Genetic Testing in Israel Necessitates Ethical and Cultural Considerations

In the summer of 2016, four classmates and I participated in Georgetown University’s Genetic Health Internship located in Tel Aviv, Israel. Along with taking Genetics and Epidemiology courses and participating in different areas of preclinical research (I investigated AML), we also got a firsthand look into the ethical and cultural approaches to genetic testing within Jewish and Muslim communities. On week four, we journeyed to Be’er Sheva where we had the opportunity to see and learn about the Al-Sayyid Bedouins, one of Israel’s most marginalized minority groups. Prof. Aviad Raz— a medical sociologist at Ben-Gurion University who has conducted extensive research about this community— gave us a tour of the village and introduced us to the many challenges the country faces in genomic medicine as well as their numerous medical breakthroughs.   For nearly 200 years, congenital hearing loss has been appearing at elevated rates within the Al-Sayyid community. A 2011 estimate found that out of approximately 4,500 individuals, about 130 are deaf. The recessive “deaf gene,” or mutation in the DFNB1 locus, has spread very rapidly among the Al-Sayyid as a consequence of the founder effect as well as the custom of arranged consanguineous marriages— particularly first cousin marriages— which is a common practice among the Bedouins due to their social isolation. In fact, hereditary deafness is so prevalent that every family has one or two deaf children, and even those individuals...

Here’s What You Need To Know If You Want To Be A Nurse

There comes a time when you have to think critically about your career options if you haven’t already. While the field of medicine offers a wide selection of career choices for one to choose from, it may be difficult to settle for a particular path. In the area of nursing, there are numerous fields available. Now, we live in a time where job security isn’t a guarantee. However, for those pursuing nursing, especially as the baby boomers age, there’s an increased need for qualified nurses. It gives you something to think about when you feel like giving up on the capstone nursing. Job Prospects There has always been a consistent demand for nurses, and it is expected to continue so, in the future. As a nurse, you will get the chance to work directly with people. Also, you can help in creating programs that will assist people in living long and healthy lives. Nursing in itself is a field that plays a vital role in providing support to the sick and promoting and encouraging people to live well In the US, registered nurses earn well-above the median income, on full-time employment. Thus, even as the future of jobs in other fields may seem bleak, the need for skilled nurses isn’t affected by this. After your nursing degree, you will have the option of choosing whether to pursue a certified...

This Yale Professor is Tackling Mental Health Through Her Unique Class

Laurie Santos’s, a Yale Professor and her class “Psychology and the Good Life” made headline news for enrolling the most amount of students – a whopping 1,200 students – in its 316-year history. Most other classes do not exceed 600 students. In her lectures, Dr. Santos teaches students how to change their behavior in order to lead a happier life. According to Dr. Santos, students were drawn to the course because she believes students at Yale experience anxiety and depression. In her course, she addresses the rampant mental health crisis that permeates Yale and other elite colleges and universities. Santos wants students at Yale to be happier and lead more fulfilling lives, but also aims to change the culture at the university. According to the NYT article on the course, a 2013 report by the Yale College Council discovered that more than 50% of the undergraduate student body sought after mental health care services at the university. The course focuses on theories in positive psychology as well as strategies to make behavioral lifestyle changes  to live better, more fulfilling lives. Course assignments include quizzes and exams like a regular college course, but also includes an innovative self-improvement project she has called the “Hack Yo’ Self project.” The weekly assignments are far more traditional, encouraging students to perform random acts of kindness and form new social connections. The course has 24 teaching assistants spanning...

