Category Archives: Bioscience

A Deep Conversation with Rita Colwell

For over a quarter century, Rita Colwell has led a research effort that provided a more complete understanding of how one of the oldest and most chronic scourges of humanity – cholera – proliferates and spreads. But her efforts did not come easily or without challenges.

In this special presentation and open forum, she discusses her pioneering research into cholera and addresses themes and issues covered in her recently published book, “A Lab of One’s Own—One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science,” addressing many of the hurdles she faced as a woman scientist while advancing this research. Considered a science book for the #MeToo era, Colwell offers an astute diagnosis of how to fix the problem of sexism in science—and a celebration of the women pushing back.

Watch A Deep Conversation with Rita Colwell.

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Oxygen Loss in the Ocean: The Blinding Truth

Ocean oxygen levels are changing globally as a result of both natural and human-influenced processes, and in some areas low oxygen events are becoming more common. While research on terrestrial animals has shown that low oxygen levels can affect vision – a vital function for finding food and shelter and avoiding predators – the impact of low oxygen on marine life is much less well understood.

Join Scripps postdoctoral scholar Lillian McCormick for an in depth look at how and why oxygen is changing in the ocean and how her research is providing insight into the impacts of low oxygen on vision in marine invertebrates. Learn about her stunning new research results, her plans for future investigations and what we can do about oxygen decline in the ocean.

Watch Biological Impacts of Oxygen Loss in the Ocean: The Blinding Truth.

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Our Impact on the Earth

“Mother Nature is not happy right now and she’s trying to tell us, in many ways,” says Kimberly Prather, Professor of Climate, Atmospheric Science, and Physical Oceanography at UC San Diego.

New weather patterns and events are causing concern but how do we know these changes are caused by human activity? Climate scientists are looking at trends over time to determine our impact on the planet.

Prather discusses recent CAICE studies aimed at advancing our understanding of how the oceans influence human and planetary health including novel experiments being conducted in a unique ocean-atmosphere simulator.

Watch — How Do We Know Humans are Impacting the Health of Our Planet? – Exploring Ethics

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Editing the Code of Life

You may not know what clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats means, but when you see or hear the word CRISPR it all takes on new meaning, thanks to the efforts of UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, who developed this revolutionary method of genomic editing.

Her work has literally changed the world with her research, with tremendous benefits for the future of humankind and the planet.

The discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 genetic engineering technology has changed human and agricultural genomics research forever. This genome-editing technology enables scientists to change or remove genes quickly and with extreme precision. Labs worldwide have changed the course of their research programs to incorporate this new tool, creating a CRISPR revolution with huge implications across biology and medicine.

This talk marks the occasion of Doudna receiving the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s 2019 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest.

Watch — Editing the Code of Life: Into the Future with CRISPR Technology with Jennifer Doudna – 2019 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest

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Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain Through Stem Cell Research

Inside a lab at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, researchers are doing something truly remarkable. They are growing tiny versions of developing human brains in order to study everything from Alzheimer’s disease to the Zika virus. Alysson Muotri is the co-director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program and leads the team researching brain organoids. He recently sat down with Dr. David Granet on Health Matters to discuss the endless possibilities of his research.

Muotri’s organoids are often referred to as “mini-brains,” but they are far from what that name might suggest. The organoids are grown from stem cells, which are harvested from living tissue, such as skin cells. Researchers give those stem cells instructions to become neural cells. Eventually they form tiny clusters of neural cells, about the size of a pea. Those clusters have been shown to exhibit some of the same characteristics of developing human brains, including firing electrical signals in specific patterns. But, the organoids do not contain every type of brain tissue, and have no vascularization.

Despite the differences with the human brain, organoids have proven useful in understanding and treating disease. One of the major successes of Muotri’s research was finding and testing an existing drug to treat mothers infected with Zika virus. The drug can prevent the disease from being passed to the baby and causing microcephaly. Muotri is hoping his lab will continue to have success using the organoids as an effective brain model to find more cures, and provide a deeper understanding of brain development and disease. And, his work isn’t limited to Earth. Muotri recently launched his organoids into space for a groundbreaking study.

Watch — Using Stem Cells to Research the Brain – Health Matters

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