Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Monday, November 30, 2015

So I finally went to Sedona, AZ ...

... and now I regret that it took me so long to go. :-) The part I loved most was to see the golden yellow of the cottonwoods against the red of the rock formations. Wow, what a sight.

Prints available on my website or email me at eegiorgi(at)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November Book Digest (Part 2)

This is part of a monthly feature with new releases and free/discounted books available for Kindle and other eReaders. If you enjoy these posts and would like to see more, please let me know in the comments. I might set up a mailing list for these if there's enough interest.

Book 1 in Carol Ervin's Mountain Women series, The Girl on the Mountain, is on sale for 99 cents only.

Untrue things are rumored of May Rose, but it’s true she’s too pretty for her own good. Her husband has disappeared, and now she’s on her own in a rough town ruled by one of the lumber companies logging the last of West Virginia’s virgin forest.

Get it for 99 cents.
Carol Ervin's website.

John L. Monk's supernatural thriller Kick is FREE, the first one in the Jenkin's Cycle series.

A supernatural thriller with a vigilante twist, Kick is the first book in a series of supernatural thrillers. If you like Quantum Leap and Every Day, you'll love this gritty and original take on the body-hopping hero story. Vividly written, Kick is a wild ride with a sharp sarcastic wit and a flawed yet likable main character.

Get it FREE.
John L. Monk's website.

The first book in Ann Christy's zombie series Between Life and Death is FREE.

Emily’s life is death. In the two years since nanites started wiping out the population, she’s sent a thousand deaders and in-betweeners to their deaths. Between fighting for her life and hiding in a tiny, windowless office at night, she’s just trying to get one more day of life. .

Get it for FREE.
Ann Christy's website.

International bestselling author Peter Cawdron has a new release, Free Fall, for only 99 cents.

Jackson is an astronaut testing a prototype interstellar craft in deep space. When he returns home, there’s no one to greet him. Earth has fallen silent. Now he must decide—stay in orbit, watching a dead planet roll slowly by beneath his windows, or land on Earth and fight for life?

Get it for 99 cents only.
Peter Cawdron's website.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Latest work

Light in the Forest, © Elena E. Giorgi 2015
So I made a new composite. Hadn't made one in a long time. It's not perfect, but it felt good to be working on an image again. :-)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Free and Discounted Book Digest for the month of November

I'm starting a monthly feature with new releases and free/discounted books available for Kindle and other eReaders. If you enjoy these posts and would like to see more, please let me know in the comments. I might set up a mailing list for these if there's enough interest.

Garek Rohan just released book 2 in his YA series Chronicle of the Five.

Every gift comes with a price. When fifteen-year-old Cayden Baine accepts the promise of regaining his vision, it isn't long before he discovers that the cost may be more than he can pay.

Get Book 1 for 99 cents.
Get Book 2 on Amazon.

Scavenger-Evolution final front
Timothy C. Ward's Scavenger: Evolution is on sale for 99 cents only this week.

Scavenger: Evolution is the story of a family torn apart by the loss of their infant who must turn to each other and a talent with sand diving to stop a new apocalypse. The first apocalypse covered their world in sand, and as they run for their lives, they discover the technology that has been dormant for hundreds of years, since the last time it was set free.

Get the ebook edition $0.99 only. 
Get the paperback for $9.99
Email tim(at) to request a signed and personalized copy (ships to US only).

The latest installment in the Future Chronicle anthologies produced by Samuel Peralta is out. Only 99 cents for a limited time only and it features great authors like Rysa Walker, Ann Christy, Lucas Bale, and Tracy Banghart

Get it for 99 cents only.

Ann Christy has a new series out, Perfect Partners Inc., and the first book is FREE while the second one is only 99 cents.

Perfect Partners, Incorporated promised Hazel a match with perfect compatibility. A PePr is meant to complement their human, filling in all the gaps to create the ideal couple. They're meant to be something no human could ever hope to find in another human. It's just not turning out that way for Hazel. 

