Editor's Note

Words by
Asimov Press

Issue 3 of Asimov Press launches today, with an article about the origins of the laboratory mouse. Author Alex Telford explains how designer mice went from the world of “fancier shows” and a small farm in Granby, Massachusetts to become the de facto model organism for biomedicine.

Over the next two months, we will continue to publish a new essay each week to fill out the issue. Here’s a quick look at upcoming articles:

  • Stephen Malina takes us into the development of the nanopore sequencer, a diminutive yet highly efficient DNA sequencing device that has become ubiquitous in biology laboratories. David Deamer, a professor in California, dreamt up the nanopore sequencer while sitting in traffic, hastily sketched out his idea on a piece of notebook paper, and spent the next seven years crafting a prototype.
  • Niko McCarty explores the promise of gas vesicles, tiny structures that were first discovered in cyanobacteria in a German lake, but are today engineered to enable scientists to image individual cells moving within the bodies of animals using ultrasound.
  • Allison Berke explains that as sequencing technologies become smaller and cheaper, and AI tools improve, we can build a biosurveillance network that could detect emerging pathogens before outbreaks occur.
  • Rhea Purohit recounts the history of a Supreme Court case that made the entire biotechnology industry possible—Chakrabarty v. Diamond.
  • Keith Neeves explores why we don’t yet have synthetic blood despite an obvious shortage of donors. Neeves explains the complexity of blood and presents two approaches to synthesizing the components needed for effective and affordable facsimile of this vital fluid.
  • Kamal Nahas imagines how we might boost the speeds at which cells divide, and thus accelerate biology research as a whole.
  • Xander Balwit, pragmatist and animal enthusiast, explores what it would take to improve the welfare of rodents used in research, offering concrete strategies, such as using less aversive anesthetics and using “compassion breeding” to produce healthier lines.

Other Updates

  • Our first essay anthology, Origins, is available for purchase in the U.S. We’ve received very kind feedback from our readers and have donated an initial $2,000 to Malaria Consortium. Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy—we couldn’t do it without you. If you would still like to buy one, you can do so here.
  • There is a mistake in the book. Page 97 shows two slides from a lab talk that Michael Elowitz, now a professor at Caltech, presented in 1998. The first slide depicts the repressilator—one of the first synthetic gene circuits—but has an error; namely, tetR should be depicted as inhibiting cI, and not the other way around. This mistake was made during the book’s design process, and is not present in Elowitz’s original slides. We apologize for the mistake, but are grateful to Samira Nedungadi for pointing it out. If you ever spot a mistake in one of our essays—printed or otherwise—let us know and we’ll send you a free book.
  • Xander Balwit is now acting as Editor-in-Chief of Asimov Press, overseeing our editorial pipeline, commissioning strategy, and day-to-day managerial editing work. Niko McCarty is still involved in editing, but is transitioning to focus more on writing. He will publish articles on a regular basis.
  • Our editorial team is also going bi-coastal! Xander is moving to San Francisco where she will continue to lead sci-fi writing and other workshops. Niko will stay in Boston/Cambridge, hosting salons and other events. Xander is excited not only for the smell of jasmine and the chance to run formidable hills but also to help grow the biology writing community on the Golden Coast. If you’d like to meet up or have ideas for events, please reach out: xander@asimov.com

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