2016 Nobel laureates: who they are and what their contributions are to mankind

History has shown us that often the difference between a useful tool and a deadly weapon lies not in the object itself, but the manner in which it is used. This was the case of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist and engineer who figured out a way to turn nitroglycerin, an unstable and unpredictable explosive, into a safe and controllable compound: dynamite. While revolutionizing the mining, oil and railway industries, it also boosted the armament business into a new, more powerful era. In his last days, regretting the consequences of his invention and his own profit from it, Nobel decided to devote his fortune to a set of prizes for those people who “have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”. That is how the Nobel Foundation was created, which, together with renown scientific institutions, nominate and award every year outstanding people from all over the world. In this article, we will take a look at the Nobel Laureates of 2016 and the work for which they are recognized.

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Understanding Cancer Immunotherapy

The Immune system

Our Immune system comprises different cell types, which are programmed to identify and destroy foreign cells. There are three main categories of cells in our immune system: (1) Lymphocytes comprising the T and B cells, (2) Antigen-presenting cells: macrophages and dendritic cells (3) Granulocytes: neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils. The immune response generated by these cell types can be classified in to two types: the innate immune response and adaptive immune response. Continue reading

Know Thy Researcher

Conceiving an idea, pursuing its experimental validation, publication, ground trial and finally making it available to human kind takes a lot of paid and generous contributions of researchers. Individual efforts form the basis of any transformative scientific development and become crucial in the evolution of any field of study. It is therefore important to recognize researchers and their contributions. Approximately 1.5 million research papers were published in journals in 2010 alone. At an average of 3 authors per paper, excluding multiple papers per author, the lowest estimate of the number of unique researchers listed would be about 4.5 to 5 million per year. How does one recognize each author and their work? It is a cumbersome job for other researchers, employers and stakeholders to identify each researcher based on some of the current literature citation protocols and formats. Continue reading

Chlamy– A tiny, mighty alga…

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is the size of ten microns under a microscope, which is smaller than the diameter of a hair follicle, but this organism is a treasure trove of information relevant to plant evolution and human health (Chlamydomonas). Scientists working on it, often call it “Chlamy”. Chlamy is a unicellular, biflagellate green alga that thrives in fresh water ponds and lakes. The amazing ability of Chlamy to prepare its food by using light in the process of photosynthesis, and assimilate in the dark by utilizing available carbon sources in its medium, which make this tiny algae very special. This is the reason some people also call it Plan-imal (Plant + Animal). The photosynthesis is achieved by a single cup-shaped chloroplast. The photosynthetic apparatus is closely related to that of land plants, and its haploid genome during its vegetative phase leads to many important discoveries. Continue reading

Google Meets Life Sciences

p-13m-technology-patient-centered-careHot and dry Dallas evening. After fighting the traffic and looking for a non-existing parking space, I finally made it to the event featuring a presentation by Dr. Andy Conrad, CEO of Google X Life Science. Eclectic atmosphere, sticky floors near the bar and dim lights fit perfectly to the occasion. I scanned the packed room and quickly noticed prominent scientists and biotechnology leaders mixed with graduate students, postdocs, and other attendees. The diverse audience made it clear that not only the scientific community was eager to hear the latest news from Verily (a new name for Google X), the most interesting and mysterious division under the Alphabet umbrella. Continue reading