tsmith

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Tara C. Smith

Associate Professor, lab rat (microbiologist/infectious disease epidemiologist) and occasional blogger, full-time nerd.

Posts by this author

April 22, 2010
Student guest post by Liz Stepniak In the field of chronic disease, genetics has long been determined as a component of disease susceptibility. Infectious disease was believed to be caused by an agent of infection, such as a virus or bacteria which comprises a large environmental factor. In the…
April 20, 2010
Student guest post by D.F. Johnston As the year marches forward, ever closer to that summer sun we missed so much during dreary winter days, we also get closer to the traditional summer picnics and barbecues. Sometimes, in our hurry to enjoy quality time with friends and family, we get distracted…
April 20, 2010
Student guest post by Laura Vonnahme As a part of traveling to a developing nation, we are often required to take medical precautions. This generally includes a line-up of shots for various diseases, a few other tests, and various regimens of prophylaxis for possible diseases. I have often left…
April 19, 2010
Student guest post by Ahn To There are two separate philosophies regarding the relationship between life and food. There are those that believe we only eat to live. On the other hand, there are those that believe one of life's greatest pleasures is food. I am a firm believer of the latter, thus…
April 19, 2010
Student guest post by Francis Mawanda. HIV/AIDS is a major public health problem worldwide. To date, it is estimated that more than 60 million people have been infected with HIV and more than 25 million people have died as a result of HIV/AIDS worldwide1. Despite the high prevalence and mortality…
February 26, 2010
Student guest post by Shylo Wardyn I recently read the book 'Good Germs, Bad Germs' by Jessica Snyder Sachs. I became intrigued by parts of her book that discussed how babies become colonized with bacteria during birth. The most interesting part was the differences between vaginally-delivered and…
February 25, 2010
Student guest post by Desiré Christensen Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are small DNA viruses that infect epithelial cells. There are well over 100 subtypes of HPV. The subtypes that infect cutaneous epithelia are termed beta-HPVs and those that infect the mucosal epithelia are termed alpha-HPVs…
February 25, 2010
Student guest post by Andrew Behan Type I Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) is a disease most affecting children (previously named juvenile-onset diabetes). However, adults can still develop this life-threatening illness. Research in the genetic arena has provided evidence this disease is partially due to…
February 25, 2010
Student guest post by Rajeshwari Nair Discussion on consumption of meat products is a common occurrence in my household. Hailing from India, I have always relished meat dishes that my mom cooks up, hot and spicy! However, there is always a nagging guilt on eating animals. People have tried…
February 24, 2010
Student guest post by Anne Dressler The idea of evolutionary medicine is new to me and my understanding is quite shallow but it has piqued my interest. Currently, the book "Why We Get Sick" by Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams has been satisfying my curiosity during the 15 minutes of…
February 24, 2010
Student guest post by Jay Watson We've all been there at some point before: a hot summer day, your delicious ice cream cone or tasty treat, and that uneven sidewalk. After taking about ten steps away from the vendor, you mistakenly put your foot into a gigantic fault in the sidewalk and…
February 23, 2010
Student guest post by Liz Stepniak In the United States, the obesity epidemic is rapidly spreading. Since 1980 the prevalence of obesity has increased over 75%. Currently, over half the population is overweight, and nearly 1 in every 3 adults is clinically obese. Research has also been…
February 23, 2010
Student guest post by Dayna Groskreutz Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States. Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a term which includes both heart attacks and unstable angina. ACS occurs, in part, due to atherosclerosis, or plaque accumulation leading to narrowing…
February 23, 2010
Student guest post by Ron Bedford. The first week of February 2010 must have been some sort of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) week. The New York Times ran a story about PPS on February 2nd. On the following Saturday, during the broadcast of the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog show, a…
February 22, 2010
