Science Communication: A Duty of the Next-Generation Scientist

Author: Jessica Y. Chen (@BluntDrJChen)

Editors: Charles Lu, Ellyn Schinke, and Shweta Ramdas

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

It’s frustrating, as a scientist, to watch from afar as the claims of anti-vaxxers are given credence in many parts of the country, despite ample evidence suggesting that they’re not correct.

Why and how can so many people be misled?

So You Want to be a Scientist

Author: Kristina Lenn

Editors: Alex Taylor, Zena Lapp, and Scott Barolo

People say that “love” is probably the most abused word in the English language. I disagree. I think the word that is most misused is “genius.”

I taught engineering at Wayne State University for three years, and the class I taught that was most frustrating for the students was programming. Many of my students would come to me and say how discouraged they were; how they seemed to be behind everyone else; and how they thought they should already know how to do everything. My response was, “If you already knew how to do it, why would you need the class? It’s required for a reason.” In fact, many of them would look at me and say, “You hardly even think about the answer. You just start typing the code and it magically works.” I had to remind them that I’d been teaching for years and programming for almost a decade.

Size Matters: Using oligonucleotide siRNAs for Targeted Therapeutics

Coming to you LIVE from the 3rd annual RNA Symposium: Advancing RNA Bioscience into Medicine. Follow us on Twitter or the tag #umichrna!

Live blogger: Sarah Kearns. Editor: Whit Froehlich.

Background

Neurodegenerative diseases and genetic conditions lack effective treatments. Patients with disorders like Huntington’s disease (HD) and congenital amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) thus have unmet medical needs. To begin to get to the heart of these disorders, researchers like Dr. Anastasia Khvorova, a professor at UMass Medical School, are looking for strategies to target RNA in order to develop treatments.

Stressed out about RNA Granules; Roy Parker

Coming to you LIVE from the 3rd annual RNA Symposium: Advancing RNA Bioscience into Medicine. Follow us on Twitter or the tag #umichrna!

Live blogger: Whit Froehlich. Editor: Sarah Kearns.

Roy Parker, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Colorado and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who studies the regulation of translation and degradation of messenger RNA (mRNA) using yeast as a model organism. Degradation of mRNA is accomplished in coordination with the removal of the “poly-A tail” at its end, which precedes degradation from either end of the molecule. His other work includes investigation of the processes around mRNA decapping and storage in P-bodies. He is speaking today about RNA granules, and generally about aggregated RNA structures, as well as some of their roles in disease.

Through Space and Time: Monitoring RNA Translation; Jonathan Weissman

Coming to you LIVE from the 3rd annual RNA Symposium: Advancing RNA Bioscience into Medicine. Follow us on Twitter or the tag #umichrna!

Live blogger: Sarah Kearns. Editor: Whit Froehlich.

Suppose you have some extremely important information in the form of a blueprint and it’s your job to protect it. It’s not just a blueprint for a top-secret location – it’s the blueprint to life; it specifies how every cell in the body should function. 

Genetics of Colorectal Cancer; Eric Fearon

Coming to you LIVE from the 3rd annual RNA Symposium: Advancing RNA Bioscience into Medicine. Follow us on Twitter or the tag #umichrna!

Live blogger: Sarah Kearns. Editor: Whit Froehlich.

Most of the work done in your cells is done by complex molecules called proteins. Made up of long chains of amino acids, they are required for the structure, function, and regulation of your body’s tissues and organs. The design of these proteins comes from DNA, the genetic code of life. But the pathway from double helix DNA to protein, as it turns out, is a complicated one. 

Modern(a) developments in mRNA theraputics; Melissa Moore

Coming to you LIVE from the 3rd annual RNA Symposium: Advancing RNA Bioscience into Medicine. Follow us on Twitter or the tag #umichrna!

Live blogger: Whit Froehlich. Editor: Sarah Kearns.

Melissa Moore, Ph.D., is currently the Chief Science Officer at Moderna Therapeutics, having previously been on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts as Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology and Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research with a concurrent appointment as Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her work ranges widely in RNA, currently focusing on pre-mRNA processing for medicinal applications. 

Health Benefits of High-intensity Interval Training: Helping you HIIT the Gym

Author: Alison Ludzki

Editors: Zena Lapp, Alex Taylor, and Sarah Kearns

Gyms are riding out their busiest season, as patrons hang on to their New Year’s resolution exercise programs. But will it last? It seems inevitable that exercise participation wanes from January through December, except for maybe a blip prior to “beach body” season.  High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one newer exercise option that could help your resolution stick.

Are Omega-3 fatty acids healthy?

Author: Attabey Rodríguez-Benítez

Editors: Jimmy Brancho, Andrew McAllister, and Noah Steinfeld

When I got sick as a child, my great-grandmother used to treat me with unpleasant fish oil. She would say, “bébete esto para que te pongas mejor y tengas un corazón fuerte” (“drink this so you can get better and have a strong heart”). Both of my parents also swore by fish oil, taking these enormous yellow pills, which I did not take myself because I was afraid to choke on them. These large fish oil pills were full of omega-3 fatty acids. My family explained that the supplements helped with high blood pressure, but never explained why they worked. As it turns out, there is still quite a lot of debate in the scientific community as to how omega-3s impact human health.

Microscopic Diversity: How and Why One Gene Creates Many Unique Proteins

Author: Jessica Cote

Editors: Zena Lapp, Christina Vallianatos, and Whit Froehlich

The Human Genome Project is one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in recent history— this international collaboration identified almost all of the ~20,500 genes in the human body, known collectively as the genome. Now that scientists know the details of these genes, they are better able to understand and treat human diseases associated with genetic factors. However, despite the immense effort put forth by over 30 research labs for 13 years (1990-2003), the information we gained from this project is limited. Genes serve as guidebooks for cells in the body to build proteins; genes themselves don’t perform the necessary cellular functions—proteins do. So, while scientists have now known the nitty-gritty of thousands of human genes for a while, the details of their protein products, known collectively as the proteome, are still quite puzzling.