The fecal frontier

By Kevin Boehnke

Written for the prompt: What is the most important fundamental mystery in biology today that, if unlocked by basic research, would yield the greatest dividends for human health?

Poop. For good reason (it harbors deadly pathogens), this ubiquitous, noxious substance provokes an instinctive reaction of disgust. Despite the near-universality of poop and fart jokes, humans have spent much time, energy, and money to avoid contact with feces. Yet poop has great potential to improve human health through medical treatments,prevent disease through microbiome maintenance, and mitigate effects of antibiotic resistance. A better understanding of poop could improve millions of lives and save billions of dollars per year in healthcare costs. Continue reading “The fecal frontier”

The budding brain: How yeast give rise to treatments for neurodegenerative diseases

By Sara Wong

What do humans and baker’s yeast have in common? Surprisingly, they share a massive amount of genetic information and are governed by many of the same cellular processes. Although yeast do not have organs or limbs, they work like human cells and can be used to study a wide range of human diseases. Yeast are cheap, grow quickly, and are easily manipulated. These qualities allow scientists who study yeast to discover new genes and pathways relatively easily compared to other model organisms, like mice. One area of yeast research focuses on understanding neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Continue reading “The budding brain: How yeast give rise to treatments for neurodegenerative diseases”

The relationship between cancer and aging: Why it is relevant

By Irene Park

At first glance, aging and cancer are polar opposites. Many people will think of aging as growing old and dying. Cancer, on the other hand, is tumors and abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth.

But aging and cancer have more in common than we might think.  Both cancerous and aged cells show genome instability an increased tendency of mutations to occur in your genome. There are multiple factors that lead to genome instability, but we will focus on how gene mutation arise, which is a permanent error in genes.

Continue reading “The relationship between cancer and aging: Why it is relevant”