research

Bizarre Skin Conditions That You Never Want To Get – #10

(Warning to the non-med students, graphic images ahead)   What is the largest organ system in the body? The Integumentary System!   Yes, we all know this well-known fact since our elementary and middle school days. Our skin covers the entire surface area of our body, serving various different functions. From temperature regulation to being the first line of defense for the immune system, our soft skin is often our best friend.   However, we may encounter some quite tenacious pathogens that can lead to some quite gruesome skin conditions, some of which you should truly pray that you never get. I will be going over the top 10 most intriguing integumentary ailments that I have come across, one at a time over the next several articles, starting with the first one here at #10.   10. Necrotizing Fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis is one of the hallmark bacterial infections in the field of dermatology. Classically known as a “flesh-eating infection,” some of the more common perpetrators include Klebsiella, Clostridium, and E. coli, with group A Streptococcus bacteria being the most prominent culprits.   Starting with intense pain and tenderness in the initial area of infestation on the skin and at the deeper muscle level, the infection can spread along the fascia (covering of the muscle) and up through the subcutaneous layer. Antecedent trauma or surgery can usually be identified as...

How to Stay Up To Date on Research in Your Field

  If you are in any research field and are currently working on a project, you’ll need to stay up to date on published research.  But how do you find the newly published research literature without doing manual search after manual search?  There are few different options.   Subscribe to the RSS feed of your search. Conduct a search for your topic of choice on your favorite database (Google Scholar, PubMed, ScienceDirect, etc.) You sign up for a RSS feed of any type of search you make (i.e., title, author, etc.) Each database should have a link to subscribe to the RSS feed for the search.  Once you have the RSS feed link, open your favorite reader website (I use Feedly) and paste your RSS feed link into the add content option.  When a paper is published that shows up in your search, it will automatically populate into your blog reader.  Then when you have time, you can browse the latest published work on your research topic.   Subscribe to the RSS feed of your favorite journals. Many journals offer a RSS feed option that you can also paste into your reader.  Be selective about which journals you subscribe to, otherwise you might just be scrolling through article after article that is useless to your research.   Sign up for search or journal alerts. This is similar to subscribing...

Microdosing and Drug Discovery

Understanding Microdosing The practice of microdosing has gained momentum in recent years and is defined as using 1 percent of a pharmacologically active dose. The method is believed to have the potential to better obtain personalized medicines for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Since administration of these doses are so low, the drugs are unlikely to produce whole-body effects but have concentrations adequately permitting absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. So in effect, microdose studies are not intended to produce any adverse pharmacologic effects in humans, but may produce useful pharmacokinetic information to assist in further development of the compound.[1] The potential for decreased Research & Development expenditures has made microdosing an attractive strategy, particularly in the case of resources spent on nonviable drug candidates and animal testing. Microdose studies are conducted in the Phase 0 clinical trial. During this stage, issues pertaining to drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics are addressed. Microdosing, therefore, allows not only for the selection of the drug candidates more likely to be developed successfully, but also for the determination of the first dose for the subsequent Phase I clinical trial.[2][3]   Competing Challenges With these potential benefits, more research is required to guarantee the accuracy and efficiency of microdosing. It is important to remember that there is an assumption of linearity between the microdose and the full dose drug. The human body’s response to...

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...