I am a writer, editor, producer, and fledgling software developer.
My blog: à propos
Latest entry: Salvador Dali and Walt Disney tell a story: Destino. I only just discovered this gem of an animated film. Beautiful, surreal love story. It was produced in the 1940s but only finished and presented to the world over half a century later.
Contact me: v [dot] marx [at] alum [dot] mit [dot] edu
Here are some of my stories:
Genomics – Technology
Nature Methods, November 2015
Nanopores: a sequencer in your backpack
Genome sequencing can now be done anywhere: in the lab, in the field, perhaps even automatically with sensors. If a sequencer is so small it fits in the palm of your hand, then sequencing everywhere and anywhere becomes a possibility. Data analysis is still necessary, though. Here, it’s all about squiggle plots. There’s software to help weave through the squiggles.
Genomics – Computing
Nature, August 27, 2015
The DNA of a nation
It’s not 2017 yet, so the 100,000 genomes in the 100,000 Genomes Project are not sequenced and analyzed yet. Here is a glimpse behind the scenes on some of what it takes to organize the project. Data need to be secured, reliable software pipelines must be put in place and tested. And plenty of experts are needed on hand for manual analysis, genomic deep-diving and general quality control.
The project’s idea is to help people, at first people with rare diseases and cancer. But at one not so distant point, whole genome sequencing might be a common element in the medical records of all of the UK’s National Health Service patients. And along the way it might all spark a genomics industry in the UK.
Nature, November 13, 2014
A deep look at synaptic dynamics
Synapses in the brain are busy messaging intersections. Neurotransmitters of various sorts are released, but then what. How are these vesicles refilled with neurotransmitters? There are multiple hypotheses about how that might occur.
Die Welt, 14. November 2014
So wird die Hirnforschung zu einem großen Spiel
Die Crowd packt bei der Neurobiologie mit an, um harte Herausforderungen zu lösen. Mitwirken kann jeder/jede. Voraussetzung ist lediglich Neugierde.
Nature, July 24, 2014
Cell communication: Stop the microbial chatter
Bacteria are chatterboxes. They communicate with one another, in large groups, and even across species. This exchange helps them survive and also helps them become more resistant to antibiotics. But by undermining all this chatter, scientists hope to treat infections in new ways. To do so, they are developing new ways to eavesdrop on microbial communication.
Proteomics – High-energy physics
Nature Methods, September 2014
Structural biology: ‘seeing’ crystals the XFEL way
X-ray free electron lasers vaporize samples. After they put so much work into obtaining them, it seems surprising to destroy the samples, usually proteins they have coaxed into crystals, with a blam. Then again, it is a way to capture, which allows researchers to reconstruct protein structure.
Sequencing: Ship-Seq sails the seas
Neurobiologist Leonid Moroz likes being out at sea. He likes having all the amenities there, too. Such as high-throughput sequencers. And his complete team.
Here is how he set up Ship-Seq. (Hint: sequencing quality goes up on the high seas.)
1 x 141-foot boat
1 x generous entrepreneur
1 x ship’s crew
1 x mobile molecular biology lab equipped with lab benches, a sequencer, reagents
1 x manufacturer of a high-throughput sequencer willing to donate an instrument
1 x satellite link to a supercomputer
1 x lab staff and scientist/wife willing to be scientist-sailors
1 x diving equipment
1 x funding National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
3 x support from non-profit organizations: Florida Biodiversity Institute, Florida Museum of Natural History, the International Seakeepers Society
1,000 international units of patience
Several remedies for seasickness
Computing – Life sciences
Nature June 13, 2013
Biology: The big challenges of big data
Life scientists have plenty of data and explore ever new ways to throw terabytes around to share, analyze and compare the data wealth. New science can emerge from analyzing existing data sets as well as new ones. That’s not exactly the wet-world of biology.
Nature Methods, February 2013
Author file: Loren Looger
He likes his shirts and biosensors bright. Loren Looger, who leads a research group at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus, lights up message transfer in the brain. And he wants to go even further than tracking excitatory messages.
Nature Biotechnology, June 2012
My data are your data.
Sharing is easy, scientists do it in their sleep. Actually, they don’t always want to share.
The Lancet June 8, 2012
FDA reform plan edges closer to realisation. A bill that gives the US Food and Drug Administration much new heft in addressing drug shortages as well as drug and device approvals has cleared House vote.
Newsweek/The Daily Beast, May 10, 2012
New Mayan Discovery: The World Isn’t Ending! The Mayans predicted that the world would end in 2012, right? Not according to the fascinating findings from a recent dig.
A platform in the making: SeeSaw.
SeeSaw weighs news and comments, showing the community of readers the spectrum of reporting and views on a topic.
Newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Boston Globe, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Handelsblatt, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt, Die Zeit, Facts, Weltwoche.
Magazines and online-only publications: The Economist, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Methods, Nature, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, The Lancet, New Scientist, Popular Science, Science Magazine,Scientific American.com, Red Herring, Der Spiegel, MIT’s Technology Review, Utah CEO, Chemical & Engineering News, BioInform, Genomics & Proteomics, Drug Discovery & Development.
TV: ARTE, ZDF, WDR, BR, HR, WGBH.
My past topics include:
innovation nuns R&D earnings imaging science policy sperm pain killers Web 2.0 telecommunications MEMS cancer noses RNAi oceanography brain-drain hieroglyphs zoos IPOs microfluidics databases natural catastrophes statistics comets biofilms newborns public health business plans data viz libraries space saliva sequencing X-ray free electron lasers biotechnology markets digital devices space exploration chemistry saints ambiguity antibodies glaciers neurons advertising statistics flurophores bridges stem cells Mayan culture research policy fluorophores regeneration microscopy GPUs higher education patents aging RAM medicine public-private initiatives CRISPR coaching dyes synapses partnerships microscopy stem cells animation venture capital climate imaging textiles dentistry nanotech relationships malaria particle accelerators sharing and not sharing tissue engineering male circumcision data integration dogs high-energy physics bridges geology algorithms mentoring explorers pigeons spectroscopy servants crowd-sourcing genomics microwaves television birds computing television the brain vaccines multiferroics running invasive species text mining acoustics plankton drug development gene-editing civil engineering animals start-ups proteomics newspapers physics comets patients pharmacogenomics simulation angels wikis philanthropy double lives counterfeiting standardized tests steam film