Jeff Smith, Department of Chemistry

Growing up in Canada, most people are familiar with the concept of hibernation.  We see squirrels and groundhogs fatten up in the fall and disappear for the winter months only to appear when the snow melts looking thin and hungry. The concept of putting humans into a state of hibernation or suspended animation is explored in many science fiction books and movies, but is it realistic?  The recent discovery that some primates hibernate strongly suggests that humans may also have the biochemical machinery to hibernate but that it goes unused for unknown reasons.  We have been studying the way that cell membranes adapt to low temperatures in cold-tolerant animals for a few years and have gained some interesting insights.  Through a better understanding of what happens on a cellular level during hibernation could we one day enable humans to hibernate? …maybe.

A man shows the size of an uninhabited bear hibernating (Lapland, Sweden)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in
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