News and events

A nomad finds a home in viruses

June 23, 2021

When Arvind Varsani arrived in the Antarctica for the first time a decade ago, he noted that the world looked black and white — from the sheet ice to the sky to the snippets of Earth peeking out from under the snow-covered mountains. That is, with the exception of an oversized vermilion bus that ferried him and other researchers to a nearby camp. The sounds of a wind farm and heavy machinery reverberated. “It was a very surreal experience,” Varsani recalled. So was the...

Strange bedfellows: new research explores a rare case of endosymbiosis

June 11, 2021

Across nature, symbiotic relationships abound. Recently, a very unusual example of symbiosis at the cellular level was discovered by researchers with the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution at Arizona State University, along with international collaborators. A new study, led by corresponding author Sebastian Hess from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Cologne, describes the discovery of a very rare and enigmatic triple endosymbiosis consisting of a...

International collaboration to explore cellular mechanics of coral bleaching

May 6, 2021

Coral bleaching is a global ecological crisis caused by the massive loss of the symbiont dinoflagellate symbiodinium from its coral hosts. Ke Hu, a new faculty member in the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution, will collaborate with Kazuo Inaba at the Shimoda Marine Research Center/University of Tsukuba (Shizuoka, Japan) to better understand the cellular mechanics of coral bleaching.  This international collaboration will be supported by a $795,000 award from the Human Frontier...

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;...