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  • This year’s theme for Peer Review Week is “Identity”, with a focus on promoting equity in peer review practices and recognizing how personal identity can influence the process. While many researchers may involve trainees with their reviews, not all will acknowledge the contributions made by these early-career researchers or request that journals provide them with direct recognition. In this Q&A, we asked pairs of faculty and post-doctoral fellows who previously co-reviewed manuscripts at Communications Biology to reflect on their experiences with peer review, and the importance of including and recognizing early-career researchers as part of this process.

    Q&A Open Access
  • The accumulation of amyloid β (Aβ) in the brain is an established feature of Alzheimer’s disease, however mechanisms that regulate Aβ accumulation are not fully understood. In a recent study, Wang et al show that Aβ accumulation in neurons is tightly regulated by cholesterol production in astrocytes. This finding paves the way for future work that will establish whether the selective removal of Aβ by targeting this mechanism has therapeutic potential.

    • Karli Montague-Cardoso
    Research Highlight Open Access
  • Sahika Inal is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at KAUST and has been leading the Organic Bioelectronics group since 2016. With a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from the University of Potsdam (Potsdam, Germany) and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Bioelectronics at the Centre Microelectronique de Provence in France, she is an expert in the characterization of conjugated polymers and biomedical device development. In this Q&A, Dr. Inal tells us about her research interests, excitement of constantly learning in the lab and the expanding biosensor field.

    Q&A Open Access
  • Examining the anatomy of an organism opens up a whole world of exploration into the function of its body, its evolution, and how it interacts with the biotic and abiotic elements in its environment. On the cusp of new advances in technology that have furthered this exploration, the editors at Communications Biology have gathered a Collection of our exciting research in organismal anatomy to highlight the possibilities of this field yet to come.

    Editorial Open Access
  • In order to maintain persistent infections, microbes that cause chronic disease have to evade detection by the human immune system. To do so, many modulate the expression of plasma membrane receptors that trigger cell signalling pathways and immune responses. Using microscopy and cell sorting techniques, Businger et al. map the morphological changes in the plasma membranes of macrophages infected by human cytomegalovirus or human immunodeficiency virus and find novel differentially expressed receptors.

    • Marissa Knoll
    Research Highlight Open Access
  • Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, has taken on new meaning for the fields of chemistry and biology. DNA origami describes the folding of DNA strands to form nanoscale structures. The ability to design and form complex structures at a nanoscale level has fuelled new ambitions of nanostructure applications in life science. These predefined shapes become base structures for the development of a higher and complex functional structure. In a recent paper, Stömmer et al., demonstrated the ability to design a macromolecular level transportation network that allows the movement of molecules at sub-molecular levels using DNA. A multi-layer DNA origami was used to build micrometer-long hollow tunnels akin to railway tunnels. An accompanying DNA piston travelled through the tunnels with constant motion. The system also accommodated the application of electric fields to fuel the motion of the pistons along the filaments simulating a nanoscale electric railway system. This could revolutionize the way molecular drug delivery systems can be perceived in the future.

    • Theam Soon Lim
    • Karli Montague-Cardoso
    Research Highlight Open Access
  • Lipid nanoparticles can be used to deliver nucleic acids for gene expression modulation—but getting them to target specific tissues is an ongoing challenge. In a new study by Dammes et al., a conformation-sensitive targeting strategy is used to achieve better selectivity in silencing gut-homing leukocytes in mouse models of colitis.

    • Anam Akhtar
    Research Highlight Open Access
  • Carol Ibe is a Postdoctoral Scientist in the Saunders Lab at the John Innes Centre, Norwich. She received her PhD in Plant Sciences (as a Gates Scholar) from the University of Cambridge in 2020. From Nigeria, Carol understands the urgent need to develop the right capacity to advance bioscience education, research, and innovation to eradicate hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty in Africa. This led her to set up the JR Biotek Foundation, a non-profit organisation that is providing Africa-based early-career agricultural researchers with the right skillset and opportunities to improve widely consumed crop varieties in African countries, and to foster links between the lab and market to support smallholder farmers in the region. Her unwavering dedication and passion to improve the lives of others through her research and Foundation’s work has led to numerous awards including the University of Cambridge Society for the Application of Research Awards (CSAR) and the 2019 Bill Gates Sr. Prize.

