Science + Health

CRISPR/Cas9 Sets Its Sights on Sickle Cell

When the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 was discovered in 2012 by Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna and collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, it changed genetics forever. “We’ve been able to read and write DNA for a long time. We have machines to sequence it (read); and to synthesize it (write). What we haven’t been able to do is to rewrite it—to edit it. And now we have a tool that lets you do something about that,” Doudna told California in 2014.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

SETI@Berkeley Has Their Ears Tuned to the Stars

SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is alive and well at Cal. Researchers at the Berkeley SETI Research Center are collaborating on Breakthrough Listen, the largest ever scientific search for alien communications, using an array of telescopes and observatories to gather artificially generated, electromagnetic signals from across the universe.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

Slippery Slopes and Other Concerns About End of Life Options

As of 2016, the California End of Life Option Act offers legal protection to residents suffering from terminal illness who wish to access medical aid-in-dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide. But the law has hardly quelled the controversy. We spoke with Dr. Guy Micco, co-director of the Program for Medical Humanities at Berkeley who has had a long-standing interest in aging and death, about the ethical concerns in legalizing life-ending treatment.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

Death, Life, and The Right to Draw Your Own Line

DEBORA ENDED HER LIFE on a clear spring night in a Japanese hotel in San Francisco. She had sent her farewells to a few of us—close friends and her sister’s family—and left final instructions on the table beside the bed. Just after midnight, she drank two small bottles of the barbiturate, Nembutal, washed down the bitter taste with fruit juice, fastened a plastic bag over her head, and lay down on the bed to die. She knew it would be quick.

From the Summer 2021 issue of California.

In the Navajo Nation, Fighting COVID and Years of Neglect

The scene is familiar: A hospital bed, a respirator, medical personnel in full PPE. But while the attending doctor is from San Francisco, California, the hospital is located 1,000 miles away, in the middle of 27,000 miles of vast, desert land.

We All Waste Food. One Researcher Wants to Know Why and How We Can Waste Less.

One July morning in 2016, in the predawn quiet of a Nashville suburb, Laura Moreno and her team of assistants looked more like investigators on a clandestine raid than scientists. With goggles, gloves, and coordinated efficiency, they removed garbage bags from every bin on the block, just barely beating the garbage truck to the spoils. They spent the next several weeks in an unventilated facility where they sorted and tallied everything from unpeeled bananas and sprouting russet potatoes to half-eaten take-out and sealed boxes of cereal.

Vaccine Passports: Are They Legal—Or Even a Good Idea?

Even as California inches toward economic and social reopening, the virus is running rampant in other states—most notably, Michigan—and outside the U.S., in countries that have received little or no vaccine. There is increasing concern that the highly contagious variants now circulating could fuel a nationwide surge this summer.

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