research

23 and Me (& Me), Part I: A Twenty-Something Explores Her Genome

I was saving up to buy a desk so that I can stop writing from bed (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that) but instead, I decided that for $100, I would send my spit to 23 & Me and find out everything that science can tell me about my DNA. 23 & Me is a genotyping service started by the woman who is married to a co-founder of Google–Anne Wojcicki. It used to be a lot more expensive to have this genotyping done; upwards of $1,000 when the project was piloted, but due to grants and funding for more research, Wojcicki has been able to significantly decrease the price, hoping that will entice folks to participate. Playing into, perhaps, our natural curiosity about our bodies and our sometimes incessant narcissism (something that social media has used to its advantage from the get go: Myspace, anyone?), 23 & Me offers us a glimpse into the inner framework of our very being. That being said, it is only a portion of our DNA that can be genotyped. For purposes of liability, I presume, there are many disclaimers throughout the entire service that enumerate the minor detail that just because their lab doesn’t find you to have one of the 2 mutations that they’re testing for, that would possibly cause a disease, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have one...

Death’s Design

Ajay Verma talks about the inevitability of human death. He speculates that death is built into us. He goes on to suggest that we carry a biologic blueprint for death that may include “grim reaper” mechanisms. Filmed at FutureMed, in February, 2012, at Singularity University.     Featured image from...

An “Almost” Doctor’s Guide to MSG: 6 Utterly Wrong Myths

Admit it. We’ve all teared back the crisply sealed cover of cup noodles, salivating at the thought of slurping up those curly strands of savory instagoodness. But as soon as you finish your delicious meal, that soft creeping euphoria of drowsiness (that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that its 3am and you’ve been studying for an endocrinology exam the past 6 hours) begins to overcome you. Must be all that MSG you just choked down. As one of the most widely despised and misunderstood food products in the world, Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, has gone through quite the journey. A recent article by Buzzfeed contributor John Mahoney sheds light on the whirlpool of myths on MSG, focusing on the titillating rise of the “umami craze” and one chef’s quest to perfect the “5th basic taste”. For these chefs, the path to understanding umami inevitably leads them to MSG, which is chemically identical to the glutamic acid they’re creating from scratch. And yet Chang wouldn’t think of using MSG in his restaurants today. He told me he doesn’t even use it at home, despite being a professed lover of MSG-laced Japanese Kewpie mayo. After decades of research debunking its reputation as a health hazard, and uninterrupted FDA approval since 1959, MSG remains a food pariah — part of a story that spans a century of history, race, culture, and science...

Can Aging Be Cured?

Aubrey de Grey, MA, PhD, believes the coming decades will bring us anti-aging medicine that is at the same level of medical control as any other infectious disease. How similar is aging to other health problems, and can medical science really “fix” it? Watch as Aubrey de Grey offers a definition of aging that refocuses the question of whether or not it can be delayed or even reversed. Filmed at FutureMed, in February, 2012, at Singularity University. Featured image from Flickr |...

Ever Wonder How Your Brain Detects Motion?

Ever wonder how your brain detects motion? How you just missed getting hit by the foul ball when you were pretending to care about the game but were actually on instagram? Or how you were able to swat the annoying fly that’s always buzzing around your desk? Well, after 50 years of only having a vague idea of how the brain is able to detect motion, this week, three studies were published in Nature revealing the exact mechanism of this ability. Maybe you’ve never asked yourself these questions, but this video is an interesting explanation of how the brain is able to detect motion and the tools researchers are using to learn more about the brain. Check out the three articles in Nature (1, 2, and 3). Featured image is a screenshot taken  from the video...

Is Money Addictive Like Cocaine?

How addictive is money? It turns out there is neuroscience and biochemistry behind every dollar. Ian H. Robertson discusses how receiving money can activate parts of our brain like the ventral striatum, closely mirroring the physiologic responses associated with cocaine or alcohol consumption. Read more about The Winner Effect and...

A World of Genetic Data at Your Fingertips

Atul Butte, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Systems Medicine, Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, discusses the intersection of biomedical research and computer technology. He explains how the increasing ease, affordability, and accessibility of genome sequencing will revolutionize the way genetic data is analyzed and utilized. Read more about Atul Butte, MD, PhD. Filmed at FutureMed, in February 2013, at Singularity...

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