Reviews

Many medical conditions today are treated but never cured. Imagine, a child with a genetic disease like juvenile diabetes or hemophilia. This child will be taking expensive medications for their entire lives. In the case of some diseases the cost of the medications might be more than child or their parents can ever hope to earn in their lifetimes, much less spend on a life-saving drug. This is one of the many reasons why people have placed such great hopes in gene therapy. If a disease results from a defective gene, and we could replace it or supplement it with a functional gene, ... Read more

What do people in biotechnology do on the job?

What can students do with a science degree once they've finished college? Some answers can be found at the "Life Sciences Central web site. Created by the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, this is a wonderful resource for anyone who's considering biotechnology for a potential career.

My favorite part of the site is the series of short video interviews from people in the biotech industry, describing what they do on the job and how they got there.

... Read more

i-6d3784373c1ae06545f859a0aec5dcd9-dnai.gifIf we asked any biologist to pick the five most important techniques in biology, that list would certainly include PCR. 

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. It's used everywhere. We use it to amplify DNA for cloning, we use it for diagnostic tests, ... Read more

If you've ever looked at an evolutionary tree, contemplated phylogeny, cladistics, or the like, you're probably aware that Joe Felsenstein is one of the leaders of the pack. And you will certainly enjoy, this interview that Blind Scientist has posted. I wouldn't advise reading the interview to learn about doing phylogenetics, but you will learn a bit about the social anthropology of the field. Felsenstein does a wonderful job of supplying historical context to phylogenetic arguments and filling in the missing details ... Read more
Awhile back Chemical & Engineering News published a fascinating article called "The Secret Life of Plant Crystals" with some wonderful photos of calcium oxalate crystals. Special cells (called "idioblasts") produce these crystals, with shapes that are unique to each type of plant. Even though 75% of flowering plants make these crystals, no one knows why they make them and in fact, their functions may be as diverse as their ... Read more
I recently completed a long trip out-of-town, giving a presentation at a Bio-Link conference in Berkeley, and teaching a couple of bioinformatics classes at the University of Texas, through the National Science Foundation's Chautauqua program. The Human Subjects Protection Course Before I left town, I had to take a class on how to treat human subjects. It seems strange, in some ways, to be doing this now, several years after completing graduate school, but ... Read more

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