A Research Manifesto: How to Make the Most of Your Pre-Med Research Position

A ‘manifesto’ is a published declaration of someone’s intentions, motives, or views. Although often associated with radical politics and revolution, manifestos can be written to capture the spirit of any group or movement.   Why does research need a manifesto? We’ve worked with hundreds of pre-meds, and many struggle to write about their research in meaningful ways. What’s the problem? Usually, it’s their approach to their work in the lab. Too often, they’ve taken on research as a way to check off one of their pre-med boxes, rather than a means for exploration, growth, and discovery.   Our manifesto is designed to help you avoid these obligatory feelings by inspiring a deeper commitment to the research. Hopefully, you read our manifesto early on in your research career. But regardless of how far along you are in the process, our principles will help you maintain the right mindset in the lab.   Karl Marx called the subpoints of his manifesto ‘planks,’ but for our purposes, ‘theses’ seemed more appropriate.   Thesis #1 – Get Involved in Research Early and Often in Your Pre-Med Career You will not make the same mistake as most pre-meds. You will look for research opportunities as early as possible, because you’ll recognize how long it can take to secure a spot. You will remain open-minded towards different projects, even if they seem outside of your...

What’s in a Name: Consequences of Haphazard Disease Naming

In 2009, Egypt wiped out its entire pig population in response to the fear of swine flu alone, as the disease hadn’t affected anyone in the country yet. In the following months after the major ecosystem disruption evidenced by hazardous trash accumulation in the streets (formerly consumed by the pigs), severe economic consequences, and the newfound presence of swine flu in the country, Egypt acknowledged the misguided move, but the damage was already done.     Another case, which illustrates the lasting effects of such haphazard naming, is the fate of Old Lyme, Connecticut, the namesake of the tick-borne disease, which is still suffering the repercussions of the disease first discovered in children there in the 1970s, as the New York Times explains. The accumulation of various unnecessary misunderstandings with drastic consequences around the world has sparked a new initiative by the World Health Organization to combat unintended negative and often destructive impacts towards populations, communities, and economic sectors.   As of May 8th, the WHO announced a new set of guidelines for naming infectious diseases in light of recent epidemics with strongly stigmatized names. According to Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the assistant director-general for Health Security, WHO, while this may seem like a trivial issue, “we’ve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and...

Video Game Therapy

It’s crazy to think that almost 91% of kids in the U.S. play video games, but today video games are an important part of our culture and lifestyle. Shared gaming experiences like Pokémon Go bring together people from all around the globe. Game developers work hard to make their games appealing and accessible to as broad an audience as possible, but what about kids with a medical condition that prevents them from playing most games? And what if accessible games could include a learning and therapeutic component?   Researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide are working on video games specifically for children with cerebral palsy and limited hand function. Cerebral palsy affects more than 17 million people around the world. There is no cure for CP and it is the most common childhood disability. Targeted interventions for children often involve therapeutic exercises aimed at improving or maintaining function with the goal of helping children achieve independence in daily activities. However, just as with adult physical therapy, compliance can be a struggle as the exercises are seen as work and not play. David Hobbs and his team set out to change that by making an accessible video game system that may also help children with CP improve sensory function, bilateral hand functionality and coordination.   Image: Source   Known as “serious games,” their work is part of a growing sector...

Fighting Allergies Without Injections?

