Mindfulness Meditation: The Path to a Better Headspace

Now more than ever, we’re bombarded with messaging like “7 Tips to Calm Your Mind During a Pandemic,” but that messaging– to calm down, to be present, has been around for a while. Being present is marketed as the solution for a troubled mind, to decrease distressing, negative thoughts that pop into our minds and increase happiness. But being present can be so elusive!  What does science say about being present, and how to silence negative  thoughts and refocus your mindset?

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If You’re on Medication, Beware of the Grapefruit Effect

What do the drugs Percocet, Lipitor, and Wellbutrin have in common? It’s not what they do for you – one’s a pain med, another treats heart disease, and the third helps with depression. They’re not made by the same drug company, nor are they regulated the same way by the government. These drugs couldn’t be more different in the way they work, why they work, and how they’ve impacted our healthcare system. So what is it that they all have in common?

They, like many other drugs, can turn on you and cause you harm if you take them with grapefruit juice.

This is called the grapefruit effect.

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Organ Transplantation: How to Find Your Organs’ Doppelgangers

You just stopped by the DMV to renew your license, and you see that you can sign up to be an organ donor. You are hesitant. You have questions. You have concerns. For instance, you may have heard from a neighbor that the process is unfair, and celebrities get priority when it comes to receiving organ transplants. Is this true? You may wonder many things about how the organ donor and transplant process works. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind it. Let’s see if this insight will convince you to sign up to be an organ donor! 

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Cancer Immunotherapy: Living Drugs and Immune Catalysts

Most people find being inside a hospital a bit uncomfortable, as a patient or otherwise. But I find hospitals familiar and comforting, which isn’t surprising considering how most of my early childhood was spent in one. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. My bone marrow had started to produce immature mutant versions of healthy white blood cells, crowding out my working immune system. Leaving me open to infections and so weak I couldn’t walk. Back then the standard treatment for pediatric ALL was high dose chemotherapy. These drugs killed off the cancerous cells by preventing them from dividing, but they also had the same effect on healthy cells, weakening and stressing my body even further. It took months of intensive chemo and years of recovery, but my ALL eventually went into remission. I don’t have many memories of the time, but my family and those with loved ones who have dealt with cancer know how much of a battle chemotherapy is.

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Your Diet and Cancer: pHacts and pHiction

This is a companion article to the feature Not so Basic After All: The Role of pH in Cancer Therapy.

Based on your reading of the article above, you may be wondering if an acidic diet can cause cancer, or if you can prevent cancer with a basic diet. While the results of the baking soda study might make it seem that way, science points to a more nuanced reality. 

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The Discovery of Vaccines: Then and Now

In the doctor’s office, a little toddler smiles joyfully as the doctor releases the plunger and withdraws the syringe from his arm. This was the first of a series of shots that he was scheduled to receive as part of his vaccination regimen. The doctor applies a bandage to the toddler’s arm, adds the vaccination to his records, and asks the family if they had any questions before leaving for the day.  

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Mixing a Phage Cocktail to Combat Bacterial Infections

In 2013, when Tenzin Kunor was in his last semester of college, he learned that he had a type of tuberculosis (TB) that was resistant to the typical drugs that are used to treat TB. At first, he thought it was a bad cold because he had been experiencing chest pains, a sore throat, and coughing. When it got to the point that it was painful to walk, he received his diagnosis: multidrug resistant TB. This bacterial infection requires special medications, and takes a long time to resolve. For Tenzin, it took two years.

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Control Diabetes Before It Controls You: How Group Visits Improve Care

In Greek mythology, after escaping his prison, Icarus soared close to the sun, despite his father’s instructions to fly neither too high nor too low. His wings of feathers and wax melted before he plummeted to his death. In modern day, patients with type 2 diabetes similarly seek to escape their symptoms at the doctor’s office, and they receive instructions just as difficult—maintain a level of blood sugar that is neither too high nor too low, or face harsh consequences.

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Mini-Brains and Soufflés? More Alike Than You Think

Mini-brains—that’s right. It sounds like something from Frankenstein, doesn’t it?  

I gazed in awe as my mentor showed me these ‘mini-brains,’ aka cerebral organoids. Much like soufflés, mini-brains must grow without falling apart and require a lot of care and patience. They ‘rise’ to the challenge of helping physicians and scientists better understand the brain and develop treatments for diseases that affect us and our loved ones. 

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Why You’re Not Dead Yet – A Crash Course on Fighting the Flu

You’re sitting at home, watching TV, and then, suddenly, you feel it. Did your throat always feel so dry? Was your nose that stuffed up this morning? Then, you realize it. You heard someone cough near you on the train yesterday morning, and now, you’re one of the 60 million Americans each year who’ve caught the flu

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Machines Can Read Your Mind

A bionic woman trains her robotic ear to recognize the sound of footsteps two blocks away. A man taps on a holographic screen to view a recording of his own memory. A scientist puts their finger to their temple to mentally command an army of robots.

You might recognize those scenes from popular science fiction, but technologies that can literally read our minds now exist in early forms, thanks to brain research. The nearly 1 in 5 people who have physical disabilities could benefit from devices like these to help them move their artificial limbs using just their thoughts. And as the field of futuristic research develops, we might see cool, new technologies that can improve anyone’s life. But low participation in medical research is preventing progress. Although 57% of Americans believe that it is important for everyone to take part in clinical trials, fewer than 16% have ever done so.  More volunteers with and without disabilities are needed to fine-tune these technologies that depend on Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMI). 

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A Fishy Solution: Zebrafish Help Us Understand Neurological Disorders

Last year, my 95-year-old grandfather passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Although he lived a long life, it was hard to watch him slowly forget the people and places he loved. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s story is all too common. Almost 1 out of every 7 individuals worldwide suffers from a disease of the brain or nerves, aka a neurological disorder.

We know astonishingly little about how to prevent and treat neurological disorders. However, we may be able to find answers in a surprising source: fish. Apart from their culinary value, fish provide key insights into human development and disease. The zebrafish in particular is helping us understand how connections between neurons develop and why disorders like Alzheimer’s occur in the human brain. Through zebrafish research, we may be able to understand—and in turn find solutions to—complex neurological diseases. 

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Is It My Turn Yet? How You Can End the Transplant Wait

5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour. Time dragged on as my friends and I watched our number slowly move up the 54-person line at the hot pot restaurant. The aromatic smell of herbal broths and spices wafted through the air as our stomachs relentlessly growled. Although the wait was gruesome, there was a guarantee that we would—eventually—get our well-deserved spot at a table.

But if you think an hour is bad, imagine waiting three to five years for something you’ve been dying to have — with no guarantee it’ll arrive at all. 

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The Secret in Your Veins: The History of Blood Transfusion

Blood transfusions are an essential component of modern-day medicine, saving lives in a variety of situations, ranging from genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia to road accidents. But, the history of blood transfusion is a rocky one. For instance, did you know that a German physician founded the world’s first blood transfusion institute in 1926 because he believed blood transfusions led to immortality?

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How Your Brain Finds your Phone When You Hear it Ringing 

It’s Monday morning and your about to head out to catch your bus for work. You’re in a bit of a rush because, when you were getting dressed, you couldn’t find a two matching socks and you had to dig through the clean laundry still sitting in your dryer to find a matching pair. As you approach the door, you reflexively pat your pockets, checking for everything you need to bring with you. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Cell phone? Your phone is not there. Continue reading “How Your Brain Finds your Phone When You Hear it Ringing “