My lab works with tuberculosis, which requires BioSafety Level 3 (BSL-3) containment. You know what else needs BSL-3 containment? COVID-19!
BSL-3 lab spaces have a lot of specialized safety features that make them expensive to construct. To save money different labs at UC Davis often share the same BSL-3 space and just schedule their time in that lab space to not get in each other’s way.
Because of that, when researchers started working on COVID-19 at UC Davis they needed a place to do it. My boss’s space was volunteered, so now another lab researching COVID works in the same space as us.
Besides the safety features, the BSL-3 also requires biohazard suits and respirators. Additionally anyone working in the room within 24 hours of COVID being used in the room has to do temperature checks for two weeks afterwards. Our safety protocols have been successful and no one working in the space has contracted COVID-19.
But working in that space puts our lab into a high risk factor, just like healthcare workers. As such, I got contacted by my HR supervisor at UC Davis Health that I’d been approved for being one of the first people to get one of the COVID vaccines.
So here’s what that was like!
I scheduled an appointment for 8:30am on the first day of distribution. I got there at 8:25, checked in, and promptly waited for an hour in line.
Everything, Everything is an unusual teen romance starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson.
Stenberg plays Maddy, an eighteen year-old afflicted with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). It’s a condition similar to AIDS in which she has a severely weakened immune system. Relatively common diseases, like the flu, can kill her.
Maddy lives her entire life inside her hermetically sealed home. Her mother is a doctor and she ensures that Maddy stays healthy and as happy as possible.
Everything is fine, if a little boring, until the cute, goth boy moves in next door! Robinson plays Olly, Maddy’s love interest. Continue reading →
Normally I’d post something about D&D on Monday, but this week I’ll be showing off something that came in the mail recently.
I got into graduate school! Hurray! Validation!
This year I only applied to local schools as my wife is in the first year of a two year program for her teaching credential.
I applied to two programs at the college I got my undergraduate degree from and a third program at a nearby CSU (Sac State).
I’ve been rejected from one of the programs and have yet to hear back from the other one, but Sac State has accepted me! Woohoo!
Assuming the other program doesn’t accept me, I will be driving to the capital every day to learn and research science stuff.
The professor I’ve been placed with studies salmonella. I haven’t read up a lot on it, but what I saw on the papers she’s published was interesting.
Salmonella typically hurt your body in many ways one of which is by attacking your macrophage cells. Macrophages are the part of your immune system that eats bacterial invaders.
The salmonella bacteria don’t like being eaten by macrophages though. They protect themselves by putting poisons into your macrophages.
The professor has helped discover how this process works and she is attempting to harness the power of salmonella for good, not evil!
You see, if salmonella are so good at invading macrophages and killing them, they can also be used to invade macrophages and help them.
We can modify salmonella to make it deliver medicine to macrophages. This could do a number of things.
It could protect against auto-immune diseases like HIV. It could also super charge the immune system to assist the fight against other bacterial infections. These two things are some of the most sought after effects in medicine right now.
HIV is a huge problem throughout the developing world, so the interest in that is obvious.
The second effect, of boosting the immune system is even more amazing in my opinion.
Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, STIs, and many others are currently treated with antibiotics. But bacteria can evolve and become immune to these antibiotics.
Researchers can come up with new antibiotics, but in a few years the disease will have evolved immunity to it again.
But what if you treated the disease just by making the immune system better? The bacteria can still evolve past this, but it takes much longer to do that than to develop antibiotic resistance. Possibly long enough that the disease can be eradicated entirely? That would be astounding.
While my original goal was to get entrance into a PhD program, working on making people immune to disease doesn’t sound that bad either. I think I’ll be quite happy at Sac State.