Opportunity to get steeped in slime & scum

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on March 8, 2010

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Here’s your  chance to find out everything you ever wanted to know about slime and pond scum.  On Tuesday, March 9, Cafe Scientifique will feature a presentation by Dr. William Costerton who will review the emerging field of biofilm research. Explains the Cafe’s website: “Biofilms [pictured left] are communities of bacteria which live in a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance.  The non-scientific term is slime.  Biofilms can be found anywhere solids and liquids meet, from river beds and shower floors to hospitals, inner ears and teeth.

“Biofilms are an enormous and costly problem in healthcare.  Free floating (planktonic) bacteria are easily controlled with antibiotics.  But once bacteria get comfortable in a biofilm, they are relatively impervious to disinfectants, antibiotics and our own immune defenses.  Biofilms are now implicated in an amazing 80% of all infections. Our growing understanding of biofilms is causing a paradigm shift on our approach to controlling and treating chronic infection.

“Biofilms are not all bad.  They occur frequently in nature (for example,, pond scum) and are integral in waste water treatment.  Research is now underway to harness their microbial processes to re-mediate hazardous waste, filter industrial water and even form bio-protection barriers around aquifers.”

Dr.  Costerton (pictured left),  is Director of Biofilm Research (Center for Genomic Sciences) at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute and Director of Microbial Research at Allegheny General Hospital. He will review the emerging field of biofilm research and explain how biofilms changed our understanding of infectious disease as well as the promising approaches to defeat this slimy enemy.  He will also discuss biofilms in nature and the potential for using them to help our environment.

The presentation begins at 6:00 pm (doors open at 5:15 – doors closed at capacity) and takes place at SRI in Menlo Park. Get directions here. Coffee, tea and biscotti will be complimentary, provided by SRI.  Courtesy of Kepler’s there will be a drawing for a $30 gift card for books or merchandise at the bookstore on El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Photo of biofilm from the University of Pittsburg

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