Learn How Scientists are Decoding the Most Complex Object in the Universe: The Brain

Researchers from University College London (UCL) are working on a project with the lofty goal of analyzing the entirety of a brain’s neuronal activity in real time. Most estimates place the number of neurons in the average brain somewhere between 70 and 100 billion. Trying to record all of the relevant activity in one brain as it occurs will be difficult enough, but beyond that, the UCL team is planning to employ considerable processing power towards deciphering the meaning of each firing synapse. NeuroPixels, as the prototype probes are being called, are the width of a human hair and can monitor hundreds of neurons at once over multiple regions of the brain while simultaneously digitizing the signal on-board and sending the information to a database. Developed in collaboration with a consortium of leading non-profit organizations in neuroscience, these super-sensitive electrode sensors are already being studied in mice models, and are expected to be available for purchase by research labs in mid-2018. The researchers are already in the process of developing the next generations of these sensors. Click here to read more about this technology on the UCL News Outlet. Rafael Yuste, MD, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience at Columbia University, discusses the research goals of the brain activity map project. He explains the purpose of this ground breaking research is to develop tools that will allow scientists of the future to measure the activity of every neuron in the brain. The Brain Activity...

Four Qualities that Unlock Positive Mental and Emotional Health

The journey to becoming a doctor is a marathon, not a sprint, we are often told. I am three years into a potentially 8-13 yearlong journey toward becoming the physician and researcher that I aspire to be. In this short glimpse into what will undoubtedly be a challenging and rewarding experience, I have learned there are a few important qualities that every student should obtain – both to be a better future doctor and a happier student in the process. These traits have been picked up by seeing my friends who possess them, mentors and advisors that dispense wisdom to me, and through self-evaluation. While many of the qualities are easily obtainable and maintainable, sometimes the hardest part about self-reflection and improvement is taking the time to do it! In 2018, one of my goals is to practice self-reflection more often as a way to monitor my mental and emotional health. Here are some of the qualities that I think make life better, happier, and easier. Humility It is so easy to get caught up in the competitive, sometimes cut-throat nature that fosters itself among high-achieving and highly successful students. In these times, I have found it imperative to practice humility among your accomplished peers. While this quality is often resisted because of the need for self-validation, I believe the best feeling of accomplishment is in the celebration of...

The Power of Maintaining Relationships in Medical School

I recently got a talking to from my best friend because I had not talked to her in 6 months. The unfortunate truth of being a student is that you rarely have free nights and weekends. Maintaining relationships (friendship, romantic, or family) can be challenging when school work transcends all boundaries of your life. I always feel like I have something to study and don’t quite have real Saturday’s. Sleeping in, for example, is a luxury. In the case of my friend, she was a student when were in college 6 years ago. I forgot that she forgot what being a student is like. One of the key skills you must master as a student is time management. And that skill should apply to all aspects your life, especially your personal life. The weeks I do not have much time to catch up with my home friends or family are terrible for me. Your relationships outside of school work are critical to keep you sane and happy. They act as a buffer from the daily stress. Being able to talk about your day is such a huge relief, especially with someone who isn’t in the trenches with you. Venting to a classmate helps, but I rarely get as much out of the conversation as I do when talking to someone completely removed from the situation. My relationships also give...

Why I Didn’t Do Research

You may or may not be aware from reading my prior writings that for a time, I was considering a career in research. I worked in labs during every summer through college, and even though I didn’t do any research during med school and not a whole lot during residency, I actually ended up doing a research fellowship. Also, I have research in my blood. My father is a physician who gets a chunk of his salary from research grants. My mother didn’t go quite so far as that, but did publish around a hundred peer-reviewed articles during her career. My father especially encouraged me to incorporate research into my career, saying that it was interesting and also provided extra career flexibility. So anyway, I did this fellowship. And it sucked. I mean, it was pretty much The Fellowship Where Everything Went Wrong. I know what you’re thinking, that it’s not possible for a research fellowship to go that badly. Well, what if your research mentor is arrested and goes to jail midway through the year? I’m not saying that happened. But I’m not saying that didn’t happen either. Bad fellowship aside, I did get a taste of what it was like to do research. There were some parts of it I liked very much. For example, I really liked when the article I wrote came out, and I...

Is There an American Nurse Shortage?

America will need 1.1 million new nurses by 20221, but research from nursing recruitment experts Sunbelt Staffing has projected that without sweeping change, only 462,383 new nurses will be available, creating a shortage of just under 700,000. While there are currently 3.97 million active Registered Nurses2 in the country, by 2022 this number may have dropped to 3.89 million, due to a projected 500,0003 retirements from an aging workforce and an education system struggling to cope with demand. A 2016 survey by the AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing4) revealed that nursing colleges turned away 64,065 qualified applicants from entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs. This could total 354,569 more rejections by 2022. Worryingly, the two most common primary reasons given by nursing colleges (for baccalaureate programs) for failed applications were insufficient clinical sites (37.5%) insufficient number of faculty (27.9%), suggesting funding is a huge problem. Some of the other reasons included: • Overall budget cuts – 9.7% • Insufficient classroom space – 7.5% • Insufficient enrolment capacity for specific programs: 4.6% 65,138 entry level nurses graduated from baccalaureate programs in US colleges last year, and while graduate numbers have been on the rise (on average there are 2,455 extra registered nurse graduates every year), at that rate there will still only be 442,383 new graduates in five years’ time, with the remaining 15,030 new nurses of our total made up...

QUIZ: The Link Between Medicine and Music

Aside from the health benefits of listening to your favorite tunes, there are plenty of links between medicine and music. There’s a long history of band names, song themes and product marketing drawing inspiration from medical terms – this quiz tests how much you’ve been paying attention. Are you a music trivia genius? A medical fact repository? A healthy mix of both? Let’s find out! Test your knowledge on music medicine! The Ultimate Medicinal Music Test Which rock duo recorded the bluesy indie hit “Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine”? What was Robert Palmer suffering from when he sang “Doctor, doctor, give me the news…”? Which dental anaesthetic did alt-rockers Eels think would sooth their soul in 1996? What was the name of the 2009 Marrow track released via a USB shaped like a pill container? Which Gregory Isaacs song shares its name with a popular cold & flu brand? Can you name the 80s band that took their name from the stimulant Dextroamphetamine? In 2017, Dexter Holland gained a PhD for his HIV research; which famous pop-punk band does he sing for? Which beloved rock star famously finished a full set after he fell from the stage and broke his leg in 2015? What percentage of different humans’ brains respond exactly the same way to musical stimulus? Diagnosis: One Hit Wonder Better luck next time. Either you’re not...

Using Geological Mapping to Sketch the Human Body

Jeroen Tromp, PhD, Associate Director of the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering, and Professor of Geosciences and Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University, has been leading a team of scientists in research that translates modern geological mapping technology to the imaging of the human body. The same computational algorithms Prof. Tromp’s team pioneered in the measurement of seismic waves are being applied to ultrasonic waves used in medical imaging. The algorithms compare wave models with actual wave measurement data and extrapolates a much-improved 3D model compared with current standards. This technique offers much more information than a standard ultrasound image, but without the additional cost and burden of MRI scans. Click here to read more about this research on Princeton Invention. This new technology transforms traditional ultrasound images into three-dimensional images that could improve the diagnosis of tumors, osteoporosis and other disorders. It combines recent advances in computational power with techniques originally developed for the study of earthquakes and subterranean structures. Now they are applying the same techniques to ultrasonic waves, which share many of the same characteristics. Today’s ultrasound imaging devices work by sending sound waves through the body and constructing an image from the waves that bounce off internal...

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