Friday Coffee Break, Irish Style!

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Jeremy:

Antifeminist piece penned by guest editor of Canadian Journal of Physics, Gordon Freeman, gets only mild retraction.  Read synopsis of incident here.  Also, mice may be able to mimic vocalizations that actually could be classified as singing.  Read more at Scientific American.

From Noah:

Oops, lemurs in South America turn out to be misidentified fish.  Find out how this mistake was made on the wired science blog here.

From Devin:

Given the current condition of the economy it never hurts to go back and review tips for nailing that next job.  Here are some tips for writing your next cover letter.

Finally some lighthearted reads from Sarah:

The first is a NY Times piece about an adorable baby walrus orphan found off the coast of Alaska finds a new home in NYC.  The second is perhaps proper justification for owning a dog instead of a cat.  Just how many creatures does the average domesticated house cat kill?

Advertisements

Friday Coffee Break, Vienna Style!

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Devin:

The future of online learning. PLOS Computational Biology puts together a great set of online resources for biologists or more specially a bioinformatics Curriculum. “…in an exhaustive meta-analysis of 51 published head-to-head trials, found that ‘on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction'” 

From Sarah:

Even “living fossils” have evolved over time.  The term debunked in this piece on the Wired Science Blog. “The new fossil described by Briggs and colleagues records a critical transformation in horseshoe crab history. Discovered at an exceptional site in the 425 million year old rock of Herefordshire, England, the new genus is justly called Dibasterium durgae – a tribute to the invertebrate’s mysterious limbs and to Durga, ‘the Hindu goddess with many arms.'”

From Jeremy:

Which professions do you think drink the most coffee?  If you guessed Scientists you’d be right.  Learn more here from a poll by Dunkin Donuts and CareerBuilder to determine the most caffeinated workers. “Scientists today are spending much more time working than initially intended. They are deprioritizing their hobbies, leisure activities, and regular exercises, which negatively influenced their mental and physical health.”

From Noah:

Native Inuit of Canada face new challenges with increased climate change and rapid retreat of sea ice along with encroaching industry. “Some Inuit feel they are losing control of a homeland whose ice-covered expanses had acted as a barrier to the outside world. A growing number of interests — mining and oil companies, scientists and conservationists, military vessels from Canada and other Arctic nations — are appearing in the Inuit’s traditional homeland…”

Finally From Jon:

The trend of Doctors turning away from insurance and moving to cash only concierge service could pose a problem for the future of access to care for uninsured and underinsured patients. “a new survey of 13,575 doctors from around the country by The Physicians Foundation found that over the next one to three years, more than 50 percent plan to take steps that reduce patient access to their services, and nearly 7 percent plan to switch to cash-only or concierge practices, in which patients pay an annual fee or retainer in addition to other fees.”

Evolution of Diabetes?

Image

As a medical student and health care professional, if there is one disease that continually comes up in daily discussion, it’s diabetes.  As a disease, diabetes is one that I would not wish on anyone, not that I ever wish disease on anybody to begin, but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  As a disease diabetes my initially seem fairly tame, but it has the potential to eventually affect just about every organ system in the body.

As I begin to plan my career as a future Family Medicine Physician, I know that I will be dealing with diabetes on a regular basis.  Any opportunity I have to learn more about the risk factors to look out for in order to help people avoid it, or to better manage it is one I need to take.  So I am following up on a previous post regarding the frequency of the 230Cys allele found in Native American groups as a potential adaptation to feast or famine and storage of energy in the form of fat to hold out during harsh conditions.

How is this relevant to diabetes?  Well, first of all, a little background.  Diabetes is a disease that has a huge global burden. Currently, around 285 million people worldwide are affected and that number could potentially climb to 430 million by the year 2030.  Diabetes also accounts for 12% of all health care expenditure.  It is also a highly genetically associated disease, at least Type 2 Diabetes.  Now, in type 2 diabetes the individual will have high levels of circulating insulin.  Insulin is a key regulator of fat storage.  It is released following meals in response to glucose from the meal and stimulates the uptake of that glucose into liver, muscle and fat.  It also acts to antagonize other hormones that would breakdown and use the stored glucose as energy.  So, this is where I got to thinking, if there is a gene that is linked evolutionarily to helping survive famine, is there a potential link between such genes and diabetes.

Continue reading

Hands of Blue

Today’s post is going to be a little different from the standard of this site.  No, I’m not writing about Firefly, but I’ll get to that connection in a bit.  I would like to take the opportunity to give the readers of Nothing in Biology Makes Sense a brief glance into an aspect of medicine that few get the opportunity to experience.

I am talking about surgery, specifically, Cardiothoracic surgery, or surgery that takes place by opening up the chest of a patient and putting them on cardiopulmonary bypass in order to operate on the heart (doing coronary bypass, valve replacement, or placement of assist devices).  The reason I feel the need to post about this is because I know I have been given the opportunity that few people (physicians and medical students included) get the chance to experience first hand.  For the last 6 weeks I have been on my surgical rotation, and was lucky enough to be able to spend two of those weeks working with the Cardiothoracic surgeons observing and assisting with open heart surgeries.

Continue reading

What to do for patients who don’t feel like themselves?


As a third year medical student, I am required to prepare various evidence-based medicine projects related to patients that I see during a given rotation.  Rotations are where I get the opportunity to see patients in the hospital in various specialty settings and apply the knowledge that I have acquired during the first two years of my medical education.  My first rotation was psychiatry, where I met an adolescent girl with a very interesting diagnosis.  The diagnosis was depersonalization disorder (DPD).  This diagnosis and its potential treatment are the focus of my post this week.  I investigated the current pathophysiologic theories along with current pharmacologic ideas for treatment.

ResearchBlogging.orgDPD is characterized by an altered perception of self in which an individual experiences detachment from his or her body and personal memories, emotional and physical numbing, and a sense of living in a dream-like state.  DPD patients often feel as though they are watching things happen to them. They do, however, remain aware of this unreality and feel like something is wrong with them (1).  They can have a tendency to resort to extreme measures, such as cutting, in an attempt to “feel” and overcome the sensation of numbness.

There are currently no definitive treatments that have been developed regarding DPD.   This is due largely to the fact that there is no well-defined pathology regarding its onset.  Given its estimated prevalence of 0.8-2.0% in the general population, it is about as widespread as schizophrenia.   Yet little research has been done to understand its root cause and treatment (1).  Despite the epidemiologic studies that have shown this prevalence rate, it is still assumed to be rare and associated with other anxiety or psychotic disorders instead of being a primary condition on its own.

Continue reading