The Secret Language of Bacteria – An ASM “Microbes After Hours” Event

No bacterium lives alone — it is constantly encountering members of its own species as well as other kinds of bacteria and diverse organisms like viruses, fungi, plants and animals. To navigate a complex world, microbes use chemical signals to sense and communicate with one another.

Live streamed on Monday, January 28th, 2013, from 6-7:30 p.m. at ASM’s headquarters, 1752 N St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University

Bonnie Bassler Ph.D. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. The research in her laboratory focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for intercellular communication. This process is called quorum sensing. Bassler’s research is paving the way to the development of novel therapies for combating bacteria by disrupting quorum-sensing-mediated communication. Dr. Bassler was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2002. She was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2002 and made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004. Dr. Bassler was the President of the American Society for Microbiology in 2010-2011; she is currently the Chair of the American Academy of Microbiology Board of Governors. She is also a member of the National Science Board and was nominated to that position by President Barak Obama. The Board oversees the NSF and prioritizes the nation’s research and educational priorities in science, math and engineering.

Dr. Steven Lindow, University of California, Berkeley

Steven Lindow Ph.D. is a Professor at the University of California, Berkley where his research focuses on various aspects of the interaction of bacteria with the surface and interior of plants. Dr. Lindow’ s lab uses a variety of molecular and microscopy-based methods to study the ecology of bacterial epiphytes that live on the surface of plants as well as certain bacteria that are vascular pathogens of plants. They also study bacteria that live in and on plants that are fostered by consumption of the alkaloids produced by endophytic fungi. The longer-term goal of their research is to improve plants’ productivity by achieving control of plant diseases through altering the microbial communities in and on plants. Dr. Lindow is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and was elected to fellowship in both the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1999.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

From Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.

The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.

Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.

Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

Against The Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States is a 2017 book by James C. Scott that sets out to undermine what he calls the “standard civilizational narrative” that suggests humans chose to live settled lives based on intensive agriculture because this made people safer and more prosperous. Instead, he argues, people had to be forced to live in the early states, which were hierarchical, beset by malnutrition and disease, and often based on slavery. The book has been praised for re-opening some of the biggest questions in human history. A review in Science concludes that the book’s thesis “is fascinating and represents an alternative, nuanced, if somewhat speculative, scenario on how civilized society came into being.”

“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: Stress and Health” by Dr. Robert Sapolsky

Science writer, biologist, neuroscientist, and stress expert Dr. Robert Sapolsky presents the inaugural Fenton-Rhodes Lecture on Proactve Wellness.

Sapolsky states that our bodies’ stress response evolved to help us get out of short-term physical emergencies – if a lion is chasing you, you run. But such reactions, he points out, compromise long-term physical health in favor of immediate self-preservation. Unfortunately, when confronted with purely psychological stressors, such as troubleshooting the fax machine, modern humans turn on the same stress response. “If you turn it on for too long,” notes Sapolsky, “you get sick.” Sapolsky regards this sobering news with characteristic good humor, finding hope in “our own capacity to prevent some of these problems… in the small steps with which we live our everyday lives.”

This lecture was recorded on September 22, 2016 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ Colwell Playhouse as part of the Pygmalion TechFest

Rats, Lice and History

When Rats, Lice and History appeared in 1935, Hans Zinsser was a highly regarded Harvard biologist who had never written about historical events. Although he had published under a pseudonym, virtually all of his previous writings had dealt with infections and immunity and had appeared either in medical and scientific journals or in book format. Today he is best remembered as the author of Rats, Lice, and History, which gone through multiple editions and remains a masterpiece of science writing for a general readership.

To Zinsser, scientific research was high adventure and the investigation of infectious disease, a field of battle. Yet at the same time he maintained a love of literature and philosophy. His goal in Rats, Lice and History was to bring science, philosophy, and literature together to establish the importance of disease, and especially epidemic infectious disease, as a major force in human affairs. Zinsser cast his work as the “biography” of a disease. In his view, infectious disease simply represented an attempt of a living organism to survive. From a human perspective, an invading pathogen was abnormal; from the perspective of the pathogen it was perfectly normal.

This book is devoted to a discussion of the biology of typhus and history of typhus fever in human affairs. Zinsser begins by pointing out that the louse was the constant companion of human beings. Under certain conditions–to wash or to change clothing–lice proliferated. The typhus pathogen was transmitted by rat fleas to human beings, who then transmitted it to other humans and in some strains from human to human.

Rats, Lice and History is a tour de force. It combines Zinsser’s expertise in biology with his broad knowledge of the humanities

Stress: Portrait of a Killer

Over the last three decades, science has been advancing our understanding of stress—how it impacts our bodies and how our social standing can make us more or less susceptible. From baboon troops on the plains of Africa, to neuroscience labs at Stanford University, scientists are revealing just how lethal stress can be. Research tells us that the impact of stress can be found deep within us, shrinking our brains, adding fat to our bellies, even unraveling our chromosomes. Understanding how stress works can help us figure out ways to combat it and how to live a life free of the tyranny of this contemporary plague. In Stress: Portrait of a Killer, scientific discoveries in the field and in the lab prove that stress is not just a state of mind, but something measurable and dangerous.

 

Bonus Feature: Fact File: Everyday Stress Relievers.

When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection

Can a person literally die of loneliness? Is there such a thing as a “”cancer personality””? Drawing on scientific research and the author’s decades of experience as a practicing physician, this book provides answers to these and other important questions about the effect of the mind-body link on illness and health and the role that stress and one’s individual emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

  • Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, IBS, and multiple sclerosis
  • Draws on medical research and the author’s clinical experience as a family physician
  • Includes The Seven A’s of Healing-principles of healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress

Shares dozens of enlightening case studies and stories, including those of people such as Lou Gehrig (ALS), Betty Ford (breast cancer), Ronald Reagan (Alzheimer’s), Gilda Radner (ovarian cancer), and Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer)

An international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, When the Body Says No promotes learning and healing, providing transformative insights into how disease can be the body’s way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge.