Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the process of scientific research offers a wealth of efficiency-boosting tools that are transforming the ways scientists can approach their work. Many are already using AI to refine code, automate data processing, and edit papers, presentations, abstracts and more. Personally, I find generative language models like ChatGPT to be invaluable “editorial assistants” in my work as a science writer, helping me work through wonky sentence structures, be more concise and get over writer’s block, to name a few applications.
But a scientist’s work doesn’t only involve writing or analyzing data, making presentations or keeping up with the literature. An essential component of any research scientist’s skillset is their ability to develop entirely new ideas and novel research proposals. Coming up with research questions and plans is a central component of graduate education and research careers, both in academia and industry.
As AI continues to advance and find broader use, a critical question arises: Can AI play a pivotal role in the creative process of developing entirely new ideas, such as crafting novel research proposals?
In the opening remarks of our second annual Targeted Protein Degradation Symposium, Tom Livelli, VP of Life Sciences Products & Services at Promega, posed a question to the attendees: “What do you want to be able to do today that you can’t?” This aspirational question set the tone for an event where building connections to advance the study and application of proximity-induced degradation took center stage.
More than 90 attendees from academia and industry gathered September 20–21 for the two-day symposium, which was hosted in our inspirational Kornberg Center—the R&D heart of Promega. Through engaging talks, a poster session, “Learn n’ Burn” challenges and social gatherings, participants had the opportunity to reinforce existing collaborations and to connect with others who are making an impact in the field of targeted protein degradation.
This year ushered in a series of intense weather events that impacted communities across the globe: record-breaking heat waves; super-charged cyclones; intense flooding; coastal waters hitting a balmy 38°C (1–4). Attributing extreme weather to climate change has become the norm when reporting on these seemingly more frequent and intense events. But beyond simply acknowledging weather to be more violent or destructive than it was in the past, how is it that climate experts are able to determine if increasing greenhouse gas levels are the culprit behind these extreme weather events? The answers can be found in climate attribution science.
In early 2023, a type 2 diabetes medication, semaglutide (brand names Ozempic, Rybelsus), drew huge amounts of attention on social media and in popular culture. The reason? People were getting off-label (that is, not for treating type 2 diabetes) prescriptions of Ozempic to take advantage of one of its common side effects—measurable weight loss.
How does semaglutide and other drugs of its type manage diabetes on a molecular level, and what drives the weight loss effects?
Oncologists, do you know your colorectal cancer patients’ MSI status?
High-frequency microsatellite instability (MSI-H) in tumors is a form of genomic instability where mismatch repair (MMR) proteins fail to properly correct errors in microsatellite regions of the genome. When a patient’s tumor tissue is determined to have MSI-H markers, it’s strongly recommended that they be further tested for Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition that puts them and their family at a higher risk of developing colorectal and other cancers (1).
Though as many as 1 in 279 people might be carriers for the mutations associated with Lynch syndrome (2), 95% of them don’t know it (3). Furthermore, people with Lynch syndrome have an approximately 80% increased lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer, compared to a risk of only ~4% for the general population (4, 5).
On Lynch Syndrome Awareness Day, here are three key reasons why you should test all your colorectal cancer patients’ MSI status.
Traditional approaches for protein degrader compound screening like Western blotting can be laborious, time consuming and cannot be streamlined with automation. By implementing a high-throughput, automated workflow that uses our CRISPER/Cas9 knock-in cell lines, live-cell bioluminescent assays and sensitive GloMax® Discover microplate readers, our custom assay services offer protein degradation profiling at an accelerated rate.
To do this, we collaborated with HighRes® Biosolutions, to develop an automated system that can screen up to 100 384-well plates each day, generating roughly 40,000 data points with minimal hands-on work.
An important step of building this system is to integrate four GloMax® Discover microplate readers into the automated system using instrument’s built-in SiLA2 communication driver. The driver software makes it easy to connect the microplate readers with HighRes® Biosolution’s robotic components.
In the fifty years since the first reported transformation of recombinant plasmids into bacteria (1), plasmid cloning has become one of the pillars of synthetic biology research and manufacturing biopharmaceuticals.
But purifying plasmids is no small feat. It can often take hours of hands-on time to go from culture to eluate with low-throughput and time-sensitive manual methods. Automating plasmid purification is the way to go, whether you’re isolating a single plasmid from a large volume culture or creating a library of thousands of different constructs.
It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the 33rd International Symposium of Human Identification than a night spent wandering through the Hall of Human Evolution at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The meeting, which took place in Washington D.C. from October 31–November 4, focused largely on using investigative genetic genealogy (IGG). When used to identify human remains or solve cold cases, IGG (a.k.a. forensic genetic genealogy or forensic investigative genetic genealogy, take your pick) relies heavily on techniques developed to sequence DNA from ancient human remains.
New to ISHI this year were live-streamed presentations, building off the success of last year’s session recordings for online streaming. Another first was attendees dressing up in costume for the welcome reception, which happened to coincide with Halloween. From a nucleic acid-themed group costume to Sims characters to a bunch of grapes, ISHI 33 attendees had a chance to show off their fun side while reconnecting with colleagues.
While a range of topics were covered during the workshops, sessions and poster presentations, three themes stood out to this first-time ISHI attendee. In addition to IGG, there was widespread interest in developments in DNA databases as well as efforts to mobilize DNA analysis labs.
On October 19, 2020, in a corner of what was once the African American section of the Potter’s Field in Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery, a backhoe begins scraping away layer after layer of red Oklahoma earth. Workers in high-visibility vests and orange hard hats prepare to join the excavation. DeNeen Brown, a reporter with the Washington Post, looks on, bearing witness to a site that could be one of the final, unmarked resting places for victims of a massacre that happened 100 years in the past.
If you were tasked with destroying something called “forever chemicals”, chances are you’d be leaning towards rather harsh methods. Incineration would probably be on the table.
These so-called “forever chemicals”, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are a family of organic compounds where fluoride replaces hydrogens atoms on carbon chains. They are very water and oil repellent, which makes them ideal for use in non-stick cookware, stain-proof fabrics and fire-suppressing foams. Recent studies, however, show that exposure to PFAS is linked to a range of health issues—from increased cholesterol levels to some cancers. Even levels of PFAS present in drinking water in as low as parts per billion levels can pose risks to human health. These risks are exacerbated by the tendency for PFAS to bioaccumulate, or become concentrated in the tissues of humans and animals.
Methods do exist to filter out PFAS from water. But what do you do when it’s time to replace those filters? Simply throwing out PFAS-contaminated equipment just moves the problem to a landfill.
Instead, these “forever chemicals” need to be destroyed. Most existing strategies for breaking down PFAS use harsh conditions, such as incinerating PFAS residues in furnaces or oxidizing them in supercritical water—water that is at more than 37°C and 200atm of pressure. Now, scientists reporting in Science have discovered that such extreme methods may not be needed to destroy “forever chemicals” (1).
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