Archive for the ‘Activities’ Category

When bacteria were called viruses!

Saturday 29 September, 2007

The word “virus” was used in the past to refer to any poison (Latin: virus = poison), such as snake venom, and was later used to describe the causative agent of any infectious disease.

Pasteur often referred to pathogenic bacteria as viruses, but by the end of the nineteenth century, things have changed and infectious agents smaller than bacteria kept the name “filterable viruses” or viruses.

Source: Brock’s Biology of Microorganisms, Eighth Edition (P. 250)

Try to find more info and post it in the comments area…

Get ready for next lecture: read about bacterial structure

Friday 28 September, 2007

Here are some suggestions to help you get prepared for next week’s lecture (Tue 2 October, Wed 3 October) about the prokaryotic cell’s structure, by Dr. Aymen Yassin:

  1. Read the main points in Part I, Chapter 3 in your book. You don’t need to read the whole chapter. Alternatively, get used to “skimming” though the text: read the main titles/ find the keywords by reading rapidly through the chapter/ look at the figures and get an idea about what they represent (More tips on speed reading can be found here and here)
  2. Read about bacterial structure in Todar’s Online Textbook of Bacteriology or USC School of Medicine Bacteriology, Chapter One (you may even download the whole lecture from this page, or see the presentation and listen to the lecture here!). Isn’t all this amazing?
  3. Check the “Explore the bacterial cell” interactive animation (by clicking on the image below). Try to find out the function of each part of the cell.

Staph pigments competition: Three winners already!

Monday 2 April, 2007

We already have three winners for the Staph pigments competition.

The winners are
1) Samar Galal Ahmed Kabeel (سمر جلال أحمد قابيل) emailed the right answer at 4:28 PM, Cairo Time
2) Mohammed Shehta Mostafa (محمد شحتة عبد النبي مصطفى) posted the right answer at 9:02 PM, Cairo Time
3) Soha Khairy ElMekkawy (سهى خيري المكاوي) handed out a full answer at 3:30 PM, Cairo Time, in the laboratory.

All others, please keep sending your answers.

Staph pigments: Three weeks-no answer? Now there is a prize!

Friday 30 March, 2007

Three weeks ago, exactly on March 7th 2007, I have posed a question related to the pigements of Staphylococcus aureus.
Until now, I have not received a single comment–not even a question–about that post. This surprises me because many people visit the weblog everyday and comment on other posts. In addition, a simple Google search will reveal the answer; so…?!

OK. I will not post the answer yet. I will give you another week. This time, there is an incentive: a prize!
The first three who email me the correct answer will be eligible to win. Alternatively, you can write the answer on a piece of paper and bring it to me in person in the laboratory on Monday April 2nd at 3 pm or Wednesday April 4th at 4 pm.

Condition: I will discuss with you how you got the answer. If you fail to explain how you exactly found it, or I realize that you received it from someone else: no prize!!

The Florida Dentist: HIV Molecular Forensics

Tuesday 20 March, 2007

–The “Florida Dentist” exercise, that is being solved in the Micro labs this week, is a simplified version of an exercise about in the book “Microbes Count!“–

As I told you in the lecture, the exercise is an accurate–but simplified–version of a real story that was in the news in the early 1990s. As a matter of fact, the case was published in one of the most prestigious journals, Science, in 1992. (Check the article’s abstract here).

The real story, in full details, can be found in the following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports:

Initial report (27 July 1990)
Report showing three more cases (18 January 1991)
The story of patients E, F, G (14 June 1991) – This is the story on which the lab exercise was based.
One year later (15 May 1992)
A later report summarizing results of screening most people who were treated by this dentist (7 May 1993)

Although the reports support the hypothesis that the dentist was the source of HIV infection, there were always doubts concerning the mode of viral transmission. For example, a journalist debates the case in the following article The 1990 Florida Dental Investigation: Is the Case Really Closed?

More interestingly, a book was written about the whole story…
(Click the book title for information)

WOW! It seems that you can buy the book for less than a dollar, if you’re in USA.

This case may make the Florida dentist as famous as Typhoid Mary. [Do you know her story?]

p.s. You may want to read more details about DNA forensics.

Want to know more about bird flu?

Saturday 17 March, 2007

In the prelab lecture, I gave you a very brief idea about the efforts to contain the avian flu epidemic. Below is a list of resources that may help you discover more about this very serious viral threat.

* Check out:
Transmission of avian flu
Why/How avian flu infects humans?
The NAMRU-3 laboratory in Egypt


The Center for Disease Control (CDC) report
The World Health Organization (WHO) report
Wikipedia page
Infleunza Virus Resource: Information, Search and Analysis
The bird flu blog
Bird flu monitor

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