In Defence: Taking on the Natural Ruse

In Defence: Taking on the Natural Ruse

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The GMO “debate” never strays far from the headlines. Almost every person I know has an opinion on the matter, and I cannot stomach that. As Patrick Stokes, senior lecturer in philosophy at the Deakin University, argues:

“The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue [with that person] is somehow [seen as] disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.”

And a disgusting feature at that, Dr Stokes.

You are entitled to an opinion; you are entitled to an opinion that can be reasonably defended with evidence and logical argument. This is why I am so fascinated by science denial. I have various friends and acquaintances who think GMOs and other “toxic” food ingredients are the single biggest threat to civilisation. I’m reluctant with my usage of civilisation as I’m not entirely sure proponents of this view can truly appreciate what civilisation is and why it is such a precious and fragile thing. However, they still expect their opinions as a non-experts to be respected and heard.

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Viruses as a new form of antibiotic? A race against evolution of antibiotic resistance.

Viruses as a new form of antibiotic? A race against evolution of antibiotic resistance.

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We have a guest post from University of Melbourne M.Sc student, Ashleigh Henderson!

The discovery and production of penicillin as an antibiotic in the early 1900’s was one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of medicine. Antibiotics turned many menacing, life-threatening diseases into mere annoyances that could be solved with the pop of a pill. However, bacteria are fighting back and are rapidly evolving resistance to antibiotics. They are able to do this due to our misuse of antibiotics.

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Reclaiming Fame: A query into the unsung glory of trematode taxonomy

Reclaiming Fame: A query into the unsung glory of trematode taxonomy

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The following post was written by University of Queensland parasitology student, Xena Brooks. She is currently competing in the Thinkable campaign for the 2016 QLD Women in STEM competition. You can help support her by going to the link and voting for her to win the people’s choice award. The proceeds from the prize, if she wins, will go towards her research.

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An interview with Dr. Sara Canavati

An interview with Dr. Sara Canavati

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Recently I had the pleasure of being a finalist in the 2015 Malaria Social Media Awards with Dr. Sara Canavati. Sara went on to win an esteemed award (the South-East Asia category) and I thought it would be jolly good to interview her.

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Prof. Gero Miesenböck: A man of the mind

Prof. Gero Miesenböck: A man of the mind

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Image credit, www.cncb.ox.ac.uk

Please note this article is co-authored by both Christopher Haggarty-Weir and William Godfrey. William had the idea of interviewing Prof. Miesenböck (one of William’s current favourite scientists) and came up with the majority of questions, in addition to writing up the transcripts from the recorded interview. Christopher conducted the interview and attended the public lecture in Edinburgh. Also fellow readers, please accept our apologies for the delay in posting this piece; our website was hacked and had to be taken down for several weeks until we could sort the issue out. Anyway, I hope the wait was worth it!

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Malaria Heroes: Alphonse Laveran.

Malaria Heroes: Alphonse Laveran.

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I have decided to launch a series of articles called “Malaria Heroes” which will give some information about some of the key figures throughout the modern history of malaria (i.e. since the 1800’s). The first of these heroes that led to a greater understanding of this parasitic infection is Dr. Charles Alphonse Laveran, a French physician who was born in Paris in 1845.

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Multi-drug resistant TB: Treatment today, hope for tomorrow.

Multi-drug resistant TB: Treatment today, hope for tomorrow.

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I would like to introduce Smaranda Fillip, a colleague of mine who is studying towards her MD at my old alma mater, the University of Queensland, in addition to studying in New Orleans as part of a joint medical school program. She wrote the bulk of this succinct informative introduction to multi-drug resistant tuberculosis along with myself (in a mostly editorial context).

 

Tuberculosis (TB) is the second most common cause of death related to an infectious disease agent. It is caused by the bacterial pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Progress has been made, and the rates of TB are declining; however the numbers are still staggering. In 2013, 9 million people became ill with TB and of those, 1.5 million died from the disease. In addition, 480,000 people became infected with either acquired or primary multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Most cases occur in underdeveloped regions including African and Asian nations, India and Eastern Europe. MDR-TB affects not only the countries that have to carry the burden of disease, but it impacts the global community, as we strive to meet the 2015 millennium developmental goals.

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Picture of the Week: Shiga-like toxin

Picture of the Week: Shiga-like toxin

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Recently the University of Queensland ran the annual Molecular Design Contest, where students use pymol or related software to create a stunning image of a macromolecule of their choice. This is a contest I helped set up during my Masters degree at UQ, and I am happy to see it’s continuation by the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the UQ Molecular Biotech Students Club. A huge congratulations to Vivek Narotam, a B.Sc student in the Faculty of Science who won this year’s competition with his rendering of a shiga-like toxin molecule (also known as verotoxin).

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Immune boosting pills: the latest snake oil?

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snake oil Head into any supermarket or chemist, and you will find shelves filled

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with all kinds of products. Some are useful, evidence-proven medications (such as aspirin), others are more palliative like sore throat lozenges. However, in recent years there has been a rise in what I will term “Immune pills” for this article.

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3 Minute Thesis Talk: Molecular Methods Against Malaria

3 Minute Thesis Talk: Molecular Methods Against Malaria

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Today I competed in the Three Minute Thesis competition, which first started at the University of Queensland. Essentially, doctoral candidates have three minutes to inform a public audience what their research is all about. If that sounds easy, remember, a Ph.D thesis is typically 80 000 words of technical writing, which is not always so easy to condense down into something easy to swallow, especially for a non-expert. With that said, I thought my talk, which was titled “Molecular Methods Against Malaria”, would make a nice story for others, so enjoy.

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