What It’s Like Being At A Caribbean Medical School

I distinctly remember sitting in one of my undergrad pre-med classes joking to a friend of mine after getting a below average MCAT score that, “I guess I’m gonna end up at a Caribbean medical school.” About 10 years later, after finishing Medical School at Saint George’s University, I sit here laughing at the person I was. The truth is, Caribbean Medical School was really an abstract concept at that point. I wouldn’t have been able to even tell you what the top 3 schools were—or even how their programs were even structured.  At that point in my life, I was always an honors student.  I graduated with over a 4.0 in high school, went on to earn mostly A’s in undergrad (except for those 3 C’s and one D in some of my chemistry courses), graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with so much volunteer, work and well rounded life experience under my belt.  Despite my 23 on the MCAT (whew, that was liberating), I had this faith that as long as I got a few interviews, I could easily win over an admissions committee and show them why I would make an excellent addition to their program.  My Ohio State pre-med advisor thought otherwise. When she told me I shouldn’t even apply because I wouldn’t get in, I thought she was being callous and pessimistic.  Well, I guess she was...

Why Use Speed Listening in Medical School?

Wouldn’t you just love to have a fast-forward button in medical school? Or wouldn’t you just crave for the ability quickly get through the boring lectures that you have every day? Have you ever avoided watching a Pathoma or Sketchy Pharm video because they were too long? What if I told you that you could use speed listening in medical school and cut your studying time in half? In this post, I will go over how to use speed listening in medical school. I will break down my step by step method that I used for my first two years of medical school. I also break down how I used speed listing to study for my Step 1. Why Use Speed Listening in Medical School? Many people get scared away when I mention speed listening in medical school. But honestly, I can’t think of going through medical school without it.  I had so much free time and my grades remained high while using speed listening, Thus I think speed-listening is something that should be tried by every medical student! Maybe you’re not a believer just yet. You may argue that it’s hard enough to listen to your lectures at 1x much less increasing that to 2x. I’d first argue that you don’t remember much of what you hear anyways. The typical saying is that you remember 10% of what you...

What’s All The Buzz About CRISPR?

It’s inevitable— genetics is the future of medicine. With the discovery of certain diseases linked to specific gene mutations, the science community became engrossed in DNA manipulation. Precisely, CRISPR gained global recognition in the past few years as a promising therapeutic strategy in human genetic diseases. CRISPR could provide a means to directly alter mutations that underlie single-gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis or more complex diseases such as cancer. So, what is the mechanism behind this novel genome editing technique? “CRISPR,” an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is part of the bacterial adaptive immune system to combat invading viruses. In short, these DNA segments or CRISPR arrays are created upon the first invasion as a means for the bacteria to “remember” the virus. Upon subsequent attacks, the bacteria can then transcribe RNA segments from the CRISPR arrays to direct enzymes such as Cas9 to a target sequence of the viruses’ DNA. Cas9 or a similar nuclease can then cut the DNA and kill the virus. Just five years ago, the CRISPR-Cas9 system was utilized for the first time in a laboratory setting. In January 2013, the Zhang lab published CRISPR-Cas9 as a genome modification tool in eukaryotic cells (Cong et al., 2013). In the same way as the bacterial defense system, researchers can generate RNA sequences that attach to specific target locations of DNA. These...

Expanding Medical Education to Address Physician Shortages

The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted policy at its Annual Meeting reaffirming the need for an increased number of medical residency slots to ensure that patients have access to an adequate physician workforce. As new medical schools have been established and enrollment in existing schools has expanded in recent years to help ease existing and predicted physician shortages, the new policy calls on legislators, private sector partnerships, and existing and planned medical schools to create and fund graduate medical education (GME) programs that can accommodate the equivalent number of additional medical school graduates, consistent with U.S. workforce needs. “Current data show that the number of U.S. medical student graduates is growing at a higher rate than the number of residency slots. Without expanding the number of residency positions available to future classes of medical school graduates, the number of graduates seeking positions will eventually exceed what is available,” said AMA Board Member and medical student Karthik V. Sarma, M.S. “The AMA will continue to vigorously advocate for the continued and expanded contribution by all health care payers at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as private sources, to adequately fund GME. We believe that it is imperative that efforts to expand the number of medical school graduates also address the need to ensure the availability of an adequate number of GME slots to meet the newly created...

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