Blood Cancer Journal Reflection 2

Submitted by nkantorovich on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:58

Multiparameter flow cytometry has become a standard in diagnosis and prognosis of patients with plasma cell disorders. New technology created a (NFG) or next-generation flow cytometry that measured characteristics of cells to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) in a cost effective way. This method could also be used to detect circulating tumor cells and recent cases has shown its success in detecting multiple myelomas. Paraproteins are a type of protein detected in the bone marrow and other tissues when cancer or other diseases are present. Specifically, when plasma cells begin to make an abnormal protein (monoclonal) this is a sign of myeloma.


Jelinek, T, et al. “Current Applications of Multiparameter Flow Cytometry in Plasma Cell Disorders.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 20 Oct. 2017,

Blood Cancer Journal Reflection

Submitted by nkantorovich on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:57

Multiparameter flow cytometry is one of the main means of diagnosis of hematologic malignancies. It is a low cost and effective way to find any discrepancies in cells and target malignancies. It works by taking cells and placing them in a fluid stream and analyzing each cell using cytometry. Cytometry is the measurements of a cell through its characteristics such as size and shape. This device is able to use a laser to specifically analyze each cell and characterize if it is normal or abnormal. It can take only a few hours to analyze a sample making it an incredibly effective form of diagnosis.


Jelinek, T, et al. “Current Applications of Multiparameter Flow Cytometry in Plasma Cell Disorders.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 20 Oct. 2017,



Submitted by smomalley on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:51

In current neuroscience, we know that neurons carry electrical signals across the synapse both to and from the brain to relay information, Throughout history this was not the case. A doctor to the Roman Gladiators, Galen, believed that because the cerebellum was the firm part of the brain, it was responsible for muscle movement. The cerebrum is the softer part of the brain, so he believed perception of different experiences imprinted on this part of the brain. He was generally right in the sense that the brain does control muscle movement, and the cerebrum is mostly responsible for sensory percention. These ideas evolved over the years to the knowledge we have today, that different sections of the brain have different functions and control different parts of our physical and psychological being.

PP: Hyperbiliruben

Submitted by asalamon on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:50

Bilirubin is a by-product of red blood cell breakdown which is a mammilian specific by-product of red blood cell breakdown.  Reptiles, amphibians, and birds all have red blood cells break down in heme then to biliverdin, something they are able to excrete without any addtional breadown.  Mammals, on the other hand, have the bilirubin break down into biliruben. One of the key evoltionaly differences between mammals and these other species is the placenta connecting the mother and child together.  Since this trait has evolved and been conserved through mammels, it begs the question if there is a benifit to having biliruben in the system of infants.  Biliruben is an antioxident that could prevent DNA damage during the development fo the fetus.  

In utero, the fetus’s red blood cells break down and is filtered through the placenta.  From there, the mother breaks down the bilirubin into the expendable form in their liver and its rid of waste.  When a baby is born, it is disconnected from the mother and its liver is not fully functional so it cannot breakdown the bilirubin themselves.  If levels of bilirubin are too high, the baby can be diagnosed with hyperbilirubin which appears are jaundice in the baby.  This is concerning to doctors taking care of the newborns becuase if the levels of biliruben are too high, then the child would be left with serious brain damage.  Depending on how much jaundice the newborn is presenting, they are placed under lights to reduce the levels of biliruben.  If the levels of biliruben in newborns did not benefit the fitness of the child, then natural section should have weeded it out.

Bone Development

Submitted by asalamon on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:37

Why are humans, as a species vunderable to osteoporosis? Why are women even more susceptable to the illness?  These questions can be answered through evolutionary medicine.  Bones begin as cartilage with centers of ossification that allow for the growth of the bone over time.  Eventually, the centers for ossificaiton fuse and the bone stops growing.  Besides infancy, the fastest time for growth occures during adolesence.  The growth rate is direclty related to the amount of IGF released by the pititary gland of the individual.  During pubery for females, the bone density is rapidly being packed onto the bones.  Once puberty ends, females have a significalty higher bone density and mass than males.  This is important for reproduction as the calcium and nutrients of the bones is essential to pregancy and breastfeeding.  During menopause, women have a serious decrease in the amount of estrogen they produce. As a result there is a sudden drop in bone density.  As opposed to men who see a steady decrease in bone density over time, women see a sudden drop in bone density then continue to deterioate at a steady rate from there.  Because of the sudden drop during menopause, women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis than men.  This is an example of antagonistic pleiotrophy.  While levels of estrogen in women during puberty are essential to successful reproduce, they result in deterious consequences later in life.  

AQ 9/20 Perfect Paragraph

Submitted by atquang on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:35

GMOs stand for genetically modified organisms. Their DNA has been artificially altered with the purpose to enhance effectiveness for human needs. These effects include longer shelf life, taste, nutrients, the ability to withstand pesticides, and faster/larger-growing plants and animals. GMOs are found in agriculture products and livestock. An explicit example of GMOs used is to fasten the growth and size of chickens. They are everywhere in grocery stores, and can even start from the birth of livestock. You have probably heard of people preferring organic-grown produce when shopping at their local grocery store. The preference stems from Monsanto, a major producer of pesticides and genetically modified crops, who sells farm products that have improved yields and cut down on some pest problems. A series of scandals involving Monsanto has damaged its reputation with consumers. Monsanto is well-known to genetically modify their seeds and crops, increasing annual yields by forcing growth hormones into livestock. Although there has been little evidence showing GMOs are harmful to our bodies, it has also induced a love-hate relationship between the available product and its consumers. They also sue many farmers over patent infringement, claiming they own the genetically modified crops they grow because of the seeds have been modified from the company. These are the reasons Monsanto is an unethical company.

