Many diseases affect metabolism and many changes in metabolism can be detected in the urine. For example, diabetics will excrete sugar in their urine--sometimes enough sugar that it can be fermented into whisky. There are many other diseases that change the smell of a person's urine, including the very descriptively named Maple Syrup Urine Disease or Sweaty Feet Syndrome, now much more likely to be diagnosed by electronic sensor arrays than actually tasting the urine. I'm fascinated by all the ways that people categorize and arrange information about flavors and odors, as wheels or otherwise, and the ways that those arrangements affect our perception, consumption, and even diagnosis.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Christina Agapakis is a biologist, designer, and writer with an ecological and evolutionary approach to synthetic biology and biological engineering. Her PhD thesis projects at the Harvard Medical School include design of metabolic pathways in bacteria for hydrogen fuel production, personalized genetic engineering of plants, engineered photosynthetic endosymbiosis, and cheese smell-omics. With Oscillator and Icosahedron Labs she works towards envisioning the future of biological technologies and synthetic biology design. Follow Christina Agapakis on Twitter