Author Biography

Leslie Mertz

Leslie Mertz ( is a freelance science, medical, and technical writer, author, and educator living in northern Michigan.

Author Articles

The Case for Big Data

Why do people start smoking in the first place? That is one of the many complex, interdisciplinary questions behind the Kavli HUMAN Project, a massive data-collection endeavor with the goal of learning how everything—from biology to behavior and environment—affects the human condition.

Thumbs Up for Stem Cells

Researcher Jeanne Loring thinks she has a good method for reversing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and she believes this method—a stem-cell therapy—will find its way to clinics in as little as twoand- a-half years. Although the work has progressed very smoothly, one thing has

A Better View

Approximately 2% of Americans have a visual disability, and in developing countries where infectious disease or untreated cataracts are more common, the percentage is often higher.

Cover Story

The Foundry: Scaling Up Biological Design

Above: Depicted, from left to right: Chris Voigt, Ben Gordon, Rob Nicol. Photo by Lillie Paquette / MIT School of Engineering.
Living organisms are amazing feats of engineering: By following instructions encoded entirely in DNA, living systems can sense and respond to their environment, build intricate structures

Cover Story

Putting a Number on Pain

Will new technologies substantially change the way subjective complaints are measured in clinical trials, and, if so, by how much? Depending on the expert consulted, the answer ranges from a little to a lot.