The Proton Spin-Spin Relaxation of Orange Flesh Over Time

Author:  Aliya Babul

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) can provide incredible insight into chemical changes that occur in biological tissues under closed conditions. Utilizing NMR can lead to a better understanding of the breakdown of chemicals in a biological substance which in turn can help determine expiry dates and optimal storing conditions for a variety of substances ranging from fruits and vegetables to medical materials. In this experiment, NMR was applied to examine the effect of storage time on chemical and physical properties of orange juice pulp.

The Why’s and How’s of Biotechnology Startups

Author:  Maria Zagorulya

Many scientists dream to create or join a biotech startup. Indeed, if a startup succeeds, the rewards are enticing. However, a startup is a risky business. Nine out of ten startups will fail for a number of reasons. Gambling factor aside, some believe that involvement in a startup is not worth the stress, while others argue that the experience is invaluable. So why join a startup? What are the pros and cons of performing science in a startup environment? Working in a biotech startup can be dissatisfying to a scientist for several reasons. 

Teaching a Machine to Learn

Author:  Hriday Bhambhvani

“Researchers teach a machine how to learn like a human” – sounds like something out of a Frank Herbert sci-fi novel, right? Not quite. A group of scientists have developed an algorithm that encapsulates our learning abilities and recapitulates them in computers. These computers are able to recognize and draw novel visual concepts that are mostly indistinguishable from those created by humans, demonstrating an improved capacity for information acquisition and retrieval. The work, published in the latest issue of Science, represents a major advance in the field: a significant shortening in the time it takes computers to consolidate new concepts and apply them in new areas.

The CRISPR-Cas9 revolution

Author:  Maria Zagorulya

The discovery of the DNA double helix in the mid-twentieth century heralded a revolution in modern biology. The newfound understanding of how hereditary information is passed down set the foundation for the development of tools to modify and manipulate genes in ways only nature had over billions of years of evolution. Today, the fruits of genetic engineering are widespread: laundry detergent with genetically modified enzymes allow for a more effective wash; golden rice with increased amounts of vitamin A prevents nutritional deficiency; and bacterially synthesized human insulin treats patients with type I diabetes. Recently, a new set of tools for genetic engineering—the CRISPR-Cas9 system—has taken the scientific and public world by storm.

Misfolded Proteins: Maybe not so bad

Author: Hriday Bhambhvani

The mystery of aging has plagued scientists for centuries. Indeed, biologist August Weismann proposed the cell damage theory in 1882 –  “Like components of an aging car, parts of the body eventually wear out from repeated use, killing them and then the body.” The prevailing view of aging today is along the same lines; we age due to increasing cellular malfunction over the years. In general, it is thought that the quality control mechanisms within the cell break down in the aging process. These quality control functions serve to eliminate proteins that are not functional and have lost their typical structure. When quality control functions go awry, misfolded proteins aggregate and contribute to the pathogenesis of a variety of debilitating diseases: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, for example.