Science on Tap

A Philadelphia Science Café eat. drink. science.

What’s on tap:

Monday, November 10, 2014
6 pm. Doors open at 5pm!
National Mechanics
22 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106

Do Cats Make You Crazy?

Harb event photo

The 2014 Ig Nobel prize in public health was recently awarded to researchers studying whether owning a cat is mentally hazardous to people. The source of this hazard is not the cat itself but what it can carry: an extremely contagious and ubiquitous parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This successful parasite can infect almost any warm-blooded animal, hiding in the brain as a cyst. In most people it is thought that the dormant Toxoplasma brain cyst does nothing. However, research suggests that these dormant cysts may actually have neurological consequences. Before you run home and get rid of your cuddly kitten, we will objectively take a look at the research to try and understand if cats really make you crazy.

Harb photoOmar Harb, Ph.D., is Education and Scientific Outreach manager for the Eukaryotic Pathogen Databases, one of four National Bioinformatics Resource Centers. This center, based at the University of Pennsylvania, provides scientists worldwide working on parasitic diseases like toxoplasmosis and malaria with free and easy online access to big data such as genome sequences. Over the past six years, Dr. Harb has focused on running workshops for scientists, serving as an advisor for developing online research tools, and ensuring that big data are readily available for general scientific consumption. Dr. Harb has a doctoral degree in microbiology and postdoctoral training in Toxoplasma and Plasmodium cell and molecular biology.

This month’s Science on Tap event is hosted by the American Philosophical Society Museum.

Check out our past topics!