The Warrior Gene

Submitted by smomalley on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 12:16

In the depate of nature versus nurture, a recently discovered gene has added contributed to the debate. A mutation to the MAOA  gene, or the "Warrior Gene", is linked to anger management issues and violent behavior. When the MAOA gene is shortened, it inhibits the body's ability to clear excess seratonin in the neural synapses of the brain. This excess seratonin causes a good mood to turn agressive, pretty quickly. Research about this gene and the symptoms is relatively new. A team of scientists took genetic samples from a wide range of participants; ranging from buddhist monks to violent gang members. The genetic samples were tested for the Warrior Gene which some think is nature's cause of human violence. The results of the genetic tests showed that the three sampled buddhist monks had the gene, while other more violent participants did not. This result argues for nurture's cause of human violence, that a person's surroundings and upbringing are more perswasive in personality and behavior. Although some results were shocking, overall this research still leaves the debate of nature versus nurture up for debate. 

Making Figures with Inkscape

Submitted by sbrewer on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 11:59

Screencasts for making multipanel scientific figures using Inkscape

Creating Figures: Part 1. Compositing
Creating Figures: Part 2. Labels and Arrows
Creating Figures: Part 3. Document Properties and Exporting


  • Think ahead of time. What is your figure going to look like? Should you crop imagery ahead of time? Do you need to adjust image or exposure? (Note: Some journals don't allow digital manipulation of imagery). Do this in a bitmap editing program (e.g. GIMP or Photoshop).
  • Do all your work in a folder. Put your image files in there. Save your SVG file in there. Save early and often.


  1. Import all your images: Either Link or Embed. Note things can be “above” or “below” others. Click or drag over to select. Hold the “shift” key to select multiple objects.
  2. Composite your images to make your design: Lock proportions to avoid stretching. Turn “snapping” on or off. Set height and width directly to resize. Use Align and Distribute (switch to "relative to first selected").
  3. Construct one label: Consider font and contrast.
  4. Duplicate label to make more: Select label, duplicate object, move. Repeat as necessary.
  5. Finish each label: Replace each letter as necessary. Use Align and Distribute to center. Use align and distribute to put labels at corners of each panel.
  6. Create arrows: Use the Line Tool to draw a straight line segment (click, click-click). Then use Fill and Stroke tool to set the line width and add arrow head to start (or end).
  7. Set the Page Size: Open Document Properties. Resize Page to Drawing. Set background to not be transparent (increase alpha channel to 255).
  8. Export Finished Figure: Export PAGE. Set width to 1200pixels. Save with name “Lastname-Original.png” The resultant PNG file is your finished figure.

Note: Do not share your finished figure or include in your METHODS manuscript until your methods have been followed!

Neurobiology Brief History

Submitted by semans on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 11:57

The history of neurology is a fragmented one fraught with disagreements and centuries of stagnation. The earliest evidence of brain surgery dates back to prehistoric skulls with the marks of trepanation and subsequent recovery. Ancient Egyptians suggested that the heart was the seat of the soul rather than the brain. After that, the Ancient Greeks discovered the separation between the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS), though opinions were split as to whether the brain matter actually served a purpose in consciousness. Later, in 200BCE, Galen of Ancient Rome discovered cerebrospinal fluid in sheep and concluded that it was this liquid that gave rise to the conscious mind. Records of brain research in the Orient end there for nearly 1700 years, until the Renaissance in the 16th century. Leonardo da Vinci picks up the study of brain anatomy and makes detailed drawings of the brain and its ventricles. Slightly later in the mid 1500s, Andreas Vesalius dissects the bodies of executed prisoners and refutes Galen’s hypothesis that CSF is the seat of consciousness, rather, the solid matter gives rise to the mind. However, in the 1600s, Descartes counters this hypothesis in saying that the mind and brain are separate entities, giving birth to philosophical dualism. But, around the same time, Thomas Willis and Christopher Wren dissect human bodies and come to the same conclusion as Vesalius, the wellspring of the mind is not CSF but brain matter. Many small discoveries over the next centuries resulted in our understanding that nerves communicate via electricity and that different parts of the brain are important for different functions. It was only in the early 1900s that neurons were stained (Camillo Golgi) and then hypothesized to be the individual units of the brain (Santiago Ramón y Cajal). Finally, as we approach the 21st century, research has brought to light the existence of different neuron types, and other classes of brain cells - such as glia - that serve a host of other purposes in maintaining brain function. Though we know much about the anatomy of the brain, we are still in the dark about its generation, possible regeneration, information processing capabilities, and how it gives rise to consciousness.


Submitted by smomalley on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 11:51

The microbiome is so extensive in the living body, it is hard to think about life without it. There are so many functions of our microbiome that we don't think of everyday. Some of the functions are obvious, such as assistance in digestion. Other functions include vitamin K digestion and the processes that aids seratonin production. Current research is looking for a link between different autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, and a malfunction in the microbiome. The microbiome of everyone is slightly different, even among identical twins, because of different diets, exersizes, and experiences. The microbiome between an obese and a lean identical twin is very different, and research in mice is used to test if the lean mouse's microbiome can be safely transfered to the obese mouse to help that mouse loose weight. One form of microbiome transfer has been succesful for treating C.diff. This disease removes helpful microbacteria in the gut and leads to digestion and gastrointestonal problems. In this case the use of a fecal transplant from one healthy relative to the infected relative, is used to treat this disease. 


Subscribe to Writing in Biology - Section 1 RSS