Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why I Can't Play Guitar

Welcome to the human brain, your three-pound throne of wisdom with the whoopee cushion on the seat. Here's an interesting article you might want to read before heading into your next test!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

15 Amazing Images of the Human Body

Thanks to Henry for sharing this site, which shows amazing photos of a variety of human cells and other structures. Take a look, they're great!

Doctor and Patient

As we continue our work on the human body and read "The Making of a Surgeon", here's an article about the doctor-patient relationship. How involved personally should a doctor get involved with their patient, especially a seriously ill one? Have you ever gone to the doctor and felt they weren't listening to you or were to busy or distracted? Can a doctor be allowed to have a "bad day?"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama lifts ban on stem cell research funding!

Yesterday, President Obama reversed a 2001 Bush ruling that prohibited the use of federal funds to support embryonic stem cell research. Even in these times of economic woe, stem cell scientists believe that there is enough money ready to be distributed that this reversal will have immediate impacts.

As you are probably aware, embryonic stem cell research has been controversial because it requires that human embryos (at a VERY early age of development) be destroyed. The right wing of the Republican Party, along with the "Moral Majority" have opposed this research because they say it promotes abortion. In truth, the embryos used for stem cell research have and will come primarily from fertility clinics, where non-implanted embryos are literally thrown into the trash.

The reason that stem cell researchers use these embryos that are in extremely early stages of development is that, as you'll recall from last semester, for the first few cell divisions that occur after a zygote is produced, all cells are identical - no differentiation has taken place. These cells are "pluripotent," meaning that they have the ability to differentiate into ANY kind of cell, depending on their local environment. Thus, embryonic stem cells can theoretically be placed into the spinal tissue of someone whose spine has been severely injured and they will be triggered to grow into new nervous tissue. There are other types of stem cells in the body, some of which can be "induced" to become pluripotent. Umbilical cord stem cells are also a potential source of puripotent stem cells. Using "older" pluripotent cells of any of these types is problematic however, as they have accumulated enough genetic markers to be rejected by the immune system of a person receiving them.

The NIH (National Institute of Health) has a great website discussing yesterday's decision, along with a lot of additional info on the topic. Check it out! There are surely many careers in this area waiting out there!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Are you "Friends" with Penelope Seal and Stelephant Colbert?

No? Well perhaps you'd like to be! You can find out how deep P. is diving, whether she is pupping, and so much more! Or find out about Stelephant's relationship status (it's complicated...) and the Colbert bump he got after his appearance on the Colbert Report. If you're curious, listen to this NPR story about this imaginative way to teach the public about marine mammals - and there is a link to Penelope's Facebook page! If you're curious, listen to this NPR story about this imaginative way to teach the public about marine mammals - and there is a link to Penelope's Facebook page!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Thanks to Carlos for this interesting story about new techniques that will allow parents to choose at least some of the traits of their unborn children. Please read the story and then comment on whether or not you think this is cool or disturbing, and why:-)