Collage of images including sperm, bacteria, coral, and an illustration of a researcher
Our Favorite Cell and Molecular Biology Stories of 2021
Beyond The Scientist’s coverage of COVID-19’s molecular underpinnings were many other stories highlighting the advances made in scientists’ understanding of the biology of cells.
ABOVE: © IKUMI KAYAMA, STUDIO KAYAMA; B. SHRESTHA ET AL., SCI TRANSL MED, 2021; CHRISTIAN KOST, OSNABRÜCK UNIVERSITY; © ISTOCK.COM, OLEMEDIA
Our Favorite Cell and Molecular Biology Stories of 2021
Our Favorite Cell and Molecular Biology Stories of 2021

Beyond The Scientist’s coverage of COVID-19’s molecular underpinnings were many other stories highlighting the advances made in scientists’ understanding of the biology of cells.

Beyond The Scientist’s coverage of COVID-19’s molecular underpinnings were many other stories highlighting the advances made in scientists’ understanding of the biology of cells.

ABOVE: © IKUMI KAYAMA, STUDIO KAYAMA; B. SHRESTHA ET AL., SCI TRANSL MED, 2021; CHRISTIAN KOST, OSNABRÜCK UNIVERSITY; © ISTOCK.COM, OLEMEDIA
disease vectors, microbiology, immunology
3D illustration of a tapeworm infestation in a human intestine
Return of the Worms
Catherine Offord | Dec 1, 2021
Immunologists and parasitologists are working to revive the idea that helminths, and more specifically the molecules they secrete, could help treat allergies and autoimmune disease.
December 2021 - Gut Guests - Infographic
Infographic: How Worms that Reside in the Gut Could Influence Health
Catherine Offord | Dec 1, 2021
Research in animals and people supports a range of mechanisms by which the parasites affect physiology and immune responses.
In one of the only known photos of Abraham Lincoln taken on the day of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln can be seen seated, hatless, just below and to the right of the flag. Lincoln began developing symptoms of smallpox on the train home to Washington, DC.
Presidential Pox, 1863
Annie Melchor | Dec 1, 2021
Researchers continue to debate whether US president Abraham Lincoln was coming down with smallpox as he delivered his famous Gettysburg Address, and if he had been immunized.
Artist’s renderings of SARS-CoV-2 float in front of a map showing the origins of various variants of the virus.
Omicron Is WHO’s Fifth Variant of Concern, Experts Urge Patience
Dan Robitzski | Nov 30, 2021
Preliminary data suggest that the newly dubbed Omicron variant may be more infectious than previous versions of the virus, but it will take time to obtain the reliable data needed to answer pressing questions about its biology.
building sign
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Garners First Full Approval
Chloe Tenn | Nov 24, 2021
Health Canada has given the single COVID-19 shot the official greenlight for use in people 18 and older.
Headshot of Sherif Zaki
CDC Pathology Investigator Dies Unexpectedly at 65
Jef Akst | Nov 23, 2021
Sherif Zaki worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more than 30 years, and was renowned for uncovering crucial intel on various outbreak-causing scourges, from Ebola and Zika to SARS and influenza.
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Salmonella bacteria in intestinal tissue
Gut Infections Help Shield Intestinal Neurons from Future Damage
Annie Melchor | Nov 19, 2021
In mice, a kind of immune memory appears to protect the cells against future harm, a finding that could provide insight into treatments for irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory digestive conditions.
black-legged deer tick waits on leaf for host to feed on
A Lab-Stage mRNA Vaccine Targeting Ticks May Offer Protection Against Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases
Andaleeb Sajid | Nov 18, 2021
NIH researcher Andaleeb Sajid discusses her study’s finding that ticks were unable to feed on vaccinated guinea pigs, preventing transmission of the pathogen that causes Lyme disease.
orange and blue cell image
Woman’s Body Appears to Rid Itself of HIV
Chloe Tenn | Nov 18, 2021
Researchers report what appears to be the second case of a person’s immune system clearing the virus on its own.
The lungfish has a beige face and grey spotted body with a darker tail fin, as well as four long, spindly appendages. It is on a white background.
Lungfish Cocoons Are Alive, Sort Of
Abby Olena | Nov 17, 2021
Researchers find that the protective outer layer that lungfish make to survive extended dry periods—once thought to be a simple mucus shell—contains immune cells that trap bacteria and protect the animals from infection.
Small group of Scimitar-horned oryx
Tool Identifies Likely Reservoir Species for SARS-CoV-2
Emma Yasinski | Nov 16, 2021
Researchers used sequencing data and phenotypic traits to predict which of 5,400 species were most likely to be susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus back to humans.
Artist's impression of the human microbiome
Diet Implicated in Autism-Microbiome Link
Ruth Williams | Nov 11, 2021
The unbalanced gut flora present in some people with autism is not a driver of the condition but rather a consequence of eating behaviors characteristic of the condition, a new study claims.
microscope image of methaotrophs with black specks
Deep Sea Microbes Produce Graphite-like Carbon
Chloe Tenn | Nov 11, 2021
The first evidence of biologically produced elemental carbon inspires more questions than answers.