Category Archives: Quora

Quora contributions from August 2016 to March 2017

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!


What molecular mechanisms regulate methylase activity?

Why is the epitranscriptome (epigenetic marks on mRNA) important when mRNA molecules last so transiently?

What is the difference between histones and nucleosomes?

What’s “Histone modification”?

What is the difference between acetylation and methylation?

Why does acetylation remove the positive charge on histones?

Why does trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 27 (K27) result in chromatin repression?

Should histone modifications be labeled as an epigenetic modification? Or just a chromatin modification?

Are epigenetics a type of post-translational modification?

Could stem cells just be epigenetic?

I want to start learning about epigenetics. Where should I start?

What are the best books on epigenetics, for a layperson?


Can cancer cells evolve resistance to treatment?

Why are familial tumors usually multiple compared to sporadic cases, even when the same mutation is responsible for both types?

Why can’t people with cancer donate their organs?


Can we use mRNA silencing techniques to inhibit the HIV genome?

Other scientific topics

Once we insert a desired gene into the human genome, how is its expression limited to the specific target organs where the gene is needed?

Do our parents have the same DNA as us?

Do red blood cells have functional miRNAs?

My ex-husband and I both have blood type O (positive and negative). How is it possible that our son has type B+?


Do you think Goodreads should ask a few questions from a book before letting anyone rate it?





Quora activity for January 2015 – August 2016

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!


Would it be possible to avoid cancer by modifying our DNA?

Is whole genome sequencing of any use in cancer diagnostics?

If our body can detect cancerous cells, why do people still get cancer? Does it mean that we can improve our body’s defenses against cancer before even getting sick?

If 2/3 of cancers are caused by chance mutations, why should I work to help prevent cancer?

Is it possible that cancer is not actually a disease to be “cured”, but it is actually an inherent defect of genetics?

Is cancer an intrinsic feature of life?

Is worrying about cancer the biggest cause of cancer?

What are the chances (if any), that a blind person getting cancer in the eye would allow them to see again?

What cure would be most beneficial to discover: HIV/AIDS or cancer?

Can Ebola be treated with cancer drugs?


If two people have identical DNA fingerprints, what other molecular evidence does forensics use to distinguish between biological samples?

Can a methylation pattern be sequenced?

What could potentially be the most exciting application of epigenetic research?

Why hasn’t Lamarck been acknowledged in the face of the burgeoning advances made in the science of epigenetics?

In what way does histone methylation prevent transcription?

Is the epigenetic system of a person heritable?

Is there a meaningful way to diagnostically test a patient for epigenetic changes caused by long term use of medications?

Other Scientific Subjects

Is it a possibility that parents of genotype AA have an offspring with AS?

What is the reason that viruses are inactive when not inside any organism? What is the mechanism?

Will the final solution to HIV be to just accept it as part of the human genome?

What can you tell about a gene based on its tissue expression patterns?

What are some interesting examples of people becoming infected with typically fatal diseases (e.g. Ebola, HIV/AIDS, rabies, anthrax) through unusual means or at long odds?

Could cellular environment (pH, temperature, molecular crowding, redox state) affect a cell’s interactome?

What causes mutation in viruses?

Which (multicellular) animal is most deadly to humans?

What would happen if all the DNA in my body suddenly disappeared?

What are the most useful lab hacks, tips and tricks for molecular biology/biochemistry?

Do viruses have nutritional value for any organism?

What will next-generation sequencing be called a generation from now?

When will we be able to sequence the genome of every living vertebrate on Earth?

What are the oddest organisms?

Biochemistry: Why does the yeast two-hybrid system system have low specificity?

About Scientific Research and Careers

What does a principal investigator at a molecular biology lab spend time doing during the day?

How common is it for scientists to hire people to write their grant proposals?

How do I improve my grant writing?

I want to apply for a grant for a project, but I have no idea how to write a proper grant proposal. How can I go about this?

What is your favorite annual scientific conference?

Does a biochemist/biologist have to know all the reactions of cellular respiration or other general topics by heart after graduating?


