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Sandra Porter

of Digital World Biology

Pull a spaghetti noodle out of a box of pasta and take a look.  It’s long and stiff.  Try to bend it and it breaks.  But fresh pasta is pliable.  It can fold just like cooked noodles. When students first look at an amino acid sequence, a long string of confusing letters, they often think those letters are…

Sometimes when you go digging through the databases, you find unexpected things. When I was researching the previous posts on insulin structure and insulin evolution, I found something curious indeed.                     I wanted to find out how many different organisms made insulin, so I used a database…

On pinene and inhibiting enzymes. People of a certain age may remember a series of really funny commercials featuring Euell Gibbons and his famous question about whether you’ve ever eaten a pine tree.  “Some parts are edible” said Euell. Perhaps some parts are, but other pine tree products aren’t so nourishing.  Crystallography365, aka @Crystal_in_city  had a couple of…

In my last post, I wrote about insulin and interesting features of the insulin structure.  Some of the things I learned were really surprising.  For example, I was surprised to learn how similar pig and human insulin are.  I hadn’t considered this before, but this made me wonder about the human insulin we used to give…

Molecules of sucrose tore apart in their bellies letting glucose course free in their veins. Luckily for us, a system evolved long ago to capture that glucose and minimize it’s potential for damage. Removing sugar from the blood and sequestering it in liver, fat, and muscle cells, minimizes the harm that might result if sugars were free to…

In 1925, dogsledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome.  The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders’ heroic feat. West Africa could use a similar effort today.…

What’s the first you think about when you see a spider?  Running away?  Danger?  Fairies? Spiderman? Do you wonder if spider silk is really strong enough to stop a train, like they showed in Spiderman 2? Whatever your thoughts, you’re probably not thinking about 3D printing in space.  Yet, the time might be near when…

Living in Seattle fosters a certain pessimism when it comes to large companies.  Boeing has always been a poster child for employment uncertainty, regularly hiring large numbers of people and just as regularly, laying them off.  Now, we have Microsoft and Amgen joining the club, with Microsoft layoffs impacting an estimate 1350 people in the area, and…

Bio Databases 2014

By @finchtalk (Todd Smith) In 2014 and beyond Finchtalk will be contributing to Digitalbio’s blog at this site. We kick off 2014 with Finchtalk’s traditional post on the annual database issue from Nucleic Acids Research (NAR). Biological data and databases are ever expanding. This year was no exception as the number of databases tracked by…

Yesterday, I wrote about students using science blogging as a way to develop an on-line portfolio and document their skills.  One friend wrote me this morning and asked if my instructions to our students were really as simple as I described. Well, no. In fact, it wasn’t easy to persuade my colleagues that we should…