Why won’t TB go away?

This September, the United Nations convened a high-level meeting aimed at addressing the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic. Delegates heard from heads of state and political leaders, but one of the most powerful speakers was Nandita Venkatesan.United Nations Headquarters with waving flags in New York, USA

Shortly after graduating from university in 2007, Nandita was diagnosed with TB. At the high-level meeting, she spoke of her years spent battling the disease and the devastation she felt when she lost her hearing as a side effect of the essential, lifesaving treatments she had to take.

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Making microbiological research affordable and open-source

Improving access to research and data is a topic many of our members are passionate about. Humane Technologies is a company set up by some microbiologists from the University of Warwick. Humane Technologies have developed an affordable photometer that allows continuous monitoring of microbial growth, called MicrobeMeter. Below, they explain what inspired them to make this equipment freely available and why you shouldn’t need huge amounts of funding to make important scientific discoveries. 

Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek

Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek

The origins of microbiology go back to Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a self-made scientist. Antonie ran a draper shop, and his need to check the quality of his threads led him to develop an interest in making magnifying glasses. The lenses he developed were so powerful that he was able to use them to examine all kinds of biological samples. His superior lenses led him discover microbes for the first time in 1676.

In our modern day, we are more accustomed of scientific discoveries and inventions coming from the laboratories of well-funded, professional scientists, usually working at world-leading Universities. We assume that science has become so specialised and so detailed in its quests, that new discoveries can only come from advanced studies undertaken with highly specialised equipment. This may indeed be the case in some disciplines like chemistry and physics, however, in biology we still have room for discoveries by using even the most basic equipment and by conducting the simplest of experiments.

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A summer of prizes: Dr Ricardo Rajsbaum

This year, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) has sponsored four poster prizes at conferences and meetings around the world. Over this week, we will be getting to know a little more about the winners and their research.

Rajsbaum Ricardo copyThe Ann Palmenberg Young Investigator Award recognises junior investigators that have demonstrated particular promise in the field of virology and is awarded at the American Society of Virology’s Annual Meeting. This year’s winner is Dr Ricardo Rajsbaum, Assistant Professor at The University of Texas.

What was your winning talk called? 

Regulation of Innate Antiviral Immunity and virus replication by the host ubiquitin system

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A summer of prizes: Dr Samantha Ellis

This year, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) has sponsored four poster prizes at conferences and meetings around the world. Over this week, we will be getting to know a little more about the winners and their research.

DmVz05TVsAIfwpoDr Samantha Ellis was awarded the JGV Prize for Best Poster at the 2018 Focused Meeting on the Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of Avian Viruses in Oxford. Samantha is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Roslin Institute.

What was your winning talk called?

Application of CLIPs epitope mapping to identify immunogenic epitopes on the S1 of Infectious Bronchitis Virus Continue reading

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New microbes found in humans, pollen and The Amazon Rainforest

Each month, the Microbiology Society publishes the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), which details newly discovered species of bacteria, fungi and protists. Here are some of the new species that have been discovered and the places they’ve been found.

The Amazon Rainforest is a hotspot of natural life, containing an estimated 10% of the planet’s biodiversity and spans over nine countries in South America. Here, three research groups investigating yeasts found two new species. The first, Wickerhamiella dianesei was discovered on an adult bee in Costa Rica and the second, named Wickerhamiella kurtzmanii was found on flowers in Costa Rica, Brazil and French Guiana.

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A summer of prizes: Lucile Guion

This year, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) has sponsored four poster prizes at conferences and meetings around the world. Over this week, we will be getting to know a little more about the winners and their research.

At this year’s Molecular Biology of DNA Tumour Viruses Conference, hosted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Lucile Guion was awarded the JGV Prize for the best student presentation. Lucile is a PhD candidate at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

170505 GRD Lucile GuionWhat was your winning talk called?

Temporal recruitment of PML nuclear body-residing proteins to incoming HGV genomes following nuclear delivery.

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A summer of prizes: Dr Sebastian Lequime

This year, the Journal of General Virology (JGV) has sponsored four poster prizes at conferences and meetings around the world. Over this week, we will be getting to know a little more about the winners and their research.

First up is Dr Sebastian Lequime. Sebastian is a postdoctoral fellow at the Rega Institute in Belguim. This August, he won the JGV Prize for Best Poster at The Second Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology in Montpellier. SLEQUIME

What was your winning talk called?

Within-host evolutionary dynamics of dengue virus in its mosquito vector Aedes aegypti

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Has TB had its time?

In 19th century Europe, the Industrial Revolution brought on a new age of technological advancement. Cities saw an explosion in population growth. But with this came something more sinister – a mysterious disease which killed as many as one in four people.

Factories opened and jobs in towns and cities grew in abundance. Urban populations boomed whilst living conditions deteriorated. There was little-to-no sanitation, and more and more people crammed into smaller living spaces; a perfect breeding ground for disease.

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London slums in the 19th century

Those infected would become thin and pale, suffer from fevers and night sweats and eventually cough up blood. Named after the weight loss it caused, ‘consumption’ spread throughout cities.

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The state of the world’s fungi symposium

On 12 September, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew published a comprehensive report on the state of the world’s fungi highlighting the often overlooked importance of this kingdom. To coincide with this, a two-day international symposium was organised. My knowledge of fungi was minimal (other than an appreciation for Portobello mushrooms) and so I was excited to attend and learn more!

The symposium kicked off with a welcome by Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Kew who drew attention to some of the key findings in the report and themes that were to recur over the two days. These included the immense diversity of fungi and the relative lack of knowledge compared to animals and plants, the need for fungal conservation, the “Jekyll and Hyde” roles of fungi, and the difficulty in classifying different species.

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Improving the uptake of research into UK policy

In August, the Society supported four members of the Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum to attend a two-day course titled ‘Science Policy: Improving the Uptake of Research into UK Policy.’ The course was organised by Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences. Here, participant Maria Howland reflects on what she learnt about engaging in science policy.

‘Scientists are important’ Sarion Bowers, Policy Lead at the Wellcome Sanger Institute tells us as we sit in the conference centre in the beautiful grounds of the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridgeshire. As a PhD student who spends most of my time pipetting impossibly small volumes of colourless liquids into one another in the lab, this is a statement which isn’t always immediately apparent. But ‘Science Policy: Improving the Uptake of Research into UK Policy’ was designed to explain why it’s important for scientists to become involved in shaping UK policy and how we can do this.

EBI_and_Sanger_Center,_Genome_campus,_Cambridgeshire

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