I can’t believe this year is coming to a close. I never would have thought that I would be part of such an amazing research experience. Our last class is tomorrow, and our last lab is done. I’ve really enjoyed my time with SEA Phages, and feel like I have grown so much in knowledge and now I have more direction with what I want to do with my life. It is such a bittersweet feeling to have such an experience end. Thanks to my classmates for such a great atmosphere and thanks to Dr. Adair and Dr. Gibbon for their passion and dedication to our class. Phages rule. <3
Over the break I read a book that has been on my reading list for some time; The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. For anyone who is interested in virology, epidemiology or enjoys being freaked out by potential pandemics, this is a must read. It is an incredibly well documented non-fiction thriller, an account of the rise of Ebola throughout the 20th century. Did you know the Ebola Zaire strain has a 80-90% mortality rate? Scary. And there is no known treatment.
The book is absolutely fascinating, and as I find epidemiology really interesting, I could not put it down. While its is a dramatization, Preston does an excellent job of presenting the story of the Ebola virus, from its mysterious origins in the jungles of central Africa to its near US breakout in a Washington, D.C. monkey house. He has been praised in academic circles for his depiction of the history of the virus. A word of caution, this book contains the sometimes gruesome descriptions of the effects a hemorrhagic fever has on the human (and monkey) bodies. The book is fascinating, frightening and haunting reminder of the power of such a miniscule bundle of protein and DNA. After all Stephen King did call it ”one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read.”
That is if you have ~$1000 to spare. San Diego DNA sequencing company Illumina announced last month that they are now opening the door for a complete human genome sequence to the public by offering a whole-genome sequencing for under $1000. This is done by the new HiSeq X Ten Sequencing System. The announcement was a surprise to many in the field of genetics. Link to the full article here.
So I saw this article and though it was really relevant to what we are learning this semester! The article explains that by wiping out people with inferior immune systems the Black Plague actually strengthened the immune systems of the population as a whole. It also may account for the current day differences between the immune systems of populations historically exposed to the Black Plague and those that were not.