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Conspiracy Theories vs Virus-Fighting Bacteria

James Gathany Female obtaining blood meal

The Aedes aegypti mosquito (Source: James Gathany)

For the first time ever, an entire city has been protected from Dengue Fever. The Australian city of Townsville has been dengue-free since 2014, and it’s all thanks to bacteria!

I know what you’re thinking:

“Aren’t bacteria the bad guys?”

I used to think bacteria were only good for one thing, causing disease, but it turns out many bacteria are helpful, and Wolbachia takes this to a whole new level.

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A Cure for the Common Cold?

I didn’t have a birthday party with my friends until I was 15. Every year, without fail, I would get a bad cold the day before my birthday (queue the violins and single teardrop). My mom used to yell:

      “Make sure you’re wrapped up warm or you’ll catch a cold!”

This is a popular misconception; the truth is you CANNOT catch a cold just from being cold. Instead, most colds are caused by the most common infectious agent among humans: Rhinoviruses!

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My Research: Respiratory Syncytial Virus

“So what do you do?” 

“Have you heard of Respiratory Syncytial Virus?”

“No, never”

“What about Influenza”

“Oh yeah of course”

“Well its kind of like that…”

(The beginning of every conversation about my research)

So far, my posts have been focused on various aspects of PhD life. However I realised that I haven’t written anything about what my PhD is focused on. The big research question that I’ve devoted a few years of my life to. Well hopefully in this post, I’ll be able to explain what I’m working on and in particular, why my work is important.

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Royal Society Masterclass with Professor Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

An Invitation:

Recently, I was invited to attend a Masterclass held by the Royal Society in Dublin. There would be 9 other students attending, and the session would be in the form of an open discussion with the President of the Royal Society and Nobel laureate, Professor Venkatraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan.

So for this post I’ll share with you some of the insights I gained from talking to the very humble, very approachable professor.Continue Reading →

10 things I wish I knew when I started my PhD

A PhD in science can be a stressful experience. In particular, the first year. You’re thrown in at the deep end, no one’s holding your hand now kiddo. Well, fear not, as I’m about to share with you some tips and tricks that will help you in your journey. Here are 10 things I wish I knew when I started my PhD.Continue Reading →

Quartzy: A Lesson in Organisation and Teamwork

Difficulty in locating items in the -80°C freezers was a problem in our lab long before I began my PhD. It was brought up almost every week at our lab meeting. To find something, several people would be searching for about 30 minutes. The question we’d often ask was, “Why can’t the locations of our items be available at the touch of a button?” The solution was Quartzy.Continue Reading →

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