Category Archives: Science Thoughts

Bet you can’t guess my Halloween Costume

Well, I realized I was developing  quite a reputation for myself when a friend emailed me a couple of days ago.  Her email read something to this effect:

“Alyson, I have the perfect Halloween costume for you….You could be an Immuno-GOBLIN!”

Haha…yes I loooved this idea, Antibodies on a Monster!  So, I decided, yes, I do need a Science Halloween Costume this year.  I was a MAD SCIENTIST for Halloween when I was 11, and it’s time to bust out the Science for Halloween again.

So guess what I am…

If you said a CD4+ T cell you’d be wrong.

There are 4 more CDs on the back…I am a CD8+ T cell.

Anybody else got a good one for Halloween this year?

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Thank-Science-Giving: The Nobel Prize, Science Now and Science Future

Picture from http://funmike.com/

Every year in early October the Nobel Prize winners are announced.  For those of us in Canada, this coincides with our Canadian Thanksgiving, which is celebrated the second Monday in October every year.

Call me a NERD but to me this is an appropriate pairing:  Thanksgiving — a time to reflect on what we have in our lives — and the Nobel Prize – a time to reflect on a person’s lifetime of achievement.  Importantly, the contributions of the named Nobel Laureates have often have had an enormous impact on scientific methodology, scientific theory and/or the quality of health and life in general.  For instance, this includes recognition for the discovery of HIV (2008), development of the gene silencing (2006), and discovery of protein ubiquitination (2004).  And where would we be without PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)?  The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Kary Mullia and Michael Smith in 1993 for their discovery and work on PCR.

The achievements recognized in this year’s awards resonate through many aspects of our lives, from the optimism for the possibilities offered by therapeutic stem cells to the stabilization of the global economy.  Hopefully the dividends from these discoveries will be evident in the years to come.

If you knew me during the first couple of years of my PhD, then you heard me talk endlessly about Robert Lefkowitz and the biology of the trimeric G-protein protein couple receptors (GPCR) chemokine receptors.  I am sure all of Queen’s University heard my ramblings — I was GPCR OBSESSED.  Without Dr. Lefkowitz’s work, I probably would not have a PhD today, and for his work on GPCRs I am grateful.  Specifically Dr. Lefkowitz has made a significant impact on the field of drug development by elucidating the signalling, activation and desensitization of GPCRs which has been applied for the treatment of conditions such as ulcers and hypertension.  Therefore, I was super pumped to hear of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year going to Dr. Lefkowitz and Brain K. Kobilka”for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors“. 

The announcement for the Chemistry Nobel Prize on GPCRs got me thinking, “Who will win next year?  What researcher, technology or development has impacted the other areas of my scientific career or science and society in general significantly enough to be deserving of the NEXT Nobel Prize?”

I believe a new tone has been set for global science and health care. Specifically, the work by  Grand Challenges Canada is leading the way for global scientific development.  Their platform encompasses the utilization of scientific innovation to improve health care and build scientific discovery in low-income countries.  Grand Challenges Canada has received global attention by Scientific and Global Health Organizations including the prestigious scientific publication Nature, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID.  Grand Challenges Canada has implemented programs for solving health-care challenges through the following in initiatives:  Stars in Global Health, Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains, and Global Mental Health.  Importantly, the Stars in Global Health programme supports collaborations between Canada and lower income countries  for the development of scientific innovations for resolving global health challenges.  Essentially, its aim is to utilize scientific discovery to directly improve the health problems in lower income countries. I believe that the work being conducted requires both scientific and health-care novelty and knowledge and will have a significant global impact.  To me, I can’t think of anything more fabulous than using science, scientific initiatives and global collaborations to directly solve world issues and I feel these efforts should be recognized.

