This fungus among us — baker's yeast, aka Saccharomyces cerevisiae — is useful for more than just making bread. iStockphoto hide caption

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The blood cancer in soft-shell clams poses no risk to humans, but it does kill the shellfish. Pat Wellenbach/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Pat Wellenbach/AP

Prion protein can be infectious, spreading from cell to cell in the brain. Here four nerve cells in a mouse illustrate how infectious prion protein moves within cells along neurites — wire-like connections the nerve cells use for communicating with adjacent cells. Science Source hide caption

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Bernice Singleton (left), one of the original mothers in the research project, is seen with her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Gretta. Paige Cowett/WNYC hide caption

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Harvard University student Elana Simon introduces President Obama before he spoke at the White House Friday about an initiative to encourage research into more precise medicine. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A scorpion fly perches on a leaf at the research farm where Lindgren studied the decomposition of human remains. Scorpion flies are among the first insects to visit a corpse. Courtesy of Natalie Lindgren hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Natalie Lindgren

U.S. funding for medical research by source, 1994-2012. (Data were adjusted to 2012 dollars using the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index.) American Medical Association hide caption

itoggle caption American Medical Association

Dr. Richard Schlegel and postdoctoral fellow Nancy Palechor-Ceron use a microscope to look at human epithelial cells growing on mouse fibroblasts at Georgetown University Medical Center. Lauren Wolkoff/Georgetown University hide caption

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How would you sound in front of an NPR microphone? Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Foulke-Abel holds the gut-on-a-chip inside the lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Richard Harris/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Richard Harris/NPR

Rob Knight, co-founder of the American Gut Project at the University of Colorado in Boulder, works in the lab where the samples are processed. The American Gut Project hide caption

itoggle caption The American Gut Project

When the wrong cells take over, scientists' experiments can be derailed. Chris Nickels for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Nickels for NPR

Georgetown's Robert Clark says it's very difficult to say precisely how many experiments have been spoiled by contaminated cell lines. Phil Humnicky/Courtesy of Georgetown University hide caption

itoggle caption Phil Humnicky/Courtesy of Georgetown University