    Q&A Open Access
  • Cunningham et al. comment on the U.K.’s commitment to protect 30% of land by 2030, by identifying priority landscapes for expansion of the current protected area network in the UK using 445 priority species ranges across the country, under two baseline protection definitions to reach this conservation target. They find that expanding the protected area network by initially only including the strictest protected areas would yield much greater representation of threatened species, and propose new considerations for protected area commitments.

    • Charles A. Cunningham
    • Humphrey Q. P. Crick
    • Colin M. Beale
    Comment Open Access
  • Glycans are a major composition of the cell surface that interacts with the surrounding environment. The ability to carry out glycan-binding profile studies has been mainly done with glycan arrays. However, glycan arrays are not easily adaptable for cell surface and in vivo glycan recognition assays. The Liquid Glycan Array (LiGA) reported recently by Sojitra et al. is an alternative glycan recognition assay that employs DNA barcoding, bioorthogonal ligation and deep sequencing technology. In LiGA, barcoded M13 virions are used to present glycans to allow rapid identification of binding partners based on sequence identity. This physical link between the glycan to the DNA sequence fitted in the phage genome provides an ingenious approach to maneuver glycan binding profile studies in various conditions.

    • Theam Soon Lim
    • Karli Montague-Cardoso
    Research Highlight Open Access
  • Professor Akiko Iwasaki’s research focuses on the mechanisms of immune defense against viruses at mucosal surfaces, which are a major site of entry for infectious agents. Professor Iwasaki received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Toronto and completed her postdoctoral training with the National Institutes of Health before joining Yale’s faculty in 2000. She has received many awards and honors and has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 2014. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018, to the National Academy of Medicine in 2019 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021. Professor Iwasaki is also well known for her Twitter advocacy of women and underrepresented minorities in the science and medicine fields. In addition, Professor Iwasaki co-directs the IMPACT (Implementing Medical and Public Health Actions against Coronavirus in Connecticut) team to generate an extensive biorepository for specimens collected from patients and health care workers, as well as implementing viral testing in both groups.

    Q&A Open Access
  • Jasmine Miller-Kleinhenz et al. highlight the risk of science and academia’s general neutrality to discussions around race and social justice. Their collectively-developed course represents a framework to begin these important discussions and improve conversations on race in academia.

    • Jasmine M. Miller-Kleinhenz
    • Alexandra B. Kuzmishin Nagy
    • Ida T. Fonkoue
    Comment Open Access
  • Alice Soragni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UCLA and a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Originally from Italy, she received her PhD in Physical Chemistry from the ETH of Zurich and a postdoc with David Eisenberg (UCLA) before starting her independent lab in December 2016. In this Q&A, Dr. Soragni tells us about her research on organoids, importance of learning from peers while starting an independent research career and of creating inclusive and diverse lab practices.

    Q&A Open Access
  • García Saura et al. report a new tool, MacroGreen, to detect ADP-ribosylation by GFP fluorescence in a microplate reader, or in cells by microscopy. With superior affinity and reduced ADP-ribosyl hydrolase activity, MacroGreen is an easy to produce and suitable tool for rapid detection of ADP-ribosylated proteins in vitro without a need for specialist reagents and time-consuming methods.

    • Antonio Ginés García-Saura
    • Laura K. Herzog
    • Herwig Schüler
    Comment Open Access
  • The theme for World Brain Day (WBD) this year is ‘Stopping MS’. Despite the amazing progress that science and medicine have made in the development of therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS), access to such therapies is still a major challenge in many parts of the world. We spoke to Professor Tissa Wijeratne, one of the founders of WBD, who has steered many initiatives that aim to improve brain health globally and Dr Joanna Laurson-Doube about the actions needed to improve MS treatment worldwide.

    Q&A Open Access
  • This year’s World Brain Day is focused on stopping Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Although amazing progress has resulted in the development of relatively successful MS therapies, access to such therapies is a major problem for most of the world. In addition, major advances are still needed that would enable more precise treatment of MS for all patient demographics. We therefore spoke to Dr Maurico Farez, whose pioneering work focuses on the use of AI for precision medicine in MS and Helen Onourah, who has highlighted crucial issues surrounding the inequities that exist in MS research.

    Q&A Open Access
  • July is Disability Pride Month here in New York, where part of the Communications Biology team is based. To mark this occasion, we are featuring a series of scientist interviews on the Nature Portfolio Ecology & Evolution Community site and wanted to elaborate on our motivations behind this post and our hopes for the future concerning the lived experience of disability in science.

    Editorial Open Access