Here is a NYT article titled "To Siri, With Love" where a mother talks about her Autistic son’s experience with Siri. It’s amazing to see this unique use that Siri provides. Who could’ve known? (Art work done by NYT artist Louie Chin)

Gus is hardly alone in his Siri love. For children like Gus who love to chatter but don’t quite understand the rules of the game, Siri is a nonjudgmental friend and teacher. Nicole Colbert, whose son, Sam, is in my son’s class at LearningSpring, a (lifesaving) school for autistic children in Manhattan, said: “My son loves getting information on his favorite subjects, but he also just loves the absurdity — like, when Siri doesn’t understand him and gives him a nonsense answer, or when he poses personal questions that elicit funny responses. Sam asked Siri how old she was, and she said, ‘I don’t talk about my age,’ which just cracked him up.”

Vertebral Implant

3-D printing has been gaining more and more traction in the medical field. It’s versatility and precision allows for some amazing work to be done. 

Here is an example of a vertebral implant done in China. The idea is simple, but the execution was elegantly done. They used titanium that is already used safely for the main component of the vertebrae, and used a porous material that allows for fusion with the natural cell growth in the body.

This brings up an interesting point about the development and implementation of new technology… In foreign countries we are seeing the rise of these 3-D printed implants being used in the clinics, but because of the strict restrictions in the U.S. most 3-D printing technology is still being used for imaging and modeling purposes. Of course this allows for increase in safety and ensures optimal integration of the technology, but creates too much barriers (incl financial, accessibility) for patients…

I know we have readers pitching in from all over the world, what are your thoughts on regulations at your country? Do you feel like more regulations are needed, or maybe less?

Things to do…

I am worried about my future. 

I have always done things that I wanted to do. I chose things that I believed will make me a better person, things that fed my intellectual needs… But for the first time I feel like I have to make a decision according to what other people think.

I have been committed to do TFA for two years after finishing up my master’s program. But this also means I will have to push off my medical school applications until the 2016 cycle; because applying with the intention of deferring a year will not reflect good on my application. Also, after talking with many deans, advisors, they think my future aspirations (MD-PhD) don’t align well with my want for doing TFA. 

Anyways… there are a lot more variables to this story, but to cut it short… I feel like the things I value at this point in my life is not the best choice for my future goals, and I have to decide what I will be doing… and I DON’T WANT TO DECIDE!

Sorry about the whining, but I needed to vent somewhere… 

On a positive note… I am having a very intellectually stimulating time in my lab. I am learning so much, and really getting an idea of what kind of person, especially what kind of researcher/doctor I want to be.

Art is a discipline that is practiced with passion and science is a passion that is practiced with discipline
Dr. Keith Black

My days have been a big blur.. With school, hospital work and research, I haven’t had a weekend to myself. 

I love reading PhD comics (is there such thing as a MD comic??) and most of it is all fun and games, but this one was extra interesting. 

I love the research I am doing and its fascinating, but I can’t help think “what’s the point” pretty often. One of the thing that worries me the most as I read more papers is the quality of research. I definitely think this is driven by the competitive nature of graduate school and the job search and the need to have publications out, but it definitely slows down research as a whole now that we have so much to filter out. 

I hope to continue my research as I start medical school in the future… but I will keep all this in mind as I do, and work with the same zeal I started with to produce quality work.

Anyway, I am rambling on because I am so tired… I will update next time with a fresh mind and some exciting stories!

Galectin-1
There are a ton of approaches to cancer… but the most promising now a days seem to be an immune response approach. Galectin-1 is a membrane protein that is missing in many cancer lines and by introducing it, it was able to completely eradicate the cancer cells in rats.
Before anyone thinks.. they cured cancer! Here are some things you should consider about these research. Lots of studies designed this way seem to show very good results, but it is partially due to their ability to introduce these interventions invitro before introducing them into the animal models. If we could get every tumor/cancer cell to express these proteins, there are a number of treatments that would work just as great (pTK, p53..) The main problem with cancer research now a days is actually being able to target them efficiently, while reducing toxicity. 
However, it is great to see such an approach work since it immunotherapy is such a hot topic. With the specificity and strength our immune system can provide treatments like this have a great future outlook. Take a look at the study below; I would love to get my hands on some of this plasmid!

