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Shelly Fan

Shelly Xuelai Fan is a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco, where she studies ways to make old brains young again. In addition to research, she's also an avid science writer with an insatiable obsession with biotech, AI and all things neuro. She spends her spare time kayaking, bike camping and getting lost in the woods.

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From This Author


A ‘Google Maps’ for the Mouse Brain Details Neurons Like Never Before

Ask any neuroscientist to draw you a neuron, and it’ll probably look something like a star with two tails: one stubby with extensive tree-like branches, the other willowy, lengthy and dotted with spindly spikes. While...

Eternal Life Is Mathematically Impossible, Says New Aging Theory

Back in 2016, when the FDA green lighted metformin—a drug that’s shown to boost lifespan by up to 40 percent in animal models—for human trials, it signaled the first spark of a paradigm shift...

Here’s How to Get to Conscious Machines, Neuroscientists Say

“We cannot be conscious of what we are not conscious of.” – Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Unlike the director leads you to believe, the protagonist of...

This ‘Living Touch Screen’ Is Made out of Bacteria and Gold

When it comes to touch screen devices, “grow” isn’t the first verb that comes to mind. After all, smartphones and their silicon-based inorganic brethren are built. Growing, in contrast, is a superpower that graces...

This Radical New Method Regenerates Failing Lungs With Blood Vessels Intact

Save for the occasional burning pain that accompanies a run, most people don't pay much attention to the two-leafed organ puffing away in our chests. But lungs are feats of engineering wonder: with over 40...

FDA Breaks New Ground With First Approved Gene Therapy for Cancer

When oncologist Dr. Carl June heard the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to bring the first gene therapy to market in the US, he pinched himself, hard. “It was so improbable that this would ever...

Antennas Made 100 Times Smaller to Hook Up Tiny Wearables and Implants

On a gray, drizzling winter day in 1896, within the vine-carpeted walls of Toynbee Hall, the London press witnessed what seemed like an acoustic miracle. Spread out on a table was a curious modular device....

Is This the Real Thing? How the Brain Separates Fantasy From Reality

When the moon finally eclipsed the sun’s dazzling rays, I stared at the black orb in the sky with utter disbelief. I was one among the tens of thousands camped out amongst the Painted Hills...

This Chip Uses Electricity to Reprogram Cells for Healing

It sounds like science fiction: with a light zap of electricity, a tiny stamp-like device transforms your skin cells into reservoirs of blood vessels or brain cells, ready to heal you from within. Recently, a...

Gene Editing in Human Embryos Leaps Forward—Here’s the Science

Imagine walking down the street with a ticking time bomb in your chest, never knowing when your heart may explode. Or going through five decades of life, having kids, and always wondering when your mind...

Biocomputers Made From Cells Can Now Handle More Complex Logic

When it comes to biomolecules, RNA doesn’t get a lot of love. Maybe you haven’t even heard of the silent workhorse. RNA is the cell’s de facto translator: like a game of telephone, RNA takes...

Breakthrough Stem Cell Study Offers New Clues to Reversing Aging

What causes the body to age? The Greek Philosopher Aristotle thought it was the heart—a “hot, dry” organ at the seat of intelligence, motion and sensation. Fast-forward a few centuries, and the brain has overthrown the...

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