Dr. Jessica Polka: Revolutionizing Biomedical Research Communication

Dr. Jessica Polka: Revolutionizing Biomedical Research Communication

A major impediment to the scientific endeavor today is a lack of transparency, communication, and public visibility. In 1991, the fields of mathematics, physics, and computer science came up with a partial solution to this problem, arXiv.org, an online repository and forum to store, disperse, and discuss preprints, which are scientific manuscripts and communications prior to peer-review. While there is an increasing recognition of the role preprints play in the future of scientific communication, the life sciences have been indisputably behind the curve. However, this is rapidly changing, and at the forefront of the revolution is Jessica Polka, Ph.D. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Whitehead Institute and director of ASAPbio, a biologist-driven project to promote the productive use of preprints in the life sciences. I recently had the opportunity to speak with her about the rise of preprints in the life sciences.

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I, Cannibal: The Critical Role of Autophagy In Human Physiology

I, Cannibal: The Critical Role of Autophagy In Human Physiology


Now that the world is aware of this strange scientific term and Hollywood filmmakers have begun dreaming up ways to incorporate the terrifying idea of cellular cannibalism into their latest blockbuster horror films, the time seems right to answer some pressing questions about autophagy, and why it is important enough to have been honored with the 2016 Nobel prize in medicine.

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Aquamess: Portraits of Garbage from the Top of the World

Aquamess: Portraits of Garbage from the Top of the World

Of all the garbage we collected in the extreme north, the most unexpected pieces were children's toys. I wanted to imagine the high Arctic as pristine, with endless white vistas. Yet on beautiful forlorn shores of Svalbard, Norway's Arctic archipelago, we spotted our remnants - a mustard bottle, a cigarette lighter, a slipper, an asthma puffer, and plastics galore. In Svalbard's most remote lands you see more polar bear paw prints than human footprints - but you also see our human synthetic waste.

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3D Bioprinting Human Tissues, One Layer of Cells at a Time

3D Bioprinting Human Tissues, One Layer of Cells at a Time

In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office reported that over 1,000 American soldiers required an amputation, due in large part to improvised explosive devices. Some lost legs; gone are the feelings of an ocean washing over their feet. Others, an ear, binding them to auditory imperfection and forever altering their mirrored reflection. But must these losses last forever? The integration of stem cell science with new tissue fabrication techniques is tantalizingly close to achieving a feat seemingly pulled from the pages of science fiction. Can we regrow those soldiers’ limbs and ears?

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Jupiter Ascending: The Historic Arrival of the Juno Spacecraft at Jupiter

Jupiter Ascending: The Historic Arrival of the Juno Spacecraft at Jupiter

On July 4th, at 10:30 pm (EST), the spacecraft Juno will arrive at Jupiter after a five year and nearly two billion mile journey. It will circle the planet 37 times, collecting a variety of data, before falling into the atmosphere and destroying itself. Funded by NASA, built by Lockheed Martin in Denver, and operated by JPL in Pasadena, the Juno spacecraft will observe Jupiter like never before, flying closer and orbiting longer than any orbiter in NASA history.

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When Viruses and Carbon Nanotubes Collide: A Novel Approach to Cancer Imaging

When Viruses and Carbon Nanotubes Collide: A Novel Approach to Cancer Imaging

In innovative new work, researchers in the Bhatia and Belcher laboratories at MIT have developed a new tool to screen for small tumors that are embedded deep within tissues by combining a virus, carbon nanotubes, and a small molecule that specifically recognizes ovarian cancer cells.

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Hard to Swallow: Outbreaks at Chipotle Restaurants Mimic Broader Patterns of Foodborne Illness in the United States

Hard to Swallow: Outbreaks at Chipotle Restaurants Mimic Broader Patterns of Foodborne Illness in the United States

It’s been a rough year for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Over the course of the past year, the fast food chain that has built its success on a local, non-GMO, “food with integrity” ethos has experienced a constant wave of foodborne illness at many of its locations nationwide. All told, more than 500 Chipotle customers were affected by foodborne illnesses in 6 months.

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Two Degrees of Danger - Why Uncertainty is the Biggest Risk in Climate Change

Two Degrees of Danger - Why Uncertainty is the Biggest Risk in Climate Change

This past December, delegates from nearly two hundred countries met in Paris for the latest round of climate talks, the culmination of nearly a decade of meetings with the hope of finally landing on an agreement that would firmly unite the world — in a legally binding way — against worsening climate change. On December 12th, an agreement was reached and in the official document, the Paris Agreement, is the promise that member nations will hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

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The State of NASA

The State of NASA

On February 9, 2016, NASA held a “State of NASA” event, opening the doors of its ten field centers to the media, including many from its growing base of social media followers. Along with a guided special-access tour — organized by NASA Social — of their respective facilities, media members at each center were able to watch a NASA Television simulcast of NASA administrator Charles Bolden delivering the official address on the state of the agency, wherein he dove into NASA's major accomplishments, missions, and challenges of the day. And according to Bolden, the state of NASA is strong. 

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