Is there racism in Canada? Why?

What’s the best story about “fighting fire with fire”?

What are some of the best moments while taking exams?

Why do people believe in the ancient aliens theory?

If cloning of people was legal, whom would you choose and why?

What are some great optical illusions?

Which is the best way to pass the PMP exam?

Why do some people choose to use Quora over writing a blog?


Quora activity for June – December 2014

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!

I haven’t been as active as usual over the last few months; I took a break over the summer, and then entered the busiest few months of my professional life (as well as doing my usual full-time job I also helped organise and run the 2014 Joint Annual Meeting of the International Human Epigenome Consortium and the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment, and Health Research Consortium, then studied intensively for my Project Management Professional exam, which I passed just before Christmas). I still managed to write a few answers though!


Which cancer strains are contagious among humans and how can they be contracted?

Do you think the government knows the cure for many illnesses like cancer but hides the information to make more money off the unsuspecting general public?

What types of cancer are affected by epigenetics?


How difficult is epigenome sequencing, as compared to genome sequencing?

What are all the elements of an epigenome?

What are some great resources to teach epigenetics to a class?

Does DNA methylation and histone acetylation add to the amino acids of the histone or nucleotide?

Other Scientific Subjects

Why isn’t there a cure for Ebola yet? Is it as mysterious as HIV?

What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition to a disease?

Why are longer DNA sequencing read lengths preferred over shorter read lengths?

What are the most amusing figures or images from academic journals and articles?

Do siblings who share the same set of parents each have the same distribution of parental DNA? Can one sibling have more of one parent’s DNA or would the parental DNA distribution be equal?

Does a chromosome contain a thousand genes, or is it gene pairs (i.e. 2000 genes in all)?

About Scientific Research and Careers

Why are biologists so secretive of their data?

What happens to old scientific grant applications?

What’s competitive research funding?


What has been the toughest decision of your life? Did it turn out to be the right one?

What is the wittiest thing a child has ever said to you?

Is the term “agnostic atheist” a double negative?

What are the best examples of people “gaming the system”?

What’s the worst logo failure you have ever seen?

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Posted by on 2015/01/03 in Quora


Quora activity for May 2014

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!


How would you explain to a layperson why cancer has been such a difficult medical problem to solve?

Are cancer cells organisms?

Can you name some practices that cause cancer that people do without knowing?

Is chemotherapy effective in late-stage cancers?

Why is nausea often a side effect of receiving chemotherapy?

Other Scientific Subjects

What non-standard model organisms are currently used in experimental biology?

Should genetic engineering be banned?

Is AIDS a virus or cancer of the human blood?

Do human beings have unique toe prints, similar to unique fingerprints?

Doesn’t a person’s body reject embryonic stem cells from another person?

When will HDAC inhibitors be available for humans?

About Scientific Research and Careers

Writing Grant Applications: How do funders measure their grant’s impact?

What is the most annoying thing people have asked you after you told them your decision to do a Ph.D.?


What are some funny stories you have about your name being mispronounced or misspelled?

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Posted by on 2014/06/07 in Quora


Quora activity for April 2014

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!


How has smoking been proven to cause cancer?

Could intentionally causing cancer cells to mutate into a form more vulnerable help destroy cancers?

Can cancer be caused by defects in RNA splicing?

Why is breast cancer so deadly even after someone has been declared cancer-free for many years (i.e. it often comes back and is often deadly)?

How likely is “the cocktail effect” to be the reason for the increasing rates of cancer?

Other Scientific Subjects

How does mRNA decide which gene is dominant?

Geneticists, what are your feelings about the studies on epigenetics? I found a few who are vehemently opposed to its legitimacy, and I want to know if that’s common or exceptional.

Has anyone ever tried crossing animals with plants?

If the surface of our bodies were covered in photosynthetic cells, how much exposure to the sun would you need to sustain the body’s metabolic process?

Is there such a thing as an ideal human or organism?

What is a plasmid?