Now I ask YOU.  What researcher or what technology do you see as deserving of a Nobel Prize?  Or what innovation do you see as having a significant impact on science or society in the next 10 years?  What Scientific Discovery are you personally thankful for? I would love to know your thoughts…

Alyson

This year the awards were as follows:

My Post on The Book The Grandest Challenge by Dr. Abdallah S. Daar and Dr. Peter A. Singer can be read here

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Goodbye 2011 and Hello New Science Year 2012: JIDC Postcards 2011- a Wrap-up

Good Bye 2011.  Hello New Science Year! Its 2012!  I hope everyone had a fabulous 2011 and rang in 2012 with a (big) bang!

There is so much a new year brings, especially in science. A new year with many possibilities. New conferences to attend (yeah!). Papers to publish. Exciting projects to start.  And new posts to write for the JIDC Blog!

To move forward in a guided direction I often feel we need to review the past.  What conferences were attended?  Were they beneficial? What papers were we able to publish last year? Were they well received? What are the stages of the current projects? Are they close to a publication? Are they close to completion?

And here at the JIDC Blog, what were the posts on the Blog over the last year?  Were they helpful to readers and authors? Did they promote scientific discussion? Were the Blog and the Blog Posts a good resource for research information? – This was my main goal when starting the JIDC Blog.  My hope was that the Blog would be useful to JIDC readers and authors alike as an information resource as well as a point for discussions.  I also hoped that it would be a valuable tool for non-JIDC members and help educate new people about JIDC.

So shall we review?

There is a blog tradition that I have only just learned about.  The tradition is that the first post of the New Year should be a listing of all the first sentences from the first post of every month from the previous year.

Below is a listing of all of the first Posts of every month in 2011 and the first sentences from each.  I have also added my personal notes from each post.

Here we go…

June 2011 — JIDC Postcards: The JIDC Blog

Hi, and welcome to JIDC’s blog. 

I was sooo excited…and nervous to introduce the Blog to the JIDC community and the world.  Would anyone read it? Would anyone like it?  Would it be a Blog that we could be proud of? Only you can answer these questions for me. 

 

July 2011 – Olga:  From Mozambique to Brazil

A Challenge!! An Opportunity!!

My name is Olga André Chichava, and I’m a young biologist fromMozambique!

I absolutely loved this post from Olga. Her story gave an incredible view into the life of a research student who is also a mother.  I was inspired to see her courage to move to a foreign country and her drive to build her masters project.   She shared her passion for research as well as life with us. This post was featured on the headlines of Microbiology Daily, I was so proud. Also, this post is the most popular post on the Blog.

 

August 2011 – Milliedes in Kashmir,India

Insects have been found in Marrhama, a village in Blok Trehgam in the District of Kupwara Jammu and Kashmir, India. The main water source used for drinking purposes is badly affected by the insects.

This post from Dr. Kadri highlighted problems that affect regional areas which can easily go unnoticed to the rest of the world.  I am so glad that he shared this experience so that more people can be aware of such difficulties that face communities. This is the second most popular post of all time on the Blog and I am happy that it has reached so many people!

 

September 2011 – The First Annual Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection

The Africa Health Research Organization, AHRO, presents the International Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection

What: First International Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection
When: 6-7 January 2012
Where: Edinburgh Scotland
Who: Presented by AHRO,Africa Health Research Organization

It was great to post about this conference.  Since the conference was just completed, I hope that everything went well and it was a successful event.  Also, I would love to hear a roundup of the conference by anyone who attended.  Please contact me if you are interested in writing a Blog Post describing this meeting.

 

October 2011 – And the winner is…! JIDC Open Access Week#4

And the winner is….I just couldn’t help it.  I have enjoyed Open Access Week and the JIDC T-shirt give-away that I could not just draw only 1 name.  So I picked 6!

Ooooo this was an exciting one.  I was incredibly happy to share JIDC and the JIDC T-shirts with readers and authors! If you are a winner and you haven’t contacted me and would still like at T-shirt, please let me know.

 

November 2011 – Publishing a Scientific Article in JIDC

How do I publish a scientific paper?…This question is asked by all young scientists. 

How do you write a scientific paper? There are so many directions one can take when putting their research together. I hope this helped authors organize themselves when preparing manuscripts for JIDC.  In addition to this Post, if you have other specific questions about writing a paper or you have a particular writing topic you would like to see a post about, please don’t hesitate to let me know.  I am currently preparing a post how I write a scientific paper to share with you.