Get the first book FREE.
Get the second book for 99 cents only.

Chrys Fey's 30 Seconds is on sale for 99 cents only until November 20.

When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.


G.S. Jennsen's new Aurora Rhapsody book, Sidespace, is now available for preorder for 99 cents only.

Humanity is saved. But its troubles are just beginning. To achieve their extraordinary triumph over the invading Metigen armada, humanity put aside its myriad of political and social conflicts and united against a common foe intent on annihilating civilization. In victory, unparalleled peace and prosperity are theirs for the taking--if they can keep hold of them...

Get it for 99 cents only.

G.S. Jennsen's website.

Daniel Arenson's Alien Hunters is FREE.

The skelkrins. Predators from deep space. Creatures of claws, fangs, and unending malice. They swarm across the galaxy, slaying all in their path. Planets burn in their wake. And now they're heading to Earth.

Links to download for FREE on Daniel's webpage

The Legacy Human, the first book in Susan Kaye Quinn's Singularity series, is on sale for 99 cents only

The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

Get it for 99 cents only.

Susan Kaye Quinn's website.

Author G. Wakeling has a new book release out, RENOVO, for $2.99

Up to her eyeballs in debt, Dr. Rachel Galliance jumps at the chance of a last-minute rotation on Mars, despite being terrified of hypersleep. This is her last chance to get life back on track, and it's only one stint on Mars - how bad can it be?

Buy Renovo on Amazon.
G. Wakeling's website.

Vincent Trigili first book in the Lost Tales of Power series, the Enemy of the Enemy, is FREE.

Vydor is riding a wave of success, but now his ship, the Dragon Claw, is being sent to investigate a mysterious event deep within the Empire’s space. A secret research colony has fallen silent and the forces sent to investigate were never heard from again. 

Get it for free on Amazon
Vincent Trigili's website.

And finally I would like to do a shout-out to my friend Therin Knite who offers fantastic and very reasonably priced book formatting, so go check out her website for more info:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG: 5 things you need to do before self-publishing

This is a monthly event started by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh and organized by the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click here to find out more about the group and sign up for the next event.

Huge apologies to the group, as I have taken one long hiatus. I took the summer off on purpose, as summers are always busy, but I confess that the past two first Wednesdays of the month slipped right by me unnoticed. Ugh, where did time go?

Anyway, I'm back and I do have something to post today. Lately, I've had many emails in the form of: "Hey, I see you're an indie writer. There's this book I've been meaning to publish, what's your advice?"

And while my response would be, "Let's meet for lunch because this is going to be a loooooong conversation," I did manage to put together 5 Extremely Important (yes, capitalized) things every new writer should take the time to do. Here they are:

1) Shop for a really nice cover: the only books with awful covers that sell have a lot of sex; so either put steamy hot scenes in your book, or invest in a nice cover.

2) Be smart about categories and key words: these are important to make sure your book gets the maximum visibility in the Amazon categories.

3) Tell people about your book: Use all platforms to advertise the book launch. Start a little earlier with cover reveals etc. to generate some anticipation. Don't just say, "Hey, I wrote a book." Tell people why they should read it. What's new about it? Why is it compelling?

4) Start building a mailing list: the best way to do that is by offering a free story and then advertise the "offering" on FB groups and book blogs. You can see what I did here.

5) Offer free review copies of your book to book review bloggers and readers who are willing to post a review on Amazon on launch day or shortly after. This last point is of utter importance. The sooner the book starts garnering reviews, the better.

So those are my 5 "essentials" so to speak. Truth is, there's no "winning" formula. But until you get out there and try it, you'll never know what works and what doesn't. Speaking of which ... I have a new book coming out next week. ;-)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How one vaccine can protect you from more than one disease

The paper I'm discussing today came out last May in Science but, as you probably noticed, I've been busy posting about other things and neglected the science aspect of the CHIMERAS blog. Apologies to my science readers.