Natural Killer Cells Eradicate Galectin-1 Deficient Glioma in the Absence of Adaptive Immunity

Galectin-1

There are a ton of approaches to cancer… but the most promising now a days seem to be an immune response approach. Galectin-1 is a membrane protein that is missing in many cancer lines and by introducing it, it was able to completely eradicate the cancer cells in rats.

Before anyone thinks.. they cured cancer! Here are some things you should consider about these research. Lots of studies designed this way seem to show very good results, but it is partially due to their ability to introduce these interventions invitro before introducing them into the animal models. If we could get every tumor/cancer cell to express these proteins, there are a number of treatments that would work just as great (pTK, p53..) The main problem with cancer research now a days is actually being able to target them efficiently, while reducing toxicity. 

However, it is great to see such an approach work since it immunotherapy is such a hot topic. With the specificity and strength our immune system can provide treatments like this have a great future outlook. Take a look at the study below; I would love to get my hands on some of this plasmid!

Natural Killer Cells Eradicate Galectin-1 Deficient Glioma in the Absence of Adaptive Immunity

Clostridium novyi NT SporesUsing Anaerobic Bacteria to Kill Cancer
There are a ton of awesome research being done everywhere. The paper by Roberts show an awesome example of some innovative ideas out there! This group basically introduced the bacteria to target tumor cells. Since tumor cells are hypoxic due to the rapid proliferation of cells; and these bacteria thrive in hypoxic environments. 
The group tested their hypothesis in vitro, and in vivo models of rats, rabbits, dogs and even one human patient. 
There are still a lot of worries about the potential views of this treatment by both the public and other health care professionals due to the origins of the bacteria… but how awesome is this!
Anyways, if you are further interested, look up the paper below! I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately for some of the projects I’ve been working on here in baltimore and D.C., so I will be posting quick summaries of papers like this! Let me know if you guys completely hate this and want me to post something else… :)

Intratumoral injection of Clostridium novi-NT spores induces antitumor responses

Clostridium novyi NT Spores
Using Anaerobic Bacteria to Kill Cancer

There are a ton of awesome research being done everywhere. The paper by Roberts show an awesome example of some innovative ideas out there! This group basically introduced the bacteria to target tumor cells. Since tumor cells are hypoxic due to the rapid proliferation of cells; and these bacteria thrive in hypoxic environments. 

The group tested their hypothesis in vitro, and in vivo models of rats, rabbits, dogs and even one human patient. 

There are still a lot of worries about the potential views of this treatment by both the public and other health care professionals due to the origins of the bacteria… but how awesome is this!

Anyways, if you are further interested, look up the paper below! I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately for some of the projects I’ve been working on here in baltimore and D.C., so I will be posting quick summaries of papers like this! Let me know if you guys completely hate this and want me to post something else… :)

Intratumoral injection of Clostridium novi-NT spores induces antitumor responses

My first semester of M.S. is over! 

… also I have one publication that has been accepted 

… along with a few more in the process

… met some amazing people doing amazing things

… and am getting a better grasp of the type of physician I want to become.

This journey is looking like a long one.

Some updates.

Things have been pretty hectic for me lately.. which reflects on my lack of posts. 

My first semester here is coming to an end and I have learned more than I ever dreamed of. Classes have been pretty limited, but the lab is amazing. I have also been spending around 20% of my time at a local hospital doing palliative care research. 

Doing lab work and clinical work like this has really sparked my interest in MD/PHD programs. I am suppose to be working towards applying in 2015 June, but with my future commitment to teach for america, there have been mixed consensus from people when I should actually apply. 

Some deans are telling me I should wait until I am half way done with TFA so that I don’t have to defer if I get an acceptance. Applying with the intention of deferring doesn’t show full dedication and may act negatively towards my application.

Some are telling me not to do TFA at all if I am really serious about MD/PHD programs…

Oh what to do, does anyone have some insightful thoughts regarding this?

Stanford Med is doing an amazing series on “surgeons at work”. There are stories of people’s journey to becoming a surgeon, exciting new frontiers in surgery, and people’s thoughts regarding the future of medicine. 

This specific set of photos are by Dr. Max Aguilera-Hellweg. The emotion of the OR that this image captures is amazing right?