7 Ways to Be a Remarkably Average Pre-Med

Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 Time: 6:00-7:00PM Location: Online Classroom Cost: FREE Register here!   Volunteering, shadowing, research, leadership…the list goes on. Pre-meds work so hard to stand out for medical school, but they all end up doing the same activities. When the time comes to apply, so many of them look identical on paper.   The checklist is good, but it’s only half the battle. Successful applicants not only do the checklist, but they find a way to make themselves stand out from the crowd. You can either: 1) be better than everyone else (4.0 GPA, 38 MCAT), or 2) be different from other students applying to med school.   Come to this class, led by Savvy Pre-Med author and Passport Admissions founder, Rob Humbracht, to learn what you can do to stand out (while also staying true to yourself!) Warning: it’s not easy to figure out the best path for you; this presentation will challenge you to take bold steps toward becoming the very best applicant you can be.   Register...

TED Talks For Food Lovers #9: The Art of Baking Bread

Ah, bread! One of the most basic foods for today’s generation. From the wide varieties in the market to the soft and scrumptious taste that hits our taste buds, bread instills a sense of satisfaction often unmatched by any other food. In this TED talk, bread savant Peter Reinhart talks about bread and how it comes to be in all its melodious mixtures.     Diet and health are highly interdependent. The food people eat over the course of a lifetime often plays a huge role in determining many of the ailments they incur. Referring to some recent exploration into the field of microbiomics, the large quantity and variety of bacteria in our body may likewise be acutely as well as chronically transforming due to the food we eat and the changes we make to our diets. Lastly, for aspiring medical personnel, quick food sources such as cold pizzas, Chipotle veggie bowls, and espresso shots often make up our daily sustenance. What effect do these have on our health?   Over the course of the next several articles, I would like to take you all on a run through some of the most interesting TED talks on food, some quite interesting and others downright genius. As you watch these videos, reflect on the close ties between nutrition and medicine, and what we can due as future clinicians to best...

Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #2: Precision Medicine

2. Precision Medicine On January 20, 2015 in his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, which laid out an endeavor to improve health care for the better. As I sat there listening to his speech, I asked myself: “So what exactly is precision medicine?” Let’s try to understand it with an example.   A large majority of people in the medical community and the populated world recognize that the obesity epidemic is real. Compared to 10 or 20 years ago, human beings are on a much more accelerated track towards cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancers, and many other grave conditions. Conventional management of obesity focuses on losing weight by eating less and exercising more, simple as that. After all, that must be the one answer to solve this seemingly humongous global problem? Perhaps not.   Precision medicine advocates for a different approach. Rather than painting the whole world in such broad strokes, the initiative strives to integrate genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors, and any other such crucial contributors in order to develop a model that best predicts the reasons behind disease and consequently how best to tackle it. As we already know, most people who try to lose weight gain it back soon afterwards. So there must be a reason (or perhaps multiple) behind this conundrum that expands beyond the mere fact of calorie control....

Disease Diagnosis Via Breathalyzers?

By Janet Taylor A new instrument has recently been developed to diagnose disease in a non-invasive, cost effective manner. Based on the idea of the breathalyzers used to identify and quantify alcohol consumption, this device would allow for specific programmable disease detection in still healthy individuals. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are expressed by the body when pathologic processes occur.   By linking the exhalation of these chemicals to specific diseases, physicians will be able to diagnose disease in the early stages based on both presence and quantities exhaled and possibly identify individuals who are at high risk for development of specific diseases.   Figure 1. Schematic representation of the concept and design of the study. It involved collection of breath samples from 1404 subjects in 14 departments in nine clinical centers in five different countries (Israel, France, USA, Latvia, and China). The population included 591 healthy controls and 813 patients diagnosed with one of 17 different diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, gastric cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, idiopathic Parkinson’s, atypical Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and chronic kidney disease. One breath sample obtained from each subject was analyzed with the artificially intelligent nanoarray for disease diagnosis and classification, and a second was analyzed with GC-MS for exploring its chemical composition....

3 Tips for “Average” Pre-Meds to Stand Out in Their Medical School Admissions Essays

The dreaded “diversity question.”   Each year, as students fill out their secondary applications, they’re bombarded with essay prompts about their “diverse qualities,” “unique insights,” or “unusual life experiences.” Schools will usually ask how these qualities, insights, or experiences will contribute to their campus or environment.   Pre-meds are quick to label themselves as average, normal, or even boring. Every example or topic they can muster sounds lame. What was once a crisis of writing is now a crisis of identity, and they start calling their whole application (and life?) into question.   Does this sound like you? Never fear! We have three tips for helping self-proclaimed “average” students find something to say.     TIP #1 – THINK SMALL A student might profile herself and think, “I’m white, middle class, and suburban. I’ve played on the tennis team, volunteered clinically, and written for my school’s academic science journal. How the heck am I supposed to sound diverse?”   The problem here is that she’s thinking too broadly. But if she narrows her scope, let’s say to one summer or maybe even one afternoon, she has a better chance to find an interesting angle for her essay. She could also choose to focus on one small aspect of her “average” activities.   For example, let’s say she petitioned to change the format of her school’s academic journal to increase...

Medical Researchers Raise the Red Flag on Gun Violence Research Funding

By Laurie Breen   In a JAMA Research Letter likely intended to draw political attention, authors David E. Stark and Nigam H. Shah compared data on gun violence with other leading causes of death and questioned whether adequate funding was being given to research on gun violence, considering the high rates of death from gun violence in the U.S.     Although research into gun violence is not directly banned, a congressional appropriations bill from 1996 stated that no funding allocated for injury prevention or control at the CDC “may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Supporters argued that a gun is not a disease and therefore falls outside the realm of the CDC, ignoring the fact that the CDC already has an Injury Prevention & Control Center. The authors argue that this ban has had a knock-on effect for all funding of gun violence research, as government agencies and institutes seeking funding will steer clear of the subject, from fear of running afoul of the appropriations ban and risking the loss of funding.   Image: Source   The letter’s authors reviewed CDC mortality statistics from 2004 – 2014. They identified the top 30 causes of death and allocated each to a Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) term. Then, for each MeSH term, the authors queried the number of Medline publications from 2004-2015 and also turned to the...

U.S. Rate of Birth Defects from Women with Zika

By Laurie Breen   In early 2016, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the creation of the National Zika Pregnancy Registry to track and collect information in the United States and its territories on women who tested positive for possible Zika virus. By June of that year the CDC was reporting 265 pregnant women were being monitored in U.S. States and 216 in U.S. territories.   Image: Source   As these pregnancies progress, researchers are carefully monitoring the birthing outcomes for these women to identify the rate of birth defects. Reports from other countries have varied, showing risk rates from 1% up to 13%. Published in JAMA, Honein, Dawson & Peterson reviewed 442 completed pregnancies who had lab results showing possible Zika infection, and found that 6% of the fetuses and infants had birth defects potentially related to Zika infection, with similar overall results when comparing symptomatic and asymptomatic women. The most common birth defect was microcephaly with brain abnormalities, and a few had various brain abnormalities without microcephaly.   Image: Source   However, there were no reported birth defects among infants or fetuses whose only exposure to Zika virus occurred in the 2nd or 3rd Trimester, but when women presented symptoms and were infected in the first trimester, the risk of birth defects rose to 11%.   The researchers concluded that this evidence strongly...

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