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Illustration of researchers trying to reconstruct the shape of an epidemic curve from its distorted shadow on the floor.

Chasing the Elusive Numbers That Define Epidemics

March 22, 2021

Most modeling efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have sought to address urgent practical concerns. But some groups aim to bolster the theoretical underpinnings of that work instead.

Quantized Columns

How to Understand COVID-19 Variants and Their Effects on Vaccines

February 25, 2021

Researchers are tracking the different strains of SARS-CoV-2 and studying how they spread through our population and our bodies.

Looping video shows a constantly shifting set of curves and a moving keyhole view of the pandemic coronavirus.

The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic

January 28, 2021

In the fight against COVID-19, disease modelers have struggled against misunderstanding and misuse of their work. They have also come to realize how unready the state of modeling was for this pandemic.

2020 in Review

The Year in Biology

December 23, 2020

While the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was the most urgent priority, biologists also learned more about how brains process information, how to define individuality and why sleep deprivation kills.

Electron micrograph showing a viral factory and new viral particles inside a cell.

Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near.

November 25, 2020

An unorthodox symbiotic theory about the origin of eukaryotes’ defining characteristic may soon be put to the test.

Cells being injected with a microneedle.
Abstractions blog

Nobel Chemistry Prize Awarded for CRISPR ‘Genetic Scissors’

October 7, 2020

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing.

Electron micrograph of the hepatitis C virus.
Abstractions blog

Scientists Win Nobel Prize for Discovering the Hepatitis C Virus

October 5, 2020

Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the cause of a major liver disease.

Photograph of a bat in flight.
Abstractions blog

Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?

August 24, 2020

Studies suggest that self-disseminating vaccines could prevent the “spillover” of animal viruses into humans as pandemic diseases.

Illustration of a woman brandishing a shield to keep viruses at bay. One virus has slipped through a small hole in it.
infectious disease

Our Genes May Explain Severity of COVID-19 and Other Infections

July 27, 2020

Researchers are examining the power of subtle genetic weaknesses in the immune system to affect the severity of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.