Nerd Nite DC is DC’s original science + nerd + drinking event. See us nerd out!

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We all know that the discovery of penicillin was mostly an accident, but the development of all sorts of other life-extending technologies was often not so simple. In this last Nerd Nite before simmer break we’ll be learning about the drama behind the sequencing of the human genome, the tribulations of malaria vaccine development, and the scandals uncovered in the world of scientific imaging. Come give your brain one last dose of intellectual medicine before you head out for the holidays!

Date: Saturday June 11th, 2016 A.D.
Time: Doors 6:00PM, Show 6:30PM
Where: DC9, 1940 9th St NW

What’s in a Genome? Stories from the Human Genome Project
by Kris Wetterstrand

It’s the stuff of life. It’s a recipe book. It’s what makes you you. DNA is the chemical molecule that contains all the information needed to build and maintain an organism. The Human Genome Project (HGP) was the initial effort to figure out what all the DNA (also known as the genome) is in humans. It was a big deal for biologists to come together and get this done, it cost a LOT of money, and there was a lot of drama… but in the end it was a success. This talk will show you what it took do the HGP, what we learned and what we still don’t know. The presenter of this talk celebrated the completion of the HGP three times (genomicists like parties), but she’ll tell you, we still aren’t done.

Bio: Kris is Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).  She manages, contributes to, or sticks her nose into special projects at NHGRI such as the History of Genomics Program, the content development team for the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code Smithsonian exhibition and the Genome Sequencing Program. She was on the management team of the Human Genome Project and is marginally ‘famous’ for tracking the decreasing costs of DNA sequencing for the past 15 years.  She received her M.S. in genetics from Cornell University.


#nofilter: Photo Manipulation And Misconduct in Biomedical Research  
by Tagide deCarvalho

We all want to our pictures to look good. Photographic enhancement is such a large part of our culture that parents have begun naming their babies after Instagram filters! However, photo manipulation can be taken to questionable extremes, as exemplified by controversies involving magazine covers of celebrities with digitally slimmed bodies. What about scientific photographs? Are scientists allowed to alter research images to make them look better? Where is the line between acceptable and inappropriate image processing? In this presentation, we will discuss the ethics of image manipulation, learn how fraud is uncovered in biomedical research, and highlight the grim consequences of scientific misconduct from recent high profile cases.

Bio:Tagide deCarvalho is the director of the Core Imaging Facility at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where scientists collect and process their research images. She received a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Maryland, College Park and stayed in the area, working as a neuroscientist at the Carnegie Institution and teaching at Georgetown University. At the end of the workday, she enjoys posting heavily filtered personal photos on Instagram.


How to Make a Malaria Vaccine
by Adam Ruben

Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria; in 2015, there were more than 200 million malaria cases and nearly half a million deaths, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. While malaria can usually be treated, the best chance we have at saving lives, and the billions of dollars spent on treatment and prevention, is by developing a vaccine. However, vaccine development is not easy for a disease like malaria, which faces both biological and market-based challenges. During this talk, we will take you through an intrigue-filled journey of vaccine development, from the challenges in the lab to the story in the field.

Bio: Adam Ruben is a writer, comedian, and molecular biologist.  He received his Ph.D. in Biology from Johns Hopkins University and is now the Associate Director of Vaccine Stabilization & Logistics at Sanaria Inc.  Adam has performed stand-up comedy for more than 15 years and he is the author of the book Surviving Your Stupid, Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School and is currently working on a narrative nonfiction book about pinball, to be published next year.  Adam has appeared on the Food Network’s Food Detectives, the Science Channel’s Head Rush, the Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Kremlin, the Weather Channel’s Weather Gone Viral, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and he currently co-hosts Outrageous Acts of Science​ on the Science Channel.

Nerd Nite DC: Be There and Be Square!