Living Lab on The Point

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Living Lab on The Point is a forum for the stories behind science headlines — the people who do the research, the unexpected ways that science gets done, and how the results make their way into our everyday lives.

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Living Lab host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

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Living Lab on The Point is Produced by Dr. Heather Goldstone. The Executive Producer is Mindy Todd.

Major support for the Living Lab is provided by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and The Kendeda Fund. Additional support is provided by Lee McGraw and the Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation.

Mike Baird / flickr

We like to think we’re in charge of our health, but it increasingly looks like the ones really running the show are the microbes in, on, and around us -  and not just the ones that cause diseases. Bacteria and other microbes on our skin and in our intestines far outnumber our actual human cells, and are responsible for a large fraction of what our bodies do - from digestion to mental health.

Bill Scholtz 4MG

Humans are unique for, among other things, our ability to drive other species extinct at an unprecedented rate. Stephen Kress is among a growing number of conservation biologists who counter that we also have the power - and responsibility - to restore what we've damaged. Project Puffin is Kress's legacy.

Image courtesy D. Kelley and M. Elend/University of Washington

We've been studying the stars for millenia. The ocean that covers seventy percent of the planet, though, remains a largely unmapped final frontier.

nedim chaabene /

In most circles, Cuba is known for cigars, the Bay of Pigs, and an uncomfortably close brush with nuclear warfare. In scientific circles, Cuba is also known as a leading producer of vaccines, the home of some of the Caribbean’s healthiest coral reefs, and an incredibly difficult place to pursue research.

ESO/S. Brunier

Nancy Ellen Abrams' search for God has been driven by personal need, and guided by our most advanced scientific understanding of our universe. In her new book, A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet, Abrams reveals her theory of a God that arises from humanity's aspirations.

Peter McGowan / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: climate change is happening, we’re largely to blame, and the effects are not as far off as you might think. What effects, you ask? Well, there's increasingly frequent and intense heat waves, drought, torrential rains. There's melting glaciers and rising sea level. Now, new research add some less intuitive climate change impacts.

Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Could Viagra help stop the spread of malaria? A new study by a team of European scientists makes it look like a possibility worthy of further consideration.

Jan Mallander / Pixabay

Antibiotics revolutionized 20th century medicine, reigning in common infectious killers, like tuberculosis and influenza. Decades later, though, a growing number of antibiotics are losing effectiveness. In 2013, nearly half a million people worldwide contracted multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

The World Health Organization warns that “without urgent, coordinated action, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill.”

You may never have heard of MassBiologics, but if you’ve ever gotten a tetanus booster shot in Massachusetts, you’ve gotten one of their medicines. MassBiologics is the only non-profit in the country that is FDA-licensed to manufacture vaccines and biological medications. In its 120 year history, it has delivered more than 100 million doses of medicines globally.

"We started out in 1894, as a collaboration between the Department of Public health and Harvard University," explains Executive Vice Chancellor Mark Klempner.

Caecilians are legless amphibians, which is weird enough. Some have protrusible eyes hidden under their skin, and one species has no lungs. To top it all off, caecilian mothers feed their young by producing a nutrient-rich skin that their babies - rather
Venu Govindappa / Wikimedia Commons

Science can be beautiful and amazing. It can also be slimy, weird, and just plain gross - like legless amphibians who eat their mothers’ skin, or cocaine that makes users’ ears rot. That kind of science is some of Anna Rothschild’s favorite, and it’s the subject of her new YouTube video series, called Gross Science.

Here are some examples: