We have been using HeLa cells in my laboratory since 1982, when I arrived at Columbia University Medical Center fresh from postdoctoral work with David Baltimore at MIT. I brought with me a line of HeLa cells and used them for 30 years for our research on viruses. Here is a story of how we lost ... Read More
In this blog entry, I explore how students can use their creativity to learn microbiology in innovative and often artistic ways. It makes learning more personal! Read More
My wife, who is a mathematician and artist, made a stop motion video using Play-Doh that represents the life cycle of the bacterial predator, Bdellovibrio. This brings together interesting microbes, animation, and thoughts about what students might do to understand processes in microbiology! Read More
Virologist Hilary Koprowski died on 11 April 2013 at the age of 96. His main accomplishments are nicely summarized in the New York Times, but for a more comprehensive overview of his life, I highly recommend his biography Listen to the Music by Roger Vaughan. I did not have many opportunities to... Read More
If you teach students about viruses and bacteria, recent episodes of The Walking Dead have been using the term "antibiotic" to stand for antivirals. Since students are probably watching the show, it might be a good time to highlight the mistake. I summarized the issues at the associated URL (ht... Read More
Miravirsen is a drug that binds to and blocks the function of a cellular microRNA called miR-122 that is required for the replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Treatment of chimpanzees chronically infected with HCV with this drug leads to suppression of viral replication. The results of a phas... Read More
News headlines often paint E. coli as a vicious bacterium, capable of causing disease and death to those unfortunate enough to ingest it. But that is only a tiny minority of E. coli, and a very small part of the story of this remarkable bacterium; its relationship to human health and the food we... Read More
A group of virologists lead by Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Ron Fouchier have sent a letter to Nature and Science outlining the experiments they propose to carry out with influenza H7N9 virus. Avian influenza H7N9 virus has caused over 130 human infections in China with 43 fatalities. The source of the... Read More
Based on a Twitter conversation with two microbiology educators, I share a story of how (through a survey) I encourage students to look deeply at their study strategies and promote "ownership" in their classroom experience. Read More
In order to feed the growing global population that is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, agricultural yields will need to increase by 70-100%. However, increasing this yield using current methods is not a viable option. Not only is it environmentally damaging, it is also not economically feas... Read More
Virulence, the capacity to cause disease, varies markedly among viruses. Some viruses cause lethal disease while others do not. For example, nearly all humans infected with rabies virus develop a disease of the central nervous system which ultimately leads to death. In contrast, most humans are ... Read More
Where does the virus come from? How is it spread? Can we predict when and where outbreaks will occur? What factors determine how sick a person will become if they are infected with West Nile virus?
To help answer the many questions people have about this multi-faceted virus, the American Acad... Read More
This episode: Non-pathogenic Clostridium difficile strains can protect hamsters against their disease-causing bacterial siblings!
(7 MB, 7.5 minutes)
When hamsters were colonized with toxin-free strains of C. difficile, they were better able to resist infection b... Read More
Poliovirus has been found in sewage in Israel. The virus detected is not vaccine-derived poliovirus; it is wild-type 1 poliovirus, the strain that occurs naturally in the wild and which the World Health Organization is trying very hard to eradicate from the planet. Read More
Greetings Vincent and Dick,
Hooray for finally mentioning G. pulchrum in episode 62, my most favorite parasite and one worthy of further discussion. As a diagnostic veterinary pathologist, I encounter this spirurid in approximately... Read More
Pharmaceutical experts NSF DBA have created an interactive guide to hand washing.
When virologists Fouchier and Kawaoka were isolating avian influenza H5N1 viruses that could transmit among ferrets by aerosol, there was consternation from some quarters that such viruses might escape from the laboratory and cause a pandemic in humans. Part of the fear came from the fact that t... Read More
Chefs from top-notch restaurants are reaching out to microbiologists, seeking advice that goes beyond traditional food safety or conventional food-processing concerns. With or without professional scientific advice, some chefs and food producers are doing their own microbiological experiments, s... Read More
Popular Science has just launched a new science blogging network with 13 blogs. Among them are two that have a focus on microbiology, Under the Microscope by JA Tetro and Our Modern Plague by Brooke Borel. Each blog has an inaugural post that outlines the author's vision for future subject matte... Read More