News & Events

Plant viruses may be reshaping our world

July 17, 2019

The community of viruses is staggeringly vast. Occupying every conceivable biological niche, from searing undersea vents to frigid tundra, these enigmatic invaders, hovering between inert matter and life, circumnavigate the globe in the hundreds of trillions. They are the most abundant life forms on earth. Viruses are justly feared as ingenious pathogens, causing diseases in everything they invade, including virtually all bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. Recent advances in the field of...

Wellbeing Commons symposium highlights the work of the state’s most prominent researchers in virology, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease

June 11, 2019

Arizona State University prides itself on an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to solving some of the world’s most prominent problems. Led by Joshua LaBaer, the executive director of the Biodesign Institute and center director for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, Arizona Wellbeing Commons (AWC) similarly emphasizes the importance of collaboration by bringing together scientists, doctors, and other partners to better human health. The key to...

First-of-its-kind microbial nursery grand opening

May 1, 2019

Microbiologist Ferran Garcia-Pichel has been on a mission to solve a particularly gritty problem: How can we keep the Earth’s natural topsoil tethered to the ground and out of the air – a particularly challenging problem in the desert, where haboobs and other natural processes can kick up some significant dust. In Arizona, particulate matter is the top source of pollution. As dirt flies away, it becomes dust and pollutes the air, causing issues for public health and the environment. For...

Using DNA templates to harness the sun’s energy

April 23, 2019

As the world struggles to meet the increasing demand for energy, coupled with the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from deforestation and the use of fossil fuels, photosynthesis in nature simply cannot keep up with the carbon cycle. But what if we could help the natural carbon cycle by learning from photosynthesis to generate our own sources of energy that didn't generate CO2? Artificial photosynthesis does just that, harnessing the sun's energy to generate fuel in ways that minimize CO2...

Priming the ocean’s carbon pump

April 1, 2019

When it comes to climate change and carbon reduction, Susanne Neuer is thinking small — extremely small. The Arizona State University biological oceanographer, both a professor in the School of Life Sciences and associate faculty in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, is an expert on marine phytoplankton, microscopic algae found in the sunlit zone of waters all over the globe. As Neuer is quick to point out, phytoplankton may be small — too small...

Wayne W. Luchsinger Chemistry Scholarship paves way for veteran to earn a 4+1 degree

March 12, 2019

Tyler Rockwood is finishing up his 4+1 master’s degree in biochemistry and medicinal chemistry in the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University. The Phoenix native was the recipient of the Wayne W. Luchsinger Chemistry Scholarship, an award that gives preference to veterans of one of the U.S. military services. Rockwood enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve during his senior year of high school and left for boot camp just 10 days after graduation. While friends were hanging...

Life’s many histories open new approaches to cancer

February 26, 2019

For most humans, a family of ten would be considered abundant. But for many other forms of life on earth, that’s.. well…chicken feed. Take the ocean sunfish for example. At spawning time, a female will commonly disgorge some 300 million eggs into her liquid habitat, which are subsequently fertilized externally. Only a tiny fraction of these eggs will hatch and survive. The resulting fry, each the size of a pinhead, can eventually grow to the proportions of a rhinocersos. Why do...

Former Biodesign student researcher makes journey as Gates Cambridge Scholar

January 22, 2019

Arizona and Zimbabwe are at opposite ends of the alphabet, and traveling from one to the other really has been a trip from A to Z for Charity Bhebhe. The Arizona State University graduate from Barrett, The Honors College has made the journey, and those who don’t understand what that entails should find her impression of ASU and Tempe instructive. “It was very hot, but it’s very well developed and the transport system is really organized,” Bhebhe says. “There’s free internet,...

Defining Quality Virus Data

December 17, 2018

Microbes in, on and around the planet are said to outnumber the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. The total number of viruses is expected to vastly exceed even that calculation. Arvind Varsani, a researcher in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics has hunted these elusive entities in far-flung locales, from the Pacific Islands and Amazonian jungles to Antarctic ice floes. In a new report, he joins an international group of researchers attempting to establish more...

Biodesign symposium hosts researchers from West China

November 19, 2018

Joshua LaBaer, executive director of the Biodesign Institute, co-hosted a lively and innovative symposium, greeting the international guests in their native language. After enthusiastic applause, the presentations began. The symposium, which hosted representatives from Sichuan University and West China Hospital, in addition to researchers from the Biodesign Institute, focused on exploring strategies for the detection and treatment of infectious diseases and cancer. The gathering...