From Sea to Pharmacy

The vastness of the ocean is only surpassed by the biodiversity within it; from familiar and unfamiliar mega-fauna, to every microbe and virus inhabiting every corner of the seas – from the deep freeze of the Antarctic to the scorching plumes of volcanic seafloor vents.

Paul Jensen describes how he and other researchers are tapping into the biodiversity of the world’s oceans as a relatively new resource for natural product drug discovery. Jensen is at the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Watch — Marine Natural Products: From Sea to Pharmacy

We Are All Africans

Svante Pääbo once said, “We are all Africans, either living in Africa or in recent exile from Africa.”

It is now abundantly clear that Africa was the “cradle of humanity,” with multiple waves of hominins arising on that continent and spreading across the old world, eventually being effectively displaced by our own species, which also arose in Africa.

Given these facts, it is not surprising that the strong emphasis of anthropogeny is on the continent of Africa with wide-ranging studies including genetic, paleontological, archeological, primatological, climatological, sociocultural and more.

This CARTA symposium focuses on the contributions of scientists and scholars of anthropogeny who live and work in Africa.

Browse more programs in Anthropogeny: The Perspective from Africa.

Understanding the Arctic Climate System

The Arctic is changing rapidly in response to global climate and economic activity and yet much of it remains unexplored with modern scientific techniques.

Jeff Bowman is a biological oceanographer who studies marine microbial communities. In this presentation at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography he describes his group’s work in the Arctic as they seek to understand the ecological implications of changing sea ice conditions.

They are also preparing to participate in the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) Expedition, an unprecedented multi-national effort to study the high Arctic across a complete seasonal cycle.

Watch — Modern Oceanography and the Changing Arctic Ocean.

All About the Brain

Explore the immensity of the human brain, its billions of neurons and trillions of connections, and the research that is helping us understand more about this complex and amazing organ.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s popular lecture series returns with four new episodes each relating to the brain. The lectures are aimed at a middle and high school level and presented by LLNL scientists in collaboration with high school science teachers. This is a great opportunity to get a look at the cutting-edge science in a friendly and understandable way. Explore the immensity of the human brain, its billions of neurons and trillions of connections, and the research that is helping understand more about this amazing organ.

Browse more programs in Field Trip at the Lab: Science on Saturday.

3D Printing with Stem Cells

Transplants are expensive and risky, and donor organs are in short supply. Researchers at UC San Diego are working on technology to change all of that. It’s called bioprinting. In simple terms, bioprinting is 3D printing with living tissue. Researcher Shaochen Chen has been perfecting the process in his lab for years.

Bioprinting is a complex process that takes place in a matter of seconds right before your eyes. Chen’s lab builds their own printing machines, which shine light into a gel the team has developed. Any spot the light hits becomes solid. Because the process uses light, it allows the team to recreate microscopic structures like liver cells or vascular networks with incredible precision.

While the process enables researchers to accurately reproduce biological structures, it’s what’s inside the gel that makes bioprinting truly remarkable. The gel can be filled with stem cells from a potential transplant recipient. Those cells can fuse with tissue in the body as the gel disintegrates, essentially repairing damage with the patient’s own cells. Chen’s lab has shown the process can work in rats with severe spinal cord injuries. Someday, the process could be used in humans to do the same.

Bioprinting is also helpful to researchers in other fields. Chen has teamed up with Alysson Muotri and Karl Wahlin to help them study the connection between the eye and the brain. Their labs are conducting research using organoids – tiny organ-like structures grown from stem cells. They realized in order to effectively study how brain and retinal organoids interact with one another, they need to physically separate them at just the right distance, similar to how they might be separated in the womb. Chen’s lab developed a bioprinted structure to achieve that separation, taking the partnership to the next level.

Watch — 3D Printing with Stem Cells – Shaochen Chen