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Humans of CPS: Dr. C

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

“So this is very self-centered but, for six years, I studied this one bacterium, and it infects the immune cells in your lungs, and the way it does that is basically that it builds a needle. I think this is my favorite thing, because I studied it from the inside out— I feel like I really know that bacterium. Like, we’re friends. So this bacterium, the scientific love of my life, is called Legionella pneumophila, and this bug— it builds this syringe, and it injects things through this syringe into your cells. It basically uses these things to trick your body into ignoring it. It’s like squid ink— it blows squid ink, and then you can’t see it anymore, like “la la la, I’m not here, I’m gonna cause disease.” And I spent six years identifying what the little things that it was shooting were, and I just think it’s amazing that it exists, like, what? And it’s a molecular syringe, so tiny that you can’t see it, unless you’re using electrons to beam at it. So, that’s probably it. It’s called the “Dot/Icm type IV secretion system.” That is my love. Anyone who wants to talk to me about the Dot/Icm type IV secretion system— how many hours have you got?”


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