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Peter Nowell and David Hungerford in 1960

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is not a cancer you hear about very often. That’s not because it isn’t serious — until recently, it carried a frightening prognoses. Until about 2000, newly diagnosed CML patients had a 5-year survival rate of 31%. But we don’t hear much about CML because it is a rare disease, and affects far fewer people than cancers of the breast or prostate, or lung cancer.Read the rest “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: a Molecular Diagnosis”

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Dr. Brian Druker and Ms. LaDonna Lopossa, one of the earliest patients to benefit from Gleevec

Rob Schick is the Branch Manger of the Baird Wealth Management Group in Portland, Oregon. Most people would probably consider him lucky. For starters, Portland is one of the most desirable cities in the United States to live in. He and his wife have three grown children, one of whom works at the same company. In addition to his success in business, Rob Schick’s efforts on behalf of the Knight Cancer Institute, where he has helped raise millions of dollars for research, were nationally recognized in 2015 by a National Community Service Award from the Invest in Others Foundation.Read the rest “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: A Molecular Solution”

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“I think the notion of ‘calories in vs. calories out’ is ridiculous.” So begins a recent online article about diet. Typically, it cites no external sources of information for this opinion. Actually, the calories in – calories out equation is a truism; thermodynamics doesn’t make exceptions, and one way or another, those input calories have to go somewhere. But the thought underlying the denial of equivalence is usually something different, such as, why does my friend eat anything she likes and stay slim, when I can’t?Read the rest “Calories in equals calories out?”

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The present-day Gila River in the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area in southeast Arizona. 

Both nature and nurture affect human obesity. For some people, and for some populations, the genetic tendency to become obese is not fulfilled because of their environment, the circumstances of their lives. But when those circumstances change, the genetic potential may be realised quickly, and lead to the medical issues that follow from obesity. An example that starkly illustrates this comes from the sunbaked desert south of Phoenix, Arizona.Read the rest “The Gila River People, Victims of Modernity”

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If there were a contest to name the most-hated chemical, Roundup, Monsanto’s brand name for the chemical Glyphosate, would have a very good chance of winning. It has been identified not only as a plant poison, but also a destroyer of monarch butterflies, an impoverisher of developing-world farmers, and a probable carcinogen. These are serious issues. But they are also complex, and I will argue, they are not settled (except for being a plant poison).Read the rest “The Trouble With Roundup”

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Jesse Owens starting the 200 meter race at the 1936 Olympics. Reproduction of photograph in “Die Olympischen Spiele, 1936” p.27, 1936. 

Coverage of the recent victory of the New Zealand team in the America’s Cup yacht race featured sailboats flying along on their underwater foils at ridiculous speed, speeds reaching more than 50 miles (80 km) per hour. Whether it’s running, or driving a car, or sailing these mutant boats, speed is exciting.Read the rest “Speed Limits”

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There’s a great book about vitamin A, “Brilliance & Confusion: Saving Children’s Vision & Lives With Vitamin A”. Okay, I confess. It’s my own book a couple of years ago. Vitamin A was discovered in 1913, but it has continued to provide surprises since. The most important of these is that it isn’t essential just for vision, which is what most people know about it. Rather, it is needed to maintain many functions necessary for health, and life itself.Read the rest “A Great New Book”

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It’s a good idea to look critically at any powerful new technology, and the creation of genetically-modified organisms, GMOs, is no exception. Like any new technology, it might have unanticipated, deleterious consequences that outweigh any benefit. Many criticisms of GMO have of course been raised, as a brief interrogation of the internet will show. But unfortunately, the criticisms of GMOs we hear most often are not the most important ones, and the ones that are most important are often not heard clearly.Read the rest “GMO”

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(Bald Eagle and Hawk Mountain scenery. Image courtesy of David Dehner.)

 

Hawk Mountain, a picturesque site in southeastern Pennsylvania, is on the eastern slopes of the Appalachians. These mountains create an updraft that helps raptors, large birds of prey such as hawks and eagles, on their migratory flights between their northern summer habitats and their wintering sites in the southeast United States. They are also somewhat of a bottleneck, causing large numbers of raptors to converge in their flight paths and pass over Hawk Mountain.Read the rest “Malaria: No Simple Solutions”

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Our bones, teeth and hair carry in them an encrypted GPS log of where we’ve been. If you lived in Seattle through your childhood and moved to Chicago ten years ago, that is indelibly written there. There will also be a record of what you’ve eaten recently. Advances in the science and technology of reading that information are having an impact on forensics, anthropology and agriculture, among other pursuits. At the heart of that technology lies a fundamental property of matter, which is that many of the atoms that make up all of creation come in subtle variations, variations that we are able to detect with great precision.Read the rest “Your travels are Written in your body”