Sweet 16 Science Twitter Accounts To Follow Innovative Medicine

STAT logoBelow are 16 Science Twitter accounts that I think are musts to follow for those interested in transformative science and also medicine from a wide range of diverse, thought-provoking perspectives.

I could list 160, but I’ve picked these 16 as a nice sampling with a lean towards those willing to take a risk in what they say or with unique views.

Continue reading

Weekend reads: sperm, stem cells, chimeras, STAP, DNA Apps

human sperm and eggHere are some cool science reads to enjoy this weekend.

Lab-grown sperm made from stem cells can’t swim, but are able to fertilize eggs, reports Eric Boodman over at STAT.

Mouse-human neural crest chimeras: Not only a matter of black and white. Clever title.

Antonio Regalado writes about a DNA App Store coming soon to a smartphone near you.

Jacob Corn has a new piece at the Washington Post entitled, CRISPR will change lives, but not only through genetic engineering.

Obokata tallies retraction number three, RetractionWatch reports.

Stem cells A guide to cellular transdifferentiation. I love direct reprogramming. 

Alzheimer’s and the Inflamed Brain: Their Links Run Deeper than Thought comes from Todd Dubnicoff over at CIRM’s The Stem Cellar.

Winner of CRISPR backronym contest

We just ran a CRISPR backronym contest here at the Niche blog.

What were we looking for in terms of CRISPR backronyms?

We were hoping to see backronyms that were in a sense clever explanations using the letters C, R, I, S, P, R for what CRISPR might “really” stand for if it weren’t Clustered, Regularly, Interspace…you know, the official meaning.

We received 58 entries, which were evaluated by the judges: Ben Zimmer, Antonio Regalado, and I. We each scored them separately and then added up the total score. It was a fun process that elicited many chuckles.CRISPR winner

We even got one entry by email to Antonio from the ever sardonic George Church, who wrote it on the day that Clapper called gene editing a WMD. George wrote, “Clustered Raptor Intercontinental Shocking Pan-drone Raygun.” I love it.

The winning backronym was Catchy Rubric Is Sure Progress Requirement.

It was submitted by Michael Le Page who wins global fame and “fortune” in the form of a $50 prize from me.

Congratulations. He submitted it on Twitter using the #CRISPRback hash tag.

There were so many good submission that we awarded two honorable mentions as well:

  • Characteristically Reticent Investigators Suddenly Preach Revolution! came from Eric J. Perkins.
  • Custom Recombinant Incisions Surrounding Patterned Repetitions was submitted by Manny Katz.

I hope everyone had a good time with this contest and thanks to all who entered as well as Ben and Antonio for being judges.

Enter Fun CRISPR Backronym Contest: $50 Prize

CRISPR backronym contestUpdate: you can also enter our contest on Twitter using the hashtag #CRISPRback.

Do you like contests, words, science, and cash?

Enter our new contest.

It’s a backronym contest for CRISPR.

The author of the best backronym will win a $50 prize paid by me and fame of course as the winner.

The judges will be WSJ columnist Ben Zimmer, Senior Editor at MIT Tech Review Antonio Regalado, and myself.

A backronym is like an acronym, but flipped around in the sense that you choose words to fit the existing letters that together make up an existing acronym word. For more backronym background check out Ben’s recent excellent piece on CRISPR.

Wikipedia lists some funny examples including NASA’s COLBERT treadmill and Arby’s creating “Amerca’s Roast Beef, Yes Sir!” after it already had the name Arby’s, chosen for some other reason.

CRISPR is already an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

But that’s a mouthful, not very fun and tough to try to remember.

So what if CRISPR didn’t really stand for those complicated words “Clustered…etc etc”? What if each word of CRISPR was memorable and together they made some interested meaning?

In that spirit, make a backronym for CRISPR by choosing clever new words for C, R, I, S, P, and R.

For instance, as a backronym CRISPR could stand for one of these:

  • Creative Reinterpretations In Scientific Public Relations
  • Can Researchers Initiate Sane Patent Rules

Update: Or it could be something more scientific.

Fire away by sending your CRISPR backronyms to me at knoepfler@ucdavis.edu or leaving them here on this blog post as a comment. The backronym entries must be original and not offensive.

The deadline is a week from today on February 16th at midnight pacific time.

Recommended weekend reading on stem cells & science

I try to catch up on my science reading over the weekends and evenings. Here’s my recommended weekend reading on stem cells & science.

Did I miss anything especially cool? Let me know in the comments.

Direct reprogramming of skin cells into insulin-producing cells. I love direct reprogramming.

Healios and Athersys Enter Into Regenerative Medicine Partnership. Can they together create regen med success?

National honor for helping “the blind see” comes from CIRM blog.

human animal chimeras

Fun piece on CRISPR language by Ben Zimmer. ‘Crispr’ Breaks Out Of the Lab. If you don’t know what a backronym is, you should be interested in learning more.

Big claims here for zero off targets for a next gen CRISPR system. Zero is a very small number, eh?

The gut microbiome of the 5,000 year old frozen dude turn out to be a goldmine of sorts of info. Nice piece by Carl Zimmer, Ben’s brother. OK, what did these two brothers who are unusually great writers eat while growing up? Wheaties? 

George Church on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Wonder what Letterman would think of George’s Top 10 List for genes with interesting phenotypes in humans? See my interview with Church for that list and a lot more interesting perspectives.

Human-animal chimeras, Antonio Regalado, tells us in a nifty article are currently gestating on farms (image above from that piece).

Ed Yong writes that CRISPR’s most exciting applications are in gene transcriptional regulation (admittedly a cool area) rather than in genetic modification. Great piece, but I disagree with the superlative.