Chicago street art.... What do you want to do with your life?
Monday, December 6, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Each cell in our body acts like a large international company with a couple thousand employees and DNA as the corporate handbook. In every large company there is a subset of employees that are responsible for market research; the 'receptors' of information get an idea of the current environment and reports back through the cellular hierarchy to the corporate center, ie, the nucleus. While information is working it way up the ladder, proteins within the communication route become excited, recruit others and sometime even provide feedback. Finally at the end of the communication network is a transcription factor (TF). TFs are the urgent memo that gets handed directly to the CEO. The TF is special in that it acts as a key to the DNA and only unlocks specific chapters of the manual thus giving the cellular CEO the exact information and instructions to make the necessary changes to the business practices; make the company grow, make more products, expand to a new location, shut down completely.
If you want to get a global picture of what is going on in a company, looking at all the memos that cross a CEO’s desk is a good place to start. Paralleled in the cell, looking at the ‘active’ TFs in the nucleus (how well it can bind to and ‘unlock’ the DNA) gives a good measure of cellular status and of the upstream signaling network. In a company, you can potentially find failures in communication or in the structure of the company by studying the corporate memos; did some information get pass on too quickly? did something important get left out? were duplicate memos received? We can use the same basic ideas to identify markers in disease in a cell. By comparing the TF activity profiles of cancer cells verses healthy cells we can more precisely pinpoint where things went wrong and therefore develop more directed therapy.
|External signals work their way to the nucleus to effect gene regulation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Signal_transduction_pathways.png|
Friday, November 19, 2010
The scientific community is reclusive. We publish in journals with specific audiences that only people affiliated with an organization with the resources to pay for expensive subscriptions can read. We speak is jargon and acronyms. We are best at communicating with other scientists and often expect people who are not in the community to know what we are talking about.
This needs to stop. The focus needs to change.
We need to learn to communicate with the outside world. We need to stop having journalist reading our papers and try to translate them for a wider audience. We need to write in a way that needs no translation. We need to be more approachable. I argue that if scientist were better at communicating there would be no question to the validity of global warming, parents would vaccinate and people wouldn’t think that stem cell research is equivalent to killing babies.
I recently published my first paper. I thought it was pretty good. I thought it was written well. I thought my family would be able to read it and understand it. I was wrong. Reading it now I realize that being apart of academia has made me lose touch with ‘normal’ people’s understanding. The average person doesn’t know (and has no need to know) what a transcription factor is or the importance of signaling pathway analysis.
I want to become a better writer. I want to communicate clearer and reach a wider audience.
I have made a personal goal of writing everyday (well, every weekday). I hope that by writing everyday my communication skills will improve and writing will come more naturally (and, cross your fingers, make writing my thesis go a little faster).
Oh, and maybe this experiment will help me get my dream job of being a science correspondent for NPR... hahahaa
My first challenge: Rewriting my paper for a blog audience!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Cooking our food allows us humans to actually obtain more net energy from our food because we don't have to send hours gnawing at a hunk of raw meat or processing leafy greens. The anthropologist described two studies to back up his story. The first paper he alluded to was a study (Oka et al., 2003) of two groups of rats. Group 1 was fed normal pellets and group 2 was fed a softer, air puffed version of the same pellet. Both group were fed the same total number of Calories and all results were normalized to exercise. At the end of 26 weeks, it turns out that the soft food group was (statistically) significantly fatter than the control. The post-eating temperature of the soft-fed rats were lower than the hard-fed, suggesting that the metabolism of the hard-fed rats is 'working harder.' The conclusions drawn by the actual researchers and the NPR dude from this experiment are slightly different. The rat guys hypothesize that the different in weight comes more from neurological cues from the act of eating the different textured pellets and Mr. NPR says that the lower temperature comes from the little rat body not having to work as hard to process the softer pellet. I find both interpretations interesting.
The second scientific article (Evenepoel et al., 1999) that is mentioned was slightly more relevant to the argument that cooking food changes the caloric energy that is obtained by humans from food. The researchers in the study labeled eggs and tracked them through human digestion and determined the amount of protein absorbed by the small intestines as a function of whether or not the egg was cooked. There was a 30% difference in the amount of protein that escaped digestion within the small intestine between the two eggs, with the cooked egg having almost 95% of labeled proteins digested in the small intestine. This brings up the question of what cooking food actually does to the nutritional or energy value of foods. According to this thinking, the old dogma of 'a calorie is a calorie is a calorie' does not quite hold up. Cooking may change the amount of net energy we get from food whether the caloric discrepancy comes from our metabolism working harder with uncooked foods or that the energy from the harder to metabolize raw food isn't processed during the relatively short time it is in our digestive tract.
So what does all this mean? Well as with all science, especially science covered in the media, these results and hypotheses should be taken with a grain of salt. What I take from this discussion is an affirmation that we need to be more cognizant of what we eat and how we eat it. I am by no means at all saying that we should al be on the "raw foods diet." Our bodies evolved to eat cook food and we need it to get the energy necessary to function properly (as mentioned in the podcast, women on the "raw foods diet" often stop menstruating because they do not get sufficient energy from their diet). I do think, however, that we need to cut back on the processed foods and let our bodies do some of the processing. Those mashed up, freeze dried carrots that are puffed into chip like things are probably not as good for your body as an unprocessed carrot, period. Anyways, I thought this was interesting food for thought.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
So to commemorate my city living, I present you my 2009 best of Chicago.
Best Coffee Shop
Metropolis @ 1039 W. Granville Avenue, Edgewater
This little coffee shop roasts their own beans, has rotating local art on the walls and is less than a mile's walk from our apartment. Metropolis will also go down in our history books as the location where Mike wrote most of his doctoral thesis.
Lula Cafe @ 2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard, Logan Square
I love Lula. It has fresh, local food put together with ease. Their menu has a good mix of higher end and more affordable food. The best food in Chicago without any pretension along with it.
Favorite Shop or BoutiqueAndersonville Galleria @ 5247 N Clark St, Andersonville
With four floors and 90 merchants, the Galleria is like a mini Chicago Etsy shoved into a sun-filled old warehouse. If I had more money I'd shop here all the time, get handmade clothes, jewelery, make-up, art.
Favorite Chicago Tourist Attraction
Millennium Park @ N. Michigan Avenue & the Lake, Downtown
The architecture, the concerts, the people watching, a marvelous view of the skyline and now a bridge to the new modern wing of the Art Institute; Millennium Park has it all.
Chicago Cultural Center @ 78 E Washington St, Downtown
Now home to the Chicago Cultural Center, the old public library is beyond beautiful. If all libraries were this magical cartoons would be unnecessary and every kid would be an avid reader.
Favorite Sports Team
Although Wrigley Field is pretty awesome, I still like the Blackhawks better than the Cubs.
More to come.....
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
First up, Royal Coffee. Good cheap coffee but the same old sandwiches as the previous cafe.
Next, the movie theatre that I wrote about in January has reopened. The New 400 is a dollar more expensive, doesn't have the BYOB (bring your own bag) but it's nice having a movie theatre that you can go to on a weeknight and be in bed 7 min after the movie ends.
Third, CVS opened right where I pick up the bus for work. I don't know why I am so excited about this opening but I AM! Their prices seem a little steep though...
No wonder my parents wouldn't buy us lunchables, they ARE expensive.
Finally, Rogers Park now has a Five Guys. Is it possible to overdose on French fries?
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Send me energy.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Not any more. Chicago has sucked away all of snow’s power and stripped away its magic. Snow is now just a nuisance, something that makes life more difficult and cold. Snow, I am so over you.