research

Three Ancient Medicinal Practices: A Look Back Through History

Get ready to be skeeved out and generally disgusted. In this article we will take a trip through history to review three different types of ancient medicinal practices. Warning, this article may contain content that can cause an unsettled stomach, (but the small amounts of humor and interesting facts can be an antidote).  Bloodletting Originating in the time of the Romans and Ancient Greeks, bloodletting is the practice of doing exactly what it sounds like, letting out blood to cure the disease.  Ancient physicians like Hippocrates and Galen thought influenced the idea that blood was made of of four basic components, yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm.  So the practice ensued that if you had a sore throat, blood; migraines and stomach ache, blood; the plague, yep you can probably guess where I’m going with this.  Basically, any type of illness was thought to be solved through the purifying of one of the substances of the body.  This makes me appreciate history and the development of our society so much more, that I now can have a minor cold and go to the doctor without getting a leech attached to my arm or a knife to the leg. Animal Dung Ointments Another self explanatory name for another disgusting medicinal practice.  Poop, yes poop, used to be CELEBRATED by Egyptian physicians circa 1500 b.c.  It was used for it’s...

When the Baton is Passed to the Echo Boomers

When a baton is passed in a relay, there is a brief moment where both hands are on the baton. It is in those moments, as the baton is passed from the baby boomers to the echo boomers, where conduction occurs.   An echo boomer, Cassandra Batson, is coordinating the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) first-ever High School STEM day. On Wednesday, November 21st, 2018, students from 9th grade through the 12th grade will participate in a scientific conference that will allow them to engage in and recognize the real-world connections of STEM beyond the walls of the classroom.   I was lured into participating for many reasons, but mainly as a budding female scientist myself I wanted to use my novice voice to inspire other rookie females into careers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “…when you educate a woman you educate a generation” –African Proverb I not only agreed to participate in the High School STEM Day myself but also was inspired during preparation for the day to highlight her efforts as a way to continue to the dialogue of exposing youth to STEM careers in revolutionizing ways.   Shout out to a few leading ladies in STEM: Jean Fan, Founder of https://custemized.org/. CuSTEMized engages, encourages, and empowers young girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math by providing them with tangible products and educational experiences that foster a positive...

A Lesson from Research: Advocacy

In 2013, the office was abuzz with conversations about the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act. The HOPE Act would have significant implications for our work and was particularly relevant as former President Barack Obama planned to sign it into law a mere two months after I began working.   But despite its landmark significance, I was surprised to find that the HIV+ patient population was unaware of this law. More importantly, HIV+ patients’ willingness to accept HIV+ organs remained unknown. So, we developed a survey to understand patients’ attitudes towards HIV-to-HIV transplantation. Understanding these perspectives is paramount to gauging the level of support for the HIV-to-HIV organ donation program, specifically whether HIV+ patients are willing to accept HIV+ organs.   With the support of the Fulbright Scholarship, I continued this exploration on the knowledge of and attitudes toward HIV-to-HIV transplantation within the HIV+ population at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Consolidating the evidence of countless interviews I had collected from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, I recognized how easily biomedical science could remain within scientific journals without ever translating to the population we had in mind when designing the studies. Research, though valuable and critical, is limited if not accessible to the patients it hoped to benefit.   “Research, though valuable and critical, is limited if not accessible to the patients it hoped...

32 Amazing Tips to Learn and Study Faster

Have you ever felt that there aren’t enough hours in the day? Or that you’re always struggling to get everything done in time? Medical Students—and anyone trying to learn something new—will probably understand what I’m talking about. Even if you’re fully invested in the process and have strong motivation, there’s just one thing keeping you from succeeding more: the lack of time. While it’s impossible to add extra hours to a day, there is still a way out. Want to know what it is? Learn and study faster. We’ve put together an infographic that will show you how to make the most of the time you have at your disposal. With 32 different ways of fast learning to choose from, at least some of them will surely be perfectly fitting for you. It won’t hurt to look through our infographic. And the couple of minutes you spend on it will pay off when you start using some of the techniques described below! Part of having a healthy study habit and maximizing your learning capacity is a healthy diet. Make sure to know about these eight superfoods for better studying! Everything steps up a notch on test days. You have to work harder and be ready to change things if they don’t work. As you progress you gain a better sense when to cut corners. Free more time for important things,...

Cancer Immunotherapies: Changing Lives and Science

Sometimes, trying to learn all the different cancer therapies out there can feel a bit like drowning in a sea of big, complicated names. There are seemingly infinite number of “-inib”s and “-umab”s used to treat cancer. My work in the division of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt is focused on understanding the mechanisms of how cancer therapies cause heart and vascular disease. As I am knee-deep in experiments and projects, I find it important to step back and remember the awe I have for some of these cancer therapies. One project in the lab is assessing the immune-related adverse effects of cancer immunotherapies. A paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlights an adverse cardiovascular effect of immune checkpoint-inhibitors that initiated a cascade of questions on the safety of these drugs. While we are still trying to profile the safety of immune checkpoint inhibitors, it is undeniable that these cancer immunotherapies are amazing from a scientific, medical, and patient perspective. To marvel at the nature of immunotherapies, it helps to have a basic understanding of how they work. As an undergraduate student, I have developed a valuable skill at taking concepts that are very complicated and breaking them down by asking, “What is most important for me to know?” I apply this approach to understanding cancer immunotherapies as well. There are many visuals out there for understanding...

Autoimmunity: Immune System Takes a Toll On Itself

There has been an evident rise in autoimmune diseases during recent years. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) approximately 24 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases and the prevalence is rising. Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and asthma are some common examples. Autoimmune diseases are some of the most complex and hard-to-treat immune system related diseases. The first step towards cure is understanding Your immune system is essentially your detailed security; it can distinguish between what belongs in your body and what doesn’t. When a virus, bacteria, parasite or any other dangerous external pathogen targets your body, the immune system shoots and kills it. Unfortunately, though this is not always perfect. Sometimes the immune system starts targeting our own body and if this persists, it can lead to an autoimmune disease or autoimmunity. “Auto” means self, so autoimmunity basically means that your body takes an aim at itself. There are 90 characterized autoimmune diseases and this number has been on a stark rise in the recent years. Since the 1950s, the incidence of celiac disease alone has quadrupled, lupus rates have tripled and type 1 diabetes has escalated by 23% in the last decade alone. Autoimmune diseases vary greatly in the organs they affect and in their clinical manifestations, with some being limited to particular tissues and others being systemic or disseminated. Because most patients with...

Why 3D Printing Could Be the Wave of the Future

We often think of 3D printing as a new technology with futuristic implications, but we rarely stop to consider how far it’s come or where it could be in another few years. 3D printing was invented by Charles Hull in 1984, and in the ensuing 34 years we have developed ways to scan and 3D print objects in real time and have even begun one of the most science-fiction endeavors yet–3D printing human organs. Still, 3D printing has yet to reach its full potential, and that’s a good thing. With everything we’ve achieved and all the breakthroughs still being made, it’s only a matter of time before niche achievements carried out under perfect laboratory conditions become repeatable (and affordable) options for 3D printing hubs across the globe. 3D printers offer us a look at how computer and software technology can create meaningful changes in hardware by revolutionizing the design and physical creation processes. Here’s a look at where 3D printing is in 2018 and where it’s headed in the future. Printing Organs, Saving Lives For a while, the talk of 3D printed body parts was nothing more than theoretical science fiction. Sure, some researchers had figured out how to use a semi-organic material in a 3D printer and had even activated some living cells that replicated on the formed compound to create something like a real liver in a...

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