Author: Chong He

Interview with Dr. Emily Troemel: Understanding pathogen induced host responses using C. Elegans

Research Background Dr. Emily Troemel is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego. As a graduate student, she discovered and characterized the first identified chemosensory receptors in C. elegans (roundworm). Next, she helped launch a start-up biotech company for four years. After this company went public, Dr. Troemel returned to academic research as a postdoc, where she identified the first natural pathogen of C. elegans named Nematocida parisii. This pathogen defines a new genus and species of microsporidia, which are priority pathogens of medical and agricultural significance. Microsporidia can be found in water supplies and can...

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Interview with Dr. Lucy O’Brien: Cell Dynamics of Epithelial Organ Renewal

Research Background Dr. Lucy Erin O’Brien is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology. She received a BA in Biochemistry at Harvard University and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at UCSF. As a postdoc at UC Berkeley (David Bilder’s Lab), she sought new expertise in Drosophila (fly) genetics, development, and stem cell biology. Her research established the fly midgut as a powerful system to study cell and tissue dynamics through imaging-based quantitative analysis. Additionally, her work first demonstrated that midgut stem cells exhibit regular symmetric divisions in addition to asymmetric ones, setting the stage for her current studies. Dr. O’Brien is also a big fan of the outdoors. Before she went to UC Berkeley, she spent three years skiing and kayaking, on personal trips and as an instructor. The focus of Dr. O’Brien’s research is to understand how stem cells adaptively sense and respond to the changing needs of the organs they support. Over an animal’s lifetime, individual organs can maintain constant size, grow, or shrink, all as part of normal physiology. Organ maintenance, growth, and shrinkage each require precise, yet distinct, types of stem cell division behaviors. However, little is known about the different mechanisms that underlie these distinct behaviors. During her seminar at the Buck Institute, she talked about the adaptive growth of stem cells — stem cells drive a...

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Interview with Dr. Napoleone Ferrara: The VEGF Story, From Basic Discovery to Treating Cancer and Preventing Blindness

Dr. Napoleone Ferrara is a world renowned molecular biologist in the field of angiogenesis. Dr. Ferrara was first recognized for the discovery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the development of the first anti-VEGF antibody. These findings paved the way for the development of the first clinically available angiogenesis inhibitor, bevacizumab (Avastin®). Avastin, which inhibits blood vessel growth and suppresses cancer tumor growth, has become part of standard treatment for a variety of cancers. Dr. Ferrara also co-discovered the role of VEGF in retinal disease and developed the monoclonal antibody ranibizumab (Lucentis®). Lucentis is highly effective at preventing...

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Bio-protocol: Improving Experimental Reproducibility in the Life Sciences

By Chong He and Karen Ring The Buck Post Doctoral Association hosted a special seminar featuring Dr. Arsalan Daudi, the executive editor of Bio-protocol, on December 10th, 2014. Bio-protocol is a peer-reviewed, open access protocol-sharing platform that publishes high quality protocols from the larger scientific community. In his seminar, Dr. Daudi pointed out that the main issue life science research currently faces is lack of experimental reproducibility. He noted that 54% of resources listed in the materials and methods sections of publications are not uniquely identified, thus making it hard for other scientists to follow these protocols accurately. Dr. Daudi also discussed how the rise of mega-journals has generated an abundance of papers, and as a consequence, experimental reproducibility can be neglected in part due to the already heavy burden placed upon the existing reviewer pool. While the NIH is planning to address the issue of reproducibility in the next few years, Dr. Arsalan emphasized that scientists and researchers should take the lead and share high-quality protocols through online platforms such as Bio-protocol. Dr. Daudi ended his talk with a demonstration of Bio-protocol’s search engine and highlighted useful features such as a “Question & Answer” section following each protocol and the ability to update already published protocols. More information on Bio-protocol from Dr. Daudi: “The idea for Bio-protocol grew out of discussions among several postdocs working at Stanford University...

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