research

A Whole New Meaning to Having a Beer Belly

Getting drunk has truly become an art form – that is, people are getting very (and frighteningly) creative. ABC News even decided to warn our parents about these innovative techniques in their story, “5 Shocking Ways Your Kids Try to Get Drunk” (seriously, ABC, why do you always have to be such a buzz kill…literally.) But one 61-year-old man didn’t have to try very hard to raise his blood alcohol level to a whopping 0.37,and instead could do so without drinking a single alcoholic drink. Being “almost” docs, we have to jump into the science… According to a case study published in Scientific Research the cause of the man’s inebriation was Gut Fermentation Syndrome, also known, befittingly, as Auto Brewery Syndrome, where patients become intoxicated without drinking any alcohol. Sounds a little bit awesome…but maybe not when you think about the cause. When the 61 year old, who, ironically, had a home brewery himself, was admitted to the hospital, doctors observed the following: 1. History of hypertension and hyperlipidemia, where blood pressure was being treated but was not well controlled. 2. The patient denied taking any type of yeast as nutritional supplementation such as probiotics and denied previous gastrointestinal disorders or treatments. 3. Routine breath tests were conducted for lactose and fructose intolerance as well as hydrogen and all were negative. 4. A glucose tolerance was performed and was also negative. 5. An...

Unraveling the Great Lie About Chameleons

That’s right folks, you have been deceived about chameleons your entire life. Totally duped. Utterly bamboozled. Turns out that these clownish reptiles do not just “blend into” their environment as so many cartoons led us to believe when we were kids. In fact, the actual change of skin color depends on a complex pigmentation pattern controlled by chromatophore cells and signaling pathways that detect temperature and mood. As expected, some of you will blame the government on a mass conspiracy meant to rob us of our basic human right to understand our reptile brethren. Others will blame the fat cats of corporate America and the “education-military complex.” Still others will restart their subscription to National Geographic. We’re not really sure what you’re going to do once this confusing reality sets in, so all we can suggest is that you check out some of the pretty cool scientific literature on chameleons listed below. Extra reading: Stuart-Fox, D., & Moussalli, A. (2008). Selection for social signaling drives the evolution of chameleon color change. Public Library of Science Biology, 6, e25. Anderson, C.V. & Deban, S.M. (2010): Ballistic tongue projection in chameleons maintains high performance at low temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 107 (12): 5495–5499.  Anderson, C.V., Sheridan, T. & Deban, S.M. (2012): Scaling of the ballistic tongue apparatus in chameleons. Journal of Morphology 273: 1214–1226.       Featured image is a screenshot...

5 Medical Breakthroughs That Will Change The World by 2020

Salim Ismail, the founding executive director of Singularity University, gives you the top 5 medical breakthroughs that will revolutionize the healthcare sector by 2020. Read more about Salim Ismail. Filmed at FutureMed, in February 2013, at Singularity...

App Reveals Scientific Breakthrough Lurking Under Your Skin

Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a program that can amplify standard videos to detect miniscule changes in motion by temporal filtering of the video frames. The technology reveals things imperceptible to the naked eye, such as a person’s pulse, which is measured by amplifying the frames showing the flow of blood as it fills the...

Everything You Need to Know About the Latest Research on Stem Cells

As life begins, we are a single cell, full of potential to become any cell of the body. Our cell divides, the first of a countless number of replications as we approach a steady state of cell growth and cell death around 40 trillion cells. During this process, our cells lose their potential, committing to play a more specific role in the body, and with each commitment, it is believed that the cells enter a path of no return. These high potential cells are called stem cells and there is a great interest among medical researchers in their ability to produce multiple cell types. Studying them can help us understand more about how our body develops and how mistakes in this development process can manifest in negative outcomes. They also may be used in regenerative medicine to replace damaged tissue or eventually produce whole organs. While most of our cells commit to a role, some remain in the high potential state to act as the body’s repair system. To study them, we can isolate them from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and blood, their three most accessible sites in adults. They can also come from an embryo, but this method is highly controversial and sparks debate over when life truly begins. In vitro, cells can also be induced to have this high potential through introduction of genes that are expressed...

The Love Competition

On your mark, 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. 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 year’s??? Watch the full video on vimeo. Click here to read more about The Love Competition. Featured image from Lola Mag – John...

The “Other” Kind of Doctor

I don’t want people to think being a PhD candidate is this awful experience, so let me start with some positives. The environment that I work in promotes creativity, imagination, self direction, and cutting edge research. However, it also has its drawbacks, and as most PhD’s do, I will dwell on the negatives and share them with you. It is always an entertaining process trying to explain what I do to family/friends/acquaintances. Here is an example: them: so, you’re going to be a doctor eh? me: well, yeah, but not the one you’re thinking, I’m doing a PhD. them: huh? Oh, that’s not like a doctor doctor? me: no, I do research them: On what? me: It’s a bit complicated and boring, its just biology stuff them: what kind of stuff? it sounds pretty cool… me: [big sigh]…well, I am looking at a nuclear recept…. them: …………[BSoC]…….. This is the Blank Stare of Confusion. I notice it immediately, so to remedy this I just tell them that I take care of mice. Usually ends the conversation right there. PhD training is a quite different exercise than training to become a medical doctor. There really is no structure or set timetable. In fact, you don’t even have to show up all the time. The project is driven and shaped by the results…Ah yes the R word, merely a rumour to...