You Have A Lot To Be Grateful For

There are things that those of us in the developed world are not forced to consider. Those “things” happen to be the often deadly diseases that are still very prevalent throughout developing nations. The same diseases, meanwhile, are virtually gone in many developed nations. Developed nations enjoy early access to vaccines, largely accessible healthcare, and cleaner conditions. Traveling outside of your country can actually be dangerous: different places can really differ down to the microbe. Here are some diseases that, while you may not be likely to see, still plague the developed world. Hopefully this reminds you just how good you have it.   1. Malaria     2. Polio   3. Yellow Fever     4. Measles     5. Tetanus      6. Small Pox Small Pox was included here to show that it is possible to completely eliminate a disease. Small Pox is a disease that no one anywhere, developed nation or developing nation, has to worry about. In 1979, after aggressive action by several countries and the World Health Organization, Small Pox was declared eradicated....

Can Spinach Leaves Replace Damaged Cardiac Tissue?

Featured From The Doctor’s Channel     Perfusion decellularization has recently been used to remove genetic material in pig organs, allowing them to be seeded with human stem cells in the hopes of securing a renewable source of organs for transplantation. In a similar (but non-mammalian) vein, researchers from the Myocardial Regeneration Lab at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have performed decellularization processes on spinach leaves and infused them with human heart muscle cells to determine if the remaining cellulose scaffold could support the demanding job of replacing dense heart tissue. The spinach-heart combinations were able to beat for up to three weeks in some of the experiments.   Next steps in this research include more in-depth testing of the compatibility of cellulose with human heart tissue, as well as “stacking” the plant-derived material to determine if layering the decellularized spinach leaves will yield “tissue” strong enough to maintain efficacy over long periods of time. The team, led by Glenn Gaudette, PhD, and Joshua Gershlak, MSc, have already begun testing other abundant plant species for viable veinous networks.   Click here to read an article about this research in the Washington Post.   Click here for the paper published in the journal Biomaterials via ScienceDirect.   Featured Image:...

Choosing a Medical Speciality Based on Your Personality

When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I tell them I’m going to be a doctor. Then, I have a mini-existential crisis when I realize I’m 22 years old and almost a full-blown “grown-up.” Usually, after that, they ask me what kind of doctor I want to be. And then I have another crisis because I don’t really know what I’m going to specialize in. Sure, there are certain specialties that I’m drawn to. But, isn’t it too early to tell? And, how am I really supposed to know, considering there’s so many specialties to choose from?   I know, I know, there’s really no need for me to panic. It’s not until your third year of medical school that you actually start rotations, so there’s plenty of time to find the specialty that suits you. But, regardless, I’m still very fascinated by what speciality I’ll end up in, and I often day-dream about the types of illnesses I’ll be treating as a physician.   I’ve asked the doctors I shadowed about what drew them to their specific specialty. One of the answers that really stood out to me was that each speciality has a certain personality type—you’re often drawn to a specific speciality based on whether you possess its distinct personality.   It turns out many people use this personality-specialty match to figure out...

How Do I Make Such An Important Decision?

As a fresh first year medical student, every upperclassman I talked to said the same thing: “Don’t worry about Step 1 and residency right now. You still have a long way to go. Just enjoy your life right now!”   Finally looking forward to wrapping up my first year in a few weeks, the feeling of impending doom is slowly encroaching on me. In exactly a year from now, I will be taking probably the most important exam of my life. And in 2 years from that point, I will know where I will be going for the next phase of my training – residency. So the most obvious question is – what do I want to do with the rest of my life? Let’s try to break down this complex, loaded question into a few basic steps.   1. Medicine or surgery? Image: Source   As a growing medical student, this is the first question you need to ask yourself. Medicine and surgery are the two prongs of the medical field. Are you the kind of person who loves the operating room and cannot imagine living outside it or can you survive without ever operating?   It goes without saying that this is a hard decision to make so early on in your career. You have barely stepped into the medical community and you are already expected to...

An Update on Healthcare Reform

In March, Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). It was a troubling moment for a new Republican regime that, for years, had promised to repeal Obamacare.   The AHCA was a flawed bill. It attempted to appease varied conservative interests, but it ended up being a convoluted mess that only alienated hard-line and moderate Republicans. Far-right conservatives thought the bill was Obamacare-lite, while moderates were concerned the bill failed to protect the interests of both their lower-income and sicker constituents.   According to Politico, Republicans have come to a tentative agreement that would appease the conflicting interests of their party. The conservative Republicans have agreed to reinstate Obamacare’s Essential Health Benefits, which was stricken from the original AHCA. According to this provision, all health plans must provide health benefits such as mental health and addiction treatment, preventive services, ambulatory care, and more—all with no limit. This appeases moderate Republicans who were worried about their constituents, as the provision prevents insurers from providing bare-bones coverage. In exchange for this, moderate Republicans have agreed to permit states to opt out of Obamacare’s community rating provision—this means that insurance companies can charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions. This is a win for fiscally conservative Republicans because it’ll theoretically lower health insurance prices, at least for healthy individuals.   The compromise does...

Quiz! Do You Know Your Diseases?

As a medical practitioner, you need to be able to look at symptoms to help you diagnose a patient. It can be difficult without a full examination but some indicators can help you guess the most likely disease. Do you think you could diagnose correctly? Are you the next Dr House? The next medical Sherlock Holmes? Let’s find out! Featured From Gap Medics Blog Featured Image:...

Can Smartphones Sequence DNA?

Featured From The Doctor’s Channel   Video: Source   Molecular analysis of biological samples is typically outsourced to well-equipped (and cost-intensive) laboratories. However, there are times when sample diagnosis and DNA sequencing is needed quickly, needed in a remote location, or both. For this reason, Professor Mats Nilsson of Stockholm Universitet, Uppsala Universitet, and SciLifelab has led research on creating a smartphone compatible device for rapid, cost-effective molecular analysis.   The 3d-printed smartphone attachment uses a specialized lens and two LED lights to perform its microscopy. One of the first use-cases that Prof. Nilsson envisions for the technology is identifying antibiotic resistance in tuberculosis in developing countries. When the device becomes widely available, it’s estimated that it will cost less than $500.   Click here to read the paper published in the journal Nature Communications.   Featured Image:...