There was a fun seminar with a guest speaker once upon a time when I was in graduate school where he put the physiological effects of stress into perspective. I can't remember his name now, but the gist was that if you imagine yourself as an animal fighting for survival, you are very likely to want to keep the body ramped up to run or fight rather than to fight infection, digest, or reproduce. In a human context, when the person is under pressure due to a huge work project or some other external force derived from a crushing mountain of responsibility, they are thrust into a situation where the body and mind think that they are in a "fight or flight" mode and that can lead to many physical and psychological detriments. Although what we do in science is important and requires lots of work, it is important to realize that good science is harder to do if we are overcome with stress, so let's find some ways to manage stress so we can be more productive and healthy.
Advances In Parkinson's Research
At the turn of the millenium, actor Michael J. Fox, whom you might remember from the Back to the Future films and Family Ties if you're a certain age, had to depart the cast of the popular sitcom Spin City because he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I was a frequent viewer of the show (and of course I watched Back to the Future, and so should you) so it was a shock to the system to see a man who was still so vibrant and young have to take a step back from his profession because of that diagnosis. April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, which you can read more about from Fox's foundation and others, and in this post I thought we could learn more about this disorder together as humanity works towards an eventual cure.
Multiple Sclerosis: A Mysterious Menace
Remember once upon a time when I said my first actual laboratory research project involved myelin basic protein? Other than knowing that the mother of one of my high school friends had been diagnosed with it, this was the first real exposure I had with multiple sclerosis. I eventually learned more about the immune system and autoimmunity, and the thought of your own body attacking your literal nerve cells was scary and made me feel for the people who have to live with and manage this disease every day. March happens to be Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, which as the name suggests works to make sure the public knows about multiple sclerosis, develops empathy and understanding for afflicted individuals, and encourages participation in events and activities to spread awareness. In this blog, let's explore the disease, current treatment strategies and ongoing research, and ways that you can help both in and out of the lab.
The Rare Complications From Glycogen Storage Disease
The last day of February marks a hopeful end to winter and a transition in the sporting world as well, but is also important in society as a day to recognize and raise awareness for rare diseases. Known as Rare Disease Day, the goal is this observance is to remind humanity that just because a disease is not prevalent or has as much research dedicated to it does not make it any less important, as certain individuals obviously suffer from these rare diseases and deserve accessibility to treatment and hopefully a cure. While it makes sense that more funding is funneled to cancer and neurology research since it affects so many more people, performing research in these comparatively uncommon maladies could offer insight into their diseases that get most of the research dollars.