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What do microbes have to do with cancer?

1 min

Before I was a scientist, I was a scientist making T cells that could fight cancer cells. So when I talk about how writing for Journey to the Microcosmos changed the way I see science, one of the big things is just that it got me looking at cells that I had never looked at before--cells that were their own individual species, not just isolated components of another being. Wrapping my head around life at that scale has helped me understand so much more about how biology has built complexity and diversity on what feels like seemingly simple foundations.

I say all that because in truth, when we decided to write an episode about cancer--and particularly our host Hank Green's experience with cancer--I was really nervous. One of our favorite things to do on Journey tot he Microcosmos is to let microbes inspire a crisis or two. But that's easy when the crises are existential. Someone's very real experience with cancer is not that. But Hank had this idea about exploring the way that cancer feels like a reversion to single-celled life, and executing on that idea ended up feeling like a bridge between these different experiences I've had in science and science writer.

It's so good to work with a team that makes taking on challenging episodes like this less daunting. Everyone involved from the initial planning to final editing helped make this a video that I think we're all proud of.


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