Category Archives: Methods

October 04

The ethics of human brain surrogacy

“Creepy ‘brain in a bucket’ study spurs medical, ethical debates” … “Yale experiment to reanimate dead brains promises ‘living hell’ for humans” … “Scientists have managed to reanimate disembodied pigs’ brains – but for a human mind, it could be a living hell” … These are just a few of the sensational headlines that came […]

May 31

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Genetic Memory

We are all products of our past, for better or for worse. At first glance, such a statement seems so obvious it hardly bears mentioning; our earlier experiences, both our successes and our failures, shape our current behavior.  But dig just a bit deeper, and it becomes far murkier. What can you call your past? […]

March 03

Battling A Brain Tumor The Loki Way

Recently a friend of mine took on the duty of bringing me up to speed on the Marvel cinematic universe. When we got around to watching the first installment in the Thor series, I was expecting more levelheadedness on the part of Thor, the soon-to-be crowned king of Asgard. Shortly after the opening sequence however, […]

November 30

CRISPR and the Real World

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” So begins our country’s Declaration of Independence. While we have learned that this preamble is all too simple in the context of wider society, consider the most basic interpretation of this sentiment; at the precise moment of a child’s birth, broader circumstances […]

August 10

It’s a Fine Line Between Utopia and Gattaca

In a previous piece, we talked about why scientists and innovators around the world are so excited about CRISPR, a powerful new gene editing technology. The tool was first published 2012, but it still regularly makes headlines. Less than a month ago researchers in Portland, Oregon announced the first successful use of CRISPR in human […]

May 25

Cranium-bound Ultrasound: A Novel Brain Stimulation Method

      Over the last few years, the application of ultrasonic stimulation has been heading towards a rather intimate part of the human body: the brain. Researchers have engineered a way to transmit ultrasound through the skull to influence brain activity, remarkably without the necessity of brain surgery. While non-invasive brain stimulation has been […]

April 20

A Crisp(r) Explanation of Biology’s Coolest New Tool

[En español] If perusing the headlines is a regular part of your daily routine, you’ve probably noticed that one acronym has been exceedingly popular in the Science and Technology section for last couple of years: CRISPR. Even once you figure out what CRISPR stands for – Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats – it’s not […]

November 24

The Importance of Being Roger Tsien

Have you ever had a moment when you suddenly pause and realize how thankful you are for something that is incredibly mundane? So mundane that it is taken for granted on a day-to-day basis? We often forget that there was a time when devices like a washing machine weren’t considered mundane, but rather “marvelous,” “extraordinary,” […]

January 28

Dawn of the DREADD

[En Español] There are few things I find more satisfying than a good acronym, and DREADD  or Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by a Designer Drug has got to be my favorite.  The name is just so evocative.  Whenever I think about DREADDs, I find myself picturing some sort of Star Wars villain; maybe due to […]

December 10

A Toast to Optogenetics

[En español] “This seems rather far-fetched but it is conceivable that molecular biologists could engineer a particular cell type to be sensitive to light.” These words, published in 1999 by Francis Crick [1] (co-discoverer of the DNA double helix structure and a neuroscientist later in life) were incredibly prophetic. It did seem far-fetched, and yet, a […]