Ever wanted to host a science TV show?

WIRED Science host Ziya Tong reveals how she ended up where she is today, and the secrets behind her success. Check out her post to see how spamming, melting make-up, Jane Goodall, and Michael Jackson have played into her career trajectory.

(And if you’ve not watched WIRED Science yet, tonight Ziya will have a segment on the business of disease and direct-to-consumer drug advertising, using the example of Restless Leg Syndrome).

Bone marrow for Vinay

Over the summer, I wrote about Vinay Chakravarthy, a doctor of South Asian descent who had been recently diagnosed (at the age of 28 and fresh out of medical school) with leukemia and was in need of a bone marrow transplant. However, as Razib and others noted, the odds of him finding a match were quite slim (~1 in 20,000), given the small donor pool that was most genetically similar. Vinay’s friends and families took his misfortune and turned it into something positive, organizing bone marrow drives in several states, and concentrating on getting additional minority donors to join the bone marrow registry.

The campaign has been wildly successful. Targeting “youth-oriented” sites such as Facebook and YouTube for recruitment, Team Vinay has managed to add 24,000 South Asians as new bone marrow donors–increasing the pool of potential matches by 20% in just a few short months. And what of Vinay himself? More after the jump…
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What do you get when you mix….

… (L-R) Scienceblogs’ own rabblerouser, PZ Myers; Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy; myself; and birthday boy Evil Monkey, along with a host of other science bloggers and readers (including some self-identified in the comments in PZ’s and Phil’s posts)? A nerdalicious Saturday evening in DC, that’s what. We arrived a bit late and so missed some of the festivities, but I did get to chat with both PZ and Phil a bit, and hear some stories about Phil’s upcoming book. I did not, however, get the memo on the dress code, and sadly left my blue button-up-over-a-T-shirt-sporting-a-button combo back here in Iowa. D’oh!

So, I’m once again playing catch-up, and my “real” work and family come first, but there will be new material tomorrow. Any comments that were sent to the spam folder have also been published.

Donors Choose: final standing

While I’m taking care of some housekeeping, I’ll mention the final numbers for the Scienceblogs Donors Choose 2007 challenge. In 2006, we raised collectively just over $34,000 (which included $10K from Seed media). This year, we extended the drive a bit, upped our individual blog goals, and Janet has the final tally: just a hair shy of $73,000 (which included $15K from Seed this year). I want to send out a final thanks to readers here who donated, no matter what amount. I also encourage everyone to take a look at some of Janet’s suggestions on how to keep momentum going, and work for good education even if your own personal bank account isn’t overflowing. I think we have an amazing community here at Scienceblogs, and your help in pulling this off just reaffirms that notion–thanks again.

Tuberculosis as a zoonotic disease

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research Tuberculosis in humans is most commonly caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a slow-growing, waxy, rod-shaped bacterium. Transmitted primarily via the air when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, it’s estimated that a third of the world is infected with this agent, which causes approximately 2 million deaths every year. Though most infections are asymptomatic, infection is becoming increasingly deadly, due both to the spread of highly antibiotic-resistant strains and due to the increasing number of individuals with both HIV and TB.

While M. tuberculosis is primarily a human disease, like the MRSA I mentioned yesterday, it has the potential to be zoonotic as well–to move between animals and humans. This has been documented for a number of animal species, but one of the best-studied examples happens to be elephants, of all things–including several housed at zoos and circuses. More after the jump.
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MRSA and swine: collision course

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research Both Mike and Revere have new posts up documenting swine as a new threat to human health (beyond the pork chops and bacon), via carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in these animals. Several papers have been published recently documenting high rates of MRSA carriage in swine in the Netherlands, and also have documented transmission of this bacterium from swine to humans. However, even more worrisome to me than the Dutch publications is a new one out in Veterinary Microbiology, showing high rates of MRSA in Canadian swine–and guess where we import about 9 million hogs from every year?

More after the jump…
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Mbeki: still in denial

In our paper on HIV denial, Steven and I started the introduction off with a note about South African president Thabo Mbeki:

This denial was highlighted on an international level in 2000, when South African president Thabo Mbeki convened a group of panelists to discuss the cause of AIDS, acknowledging that he remained unconvinced that HIV was the cause. His ideas were derived at least partly from material he found on the Internet. Though Mbeki agreed later that year to step back from the debate, he subsequently suggested a re-analysis of health spending with a decreased emphasis on HIV/AIDS.

Though he’s not been publicly vocal about his views in recent years, it has been suggested that they’ve not changed–that he still remains unconvinced, at best, of HIV causation of AIDS. An article in today’s Guardian suggests he’s ready to start speaking on it again–and it’s the same old schtick:
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Bad science writing of the day: your gut bacteria make you crave chocolate

I’ve written a post or two (or a dozen) discussing science journalism–the good, the bad, and, mostly (because they’re the most fun), the ugly. There was this story about how blondes “evolved to win cavemen’s hearts.” Or this one that completely omitted the name of the pathogen they were writing about. Or this one, where a missing “of” completely changed the results being discussed.

I ran across another glaring example yesterday, dealing interestingly enough with one of my favorite topics: chocolate, and bringing in an “omics” prospective to it.
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Chikungunya–in India, Italy, and Iowa

I wrote about an emerging mosquito-borne virus with the strange name of chikungunya in a pair of posts last year. This is a virus that was first discovered more than 50 years ago, but as far as arthropod-borne viruses (“arboviruses”) go, it’s been a minor player for most of that time, as other arboviruses such as yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile caused more disease and death than chikungunya. However, the virus began to rapidly spread beginning in ~2004, causing around a quarter million infections on the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean before moving on to cause smaller outbreaks in neighboring countries.

Where else has chikungunya landed? More after the jump…
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