Computational Science

Breaking Ground on the Neuropsychiatric Data Mine

Biology used to be the scientific discipline where data was at a premium, a rare resource painstakingly collected in the field or the laboratory. But today’s biologists are confronted with a flood of data, a fire-hose torrent of genetic and clinical information that only builds with the spread of fast sequencing and electronic medical records. […]

A Fickle Pump and its Protons

Like a basement in a flood plain, a cell needs a good pump. Cells must maintain a particular mix of ions inside their membrane walls, with low concentrations of sodium and high concentrations of potassium. The only problem is that cells are leaky, and sodium constantly rushes into the cell while potassium rushes out. To […]

When Academia is a Family Business

There’s something quaint and charming about a family business, where multiple generations work shoulder to shoulder to keep an enterprise afloat. But when the business in question is academia and the salaries are paid by tax dollars, suddenly keeping it in the family carries the stink of nepotism. In the public universities of Italy, it’s […]

Stimulating the Hunt for Asthma Genes

In the recent kerfuffle over the national debt, one of the rhetorical flashpoints was the $800 billion “stimulus package” pushed by the Obama administration in 2009 to fight the economic slowdown. Though the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on unemployment and the economy are fiercely debated, the impact upon the scientific world […]

Linkage 7/29: Debt & Doctors, New Hearts, and Brain Models

One of the sectors closely monitoring the debt debate in Washington is the medical world, where hospitals, physicians, and patients anxiously await the final agreement on cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Of particular concern to academic medical centers [pdf] are proposed cuts to graduate medical education, funding used to pay the salary of residents and […]

Linkage 7/15: Chest Scan Caution & Under the Influence of Flags

Cancer used to be a black box, a disease that physicians could only monitor through surgical biopsies and indirect measures. But for the last thirty years, the use of computed tomography imaging, better known as CT scans, has allowed oncologists and cancer researchers to keep close watch on the growth or shrinkage of a tumor […]

The Tools of the Human Microbiome

The latest cult favorite in the sphere of human genetics is the microbiome, the genes of the bacterial species that live inside and upon the human body. Because bacterial cells outnumber human cells in an adult by approximately ten to one, and tens of thousands of different species make up the human ecosystem, studying this […]

Linkage 6/17: Remembering Dr. Nachman & Neuroprosthetics

Around the pediatric cancer wards at Comer Children’s Hospital, he was known by the rhyming nickname of “Doc Nach” and for delighting patients with his Mickey Mouse watch. On a ward where a smiling face goes a long way, Dr. James Nachman was always happy to provide a cheerful presence. Behind the scenes, he was […]

The Flaws That Made Us Complex

One common misconception about evolution is that it produces “better” organisms with time – a seductive opinion to humans who would like to think of themselves as the pinnacle of natural selection. In a way, it’s an easy error to make, for who would look at a single-celled bacterium next to a human and think […]

Making Life’s Rosetta Stone Crystal Clear

by Meghan Sullivan It would be easy to mistake the images in Harry Noller’s presentation last Thursday for shards of gemstones or modern art. “This part of the talk was influenced by our visit to the Art Institute,” he quipped, advancing through a gallery of slides that showed off a variety of crystals, ranging in […]

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