Category Archives: Science and Society

Colombian Jungle Cows to Syrian Social Media: Researching Leishmaniasis

Dusk has fallen in the jungle outside of Tumaco, Colombia. A team of researchers has traveled via jeeps and canoes to the western side of the country, leaving behind the glimmering lights of the Cali metropolitan area. They load the supplies for their remote three-day expedition and placate perhaps the most important item of their trek, a cow borrowed from

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Turning a Natural Phenomenon into a Gene Editing Powerhouse: CRISPR Pioneer, Doudna, at Stanford’s Johnson Symposium

The CRISPR cake Last week, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday. My dorm threw me in the shower, per Stanford tradition, and baked me a cake. The cake was made of Rice Krispies Treats – a direct pun on one of my greatest interests in science: CRISPR. My fascination with CRISPR started when I was a freshman in high school, and

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DNA Synthesis Going Viral: Evaluating the Security of Dual-Use Biotechnology

In 2004, the United States passed legislation that made hundreds of researchers around the country guilty of a crime with consequences of up to $2,000,000 fines and a prison sentence of 25 years to life. What was that crime? Working with vaccinia—a live virus vaccine that essentially eradicated smallpox by 1980 and became the most widely used human immunization. While

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A Lurking Threat: Modern Tuberculosis in the SF Bay Area

When the world’s spotlight is on Silicon Valley, visions of a tech-laced utopia arise. Self-driving cars are being tested, university researchers are developing hand-held medicine supergadgets, and San Francisco Bay Area residents are discussing the remaining scientific frontiers to cross—right? In the midst of all the progress lies a problem that can be overlooked: Mankind’s ancient malady, tuberculosis, is here

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A Bittersweet Future – The Sustainability of Cocoa

Theobroma. This is the Latin word for cocoa, and it means “the food of gods.” For ancient cultures like the Mayans and Aztecs, the bean was nothing short of divine. Cocoa trees served as bridges between heaven and earth, and chocolaty drinks played crucial roles in religious ceremonies. Moreover, the fruit acted as an economic staple, often exchanged as currency

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Misconceptions About Stem Cells: What You May Not Know Can Hurt Us All

What do you think of when you hear “stem cells?” Like most people, your perception of them may be vague.  This cloudy understanding may even be accompanied by fear and distrust.  Stem cells are cells that have the potential to become a variety of different body cells, ranging from the cells that line our organs to the cells that compose

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Cough Up Some Cash: Drug Pricing and Development

In August 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to an HIV drug that has existed for more than 60 years, and raised its price from $13.50 a pill to $750.00 a pill.[1]  The drug primarily treats toxoplasmosis, a disease that affects AIDS patients, pregnant women and other immunocompromised individuals.[1] Now, with annual treatment costing up to hundreds of thousands of dollars- many

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Silicon Valley’s Newest Venture: Curing Death?!

Google, Paypal founder, and Stanford University invest millions to end the effects of aging. “Forever young, I want to be forever young.” When most people listen to JayZ’s hit 2010 single, they reminisce of better times. They think of their childhoods, a period free of disease and stress. A selective few, however, take JayZ’s words to heart—literally. Can we live

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