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Times Higher Ed

Lecturer John Liu and Mary Ellen Wiltrout, director of online and blended learning initiatives in the Department of Biology, share how the pandemic has transformed the way in which universities approach digital teaching. Liu noted that the pandemic had “forced [universities] to rethink community and support…on a class level but maybe on a program level” as well as to refocus on how teaching modes best served learning objectives,” reports Times Higher Education.

The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe highlights Robert Buderi’s new book, “Where Futures Converge: Kendall Square and the Making of a Global Innovation Hub.” Buderi features the Future Founders Initiative, an effort by Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia, President Emerita Susan Hockfield and Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins aimed at increasing female entrepreneurship. 

Los Angeles Times

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Edward Scolnick and La Jolla Institute for Immunology Prof. Erica Ollmann Saphire share their insights on the future and potential challenges in developing a universal Covid-19 vaccine. “Success will require two principles that the world has not yet sufficiently grasped in fighting this virus: a focus on the long term over the short term, and a sustainable structure and support for collaboration,” write Scolnick and Saphire.

Forbes

Forbes contributor David Bressan writes that a new study by MIT researchers proposes that oxygen began accumulating in early Earth’s atmosphere due to interactions between marine microbes and minerals in ocean sediments. The researchers hypothesize that “these interactions helped prevent oxygen from being consumed, setting off a self-amplifying process where more and more oxygen was made available to accumulate in the atmosphere,” writes Bressan.

Stat

STAT has named Noubar Afeyan ’87, Cornelia Bargmann PhD ’87, Prof. Regina Barzilay and Prof. Sangeeta N. Bhatia to their list of trailblazing researchers working in the life sciences. “Many of the STATUS List are well-known as change makers; others are largely unheralded heroes. But all have compelling stories to tell,” writes STAT.

Reuters

Prof. Timothy Lu, Prof. Jim Collins and Philip Lee ’03 co-founded Senti Bio, a biotechnology company that uses gene circuit technology to create cell and gene therapies that can sense and respond to ailments inside the body, reports Sohini Podder for Reuters. “The way I like to think about it – just like you can program a computer with different programs or different maps, we can do the same thing with medicines,” says Lu.

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT scientists have discovered a way to watch and record the development of butterfly scales from the inside of a butterfly’s chrysalis, reports Elizabeth Gamillo for Smithsonian Magazine. “The team plans on further exploring the structure of butterfly wings and the reasoning behind the ridged design,” writes Gamillo.

CNET

CNET science writer Monisha Ravisetti spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the scale formation of butterfly wings during its transformation. “Understanding their schematics could ultimately benefit constructed materials like windows and thermal systems and even bring an ethereal quality to textiles,” writes Ravisetti.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Hannah Seo writes that MIT researchers have developed a way to watch and record how the microscopic scales on a butterfly’s wings grow and tile themselves as the butterfly develops inside its chrysalis. The researchers hope to “use butterfly scales as inspiration for the design of new materials,” writes Seo. “Butterfly scales have other fascinating properties such as water repellency and the ability to regulate temperature.”

Ars Technica

ARS Technica senior writer Jennifer Ouellette spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the structural growth of butterfly wings inside its chrysalis for the first time. “A lot of these stages were understood and seen before, but now we can stitch them all together and watch continuously what’s happening, which gives us more information on the detail of how scales form,” says research assistant Anthony McDougal. 

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins, who has made “significant strides in molecular biology and a tireless advocate for gender equity in science,” has been named the recipient of STAT’s 2021 Biomedical Innovation Award, reports Isabella Cueto for STAT. “It’s very easy to forget how much progress there has been because we haven’t arrived where we’d like to be,” said Hopkins at the 2021 STAT Summit, where she was honored. “So we see the problems that still lie ahead. But you periodically have to pause and say, ‘Oh, my gosh, look how far we came.’”

NIH

Writing for the NIH Director’s Blog, Dr. Francis Collins highlights how Prof. Tyler Jacks and research scientist Megan Burger’s work exploring T cell exhaustion led to the creation of a “strategy for developing cancer vaccines that can ‘awaken’ T cells and reinvigorate the body’s natural cancer-fighting abilities.” Collins writes that “the researchers hope to learn if this approach to cancer vaccines might work even better when used in combination with immunotherapy drugs, which unleash the immune system against cancer in other ways.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Castellanos spotlights Prof. Markus Buehler’s work combining virtual reality with sound waves to help detect subtle changes in molecular motions. Castellanos notes that Buehler and his team recently found, “coronaviruses can be more lethal or infectious depending on the vibrations within the spike proteins that are found on the surface of the virus.”

Boston Herald

Boston Herald reporter Rick Sobey writes that a new drug combination has shown potential in treating pancreatic cancer. “The trio drug combination is a CD40 agonist antibody, a PD-1 inhibitor and a TIGIT inhibitor. The researchers found that this combination led to pancreatic tumors shrinking in about 50% of the animals that were given this treatment,” writes Sobey.

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brian Dunleavy writes that MIT researchers have developed a new way to potentially expand sources of biofuel to include straw and woody plants. "Our goal is to extend this technology to other organisms that are better suited for the production of these heavy fuels, like oils, diesel and jet fuel," explains Prof. Gregory Stephanopoulos.