Midsummer Nights' Science 2008
Robotic microscopes can produce millions of images a day, bringing human, animal and even bacterial cells into a close-up view. The challenge is to sort through this mountain of biological information to uncover meaningful results. Anne Carpenter will describe how biologists can train computers to "look" at images and learn to find cells displaying rare and unusual characteristics, thereby enabling research on diseases like cancer and tuberculosis.
How do scientists make new drugs? How does the process work and how do universities, companies and the government interact along the way? Will the deeper knowledge of human genetics change how drugs are discovered? Robert Gould will discuss the steps from understanding the biology of a potential drug to gaining approval to sell it, and how the process might be different in the future.
By accumulating changes in their DNA, cancer cells are able to grow without restraint and are often able to outsmart treatments. Yet hidden behind this apparent resilience are critical genetic weaknesses. Bill Hahn will describe how researchers are applying genomic tools to search for these "Achilles' Heels" of cancer cells, with the hope of finding new ways to diagnose and treat different types of cancers.
At every turn, it seems there is another report of dangerous bacteria outwitting the antibiotics designed to kill them. Scientists have been racing to find new antibiotics but alarmingly, progress has been slow, with few new antibiotic classes discovered in the past forty years. Deb Hung will describe how new genomic technologies may enable the discovery of new antimicrobial therapies, thereby helping to turn the tide against drug-resistant bacteria.