Viruses are pesky little things that have the innate ability of inserting genetic material into our cells. As such, they are capable of permanently changing our immune system: for one thing, our immune system learns to recognize the pathogen and that "memory" will be used to prevent future infections. Viruses can also alter the expression of certain genes within the infected cells, shutting off the production of proteins that would otherwise prevent the virus from replicating.

Viruses that infect preferentially cells from the immune system are particularly nasty. HIV, for example, gradually depletes the host's reservoir of T-cells (the "sentinels" of the immune system) until patients die of a common infection simply because their body can no longer fight pathogens.

HIV is not the only virus that attacks the immune system. Measles is another one. The virus enters cells through a receptor that's expressed on the surface of many immune cells such as dendritic cells, macrophages, and lymphocytes. All of these cells have a very important function: they retain "immune memory." What does it mean? Every time the immune system encounters a new pathogen (a virus, a bacterium, etc.), bits of proteins from the pathogens are presented to the immune cells. The immune cells create an "impression" of these proteins so that they can bind to them and destroy them. using a metaphor, they create a "mold", a special receptor that binds to the pathogen. Lots of cells with the special "mold" are created, so they can bind to the pathogen, capture it, and destroy it. A whole army of cells needs to be created in order to get rid of the million viral particles in the body, but once the infection is over and the full army is no longer needed, only a few of these cells with the special "mold" are saved. These few are the ones that preserve the memory of the specific pathogen, so that next time it enters the body it is recognized immediately and destroyed before it can start the infection.

Back to the measles virus. This nasty pathogen has a special receptor that allows it to enter the cell membrane of "mature" immune cells [1], i.e. cells that carry that special "mold" for a particular pathogen. By infecting and killing those cells, the measles virus effectively erases immune memory, making the host prone to be reinfected by pathogens it has already encountered. So, on the one hand, the virus stimulates immune responses that will protect from future measles infections. On the other hand, however, it erases some of the existing defenses against other pathogens. It's called the "measles paradox." Immune memory of previous pathogens is eared and replaced by measles-specific immune responses. [2]

A study published in Science last May [3] corroborated this finding by looking at child mortality data from England, Wales, the United States, and Denmark during the decades immediately preceding and following the introduction of the measles vaccine. The researchers showed that immune memory loss caused by measles infection lasted from 6 months to several years, and that vaccination against measles significantly reduced child mortality caused by non measles infections.

To further corroborate their analysis, the researchers applied the same techniques to pertussis, which is also known to cause immunosuppression. This time they found no correlation with the incidence of pertussis and non-pertussis infectious disease mortality, corroborating the hypothesis that it was the measles vaccine to cause the drop in mortality.
"MV infection and vaccination produce strong and durable herd immunity against subsequent epidemics. Our results thus suggest an extra dynamical twist: MV infections could also reduce population immunity against other infections in which MV immunomodulation could be envisioned as a measles-induced immune amnesia; hence, measles vaccination might also be preserving herd protection against nonmeasles infections [3]."

[1] Tahara, M., Takeda, M., Shirogane, Y., Hashiguchi, T., Ohno, S., & Yanagi, Y. (2008). Measles Virus Infects both Polarized Epithelial and Immune Cells by Using Distinctive Receptor-Binding Sites on Its Hemagglutinin Journal of Virology, 82 (9), 4630-4637 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02691-07

[2] de Vries, R., & de Swart, R. (2014). Measles Immune Suppression: Functional Impairment or Numbers Game? PLoS Pathogens, 10 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004482

[3] Mina MJ, Metcalf CJ, de Swart RL, Osterhaus AD, & Grenfell BT (2015). Long-term measles-induced immunomodulation increases overall childhood infectious disease mortality. Science (New York, N.Y.), 348 (6235), 694-9 PMID: 25954009