Eureka 2021 Year in Review
Regina Kelder

Eureka’s Top Science Stories of 2021

Our COVID coverage still dominated throughout the year, but it wasn't our most popular story

Eureka hoped COVID-19 would fade from view—or at least be relegated to the back burner in 2021. But it remained our top story for our blog two years into the pandemic. However our single most searched blog, not just in 2021 but in the history of the blog, was about a different microorganism. Readers also reacted to a story about efforts to provide remote dialysis to Indigenous communities in Australia. Here are some of the top stories of 2021.

Fascinating Fungi

Our highest-performing blog of the year was a Sounds of Science podcast interview with Ziva Abraham, CEO of the pharmaceutical consulting company Microrite, who fell in love with fungi in college and has taken her passion for mycology—the study of fungi—around the world. “Fungi are beautiful, very mysterious. That is why they keep me going till today, and every time I discover something I say “Whoa, I didn’t know about this.”

Interestingly, our monthly quiz about fungi , contributed by our Accugenix team in Newark, DE, was also a top seller, proving that in a pandemic year, people’s preoccupation with microbes were not entirely focused on viruses.

COVID-19—from the science to the politics

Among our hottest COVID-19-related posts of the year were actually two old favorites, a 2020 post that looked back at what history tells us about vaccine timetables , and a post from 2018 that used the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic to look at how far we had advanced in predicting and controlling outbreaks. (Not far enough, given how ill-prepared the world was to fight a global pandemic.)

The tools used to study SARS-CoV-2 and develop new treatments and vaccines were also popular. Laboratory mice have long been considered the workhorse in animal research. Yet in the early days of the pandemic, it was the LVG Syrian Golden hamster that emerged as a starring player because, unlike the mouse, they showed comparable disease patterns compared to humans. Our 2020 story detailed the remarkable rise of the Syrian Golden hamster , which was used to probe most areas of COVID research, and this analysis continued to resonate with readers in 2021, landing it in one of the top spots. Mouse models have also proven their value in the assessment of vaccines, antiviral agents, disease pathogenesis and some conditions associated with COVID-19, and readers responded with clicks. Our 2021 story chronicled how mouse models are being used in COVID research , including exciting new developments on the humanization front—a humanized knock-in model that was developed specifically for COVID-19 research.

If 2020 was spent writing about the hunt for vaccines and treatments, 2021 was devoted to explaining how the vaccines commercially available worked, and why some people still did not embrace them. Eureka explored some of the reasons behind the critical mass of people who still shun vaccination, showing that vaccine hesitancy is a story as old as the vaccines themselves . Readers also liked our podcast and video interviews with Dr. Peter Matos, former military physician, and current consulting physician for Charles River, who answered questions about vaccine efficacy and COVID boosters . A story looking at whether COVID will reside in the central nervous system forever was also immensely popular.

Two of our Science Ticker items—that herd immunity was unlikely in COVID-19 and another about reports of temporary COVID-related lymph node swelling following vaccination were also popular, too.

The Purple House Way

Eureka doesn’t typically write about Pacific Island nations, but we were immediately hooked when we heard about an interesting project aimed at ensuring that the Pintupi people of the Western Desert of Central Australia had access to mobile dialysis and a central dialysis center in their remote community. Charles River’s Microbial Solutions site in Australia is part of this effort, and Eureka captured the story of the Purple House in video . We hope to do more stories on diverse communities in 2022.

If you have not followed these stories, we hope you check them out on Eureka.  And please stay tuned to our blog in 2022. Happy Holidays.