Meet Dr. Victoria Hale. The woman behind the first non-profit pharmaceutical company in the USA.
Dr. Victoria Hale founded the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the USA – the Institute for OneWorld Health in San Francisco, California in 2000. Continue reading
40, 000 is the average number of prescribed and over-the-counter pills a British individual will take throughout his lifetime. No joke. Continue reading
The US government has stepped up the battle against Alzheimer’s disease by helping to launch a $100m clinical study on a promising new drug, crenezumab, that doctors hope will help against the debilitating condition. The National Institutes of Health is actively involved, helping Genentech and the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to fund the research. Continue reading
How does the brain store and recall memories? What molecular mechanisms enable the storage of memory? What underpins the learning process? Continue reading
‘Brains’ asks not what brains do to us, but what we have done to brains, focusing on the bodily presence of the organ rather than investigating the neuroscience of the mind.
This is the aim of the new exhibit, Brains: The mind as matter, at the Wellcome Collection. I found this quite a refreshing approach after the five years I have spent questioning the brain’s effect on us.
The curators have brought together a variety of perspectives, genres and media to capture the brain both in respect to medicine and as a cultural object. 150 artifacts surrounding the theme of the brain are brought together and displayed in four sections: Continue reading
The independent charity, the Wellcome Trust, was set up in 1936 in the aim of funding and improving health and public awareness of medicine and biology. They are the second largest private funding body in the field of medical research (second to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).
The Wellcome Trust funds research, promotes the publishing of articles and encourages the existence of public databases for the storage and distribution of information. What I find most inspiring though, is the dedication to promoting public awareness of biology research and medical endeavors. The Wellcome Trust hosts a variety of exhibits at the Wellcome Collection opposite Euston in London – the exhibits are free and open to all.
The permanent collection, Medicine Now, combines art with medicine and art and is divided into five sections: The Body, Genomes, Malaria, Obesity and Living With Medical Science. Continue reading
My little ramblings continue..
In 2011, an exhibition at the The Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan drew great controversy over the apparent distribution of the sleeping pill, Stilnox. Artist Su Hui-yu staged a sleepwalking exhibition entitles Stilnox Strolling – where he appeared to be handing out Stilnox, a prescription drug used to treat sleep disorders.
Local artist Su Hui-yu staged a sleepwalking exhibition entitled Stilnox Strolling, in which he appeared to be handing out Stilnox, a prescription medicine used to treat sleep disorders, and then encouraged participants to discuss the drug’s side effects. Visitors were asked to sign release form detailing the pills’ alleged side effects and releasing the museum from any liability. Continue reading
Looks scary, eh? It is good thing that we are conditioned to fear the pit viper – after acknowledging your presence by use a pair of heat-sensing pit organs located between the eye and the nostril, the pit viper strikes. Clinical manifestations include pain, weakness, dizziness and nausea. The most severe effect, however, is the rapid onset of extreme hypotension. Blood pressure continues to drop and eventually results in death.
I tend to see the glass half-full and so was very pleasantly surprised to learn that snake venom was used to develop one of the most prescribed classes of drugs today – the ACE inhibitors – used primarily for the treatment of hypertension. The history of the research and development conveniently makes for a good story.
Let us think of the co-evolution we see in nature between predator and prey in the world of lynxes and rabbits: the rabbits that run faster will survive and will be selected for; as the rabbit gets faster, the faster lynxes will be selected for… so on and so forth. Continue reading
If you have never watched House I strongly urge you to do so. If you have watched it you will know that Gregory House has many faults. He is socially inept, obnoxious and rude. He is also an addict. The list goes on and it can easily be argued that the show revolves around Dr. House and his addiction rather than medicine. But after years of pushing aside the obvious I have finally admitted to myself that watching the show comforts me. Simply, it reaffirms my decision to pursue a career in the medical field. I have decided to be honest with my readers – for better or worse… so I won’t hide that the show serves an added bonus: when I am lying on the couch, wasting hours of my life, at least I can assure myself that I am acquiring valuable insight. Continue reading
The brain decays rapidly and is difficult to dissect, so preservation methods that were developed in the 18th century were a big leap for neuroscience. The common way to store tissue is either to freeze it at -85C or to immerse it in formaldehyde. Today there are tissue banks around the world that store different specimens for the purpose of medical intervention and research. I visited the Imperial Tissue Bank last year, a mesmerising laboratory full of brains, owned by the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the United Kingdom (UKPDS). The Tissue Bank is home to thousands of diseased brains (predominantly Parkinson’s) as well as a collection of ‘normal’ brains to use as controls. I was there to meet with a Professor and he explained that both sick and healthy people around the UK sign up as donors in the name of research. The Tissue Bank is alerted immediately of their death when the time comes. Continue reading
I will introduce the most basic and fundamental concepts of pharmacology. If this is too much then don’t worry, you’re forgiven. I think its necessary to at least have the basics written down on here so that I can refer back to the post if need be. Or perhaps whilst reading this you will discover a new passion for drug kinetics. (I am glad modesty doesn’t get in the way of my pipetting). Continue reading
I am really excited to have started blogging. I have become increasingly aware of the power that is social-media and having scrutinized it from the sideline for a while now, I saw myself come out at the other end about a month ago. It started off with Twitter… my first tweet: tweet tweet. Innocent. Then I signed up for Pinterest and it all went downhill from there. My ‘Pin It’ widget bookmark has become my best friend. Its me, my puppy and Pinterest tonight. And now this blog.
