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Can You Guess How Much Darwin Worked?

Posted by Michele Mei on Apr 21, 2019 7:34:18 PM

Being perpetually busy has become a status symbol in academia –and it’s counterproductive.

In this day and age, we are trained to believe that the more you work, the more you get done, and the further ahead you get. In academia, researchers place a lot of pressure on themselves to work around the clock. Whether it’s experiments, teaching, papers, or grants, it seems like there’s always more to be done. Consequently, the lack of work-life balance, work-induced stress, and burnout has become a pervasive problem in academia.

Why doesn’t the heart get cancer?

Posted by Michele Mei on Mar 29, 2019 1:41:43 PM

In some ways, the heart is quite a vulnerable organ. Cardiac complications such as heart attack, cardiac arrest, or heart failure are common. But interestingly, of the many diseases that may affect the heart, cancer is not one of them. For example, we often hear about cancer in the prostate, breast, colon, skin, etc., but rarely of the heart. How is this vital organ different?

New and Old Techniques to Study Protein-DNA Binding

Posted by Michele Mei on Mar 11, 2019 12:28:22 AM

Proteins known as transcription factors play a crucial role in gene regulation by activating, enhancing, and even silencing a gene’s expression.  Many textbooks and resources compare transcription factors (TFs) to something like an on/off switch for gene transcription. However, it is a bit more complicated than just turning gene expression on or off. Various properties (e.g. binding affinity, specificity, and genetic variance of binding sites) impact the binding of TFs to DNA, thereby altering gene expression. To study transcription and how it is regulated, scientists study TF-DNA interactions on a genome-wide level. 

Managing a Scientific Literature Review: Tricks I Learned

Posted by Michele Mei on Feb 3, 2019 5:33:36 PM

The Literature Review

Literature reviews are some of the most widely read and highly cited papers in academia, but writing one can be a daunting task, requiring an expert understanding of the topic at hand. To write a review article is so much more than simply summarizing recent studies published in the field. The most valuable literature reviews, which I find myself going back to again and again, are those that:

The Next Cancer Model

Posted by Michele Mei on Jan 21, 2019 7:46:19 PM

The Problem with Cancer Models

Very few cancer drugs succeed in clinical trials, despite showing promise in the lab. Treatments that may work on animal models, cell lines, or even patient-derived xenografts often do not have the same efficacy in patients. The underlying reason is tumor environments within the human body are far more complex than in research models. For example, the tissue structure (histological complexity) and genetic heterogeneity of an animal model is different than that of humans. Even cell lines and patient-derived xenografts, which are human-derived, have their own pitfalls such as genetic mutations and animal-specific tumor evolution, respectively. Due to the inability to reproduce human tumor environments, many drugs fail clinical trials after lengthy and costly development.

4 Successful Writing Habits for Scientists

Posted by Michele Mei on Jan 7, 2019 12:33:37 PM

As scientists, writing is a major component of the job, yet having “no time to write” is a common complaint echoed amongst PhD candidates, post-docs, and professors alike. On top of experiments, data analyses, and taking/teaching courses, writing can easily end up on the back burner. But publishing papers, like it or not, is critical for a career in science. Rather than setting intimidating goals like publishing some number of papers within a year or publishing in a high impact journal, it is more feasible and beneficial to first develop good writing habits, which will in the long run increase productivity.