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Moving beyond metagenomics to find the next pandemic virus

I was asked to write a commentary for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to accompany an article entitled SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence. I’d like to explain why I wrote it and why I spent the last five paragraphs railing against regulating gain-of-function experi... Read More

How to give a great lecture

There are many elements that go into making a great lecture, but the most important one is to lose the notes. If you are giving lectures in a course at any level, the worst practice you can engage in is to rely on notes. This behavior is problematic for several reasons. You will not properly kno... Read More

Fighting viruses - amazing new 21st century lab

Looking out of the window isn’t something most office workers would consider a luxury. But then, most people don’t work in a maximum security, biosafety level 4 high-containment research facility, working to protect the UK’s multi-billion pound agricultural industry from dangerous and highly inf... Read More

Enhanced virus transduction may lead to more effective gene therapy

A benefit of the voluminous wealth of research produced is that it allows us to stand on the shoulders of giants – we can take advantage of established facts, tools, and datasets. This may mean using a mutant library to find genes in your organism that are important for the process you study; ac... Read More

Virus Watch: Zika Edition

Virus Watch is a new weekly video series that explores the amazing world of viruses. This week: the latest research on Zika virus, including finding virus in Brazilian monkeys, dengue antibodies helping Zika virus infection, and brain organoids to study how Zika virus causes microcephaly. Read More

Microbiology, Cartoons, and Take Home Lessons!

In this blog post, I describe how I had students create their own cartoon depicting microbiological ideas and concepts that most tickled their fancy. I did this on their final exam, and the students came up with really interesting and entertaining ideas. IT's always interesting to see what stu... Read More

Zika from sex, the byway but not the highway

Can Zika virus be sexually transmitted? Perhaps in very rare cases, but the main mode of transmission is certainly via mosquitoes. That’s why I’ve shamelessly stolen a quote on this topic from Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University: Mosquito transmission is the highway, whereas sexual tr... Read More

Communicating your science via social media

ASM aims to promote and advance the microbial sciences in a myriad of ways. In addition to promoting scientific education and discoveries, we also hope to engage the public with the diverse world of microbes! Last year, we held our first Agar Art contest, to highlight the often-overlooked beauty... Read More

"Microbe-Powered Jobs: How Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy" Infographic

The American Academy of Microbiology has just released a new report, "Microbe-Powered Jobs: How Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy," and along with it, an infographic, that summarizes the main points of the report. The full report can be found here: http://bit.ly/1lk346I, and a link t... Read More

Getting closer to understanding Zika virus, one genome at a time

Several papers published in Genome Announcements recently describe the sequences of new Zika virus isolates. Scientists have known the genomic sequence of at least one Zika virus isolate since 2007, but continue to publish newly isolated strains. What is the importance of these additional sequen... Read More

Interview of Dr. Sikandar K Sherwani, Chairman of MAP

Mr. Sikandar K Sherwani, chairman of Microbiology Association of Pakistan (MAP).
He is a Lecturer of Microbiology (Sp. Immunology & Infectious Diseases) at the Department of Microbiology in Federal Urdu University for Arts, Science & Technology (FUUAST). He is also a research scholar at Immunol... Read More

1 in 25 patients gets infection in hospital

When antibiotics first started being used in the 1940's they were considered a "miracle drug". It seemed that bacterial infections would no longer be a problem for the world. However, recently, one gene is making it seem as though the end of antibiotics is at hand. This gene is New Delhi metallo... Read More

Scientists prove key aspect of evolutionary theory

Evolutionary theory predicts that pairs of chromosomes within asexual organisms will evolve independently of each other and become increasingly different over time in a phenomenon called the 'Meselson effect.' Researchers from the University of Glasgow have demonstrated the Meselson effect for t... Read More

Antibodies to dengue virus enhance infection by Zika virus

It has been speculated that the development of neurological disease and fetal abnormalities after Zika virus infection may be due to the presence of antibodies against other flaviruses that enhance disease. In support of this hypothesis, it has been shown that antibodies to dengue virus enhance... Read More

ASM GM 2014 - Microbes and Cancer

Until recently cancers were seen as lifestyle and genetic diseases, brought on by exposure to carcinogens or a mutated gene. Recent studies are linking microbes to many diffe... Read More

Systems study of climate change effects, large and small

If there is a problem built for a systems-based research approach, climate change – with its complex carbon and nitrogen cycles, numerous species involvement, and interaction of geographical zones – would be an excellent candidate. Concurrent with the launch of the systems-based microbial resear... Read More

Ancient clay remedy proves its antibacterial powers in the lab

Near Kisameet Bay on the central coast of British Columbia sits a deposit of clay that covers 5 acres and spans a depth up to 42 feet in places. This vast smear formed 10,000 years ago as glacial melt filled a granite basin and fine minerals silted out.

The ancient clay likely holds secrets t... Read More

Meta-analysis of urine pre-analytic practice reveals need for rigorous studies

Evidence-based medicine is the approach used by doctors to make rational clinical decisions based on rigorous, well-controlled studies. By minimizing hunches, gut feelings, and anecdotal evidence, physicians and patients can follow recommendations that are most likely to have a positive outcome.... Read More

Freshman Biology Creative Projects!

I have found that students become involved, energized, and enthusiastic when I give them opportunities to explore topics in my classes using their own creative approaches and interests. So this semester, in my Biology 111 course at the University of Puget Sound, I found that students explored f... Read More

Antibiotic stewardship - a community effort

As we highlighted in our previous blog, antibiotic stewardship – the careful use of appropriate antibiotic administration – can have positive effects. A small change from a difference in clinical lab reporting led to less drug use, which led to fewer drug-resistant infections. When we think of a... Read More
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