research

Mental Health Stigma in the Muslim Community

  Mental health in the Muslim community has recently become an even more pressing issue. As I explained in a previous article, Islamophobic attitudes, previously dormant in the minds of many, have become active—Islamophobic voices have become louder. Discrimination, in its overt and subtle forms, has a negative impact on the mental health of Muslim-Americans. This claim has been backed by research. For example, a study by the Boston University School of Medicine found that the daily harassment that some Muslims face “can increase their risk of common mental disorders,” such as anxiety and depression.   Islamophobia is just one part of the mental health discussion in the Muslim community. While outer societal forces, such as Islamophobia, can affect Muslim-Americans’ mental health, stigma—a force within the Muslim community—also greatly impacts mental health. The American Muslim Health Professionals have recognized mental health literacy as the number one public health concern within the Muslim-American community, and that stigma is a big reason behind it. Stigma prevents many Muslim-Americans from discussing their mental health issues with others, and even accessing mental health resources. In some cases, stigma may potentially make mental health issues worse, or even prevent individuals from realizing their issues to begin with.   Stigma within the Muslim-American community is rooted in culture and religion, just like many other forms of stigma. As explained in journal article “Mental Health Stigma...

Solving the Mystery of Mutations – A New Model for Cancer Development

The mystery behind why certain cells possess cancer-related mutations that don’t fully develop into cancerous cells has long evaded cancer researchers. However, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, a Harvard-affiliated medical institution, recently made a significant advancement in the field of cancer research by visualizing cancer develop from a single cell in a live animal, for the first time. The findings of the team of researchers, published in Science last week, has helped identify exactly at what point in the cycle of development that a cancer-prone cell makes the conversion to one that is malignant.   Charles Kaufman, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Zon Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital and the paper’s first author, describes this critical point as one that “…occurs after activation of an oncogene or loss of a tumor suppressor, and involves a change that takes a single cell back to a stem cell state.”   To track this development, the research team used a zebrafish model with a human cancer mutation called BRAFV600E – commonly found in non-cancerous moles – that was also lacking the p53, a well-known tumor suppressor gene. A gene called crestin was of particular interest to the scientists due to its association with stem cells. Normally, after embryonic development, crestin and related genes are programmed to shut off. However, for unknown reasons certain cells prompt crestin and related genes to...

Your Brain Explained in Numbers

Do you know how many neurons comprise your brain? How about how long the longest axon on land is? What about in underwater life? This infographic gives you all the numerically based information you need. Now go impress your neuro instructor.  ...

Research Is Not Social Change

Research ≠ Social Action The shouting and tone of their voices sprung me from daydreaming. I looked up at them and they were still going talking. What were they so angry about?   There exists a very real and impactful barrier between healthcare providers and the community residents who we serve.  There are issues of power, class, race, history, and identity attached to what makes us as healthcare providers different from the people we serve, especially the poor.  The med school education, or possibly any college experience, may be something that significantly differentiates us from poor communities.  Hispanic college rates are 13%, Black college rates are 14%, while White college rates are 61%. These differences in education are meaningful and significantly affect the way we approach a problem and how that may be different than someone who has not received the same education or privileges as we have.  College changes the way we think. We learn new information and new theories about how the world operates that we would not otherwise have been exposed to. College wants this.  The social pressures which drive these differences in educational usage and attainment also affect how we view the world and its problems.   Every time, it’s just another hospital. It’s not fair to us.   But this difference does not on its own account for why they were angry.  These people...

How Should You Read A Research Paper?

Let’s face it. If you are going to be a physician in the modern era, you will have to be well versed in the current medical literature. This is now commonly known as practicing “evidence-based medicine.” New content is constantly being published in all areas of the medical field, from the mysteries of the human brain to the intricacies of cancer pathology. However, rather than being roped into the many fascinating aspects of select specialties, lets talk about a research paper. More specifically, how should you read one? As students, we often feel that we are not knowledgeable enough to understand the complex nature of a peer-reviewed research article. However, in order to get to a stage where we will be intellectual enough, we need to start somewhere. While I do not consider myself to be an expert in this art form, I would like to lay out the generic plan that I use to approach and understand any published research paper. Here we go!     Start from the start This may seem obvious, but we usually forget that the title of a research paper holds great importance. It is a snapshot of the key words that the authors feel most pressed to highlight in order to carry across the focus of the piece. As readers, this provides us with first-contact insight into whether or not we find...

Reimagining Inflammation: A Road to New Therapies?

  Many of the medical conditions and leading causes of death facing our population involve some form of chronic inflammation; which acts like a prolonged on-switch for the immune system. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and abnormal wound healing are among prominent illnesses in which chronic inflammation plays key a role. In many tissue types there is a reserve of stem cells that is responsible for supporting the healing process after normal inflammation has occurred or an injury has taken place. However, it has not been as widely explored under chronic inflammation conditions. A recent study published in Nature Cell Biology takes a new look at the concept of chronic inflammation and proposes its potential use as a method for new therapies. The study was conducted by researchers at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), described as Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. The team of scientists at EPFL’s Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) have discovered that chronic inflammation can lead to metaplasia or the ability for cells to actually change type. In the case of this study, eye cells made a dramatic transformation into skin cells!   Using a corneal epithelium mouse model, chronic inflammation was simulated and the method of fluorescent staining of specific cells was used to help observe and analyze stem cells located in...

The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Research Lab

Whether you’re a pre-med who wants to build your resume for medical school, a medical student who wants to fill a free summer, or a graduate student, you’re probably going to be doing research. Before you jump into trying to join a research group, I am here to warn you that not every research environment is equal (as I’ve learned the hard way, which sort of makes me an expert, so you probably heed my warning). If you do it right, there is a lot to consider when finding a research advisor that is best for you, which is ultimately what’s important. If the thought of picking a research advisor makes you feel a little like this:   Then this list of considerations is for you. 1. What area of research do you want to be in? First things first, you need to narrow down your options. Often this will be in your major or graduate program area, so hopefully you’ve already had a chance to reflect on this. Do you want to do biology or engineering, chemistry or anthropology? Whatever it is, look for professors who are doing research in that area. 2. Does your personality fit with that of the Primary Investigator (PI)? Before asking to join a lab, it is essential that you reach out to the PI (or the professor in charge of the lab,...