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Showing posts from December, 2019

Sickle Cell Disease- Therapy Success, Anti-GE Failure

While the internet's 'experts' and celebrity doctors proclaim genetic engineering to be a dangerous and unnecessary foray into 'playing God", a young woman's life has changed forever because of a revolutionary therapy.  The story appeared on the CBS News magazine 20/20 on December 29, 2019. 

At this point, Jeannelle Stephenson appears to be cured of Sickle Cell Disease, a debilitating genetic disorder that caused her immense pain and suffering. 
Ms. Stephenson suffered from "bone crushing pain" and a sedentary lifestyle because of the disease. She considered herself "middle age" in her 20's because the disease kills its victims early. She was not alone, as Sickle Cell Disease affects about 100,000 Americans.  I covered the story and modern therapies on the Talking Biotech Podcast
First her bone marrow was destroyed using chemotherapy.  At that point she could produce no more blood cells.  Then scientists introduced stem cells genetically…

Jeffery Smith's Confession

I thought he was going to apologize.  Instead he asked for more money to keep the crazy boat afloat, as his non-profit is as bankrupt as his scientific messages. It was only a matter of time. 




Jeffrey Smith is the author of books and producer of documentaries, the origin of hundreds of talks, articles and websites, all extolling the dangers of genetic engineering. He once was one of the prominent figures in that arena, and maybe still is. However that that arena has transformed into a tiny handful of science-free experts continuing to convince the credulous that their food world is about to collapse at any second, and that Monsanto is around every corner with a frosty stein of cancer-causing glyphosate with their name on it. 
Nobody is buying it anymore.  Two decades of fear-based messaging have influenced a culture by condemning failed agriculture, a corrupt regulatory system, and poison food supply.  But people keep eating. Sure there are boxes with butterflies and expensive boutique …

Learning to Live with Losing a Passion

I'm grieving a change in my life, and while some may consider this over-dramatic, I'm wrestling with my new reality and ultimately what this will be.

For 17 years my central roles as a professor have always been research and teaching.  I took on 5.5 years of wonderfully burdensome departmental administration and didn't miss a beat in publication, finding funding or mentoring students. 

In May of 2018 I was asked to step down as Department Chair. It was a tremendous shock to me, and grieving process unfolded as I learned to refocus my concern away from the management of a large group, big budgets, endless need, and the hiring and mentoring of junior faculty. It took me almost a year to find hard joy in intense work again, despite being surrounded by great faculty and wonderful scientists and students in my lab. 

It still was a very productive year that I look back on with a great sense of accomplishment.  


While my expertise is in genomics, molecular biology and biotechnology, …

Talking Biotech 217 - Precision Medicine

Can genetic sequence data be used to guide diagnosis and therapy?  Scientists are finding that analysis of genetic information can reveal important information about drug sensitivity, probability of disease development, and other health risks and benefits.  Dr. Julie Johnson describes the use of genomics in the next wave of precision medicine, describing how the future of health care will benefit from understanding patients at the molecular level. 

Listen to this episode here.

Talking Biotech 216 - Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria in Plants

Plants need nitrogen to live, so farmers provide this nutrient through fertilization.  However, nitrogen is a gas that makes up the majority of air, but plants can't use it in this gaseous form. A conversion needs to take place to "fix" nitrogen, binding into a plant-usable form. This has been done using the Haber-Bosch process, an industrial form of nitrogen fixation that greatly expanded agriculture.  This process requires energy in production and transportation, and runoff can pollute water resources. Azotic Technologies has identified a bacterial species that inhabits the plant, and fixes atmospheric nitrogen. This could represent at least a partial way to supplement the need for exogenous nitrogen application.  

Listen to this episode here.