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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Ow my feelings! A woo-full discussion of Chinese Medicine

Ow my feelings! A woo-full discussion of Chinese Medicine

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There are times when we find ourselves talking nonsense, and in need of some harsh truths. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and more cynical, but regardless, I have very little time for pushers and apologists of pseudoscience and quackery. Recently I got into an argument with a friend of a friend who was a staunch apologist of the woo that is Traditional Chinese Medicine. I have decided to include the discussion in full (only with their name changed for anonymity) from where I first came into the conversation. Note that “in full” also means including any spelling errors. See if you can spot the flaws in their argument before I make mention of them, and if I have missed any, please mention in the comments. After the argument speech, I will then also give some post-argument thoughts.

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Snake Oil and Skepticism: Some recent examples.

Snake Oil and Skepticism: Some recent examples.

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I would like to introduce a new contributor to Mostly Science, a Mr. Bryce Harper. Bryce is a student of the humanities and if you are interested you can check out his blog here. Full disclosure, Bryce wrote this article and I edited it, adding only a minimal amount of additional text. Hope you enjoy.

 

There are so many ways to be fooled. No human ever walked the earth without falling victim to gullibility. As we grow older and further develop what is known as our theory of mind, first coined by Premack and Woodruff in 1978, we tend to grow out of our evolutionary gullibility. But for one reason or another large groups of us still fall prey to this ever lurking provocateur of deception.

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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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Optogenetics: An understanding and mastery of brain function

Optogenetics: An understanding and mastery of brain function

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Written by William Godfrey and Christopher Weir.

 

Before we get into the article, I would first like to welcome the newest addition to our writing team here at Mostly Science, William Godfrey. Will and I are both alumni of the University of Queensland, which is where he went to the T.C. Berne School of Law and graduated with an L.L.B. After being unable to resist the intrigue of science, he made the bold decision to head back to UQ this year to begin a Bachelor of Biomedical Science with a view to engaging in neuroscience research (specifically, optogenetics). With that, I would like to leave you to enjoy Will’s first article.

For those who are unaware, the relatively new field of optogenetics can be simply described as using light to control neurons that have been genetically engineered to respond to certain wavelengths of light. The technique was developed based on a re-evaluation of how the brain functions and in this new paradigm the brain is not just an organ in the traditional sense, but a combination of sophisticated electrical circuitry combined with computational power. If this sounds enticing and exciting, then you can see why optogenetics was selected as the Method of the Year (2010) by the prestigious journal Nature Methods.

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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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Denying Science – All a Big Miscommunication?

Denying Science – All a Big Miscommunication?

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  • The measles vaccine causes autism.
  • HIV does not cause AIDS.
  • Genetically modified foods are dangerous.
  • Humans have had no impact on world weather patterns.
  • Diluting a compound a million times to single atoms increases their therapeutic potential.
  • Cancer can be cured with health eating alone.

 

Hopefully many people reading this blog will shake their heads in disbelief and recognize that these statements are wrong. They are not just wrong – they are dangerous! Michael Specter, a writer for the New Yorker and author of a book on scientific denialism, gave an excellent TED talk[1] about the danger of denying science.

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