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- Jan 13 20172 minutes
A Woman Was Killed by a Superbug Resistant to All 26 American Antibiotics
Yesterday morning, I published a story about the silent spread of resistance against the antibiotic of last resort, colistin—a major step toward the emergence of a superbug resistant to all antibiotics. While reporting this story, I interviewed Alex
- Jan 6 20174 minutes
Vaccine Shortage Threatens Polio Eradication Efforts
An unexplained shortage of the injectable version of the vaccine slows attempts to kill polio in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
- Apr 7 20169 minutes
How to Avoid Empathy Burnout: Caregivers can benefit by understanding a patient’s pain without feeling it themselves.
When Allison Basinger got back to her office, she lay down on the floor, as though she’d suffered a migraine or toughed out a marathon. In fact, she had just finished a session with SAFEHOME, a Kansas City-area organization that supports teenage surv
- Jan 27 20174 minutes
How Zika Harms Fetal Brains
Researchers broke down the components of the virus to find the gene that could be causing microcephaly.
- Jul 4 201613 minutes
Life, the Remix
A new technique that lets scientists edit DNA with ease is transforming science—and raising difficult questions
- Dec 2 201610 minutes
Can This Man Cure Aids?
Dr. Louis Picker has a secret weapon to fight back against the growing AIDS epidemic—it involves herpes.
- Feb 17 20174 minutes
How Gun Violence Literally Infects Communities
A new study provides the first evidence that gun violence spreads exactly like a blood-borne pathogen.
- Jun 1 201617 minutes
The ag industry has known for 40 years that antibiotics are creating dangerous superbugs. So why did only one company take the science seriously?
- Nov 3 20169 minutes
How to Fake It So No One Notices: Seek balance in all things—including subterfuge.
Immanuel Kant famously argued that lying is a parasite on truth-telling. But parasites must be self-limiting: Killing your host is an evolutionary dead-end, so a successful parasite must keep from pushing its growth to the utmost. Lying, then, is oft
- Dec 12 20165 minutes
Can Singing Mice Reveal The Roots Of Human Speech?
Long considered an oddity, mouse songs are now being used by researchers to explore the basics of vocal communication.
- Jun 24 20164 minutes
Why Won’t This Inspirational Email Chain Letter Leave Me Alone?
A few times each year, a particular chain letter pops up in my inbox. “We’re starting a collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange,” it starts, exhorting me to send a “favorite text / verse / meditation” to a previous participant in t
- Apr 3 20164 minutes
Your Roommate Is Changing Your Immune System
Our veins are swimming with immune cells of many different kinds. Some bear the memory of previous infections, in case we should encounter them again; some are actively fighting invaders; others are merely on the look-out. Counting all of the varieti
- Nov 11 20161 minute
The Cow Defense
A cow can produce 30 to 60 liters of antibodies per month. Humans, on the other hand, are not as industrious.
- Sep 11 20146 minutes
A Deadly Virus Is Arrested in the Middle East: Halting a MERS pandemic may hold lessons for the Ebola crisis—until the next outbreak.
Next month, during the Islamic pilgrimage known as the Hajj, 3 million people will pour into the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. They will worship, pray, and be within 50 miles of the first identified case of the fatal infectious disease, Middle
- May 31 20132 minutes
Be Careful With the Powerful Medicine That Is Poop
It has recently become clear that each one of us is more microbe than human—at least when it comes to the number of cells in our bodies. The bacteria that swarm through our guts, across our skin, and in every orifice you have outnumber our human cell
- Jan 18 20175 minutes
A Global Plan to Defend Against the Future's Deadliest Diseases
$460 million will go toward developing vaccines that prevent outbreaks like Ebola from taking the world by surprise.
- Dec 9 20162 minutes
British Squirrels Are Second Animal To Carry Leprosy
Leprosy was passed from humans to squirrels long ago, and may be passed back again.
- Jun 13 20161 minute
The Beleaguered Rio Olympic Games
TARA JOHN ON MAY 27, FEARS OF A MASS GLOBAL outbreak of the Zika virus compelled 150 respected health experts—including former White House science adviser Philip Rubin—to issue an open letter saying “in the name of public health,” the Summer Olympic
- Jan 11 20174 minutes
Mapping the Microorganisms Behind Hospital-Borne Infections
A new project could help protect patients by showing how microbes move throughout hospitals.
- Jun 1 20161 minute
To Catch a Killer
MOST HIV TESTS don’t actually check for the virus that causes AIDS. Rather, assays search blood samples for antibodies that humans produce to fight the pathogen. Particularly in the early phases of infection, the immune system may not respond strongl
- Oct 28 201612 minutes
Colorado Springs Teens Keep Killing Themselves
More than two dozen kids in and around Colorado Springs, Colorado, have killed themselves in less than two years. The main reason: Another kid did it first.
- Sep 5 20139 minutes
Homo Narrativus And The Trouble With Fame: We think that fame is deserved. We are wrong.
Our understanding of fame is critical to how we see each other and our society. But it is also badly wrong. Let me tell you why. We humans are storytelling and story-finding machines: homo narrativus, if you will. In making sense of the world, we loo
- Nov 28 20167 minutes
The Race to Zero
NEARLY A DOZEN U.S. CITIES HAVE PLEDGED TO DRASTICALLY REDUCE NEW INFECTIONS AND DEATHS FROM HIV/AIDS. PROGRESS HAS BEEN UNEVEN AT BEST.
- Oct 14 201611 minutes
The Battle to Contain Zika in the U.S.
The government is chronically unprepared to prevent viruses.
- Oct 28 20164 minutes
How Zika Could Make Its Way North
Some evidence suggests the Zika virus can hitch a ride on other mosquitoes.
- Dec 9 20162 minutes
Pesticides Aren’t The Best Way To Fight Zika-Carrying Mosquitoes
Chemical spraying is less sustainable than other mosquito-fighting methods, and may give people a false sense of security.
- Jan 23 20173 minutes
What Is the Right Way to Wash Your Hands?
Redefining “clean” in an era of the skin microbiome
- Oct 27 20169 minutes
The Martians Are Coming—and They’re Human: How settling Mars could create a new human species.
In the upcoming Hollywood movie, The Space Between Us, a child is born to an American astronaut on Mars. The mother dies in childbirth, but the baby survives, and is raised by a small colony of astronauts on Mars. In the trailer, a somber voice-over
- Dec 8 201614 minutes
Will Viruses Save Us From Superbugs?: When antibiotics failed a severely ill patient, it was a pond virus that saved him.
For years, Ali Khodadoust walked around with his heart literally open to the world. In 2012 surgeons replaced his aortic arch and unknowingly planted bacteria. The bacteria secreted a sticky biofilm and burrowed a channel through his chest, creating
- Feb 9 20173 minutes
In Bacteria, Persistence Leads to Resistance
The threat of drug-resistant bacteria grows more pressing with every year. These microbes can shrug off the most potent antibiotics, including some drugs of last resort. Some bacteria have become resistant to all of our available drugs. Scary stuff,