Genomics Blog

August 19, 2015 9:12 AM
Gut Microbiome and Backyard Chickens
Filed Under: Gerry Ward | 0 Comments
I was talking to someone recently about backyard chickens. The topic came up because there was a newspaper article about an increased chance of exposure to Salmonella from handling chickens. It reminded me that early in my teaching career, a fairly large turtle was donated to me for my classroom. My plan to use this turtle to stimulate student interest came to a quick halt when one of my administrators told me that I couldn’t keep the animal in the classroom as it was a source of Salmonella. It also reminded me that at one time the Alberta Science curriculum had a significant unit on ‘Micro-organisms and Food’. Salmonellosis was a topic of much discussion along with staphylococcal food poisoning, giardiasis and shigellosis.
July 19, 2015 10:38 AM
What if? – a review
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What if there was a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language? What if millions of people visited this website each week? What if the dedicated fans asked the comic creator the strangest questions and he applied his skills as a former NASA roboticist to deeply research the answers? And what if a book was created from the most popular answers with new material added for good measure?

What if the book were here already? Well, it is! We have the very popular science book What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe based on questions submitted to his xkcd.com website. We can read it cover to cover or we can look at one question at a time and we can do that in a random order.
July 12, 2015 1:37 PM
Gerry’s Gene Scene 21 – recent developments in colorectal cancer
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Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in Canada, and, after lung cancer, is the second most common cause of cancer-related death. I found some recent genomics news particularly interesting as it revealed significant developments in colon cancer research.



Links to related articles of interest bookmarked on diigo.
 
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June 22, 2015 7:26 AM
Digital Literacy: Skills for the Internet
Filed Under: Gerry Ward | 0 Comments
I found it somewhat ironic when I read a National Post article titled “Rare flesh-eating bacteria invades Florida beaches and kills two people. Swimming puts you at risk”. Since this headline came just a day after headlines revealing that two teenage swimmers lost limbs to sharks in waters off the eastern coast of the United States, I tweeted “Not just sharks, rare flesh-eating bacteria kill two Florida swimmers” with a link to the article. Within about 3 minutes I had a reply to the tweet from the Florida Health Department telling me that “#VibrioVulnificus is not a flesh-eating bacteria. For accurate information, please visit:” and they linked to their website.
June 9, 2015 8:06 AM
Traffic Light Analogy: A Model for Cancer
Filed Under: Gerry Ward | 0 Comments
If you were to spread bacteria onto a nutrient agar plate, in a short period of time the bacteria would grow to cover the entire plate surface. The only limiting factor would be the edge of the plate. Imagine if the plate were the size of a football field, would the bacteria still cover the entire surface? If you started with only one type of bacterial cell, all of the cells covering the plate would be the same. Now consider the growth of our own cells. For example, how do our liver cells know when to grow and when to stop? The liver cells receive go and stop signals from neighboring cells and when this process goes wrong, cells can grow uncontrolled resulting in cancer. Our current model of cancer is somewhat more complex than that.