News and events

Biodesign evolutionary cell biologist awarded 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship

March 11, 2021

Arizona State University Assistant Professor Kerry Geiler-Samerotte was recently named a recipient of the 2021 Sloan Research Fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards available to early career researchers. The fellowship is awarded annually by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to extraordinary U.S. and Canadian researchers in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, Earth system science, economics, mathematics,...

The far-reaching effects of mutagens on human health

December 21, 2020

In order to survive, flourish and successfully reproduce, organisms rely on a high degree of genetic stability. Mutagenic agents, which can threaten the integrity of the genetic code by causing mutations in DNA, pose a serious risk to human health. They have long been implicated in a range of genetically inherited afflictions, as well as cancer, aging and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. It now appears that mutagenic threats to a cell’s subtle machinery may be far more...

New recruit John McCutcheon elected as AAAS Fellow

December 4, 2020

Five outstanding Arizona State University faculty spanning the physical sciences, psychological sciences and science policy have been named as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). ASU’s Leah Gerber, Andrew Maynard, Steven Neuberg, Ying-Cheng Lai and John McCutcheon are being honored for their career contributions to science, innovation or socially distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications. The AAAS, publisher of the journal...

Are male genes from Mars, female genes from Venus? Review highlights sex differences in health and disease

September 11, 2020

Males and females share the vast majority of their genomes. Only a sprinkling of genes, located on the so-called X and Y sex chromosomes, differ between the sexes. Nevertheless, the activities of our genes—their expression in cells and tissues—generate profound distinctions between males and females. Not only do the sexes differ in outward appearance, their differentially expressed genes strongly affect the risk, incidence, prevalence, severity and age-of-onset of many diseases,...

Research center welcomes new associate director

July 24, 2020

John McCutcheon was recently hired as the associate director of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution. He will start at ASU Aug. 16. McCutcheon studies endosymbiosis—the process by which one cell becomes a long-term resident inside another cell. He is interested in how and why symbioses form, how they are maintained and what happens as the associations become more and more intertwined. His current work is focused on questions at the cell biological and biochemical level. Prior...

MELTDOWN: Can we push SARS CoV-2 off an evolutionary cliff?

May 14, 2020

From New York to Luxembourg, Namibia, Iceland and Bhutan, the novel coronavirus SARS CoV-2 has turned the modern world into a crisis zone. An unprecedented global effort is underway to understand the elusive pathogen and find effective therapies. An intriguing approach to treating Covid-19, the disease caused by the emergent virus, has recently been suggested by Arizona State University faculty members Jeff Jensen (Center for Evolution and Medicine) and Michael Lynch (Biodesign Center for...

Beating cancer by taking the unbeaten path

April 6, 2020

Athena Aktipis could be called a “Renaissance woman.” After all, she’s a psychologist, evolutionary biologist, cancer biologist and studies conflict and cooperation. She crosses boundaries and colors outside the lines in her quest to find answers to questions about human nature and the nature of life on earth. At Arizona State University, she is a co-leader of the Arizona Cancer Evolution Center; at the Biodesign Institute at ASU, she is a member of three different research centers;...

Oversupply of energy could put you at risk of developing cancer

March 9, 2020

Growing up, we are told that eating a balanced diet is pivotal to our health. After all, food is what supplies our body with the energy we need day to day. And it’s well understood that obesity, diabetes and chronic inflammation – common ailments tied to diet – hinder our health, often contributing to a higher chance of developing cancer. But the mechanism underlying this increase has not been well established – until now. Athena Aktipis, assistant professor in the Psychology...

Cliques, binges and bullies: What animals tell us about teen behavior

December 20, 2019

It’s not easy being teen. Negative images of adolescents populate the media. Words like moody, selfish, impulsive, disrespectful and even dangerous come to mind.  Suicide rates among teens and young adults have reached their highest point in nearly two decades. Adolescence is a particularly malleable time for mental and social development. Gaining a better understanding of the teenage brain and behavior can make this time an opportunity, rather than a calamity. In their recently...

Aquatic microorganisms offer important window on the history of life

November 25, 2019

The air, earth and water of our planet are pulsating with living things. Yet, a vast and diverse web of life exists, about which almost nothing is known. This is the world of flagellates, tiny organisms that persist in staggering numbers in many diverse ecosystems around the world. According to Jeremy Wideman, a researcher at the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms in Evolution at Arizona State University, we have a great deal to learn from these delicate and wildly varied creatures. Among other...