Origins News Roundup for August 6, 2014
Updates on the spread of the Ebola virus have been sweeping the news since mid-July. The virus, which has an exceptionally high fatality rate, has caused over 700 deaths in West Africa, according to the latest World Health Organization report. Currently, no approved vaccine or treatment exists for any of the five strains of the virus; however, an experimental serum was used to treat two American missionary workers who contracted the disease. The serum, which has only been tested on monkeys, caused significant improvement in both patients. For more information on current and historical outbreaks of the virus, CNN offers an “Ebola Fast Facts” report.
Genomic medicine has also been in the news, following the announcement that Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong will serve as the global director for Providence Cancer Services and Bioinformatics. According to Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, “Providence will be the first health care system that will use the sequencing system, giving the most comprehensive view of each patient's disease available to date. The HiSeq X Ten is the world's first platform to deliver population-scale whole genome sequencing, and is capable of sequencing thousands of samples annually with high quality.” Also, England’s prime minister David Cameron has announced a new government-backed research project with the goal of sequencing the genomes of 100,000 citizens by 2018. Those further interested in the topic should check out this overview of six articles on genomics and the promise of improved, personalized medicine.
Peter Park, an evolutionary biologist and friend of BioLogos, has developed a free virtual lab and set of videos on basic concepts in ecology, evolution, paleontology, genetics, and statistics. Educators, parents, and students interested in digging into topics of science and faith can take advantage of this and other educational resources found on the BioLogos website.
Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO) has been granted $1.6 million dollars by the Templeton Religion Trust to offer research seminars for early- to mid-career faculty members from universities across the world. The program, called Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities, includes two month-long summer seminars at Oxford, involving lectures, mentor sessions, tutorials, and workshops, and supports participants with stipends. More information on the opportunity, as well as forms indicating intention to apply, can be found on the program website.
Math-minded readers may appreciate the Association of Christians in Mathematical Sciences and its accompanying journal, edited by Dr. James Bradley of Calvin College. Bradley was formerly featured on BioLogos for his interview with atheist philosopher Michael Ruse. Finally, the winner of the world’s best smeller is the elephant! Scientists in Genome Research report that elephants have about 2,000 smell sensor genes, allowing them to use olfaction to communicate and even distinguish between members of different African tribes.