 

December 2011 – ReR – MedToday!

Memento te hominem esse. – Remember that you are human.

What an important point that is! Remember you are human. We are all vulnerable and delicate aren’t we? I am so happy to have posted the special work of ReR-MedToday! The importance of support during times of ill health can’t be overstated. I am sure the families touched by this organization are forever grateful.

 

Thats a Wrap! 

So that’s the JIDC Blog for 2011.  I hope 2012 brings just as fabulous Posts and discussions as 2011 did.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the Posts and Discussion of the 2011 JIDC Blog!  In no particular order, BIG THANKS to:

IRIN and Jane Summ

Olga Andre Chichava

Prof. Jorg Heukelbach

Anna Carolina Ritter

Laboratory of Food Microbiology of the ICTA/UFRGS

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

Dr. Vinod Singh

USAID

David Dorherty

Joanne Wong

Dr. S.M. Kadri

Open Access and Open Access Week

SPARC

PLoS

Donna Okubo

Dr. Amber Farooqui

Jain et al., JIDC 2011

Dr. Abubaker Yaro

Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

1st International Conference on Drug Therapy in TB Infection

The Grandest Challenge

Dr. Abdallah S. Daar

Dr. Peter A. Singer

Sun et al., JIDC 2011

Amedei et al., JIDC 2011

Elios et al., JIDC 2011

Jeff Coombs

Tracy Zao

Ashish Chandra Shrestha

Sara Norris

Christopher Logue

Sunita Pareek

Marie Anne Chattaway

Chimwemwe Mandalasi

Jane-Francis Akoachere

University of Buea, Cameroon

Nikki Kelvin

Tribaldos et al., JIDC 2011

Dr. Lorelei Silverman

Dr. Rosalind Silverman

Models of Human Diseases

Loredana

University Hospital of Hue, Vietnam

University of Sassari

Dr. Le Van An

Dr. Tran

Prof. Piero Cappuccinelli

Remi Eryk Raitza

ReR-MedToday!

SmileKenya

Drake Current

Current Family

Dr. Myo Nyein Aung

School of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok

And a spceial thanks to Prof. Salvatore Rubino for his support of the Blog!

Reflecting on the 2011 Blog has shown me I have lots more science to cover! It has also spiked my curiosity.  What was your favorite Post of 2011?  What about your Favorite JIDC Postcard? Was there a topic that you enjoyed reading about or a Postcard that you could identify with? Let me know. I love to hear from you!

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Filed under Amber, Countries, Editor's Pick, Environmental Issues, JIDC News, Open Access, People, Postcards, Science Thoughts, Science Tools, Scientific Writing, Wrap-Up

“Dig A Little Deeper!” — Lessons from Disney

Every Monday morning, we have a lab meeting/journal club.  The PhD students take turns delivering a  presentation each week. The presentations  alternate weekly between discussing a paper and a review of the PhD student’s progress on his or her project.  Before the formal meeting begins, we have a round table for short up-dates of the non-presenting students’ projects.

This week, the student  did an excellent job as he up-dated us on the current state of his project.  He had previously reported a result that we had thought we had fully analyzed – but that was not all to the story.  After reading additional published papers, this student went on to provide an alternative analysis and hypothesis for the result. 

I was very excited and interested to hear about this new perspective.  I was also happy to see students “thinking outside the box” – that is, not just accepting the first hypothesis that seemed reasonable and then moving on without questioning the current thinking.

This incident reminded me of my two daughters’ favourite Disney song,  Dig A Little Deeper. Mama Odie sings this song in the Princess and the Frog movie.


 

I think digging a little deeper is a good message – not just for students but for all researchers.  Dig a little deeper to find what you are looking for – dig deeper into your project.  Look harder at your results for points that may have been missed.   Research the literature harder and make sure you know the subject area in and out.  Dig A Little Deeper.

I have been humming this song to myself all week, with a little smile on my face!

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