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Oddly Microbial: Programmed Cell Death

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The lab was a crime scene; dead and dying cells were everywhere—but did they commit mass suicide or were they murdered? The burly young post doc who discovered the corpses sat in the corner sobbing softly, his PI by his side. She was trying in vain to comfort her most promising young scientist in decades, hoping this wouldn’t drive him into medical school or even worse, into engineering. At a loss, Sarah Sweltweather made an emergency call to cell-death expert, Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Green at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Their cells were immortalized, she told him, they weren’t supposed to die in such huge numbers; thus her post doc was unprepared for the morning’s grisly discovery. “Please,” she implored Green, “help us make some sense out of what’s happened.”

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