Student guest post by Anh To. When I found out my only non-smoking cousin had nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), I was puzzled. With all the hype about cigarette smoking associated with various kinds of cancers in the media, I did not understand why none of my smoking cousins had NPC but the one who…
February 22, 2010
Guest post by Zainab Khan In most western countries, germs have become synonymous with the idea of something bad that needs to be killed as quickly as possible. However, people have long been questioning the validity of these ideas; a few decades ago it was hypothesized that not enough exposure to…
February 22, 2010
It's that time again. I teach a class in even years on infectious causes of chronic disease, looking at the role various infections play in cancer, autoimmune disease, mental illness, and other chronic conditions. When I last taught the course in 2008, the students were assigned two writing…
December 6, 2009
Recently, a bit of a kerfuffle has sprung up around the choice of entries included in The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, edited by Richard Dawkins. The book contains 83 examples of the "finest writing by scientists." However, DrHGG noted: Of 83 texts Professor D has selected 3 written by…
October 22, 2009
I've written previously about "chicken pox parties". These types of events are coming back into vogue (they were common in the days before the vaccine, when the only way to provide immunity was to be infected), as parents mistakenly believe that "natural exposures" to these pathogens are somehow…
October 21, 2009
I realize that, despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, there is still a lot of fear and misunderstanding about vaccine safety. Two recent articles discuss this "epidemic of fear" and why it affects us all, the first here at Wired magazine, and the second here at the Gotham Skeptic. I…
September 18, 2009
Taking a brief hiatus from my hiatus to discuss a question I've been asked a number of times in recent weeks by friends and family: what about flu shots? Are you getting one for yourself? Your kids? The answer is yes to both, with more explanation after the jump. First, for readers unfamiliar…
June 1, 2009
"I always think someone is following me and wants to rape me. It is better to die." --Darfuri refugee Sometimes there comes a public health issue that's so big, so overwhelming, so heinous, that you just don't know where to begin discussing it. Nevertheless, the conversation should, and must,…
May 5, 2009
Now if he could just get his science straight when it comes to vaccination...but perhaps this mean he's changed his views on the germ theory? (H/T Louis)
May 4, 2009
Back to the grind this week unfortunately, but the swine flu/H1N1 story is still developing and still fascinating. The most recent numbers show 286 confirmed US cases in 36 states. There are many remaining questions on the evolution and epidemiology of this strain--and many pundits sure they…
May 3, 2009
Over at DailyKos, DemfromCT has an excellent post explaining why it may be beneficial for schools to close temporarily, even if they only have one confirmed case of swine influenza: H1N1: Why Do Schools Close, And When Do They Open? DarkSyde also has one up on the basic biology and evolution of…
May 1, 2009
Nick Anthis has a very nice (and very readable!) overview of why flu viruses (including the new A/H1N1 strain) are resistant to adamantane, one of the antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza infections.
April 30, 2009
I've been seeing a lot of comments mocking the current outbreak of H1N1, and a lot of people (and journalists) who don't understand what "big deal" is about the "snoutbreak" of swine influenza, or don't get what the raising of the World Health Organization's pandemic alert phase up to 5 means. I…
April 29, 2009
It was only a matter of time: Iowa Gov. Chet Culver says the state has two probable causes of swine flu. Speaking Wednesday at a Statehouse news conference, Culver told reporters that officials would know Thursday if the cases are swine flu. Officials say one case was from a California resident who…
April 29, 2009
Brandon Keim at WiredScience has a new article on swine flu genomics. "This is what we call a reassortment between two currently circulating pig flu viruses," said Andrew Rambaut, a University of Edinburgh viral geneticist. "Why it's emerged in humans is anyone's guess. It hasn't been seen before…
April 29, 2009
The latest numbers of confirmed cases from the CDC were released about an hour ago. 91 cases have been confirmed, with the largest numbers in New York (51), California (14), and Texas (16). One new case has also been confirmed in Nevada, one in Indiana, one in Arizona, and 2 in Michigan; the other…