The human body can be thought of as a small laboratory (weighing no more than ~3 kg at birth) where millions of chemical reactions can take place at the same time, in the right order, and in the right compartment. It is also probably the only "machine" that knows to save fuel when fed in excess and to bring out the reserves when starved, one that can protect itself when attacked by viruses and bacteria, one capable of adjusting and withstanding changes of weather and most importantly, one that is able to learn, think, and create on its own.
Things don't always turn out as planned.
Eric Lander admits to having no formal biology training, yet he is involved in one of today's leading biology research projects, sequencing the human genome, as director of the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research.
An open mind and a keen interest in current events led him from teaching business at Harvard to MIT's genomics research center. He followed the trail to biology backward from mathematics, starting with the multi-piece puzzle of mathematical neurobiololgy and then focusing on its individual pieces, genetic building blocks.
It's Thursday evening, almost midnight. Like many students, I have often worked late into the night writing a lab report or gathering data for a research proposal. Tonight is no exception. Since I work from my room and often burn the midnight oil long after the library has closed, the Internet has proven to be an invaluable resource. With a wealth of information at my fingertips even at midnight, I can gather genetic sequences and product data for enzymes, as well as investigate published studies. But the sheer volume of information can be daunting, especially for those who do not know where to start.
Flesh-eating disease. it sounds like the stuff of science fiction. It can spread through human tissue at a rate of 3 cm per hour. Twenty-five percent of its victims die, and in severe cases, the patient is dead within 18 hours. In 1990, it caused the death of Muppets creator, Jim Henson. It is small wonder that the media has given the disease such a dramatic, horrible-sounding name.
It looked like a clear-cut case of arrogance, even hypocrisy. The United States government, which for years had defended the patent rights of pharmaceutical companies from South African efforts to obtain affordable anti-retroviral drugs for its many HIV-infected citizens, seemed to execute a shameless about-face when it encountered a national crisis of its own: anthrax.