Its been about a week or two since my first entry and I have to tell you, its hard work mentally. All I can do is think about it. I have become that annoying person I used to find irritating, the one that brings every conversation back to blogging. I actually heard myself today on the phone to my friend – ‘Oh I’m sorry I can’t, I’m blogging’. And one of the most awkward moments of my student life: three weeks ago I mentioned my I ♥ BIOLOGY Pinterest board to a highly acclaimed Professor of Pharmacology at UCL. He didn’t share my enthusiasm and I vowed never to speak about it. Ever. That is until I came home.
This blog is in its early phase and I am sure that given time it will become more specific in its content. But at this point there is a lot I want to share with my peers and anyone else willing to listen to my rambling thoughts.
I am 22 years old and when I tell my peers that I study Pharmacology common responses include: ‘So does that mean you can prescribe me drugs?’; ‘Can I be your guinea pig?’ and my favourite, ‘Oh you must love taking drugs!’. This misconception works in my favour at times, when suddenly I become viewed as the ‘cool kid on the block’ rather than the geek who studies molecular biology.
Most of the time I try hard to explain the truth behind Pharmacology – I explain that it is the understanding of cellular signalling cascades and receptors (huh?). That this is necessary for target validation (right…). I explain that drug development comes after (passive uh-huh). And that further along are the clinical trials themselves, commonly unsuccessful. And only then are drugs prescribed, and only by medical doctors and not researchers (silence). By this point I have been talking too long, my audience is long bored and the conversation has run dry. Next time this happens, I do not say a word but laugh awkwardly creating my personal misconception of myself – the drug-lover, drug-giver.
Then there are those moments where I relish sharing what [little] knowledge I do have. I once tried to explain DNA transcription and translation to my mother (i.e. how DNA encodes for proteins, and how these are, in turn, synthesized when needed). We were sat for a long time, and I was scribbling away on pieces of paper, my mum was nodding away, asking all sorts of questions, wholeheartedly trying to understand. I later overheard her talking to a friend: ‘Do you know how nice it was – my daughter was just talking and talking and I understood nothing! She knows all this stuff that I don’t!’. A week after I was explaining the same to my dad, sat outside a café on Haight St. in San Francisco, I found ‘DNA for Dummies’ in his bathroom. He explained that it was important to him to learn more about what his daughter is studying. Other times I realise that boys find it quite sexy when I’m talking neuroscience or pharmacology jargon. They listen and listen and then when I’m done – ‘you’re just too adorable when you talk science’. And then of course, there are the times when I am talking to other Pharmacology-lovers – drug developers, professors, students. We bounce off each other or I learn new concepts. At those moments I grasp full-on the potential of pharmacology to progress medicine. I am just a student, yet to help decipher the unknowns in biology but these conversations provide huge motivation to build a career in this field.
Up until the last century pills were generally white, with a well-known liquid exception – the Pepto-Bismol’s pink. The transformation that started in the ’60s and hit off in the ’70s was enabled by advances in technology, notably the development of the ‘soft-gel’ capsule. Gel caps were initially found in a small selection of primary colours, but today it is possible to tint them in over 50 thousand colour combinations.
But aside from aesthetics, what is the purpose of colour? Continue reading