on Twitter faster than it seemed possible to type. Yet, as the internet breathes immediacy into almost all forms of communication, the dissemination of biological findings has remained embarrassingly slow. Research routinely takes years to be shared, hindering the speed at which science progresses.
“Would you rather live forever or die in the next five seconds?” This question was posed to me recently and I was flummoxed. Most people, according to the asker, say they would die in the next five seconds. It took me much longer than five seconds to answer, so I guess I was already doomed to an eternal life and to the painful demands of being a thinking, sentient lifeform forever.

From the perspective of noise, CRISPR systems are modern biology’s closest approximation to Beyonce’s Lemonade or Game of Thrones: buzz-worthy, trending, think-pieced-to-paralysis.

When I lie on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach and focus my vision softly on the undulating water, I imagine the life that swarms underneath the ocean’s surface. The fish, the sharks, even the tiny happy phytoplankton, all bumping and grinding amongst one another like puckish tipsy high-schoolers. I imagine this happens all over the ocean, a teeming sea of water and fish and water again.
Recently, concern about the long-term effects of head trauma related to contact sports has skyrocketed. At the center of the controversy are the rising number of former football players suffering from a neurodegenerative condition and the National Football League (NFL), which has largely denied any link between football and degenerative disease.