Friday, 17 February 2017 10:00

Publishing Zika

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In response to ‘A Zika Paper’, in which I discussed my thoughts on the problems with scientific publishing, Kim from Stockholm wrote to TWiV. "This Zika Diary post really made me depressed"
Thursday, 02 February 2017 09:02

A Zika Paper

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Our tiny Zika laboratory has been working on the virus since the middle of 2016, and we are ready to write a paper describing some of our findings. We are very excited about what we have discovered about Zika virus infection of embryonic mice, and believe that the paper describing this work will have substantial impact the field. Where should we submit the paper for publication?
Thursday, 08 December 2016 19:41

Responding to Zika Critique

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Those of us working in scientific research often receive critiques of our grant applications or papers that we submitted for publication. In most cases it's necessary to respond to these critiques to obtain funding or to publish a paper. I'm sure that the responses that many of us provide are quite different from what we are thinking.
Thursday, 17 November 2016 13:15

Zika Critique

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In the last column I wrote of our first unsuccessful attempt to secure funding for our work on Zika virus. Since then we have received the reviewers' comments and now we can determine what they did not like.
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 15:21

Zika grants

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My lab began working on Zika virus early in 2016, switching from poliovirus. Since then we have been generating results with Zika virus and applying for financial support. Unfortunately our first effort to secure funding fell short.
Friday, 21 October 2016 16:33

Zika and enterovirus D68

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When Zika virus grabbed the attention of my laboratory at the beginning of 2016, we had been searching for a new object of interest after many years of working on poliovirus. We had been doing experiments with enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but were stymied in our ability to study the neurovirulence of that virus. As a consequence of our work on Zika virus, that problem might have been solved.
Thursday, 06 October 2016 15:07

Congress moves on Zika

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Finally Congress has moved to allocate much needed funds for work on Zika virus. The vote, on 28 September, provides $1.1 billion, less than the $1.9 billion requested by President Obama, but nevertheless important considering the general agreement that the spreading virus is a public health emergency. 
Thursday, 29 September 2016 13:46

Delays at the Zika Zoo

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I have been documenting in Zika Diaries our efforts to begin experiments with Zika virus. Back in March, I wrote about our experience with writing a new IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) animal protocol to do the work and the expense of such work. Here we are at the end of September and we have yet to complete a single mouse experiment!
Friday, 23 September 2016 01:35

Communicating Zika

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Recently I was fortunate to interview David Quammen, author of 'Spillover', at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL). On the way back to our hotel we noticed that the taxi driver had a podcast app on his car’s dashboard. We suggested that he might want to listen to This Week in Virology, to which he answered 'not today', a response that summarizes the difficulties in explaining science to individuals who are not interested in the subject.
Friday, 16 September 2016 14:28

The Zika March of Dimes

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Today we submitted our second grant application for support of our research on Zika virus. This one was sent to the March of Dimes, an organization with the goal of improving the health of mothers and babies. It’s somewhat ironic that we seek support from this organization; although I have worked on poliovirus for most of my career, our research was never supported by the March of Dimes.
Thursday, 08 September 2016 17:56

Congress Fails Again on Zika

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Congress has again failed to provide needed money for Zika virus research. It’s the second time this year that this important research agenda has been compromised by politics.
Friday, 02 September 2016 12:44

Zika Sharing

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Of all the scientific results that my laboratory has produced over the years, I am most satisfied by those that maximally benefit the field. In this category falls the assay for determining the titer of Zika virus in plaque forming units per milliliter.
Thursday, 25 August 2016 19:31

Zika Social

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Writing about ongoing research is a difficult endeavor. Science is a competitive field, and no scientist wants to give away results or methods before they can be published. The reason is simple—journal publications are needed to obtain funding for research, and without funding, there is no laboratory and no research.
Wednesday, 17 August 2016 13:44

Zika A, G, C, U

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It took me one year to determine the 7,442-base sequence of poliovirus RNA by this technique. In our lab, Audrey Warren is creating DNA copies of the RNA of many different Zika virus isolates from all over the world. She amplifies short pieces of the Zika virus RNA genome by polymerase chain reaction, and then sends off the DNA to a local company. We get the results the next day on a website.
Thursday, 11 August 2016 12:43

The Cost of Zika Zoo

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Our protocol for infecting mice with Zika virus was approved, the animals were ordered, and now we are ready to do an experiment. This week we also received the bill for the animals and their housing—an eye-opener for anyone not used to animal research.
Thursday, 04 August 2016 12:53

Zika Dollars

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Work on Zika virus is being done using grant money that was meant for other research programs. Will Congress realize that meaningful, sustained progress on this virus will not come about by taking money from other programs? Apparently not—just before adjourning for the summer, and on the eve of the first local spread of Zika virus in the US, Congress failed to pass legislation that would provide funds needed to respond to this health crisis. I asked Nobel Laureate and former NIH Director Harold Varmus his thoughts on the lack of support for Zika virus research.
Thursday, 28 July 2016 14:22

A Zika window on brain development

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Zika virus has been propelled onto a global stage because of its ability to infect the developing fetus and cause congenital abnormalities in brain development. While preventing Zika virus infection is an important goal of research on the virus, we hope to use the virus as a model for understanding embryonic brain development.
Thursday, 21 July 2016 17:16

More Zika Colors

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In the last Zika Diaries article I lamented that one of the antibodies that we use to detect Zika virus infection within cells was out of stock at the supplier. Here’s how we got around that little problem.
Thursday, 07 July 2016 13:09

Zika in Colors

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Our work on Zika virus has utilized two different antibodies to detect Zika virus replication within cells. I described one antibody, directed against double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), in a previous article. A second antibody directed against a Zika virus protein has also been useful.
Friday, 24 June 2016 02:44

A Tiny Zika Laboratory

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So far in this series I’ve written a good deal about our work on Zika virus, but I have said little about the people who are doing the science.  My lab at Columbia University Medical Center is very small, consisting of three people—Amy Rosenfeld, Audrey Warren, and me. Let me tell you about Amy and Audrey.  
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