Science Books: Could you help me to find “scientific novels” in English or Spanish? Not “science fiction novels”, but stories about the human feelings of the people who deal with science.

Is Mary Roach a good science writer?

About Scientific Research and Careers

What great prank has a scientist pulled on his or her colleagues?

What determines a reasonable budget for a research grant?

How many projects is a PhD student supposed to lead and do by him/herself?

Who should not try to become a professor?

What are you doing with your life science PhD? How did you get there? Why did you choose it?

To what extent is/was your choice to pursue a career in academia influenced by things other than interest in a subject?


What is the best Schrödinger’s Cat joke? (featuring my favourite photo of my cats – Saba (on the left of the photo) and Google)

What are some witty and amusing things you have heard on an airplane?

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Posted by on 2014/05/04 in Quora


Quora activity for March 2014

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!


What are driver and passenger mutations in the context of cancer cells/genomes?

Why isn’t there more research on why most people never get cancer even if they smoke or are exposed to some other carcinogen?

What is mutational heterogeneity?

Other Scientific Subjects

What is epigenetics, in layman’s terms? (my answer was featured on the official Quora Twitter account!)

DNA: Is the amount and type of information in an individual’s DNA the same on the day they are born as on the day they die?

What is your favourite science book?

About Scientific Research

Academia: Do some professors prefer graduate students who don’t have the same exact research interests as them?

Is there a list of all major scientific research funding bodies?


Why would you live in a country with dark, cold,  wet, or snowy winters when you could live one with warmth and sun all year-round?

Book Recommendations: What is your favourite Canadian book?


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Posted by on 2014/04/13 in Quora


Quora activity up to February 2014

Quora is a question-and-answer site. You can view all my contributions here; selected highlights are listed below. I encourage you to check out the other answers submitted for each question, too!


Cancer: What is cancer?

Cancer: What are the most common misconceptions about cancer?

Medical Research: When the cure for cancer is discovered, what happens to all of the research centers whose purpose was looking for a cure for cancer?

Cancer: What’s more responsible for the increased incidence of cancer as we age: the failing of our immune system to detect and eliminate the incipient cancers, or the dysregulation of tumor-supressor genes and oncogenes?

Cancer: What is the most elementary form of life in which cancer occurs?

Cancer: What is the difference between “cause cancer” and “increase the risk of cancer”?

Cancer: What is the best drug?

Biology: What prevents Herceptin from binding to HER2 receptors in regular, non-cancerous cells?

Cancer: What possible causes of lung cancer are there besides smoking?

Cancer Research: Are there any health supplements whose intake has been shown to cause cancer or other diseases?

Other Scientific Subjects

Animal Behaviour (Ethology): Why can’t animals learn human languages?

Anthropology: Do phylogenetic studies of humans suggest that there were selective sweeps associated with the adoption of agriculture?

Biology: How do cells know when to stop dividing?

Biology: What is the single most important gene in the human body, and why?

Biology: Why is it that chimpanzees have 99% the same DNA as humans, yet the one percent distinguishes us to such a degree?

Cells (biology): How does a cell know which genes to use?

DNA: How did DNA replace RNA during evolution?

Epigenetics: How do you sequence the epigenome when histone tail acetylation is involved?

Evolutionary Biology: Why do all living creatures have DNA?

Evolutionary Biology: Is natural selection a result of mutation? If yes, then why are these two considered to be different basic mechanisms in the explanation of evolution?

Genetics and Heredity: Why do bands appear on chromosomes where they appear?

Virology: What are some of the most amazing mind-blowing facts about viruses?

About Scientific Research

Scientific Research: What is the initial incentive for a scientist to do research?

Genomics: What should I study in college if I want to get a job in genomics. Do I have to get a PhD? What could I expect as salary right out of college?

Crowdfunding: What if rejected grant proposals were automatically put on crowd funding websites? Do you think this is feasible or a good idea?


Jokes: What’s the funniest science-based joke you know?

Best of X: What are the best puns that you made up?

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Posted by on 2014/02/23 in Quora