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On Cellular and Genomic Life—Keith Baverstock—Researcher and Author of Genes without Prominence: A Reappraisal of the Foundations of Biology

“What is the basis of this thing we call the cell, and why don’t geneticists want to know the physical nature of the cellular phenotype?” This is just one question asked by Keith Baverstock, a physical chemist by training who’s currently most preoccupied by the investigation of the effects ionizing radiation on DNA and the causes of genomic instability. Throughout his career, he’s worked with the World Health Organization and authored scientific articles, one of which is titled Genes without Prominence: A Reappraisal of the Foundations of Biology. He joins the podcast today to offer his insights on a number of topics, including the link between irradiation and damage to DNA, epigenetics, a 1976 experiment which demonstrated an increased risk of intrauterine death in mice after radiation to the father, what he believes to be the causes of cancer versus other diseases, and evidence in support of the idea that environmental factors cause disease, and why in this regard, large-scale genomic sequencing is rendered largely fruitless. Tune in for the full conversation, and learn more about Baverstock’s work by visiting kbaverstock.org.

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1/24/2020

Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Gut Fungi: Dr. Iliyan Iliev Works on the Connection

Scientists have come to a better comprehension of the vital nature of fungi in our gut due to recent technological advancements. Dr. Iliev explains what this means for our digestive system anatomy and discusses:Why the alteration of fungal microbiota, or mycobiota, populations with bowel inflammation matters.Why interactions between fungi and bacteria in our digestive system anatomy connects to bowel disease.How a single cell mutation might be a major factor in Crohn's Disease.Dr. Iliyan Iliev is Assistant Professor of Immunology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Iliev is a mucosal immunologist and focuses on the interrelation between mycobiota and bowel disease. They've discovered that the fungi's ability, or lack of, to balance with gut bacteria may be an important component in the source for these diseases. Better understanding this interaction as well as the importance of primer functions of various cells may lead to treatments.In fact, research into primers lead the way to the fungi discovery. A fungal message was detected while investigating different primer types. Later the ability to do deep gene sequencing enabled scientists to return to this signal and locate a diverse population of gut fungi as a crucial part of our digestive system anatomy.Dr. Iliev's lab works to understand this diversity, cataloging the different types of fungi and associating them with types of disease. This gut fungi emphasis could provide treatment for such inflammatory bowel diseases.See the Ilieve Lab page at Weill Cornell Medicine for more information: https://ilievlab.weill.cornell.edu/
1/24/2020

Molecular Mechanism of Cell Death and Why It Matters: Dr. Ivan Poon Discusses His Findings

Dr. Poon's exploration of the disassembly of cells during turnover has shown that the mechanism of cell death has a regulated rather than random component. He explains why this is important by describing:The evidence of this regulation, including the release of vesicles.What these vesicles contain and why that's important.What these findings may offer disease-fighting drug developments.Dr. Ivan Poon of La Trobe University is a Senior Research Fellow in biochemistry and genetics. He works in extracellular vesicles and cell death. In this podcast, he describes why it is so important to understand this molecular process and some of their newest findings. A cell invests a great deal of energy into manufacturing and releasing these apoptotic bodies while they are in the process of dying. Dr. Poon is trying to understand why.The basics of the mechanism of cell death is not new, but the understanding of the depth of regulation in the process is. Perhaps significant as well, different cell types release these vesicles in different ways. T-cells and monocytes emit apoptotic bodies in alternate sizes and through different mechanisms. These vesicles contain DNA, RNA, proteins, and lipids among other molecules and therefore must have some significance.Dr. Poon prioritizes discovering the molecular mechanism of the dying cell and what regulates the process. He hopes these discoveries will lead to drugs that can inhibit or accelerate cell deaths according to what may help curb the disease's progress.For more, see Dr. Poon's page on the La Trobe University web site: https://scholars.latrobe.edu.au/display/ipoon
1/24/2020

Guided by the Light: Noninvasive Tool For Cancer Detection and Biological Research—Stephen Allen Boppart— Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

At theBeckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at theUniversity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Professor Stephen Boppart has been working on a new, noninvasive, portable technology that uses a cell’s ability to autofluoresce in order to create detailed images of diseased and healthy tissues—essentially allowing for an “optical” biopsy orcancer diagnosiswhile overcoming the many drawbacks of traditional methods.He details the following:In what ways this technology differs from traditional approaches to diagnosis and what types of information aboutbreast cancer anatomyand cellular activity are lost in standard procedures of histology but attainable using this new technologyHow a tumor excised from breast tissue can be imaged in real-time while in the operating room, and what advantages this confers for patientsHow this imaging can identify extracellular vesicles that have been produced by cancerous as opposed to normal tissueThis technology can be brought directly into the operating room to deliver real-time diagnosis and evaluation of a tumor’s aggressiveness. It also has a number of applications in research and may allow for questions about the function of biological systems and the development of cancer to finally be answered.Dr. Boppart dives into a detailed discussion of the science behind this technology, and exactly how the laser they’ve created interacts with tissues in a way that causes them to emit their own wavelengths, which are then collected and built up to create 3D images of tissues. He also discusses how this technology may reveal new information about the tumor microbiome—information that goes beyond structure to metabolic function and level of cellular activity.To learn more, visithttps://biophotonics.illinois.edu/.