Understanding of cell biology has greatly advanced in recent years, thanks to improved cell culture techniques. By culturing cells (i.e. growing cells outside the body) scientists are able to perform experiments on living tissue, which they couldn’t possibly perform on a human being.
We have all had multiple viral infections in our lifetime, be it the flu or a more serious disease such as measles. Every year, new strains of virus feature in the spot light, making it a challenge to keep up with treatment options. But when did we first come across viruses? How did we differentiate them from other disease-causing pathogens? How did the first vaccinations against viruses come about?
By Helen Albert, Editor
Although archaeologists and anthropologists have been studying the ancient remains of our ancestors for many years, the study of ancient DNA extracted from these specimens began more recently. In 1984, Russell Higuchi, Allan Wilson and colleagues (University of California, Berkeley, USA) managed to extract DNA from a museum specimen of the Quagga, an extinct relative of the Zebra.
By Lisa Strittmatter, University of Cambridge, UK
My motivation to do a PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge was driven by its place at the forefront of science. During my time here, I have come to realise how little I know about the origins of molecular biology. In 1957, the MRC institute was named ‘unit for Molecular Biology’. I decided it was high time to find out more and who better to narrate its history than its contemporary witnesses?