Author: Barbara Bailus

Interview with Dr. Danica Chen: Metabolic Regulation of Stem Cell Aging and Rejuvenation

Dr. Danica Chen comes to us from right across the bay at UC Berkeley, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Science. Dr. Chen completed her doctoral studies at UC Berkeley and then decided to give the East Coast a try, doing her postdoctoral work at MIT. She received numerous awards including the prestigious Ellison Scholar award, and is a member of the QB3 consortium. Currently her laboratory focuses on the SIRT protein family, specifically on SIRT3 and SIRT7.

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Super Smart Mice

Mickey Mouse, Mrs. Frisby from the Rats of NIMH, and Remy of Ratatoullie are all rodents who act like humans. These childhood characters are anthropomorphized versions of important laboratory species that scientists study to understand why humans get disease. However, findings from animal models do not always translate to humans because of the genetic differences existing between our genomes. Scientists have now created for the first time, mice that harbor human glial cells from birth. The brain is composed of several cell types, but neurons and glial make up the majority of the cells in the brain. Neurons send electrical impulses or “messages” to other cells in the brain, while glial cells are considered the “support cells”. Both glial and neurons are essential for proper brain function. Unlike previous reports in which adult mice were grafted with mature human glial cells, the human glial mice developed in the Goldman Laboratory at the University of Rochester, had human precursor glial cells introduced into their brains as newborns. By having the precursor cells introduced at such a young age, the glial cells were able to develop with the mouse, which resulted in a majority of the mouse glial cells being of human origin. Much to the surprise of all involved, the human glial cells proved a dominant force in the mouse brain, dividing, maturing and overpowering the mouse glial cells. After...

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The Untapped Potential of Public Engagement in Science

By Barbara Bailus The past decade has seen a dramatic decline in government science funding, affecting all sectors of scientific research including universities, private institutes, and even industry. The Buck Institute has not been immune to this decline in public funding, and like universities, relies on private donations to help meet funding needs. For the first time in many years, the general public has the ability to influence the direction of scientific research. However, most of the general public has a limited perspective on what scientific research actually is and what scientists do every day. Public opinion of scientists covers an entire spectrum, from equating scientists to wizards, to CSI agents, to the aloof snob sitting atop a pile of textbooks. To help change this image of the aloof scientist, the Buck Institute hosted an Open House a few weeks ago, in which the public was treated to a day of science talks, posters, and kid friendly experiments-all presented in an simplified and accessible manner with no science jargon allowed. Over 500 people showed up to this event, indicating a strong public interest to learn about science when given an opportunity. With the pivotal role that the general public could play in the coming years for scientific funding, it will be important to address a few key points: how does the public currently view scientists, how much should we...

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North Bay Science Discovery Day Hosted by the Buck Institute

Imagine a hybrid between a high school science fair and a county fair with 20,000 people and you have North Bay Science Discovery Day! “Started in 2011, the North Bay Science Discovery Day was created by Buck employees and volunteers to celebrate the unique and wonderful science that happens every day in our Sonoma and Marin Counties,” explained event organizer Julie Mangada, scientist and K-12 education coordination at the Buck. “This event is free to the public and encourages children and families to get excited about science and explore possible local STEM-related careers in an exciting hands-on way.” This year’s North Bay Science...

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