Where I live in Texas it’s cedar season, which means it’s allergy season. Texas is notorious for its large number of pollen-producing plants including ash, mountain cedar, ragweed, grass and oak… the list goes on and on. When pollination comes around each year, it seems like everyone is coughing, sneezing and congested, with an itchy throat and watery eyes.   Image: Source   To cope with allergies, I’ve heard some pretty creative (though NOT doctor recommended nor evidence-based) solutions including sleeping with a wet washcloth over the face, eating “local” honey to expose the body to pollens or drinking apple cider vinegar. With my friends going to such extremes to fight allergies, you can imagine how excited I was to see a new paper in JAMA reporting on a 3-year study of sublingual immunotherapy for grass pollen allergy sufferers.   Image: Source   Sublingual immunotherapy is being explored as an alternative to injection therapies (or subcutaneous immunotherapy), where small amounts of allergens are injected into patients over the course of months and years to build immunity and prevent the allergic reaction. Allergy shots have been used for nearly 100 years and evidence shows that they are highly effective, especially against many pollen species. It is also more cost-effective than simply treating allergic symptoms. With sublingual immunotherapy, instead of injections, the patient takes either a drop solution or tablet under...

Specialty That is Right For You

Link from The University of Virginia School of Medicine, Material from book “How to Choose a Medical Specialty”, by Anita Taylor Flickr | steven…ng   Decisions…decisions…every medical student has enough on their plate to begin with so the added stress of trying to choose which specialty suits you best is an unnecessary burden. BUT have no fear; there is a fast, easy and effective test to help you make this decision. Click below to check it out!   Specialty Test   Website from University of Virginia School of Medicine.   This material was originally published in the book “How to Choose a Medical Specialty”, by Anita Taylor. Anita graduated from Bryn Mawr College with an B.A. in Sociology and from Wake Forest University with a master’s degree in education and counseling. She is an Associate Professor and serves as the director of Volunteer Faculty Outreach and co-advisor to the Family Medicine Interest Group for the Department of Family Medicine. The author of “How to Choose a Medical Specialty,”, 4th edition, she is the OHSU Director of Career Advising for the medical students. She also has a special interest in physician and medical family life planning as well as faculty development. She and her husband, Robert B. Taylor, M.D. have 2 children and 4...

Want To Take A Virtual Tour Of The Human Body?

Imagine having the ability to take a virtual tour of the human body. One company is making it happen. Though the software is only available to healthcare companies for now, this technology could eventually be used in medical schools, completely changing the way students learn.   Video: Source   BioLucid, a digital health company, has introduced You®, a virtual reality (VR) software platform that takes physicians, students, and patients on an interactive tour of the human body. The immersive 3D experience lets users travel through organs and systems, explore within organs, and individualize physiologic functions, disease severity, and treatment. The platform can be used with a PC, VR headset, or mobile device.   Over the past 20 years, VR simulations have been applied to surgical training as well as post-stroke rehabilitation, treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and cognitive training of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. As VR simulations have become more sophisticated, realistic, and medically precise, their applications have flourished. Today students take online anatomy courses that use 3D VR anatomic simulations. Patients can embark on interactive virtual tours of their disease or receive immersive 3D education about complex treatment options. It’s not difficult to imagine a future in which physicians and patients enter virtual realities and arrive at the destination of individualized, patient-centric healthcare.   Featured From: The Doctor’s Channel   Featured Image:...

The Love Competition

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of V-day, we wanted to get nerdy with the subject of love. Is it possible for one person to love more than another person can?   On yours marks, get set, LOVE. This short documentary explores the 1st Annual Love Competition that took place at the Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurological Imaging. Scientists asked 7 participants to “love” as hard as they could for 5 minutes while measuring brain activity via fMRI. The participants ranged in age, love experiences, and general “hipster-ness.” The researchers looked closely at the brain activity  with special focus on the Nucleus Accumbens, an area which has been shown to be an epicenter for various neural pathways signaling love.   Video: Source   While the skeptic science student in me questions such bold claims of quantifiable love based off of barely understood neural pathways (I mean, no control group…really?), the normal human in me can’t help but go ‘awww, how cute.’ Some questions that lingered on after watching the documentary included:   1. Could brain activity be supplemented with other physiological variables to give a more accurate reading of love experiences?   2. Could brain plasticity at a young age affect love’s neurobiological activity?   3. Can Hipsters really even fall in love?   4. Where can I sign up for next years???   Watch the full video on vimeo.   Click here to read more about...

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