The Differences between Hiking and Trekking

A Yale University PhD graduate, Dr. Thomas “Tom” Brutnell is a scientist with over 25 years of experience in plant molecular biology, genetics, and genomics. He currently serves as a vice president at Gateway Biotechnology, a drug development company in St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves as a visiting scientist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China. In his free time, Thomas Brutnell is an avid walker and occasional runner.

Given the extensive amount of time many of us now spend behind a computer screen, it is important to incorporate some daily standing, stretching and walking breaks into the daily work schedule. This is particularly relevant to those of us who now work from home and spend even less time walking to and from our cars into the office in the morning or routinely skip heading out to lunch for a break. Incorporating a short 10 to 15 min walk between a morning and afternoon meeting is a great way to rest your eyes, wrists and fingers from the screen and keyboard. It is also important to be intentional in standing at least every hour. Just one or two minutes of standing and walking around the living room every hour can actually benefit your metabolism and provided a break for your eyes.

In addition to taking short breaks during the day, incorporating 20 min or more of strenuous exercise two or three times a week is not only good for the body but good for the mind. A 20 min run through the woods or even on a treadmill will do more to help relieve stress if you don’t think about work and instead focus on your breathing, your posture or on the rhythm of your pace. The time spent on these activities will more than make up in productivity (and longevity!) for time lost behind the screen.

Charting the Future of Synthetic Biology

Accomplished plant biotechnology professional Thomas Brutnell serves as the vice president of Gateway Biotechnology, where he oversees the transition from drug discovery to product development. He also founded Viridis Genomics Consulting to help bridge the divide between academic and industry science. As a geneticist and molecular engineer Thomas Brutnell has a broad range of interests that includes C4 photosynthesis, breeding, plant tissue culture, and synthetic biology.

The 20-year-old field of synthetic biology promises a future of exciting advances. Potential future advances in synthetic biology include fire-resistant lumber produced from genetically engineered trees, modified organs that are less likely to be rejected, and synthetic microbes that are capable of detecting an impending attack by disease organisms.

On June 19, 2019, the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, an initiative funded in part by the National Science Foundation, created a roadmap towards the future of synthetic biology. The Consortium agreed that synthetic biology is mature enough to offer solutions to a wide range of societal challenges.

More than 80 engineers and scientists from diverse disciplines and different universities and companies collaborated to provide a strong case to demonstrate the need for the federal government to invest in synthetic biology. With all the avenues that are open for biotechnological development, America should be at the forefront of these developments. The Consortium believes that now is the time to make synthetic biology a federal priority.

The roadmap serves as a guide for where synthetic biology should aim over the next two decades. It will also guide government investments, particularly those that relate to the spectrum of the Department of National Defense, Department of Energy, and National Institutes of Health.

The FAO’s Principles for Sustainable Agriculture

Age-Related Hearing Loss – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Biotechnologist Thomas Brutnell is the vice president of Gateway Biotechnology based in St. Louis, Missouri. Thomas Brutnell oversees research and development of both natural plant products and repurposed drugs that prevent noise-induced and age-related hearing loss.

Age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis, is a common condition among seniors, affecting one in three people aged 65 and 74. As a person gets older, their hearing can deteriorate, making it harder to perceive or distinguish sounds. The loss happens gradually such that many seniors don’t even know they have difficulty hearing. However, a person who has trouble hearing the other voice on the telephone, is often asking people to repeat what they said, cannot hear over background noise, thinks that others are mumbling, or can’t distinguish between the voices of women and children, is most likely suffering from hearing loss.

There are a number of factors that have been attributed to age-related hearing loss. They include exposure to drugs that harm sensory cells in the ears like some chemotherapy medications, exposure to loud noise, injuries like a punctured ear drum, age-related conditions like diabetes and stroke, or changes in the ear-to-brain nerve pathways. In some cases, genetics also plays a role.

If you or someone you know has age-related hearing loss, consult a physician immediately. While the condition is serious, there are hearing devices and treatments that can improve one’s hearing.