ABOUT Kausik Datta

Avatar of Kausik Datta

When not vociferously debunking pseudoscience of various stripes, I have been known to count host immunity, host-pathogen interactions and pathogenesis of infectious disease caused by two mycopathogens, Aspergillus spp., and Cryptococcus spp., as well as general science communication, amongst my interests. My views, of course, are absolutely and irrevocably my own.

 

Kausik Datta: All Posts

 
 

Sciencebloggers and SIWOTI – A Science Communication Research Project

Posted 27 October 2014 by Kausik Datta

A couple of days ago, Paige Brown Jarreau, my Scilogs co-blogger ("From the Lab Bench") and our intrepid, supportive, Scilogs-Community Manager, launched her own crowdfunding project on experiment.com to fund her research work on science communication. It is a worthy effort, and her results will be Open Access, which is an awesome plus. Please do visit her blog as well as the project page to support her endeavor if possible. In her survey (duly approved by the IRB of her institution),... Read more

The MIDAS touch: NIGMS Propels Infectious Disease Research To Golden Age via Computational Modeling

Posted 26 October 2014 by Kausik Datta

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), was established in 1962 via an Act of Congress for the "conduct and support of research and research training in the general or basic medical sciences and related natural or behavioral sciences", especially in areas which are interdisciplinary for other institutes under the Act, or alternatively, which fall under no institute’s purview. In these 52 years, the NIGMS has acquitted itself laudably... Read more

No, Drinking Your Own Urine Will Not Cure Ebola (Or Anything Else)

Posted 22 October 2014 by Kausik Datta

Fear does strange things to people. The fear du jour currently permeating the US is, of course, the Ebola virus disease. Despite the august efforts to reassure and educate from CDC and the WHO, there has spread a modicum of panic (often with tragic results); we have seen Ebola response become a political issue, and as pointed out recently by that redoubtable scienceblogger, Orac, a ghastly profusion of conspiracy theories and quackery has crawled out of nooks and crannies, feeding... Read more

Addressing TB disease, a global burden

Posted 30 July 2014 by Kausik Datta

Bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoan parasites; we share our world with countless agents of infectious, disease-causing bugs. Globally, infectious (or ‘communicable’) diseases of various stripes – respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, and meningitis among them – together remain the fourth leading cause of death, with people from lower-income countries being disproportionately more affected. Children form an especially vulnerable group; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 6.6 million children under 5 years died worldwide in 2012, and over two-thirds... Read more

Tuberculosis, the global scourge, and a new drug-design strategy

Posted 18 June 2014 by Kausik Datta

Every year on March 24, World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is observed to commemorate the discovery of the etiological agent of this disease, the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis by noted German physician and microbiologist and Nobel Laureate, Robert Koch (1843-1910). The infection occurs via inhalation of the air-borne bug; therefore, the disease primarily affects the lungs, but it can spread to other parts of body as well, such as the central nervous system (brain and spinal chord), bone, and internal organs. If... Read more

Saga of Dietary Supplements: “All Natural”? “Herbal”? “Safe and effective”? Um… Not quite.

Posted 5 June 2014 by Kausik Datta

Poor wee "All Natural", "Herbal" dietary supplements -- 'safe and effective' alternative medical modalities so beloved of the pseudoscience aficionados and woomeisters all over the world: they can't get a break! On June 2, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning - via its Medication Health Fraud webpage - against 6 over-the-counter products for 'Sexual Enhancement', its second-largest single-day set of warning in this particular category. (The largest-yet set was warnings against 7 products in June... Read more

Bug’s “To-do”: Lose a few genes; Cause the Black Death

Posted 27 May 2014 by Kausik Datta

Yersinia pestis (YP) is a rod-shaped bacterium associated with the pandemic plagues that have devastated human civilization multiple times. According to available genetic evidence, an ancestral bacterium called Yersinia pseudotuberculosis (YPT) gave rise to this bug in China, from where it spread repeatedly westward to the rest of the world causing disease in both animals and humans. Infections due to both YPT and YP are classified as “zoonoses”, transmissible from animals (mostly rodents) to other animals and humans. YPT is... Read more

Nuance is critical in science communication both ways

Posted 16 May 2014 by Kausik Datta

Over at Communication Breakdown, my Scilogs-brother and science communicator par excellence Matt Shipman has brought out an interesting post, highlighting the problems in health research coverage by reporters as well as public information officers writing news releases. Matt exhorts these communicators to pay attention to three important concepts: context, limitations, and next steps. I understand and accept the point about context: it is important and necessary to present a given set of observations/results in the context of existing work in... Read more

The Master And His Student

Posted 9 May 2014 by Kausik Datta

It is said that Internet is for cats. And a casual flipping through the pages of the world wide web amply serves to consolidate that impression. Even to someone like me, who is an inveterate dog-person, and who vocally professes not to like cats, adorable furballs adorably engaged in various adorable antics can often seem adorably irresistible; oh, did I mention they are adorable? It is that same internet that alerted me to an awesome program at the Animal Rescue... Read more

Lies, misrepresentation, cherry picking quotes: PeTA’s tactics to garner support against animal research

Posted 30 April 2014 by Kausik Datta

I work with immunology of infectious disease and study host-pathogen response. My work has naturally involved a good amount of animal experimentation, especially mouse models of various infections. These mouse models are incredibly useful, because they offer a valuable window into the process of infection, pathogenesis ('disease production'), and the kind of immune response a vertebrate mammal generates to the infection. The same broad reasoning applies to rodent models of various metabolic and endocrine diseases, as well as cancer. These... Read more