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Hayley MannRSS Feed of this column.

In 2006, I graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Genetics and Anthropology. I've had the privilege of working for various laboratories conducting research in different areas of interest including... Read More »

Prions first made their notorious media debut in the mid-1980’s when British cattle contracted Mad Cow disease. As a result, over 150 people in Europe were infected and died from the human form known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease—a fatal neurological disorder with similar symptoms as Mad Cow.

Although prions are infectious agents with a bad reputation, research suggests that prions also play a role in epigenetic regulation.  Recently, a Nature Cell Biology study conducted by molecular biologists at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discovered a new prion in yeast that raises further questions about the biological role of prions in gene regulation.

We’re all aware of the severe genetic and unpleasant physical consequences that result from reproducing with a closely related relative.  Aside from unfortunate aesthetics, inbreeding can also lead to the extinction of small organismal populations.  This decrease of reproductive success is referred to as “inbreeding depression” and mechanisms that cause it are still being debated by biologists. 

I've written perhaps four articles to date and I'm already tired of defining what an "allele" is.  Granted I encounter this annoying waste of writing time more frequently because I prefer to write genetics articles, but regardless of my severe biases in writing, everyone who reads science news in this day and age should know what an allele is.  Therefore, I now REFUSE to define that term in my articles from this day forward. 

The increasing frequency of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is alarming.  Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University believe they may have found a solution to this seemingly losing battle.  Professor Vern L. Schramm and team have developed antibiotic compounds that do not lead to microbial resistance over time.
A preliminary study on the application of thermo-microbiology and its relation to time of death has been released by Professor Isabel Corcobado and colleagues at the University of Granada.  The ultimate goal of this project is to use a microbiological indicator along with existing forensic techniques in order to determine time of death in forensics cases more accurately.
Because of the importance of computational genomics, I am writing this article with utmost urgency in hopes of unifying geneticists and biochemists once and for all.