Reminder about Sloan post-doc RFP in microbiology of the built environment

Just a quick reminder here that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation put out a call this summer for proposals from post-docs working on the microbiology of the built environment.  The proposals are due this Sunday, September 1st.   See our previous post with the details here. The very short description of the call: Research Area of Interest Applications most likely to be of interest should describe innovative fundamental research in the microbiology of the built environment, very broadly defined.

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Spinal Tap-The Fungal Meningitis Edition

For anyone looking for another reason to fear hospitals, nosocomial infections (hospital acquired infections), or spinal injections, here is a story for you. Contaminated spinal injections were given to patients in 20 states and led to 751 individuals developing fungal meningitis and 64 deaths. FDA and CDC officials conducted a preliminary investigation and discovered a a compounding center in Massachusetts was responsible for the outbreak. The compounding center recalled all of their products in September of 2012 when the cause of the outbreak was discovered. Four fungal and 16 bacterial contaminants were found in the recalled vials. Last Friday (8/22/14) researchers … Continue reading

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Nice summary of the Earth Microbiome Project by Gilbert et al.

If you have any interest in large scale microbial ecology – either to do it yourself or to make use of the results or to just watch it as it happens, you should read this paper: BMC Biology | Full text | The Earth Microbiome project: successes and aspirations.  It outlines the history and goals and some of the details behind a very audacious project – the Earth Microbiome Project.  When I first heard about this (at the Snowbird meeting referred to in the article) I thought it was a bit much and the authors even refer to a quote of … Continue reading

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A disturbing trend – casual and reckless use of antimicrobial agents in building materials.

There was a very interesting artilce in the New York Times on August 21 bu Michael Kimmelman: In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already.  The article focuses on a move by the University Medical Center of Princeton to redesign hospital rooms.  And Kimmelman discusses a variety of issues associated with hospital design. And there were a few aspects of the re-design that relate specifically to microbes.  One makes a lot of sense to me – the positioning of a sink “in plain sight, so nurses and doctors will be sure to wash their hands, and patients can watch them do so”.  It … Continue reading

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Awesome science paper 1st lines example regarding microbes on the Archimedes Palimpsest

Just a quick post here.  Got alerted to this paper by Google Scholar updates: A Combined Approach to Assess the Microbial Contamination of the Archimedes Palimpsest.    And I was drawn into it immediately by the first line in the introduction The transmission of ancient texts through the ages appears to be an almost miraculous event from both the microbiological and cultural point of view. What a great first sentence.  And the rest of the paper does not disappoint.  Microbes on ancient texts are important for a variety of reasons – not the least of which relates to degradation of the … Continue reading

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50 Shades of Gross

In the 2011 paper “Microbial Biogeography of Public Restroom Surfaces” Noah Fierer and others found that some of the toilet flush handles had similar microbial communities to those of the restroom floor, suggesting evidence of the germaphobic practice of flushing the toilet with a foot. I was curious to know if we could find other microbial community footprints, if you will, of germaphobes in public restrooms. So logically, I began researching germaphobic practices. Some of them are just too good not to share! Behold 50 shades of Gross: A guide to Germaphobia! But facepalms aren’t allowed because god forbid your germy … Continue reading

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NSF Funding Opportunity: Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships

Just got this from Amy Pruden, via Paula Olseiwski.   Seems like a potential opportunity to get some funding for the microbiology of the built environment from NSF.   The “Concept” of the program is described below: The Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships — Concept The Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships program supports innovative research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term investments. STCs conduct world-class research through partnerships among academic institutions, national laboratories, industrial organizations, and/or other public/private entities, and via international collaborations, as appropriate. These partnerships build intellectual and physical infrastructure within or between disciplines and facilitate … Continue reading

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Swabs to Genome Workflow Part II: The Problems

You can check out David Coil’s introduction to the project here. The workflow pre-print is hosted by Peer J here. Feel free to check it out! We would love any comments or suggestions. I was first introduced to the swabs to genome workflow project a little over a year ago. I had just started in the Eisen lab and was looking for a project I could work on over the summer and finish up before I graduated in December. David described the extensive work that had gone into the undergraduate reference genome project, explaining that while it had been difficult to … Continue reading

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Diversify Your Microbiome by Rock Climbing Indoors

When a recently published paper entitled “Microbial Sequencing Analyses Suggest the Presence of a Fecal Veneer on Indoor Climbing Wall Holds” showed up in my NCBI digest, I got excited.  However, my excitement died a little when I actually read the paper. Most importantly, the title is slightly deceptive, as only 9% of all reads in the study classified as fecal-associated organisms.  The authors even state that their results indicate “dispersal of microorganisms from climbing shoes, hands, and environmental sources, with less input from human sources on climbing holds compared to other built environments.” The study authors swabbed hand holds … Continue reading

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Nice series of papers on microbial ecology and space travel

Well, here is another benefit of automated Google Scholar searches. I think it is unlikely I would have found these new papers without such searches but these are fascinating and directly relevant to many aspects of work we are doing on Project MERCCURI.  A series of papers on microbial ecolog and space travel in the journal “Microbes and Environment” Microbial Monitoring of Crewed Habitats in Space—Current Status and Future Perspectives Microbial Existence in Controlled Habitats and Their Resistance to Space Conditions Space Habitation and Microbiology: Status and Roadmap of Space Agencies And for each the Full Text is freely available. … Continue reading

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