Celiac disease, an allergy to gluten, may be the most underdiagnosed health problem in America today. Health officials estimate more than two million Americans  suffer from it, but only a small fraction of cases are ever diagnosed.

In the spirit of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Science of the Times brings you the story of Kelly Courson, a 37-year old receptionist who was confronted with a bewildering array of symptoms in her early twenties. After years of misdiagnosis by doctors,  she recognized her illness as Celiac disease and began treating herself.

Now she helps other Celiac sufferers adjust to a gluten-free lifestyle through her website Celiac Chicks.

Continue reading VIDEO: A Profile of Celiac Disease

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Based on cases reported in the CSPI Outbreak Alert! database: http://www.cspinet.org/foodsafety/outbreak/pathogen.php

A Seattle Times headline caught my eye on Wednesday, stating that leafy greens are the number one “riskiest” food item in terms of food-borne illness.  I found that surprising, as you would expect most food-related illnesses to arise from improper handling of meat and dairy products.

The Times article was based on a “riskiest foods” list compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a watchdog group that pushes for  nutrition and food safety legislation. They compiled the list from their own Outbreak Alert! database, which contains data from outbreaks as far back as the early 1990s . The “riskiest list” was created by looking at the FDA-regulated foods with the largest number of outbreaks and reported cases. The key word here is “FDA-regulated.” The FDA regulates just about every food product–except meat.

Continue reading CSPI “Riskiest Foods” List Misleads Public

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Artist's rendition of Ardipithecus ramidus. (credit: J.H. Matternes)

Artist's rendition of Ardipithecus ramidus. (credit: J.H. Matternes)

Yesterday saw a blizzard of media surrounding the Ardipithecus paper published in the October 2nd issue of Science. A quick Google search reveals more than 600 articles published on the subject since yesterday morning.

If you don’t know already know, Ardipithecus (affectionately known as Ardi by some) is a hominid fossil discovered in Ethiopia some 15 years ago. However, the buzz is not about the fossil discovery itself, but rather the insight that Ardi is an early ancestor of humans–something that wasn’t entirely clear until now. This revelation is making scientists rewrite the book on early hominid history and also their vision of the last common ancestor we shared with chimps, more than four million years ago.

Somewhat reminiscent of the American Natural History Museum’s “missing link” campaign back in May, Ardi also has its own primetime cable television special that airs October 11th on the Discovery Channel. But if you just can’t wait, there is already a wealth of multimedia on-line to quench your Ardi thirst.

Continue reading Wealth of Multimedia Surrounds Ardipithecus Paper in Science

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One of the most frustrating things about working in biomedical research is the inability to translate infinitely small processes into something both visually meaningful and easy to digest.

Within every cell of our bodies is a chaotic symphony of molecular and chemical interactions that are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye.  Scientists rely on experimental ‘snapshots’ to give them an idea of what’s happening at the microscopic level. Then they work backwards, reconstructing a sequence of events from these rather abstract clues.

Continue reading Friday Fun…The Fantastical World of Biomedical Animation

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Students from New York and New Jersey recently put their robotic LEGO designs to the test,  in the BUILD IT final design challenge held at  Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. “The underwater environment really throws them a curveball,” says Beth McGrath, director of Stevens’ Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education. “It’s a lot like a space environment.”‘

Continue reading VIDEO:Robotic LEGO Submarines Teach Kids About Science and Engineering

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