The Evolution of Public Health Research: HIV/AIDS

No one reading this blog was alive when John Snow created his famed cholera map of Soho, or when Robert Koch discovered M. tuberculosis. Many of us weren’t alive, much less paying attention to scientific studies, when the Framingham Heart Study was published to link cigarettes to lung cancer. But there’s one epidemic that everyone should be familiar with. One that was extensively covered in the media, that aspiring children dreamed of curing, that has inspired so many award-winning movies, that was declared a threat to national security.

Topic: Public Health Research, The Evolution of Pu..........

Amazing Samples: Water

Water – the universal solvent. The all known life on our planet requires it to function, not directly because of water itself, as much as its ability to transport other compounds and ions, and facilitate metabolic reactions. That’s why human civilization itself is based on water, both in determining where people settled, as well as whether they live.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Amazin..........

The Evolution of Public Health: Virchow, DOTS-plus, and the Economics of Tuberculosis (Part 2)

After the discovery of Streptomycin in the 1940s, followed by isoniazid in the 1950s and later rifampin in the 1970s, the incidence of TB in the developed world dropped dramatically. Sanatoria closed and research into new antibiotics and vaccines likewise diminished. TB was no longer considered a significant threat in the US and much of Europe. So when multiple drug-resistant strains of TB (MDR-TB) appeared in the 1980s, the concern within the infectious disease community was perhaps understated. Besides, all but a small number of cases were in underdeveloped countries where the very high cost and difficulty of treating MDR-TB was considered beyond reach.

Topic: Public Health Research, The Evolution of Pu..........

The Evolution of Public Health: Virchow, DOTS-plus, and the Economics of Tuberculosis (Part 1)

In all of human history, tuberculosis has killed more people than any other disease. Discovered in 1882 by Robert Koch, the M. tuberculosis bacterium was responsible for the Great White Plague that began in the 1600s and has not yet truly ended. It was the primary cause of death in Europe in the mid-1600s, and even in the 1800s, the high mortality from TB among young adults earned it the nickname of “the romantic disease,” which glosses over the symptoms that earned TB other nicknames such as “consumption", “phthisis" (bless you), and "scrofula".

Topic: Public Health Research, The Evolution of Pu..........

Amazing Samples: Buccal Up for Some Cheeky Research

Most researchers know about buccal cells  the easily sloughed-off cells from the inside of the cheek. The collection of these cells is relatively non-invasive, which gives it many of the same advantages as spit and mucus that we’ve already discussed. Because of this, many studies, including some in social science, utilize buccal swabs to increase the amount of data they’re collecting.

However, even if it’s popular, don’t let that diminish its value. From biomarker studies to stem cell research, buccal cells have proven time and time again to be a hugely useful source of biological data. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we scratched the surface of research with skin cells. This time, buccal up and get ready for a cheekier kind of Amazing Sample!

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........

The Evolution of Public Health Research: Sir Austin Bradford Hill and the Cigarette-Rolling Machine

In 1923, a general practitioner in rural Virginia received a phone call from a friend, a surgeon at a hospital in Richmond. A middle-aged man with an uncommon form of cancer had been admitted to the hospital - would he like to come and see the patient, the friend asked. It was a rare opportunity to examine and diagnose an unusual illness first-hand. The country doctor was happy to visit the hospital and further his education, especially since he'd doubted seeing more than one or two similar patients over the rest of his career.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

Amazing Samples: Skin

Despite being the largest in the human body it’s easy to forget about skin as an organ, unless your research or practice directly involves it. It’s what we use to interact with the world and present ourselves. No one else, other than doctors, will really start thinking about your spleen or pituitary gland when they look at you. But just as with any other cell type, there is great research being conducted around skin.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

The Evolution of Public Health Research: Snow’s Dilemma

Since the dawn of humanity, we have observed nature and hypothesized reasons behind how and why things happen. With the development of civilization, we standardized the methods with which we test, observe, and analyze nature, and this gave birth to the field of science. As far as the defined field of study now known as Epidemiology and Public Health, it can be argued that it began in 1854, with a cholera outbreak in the Soho district of London and a physician named John Snow (who knew more than nothing).

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Public..........

Amazing Samples: T-cells

We’ve discussed white blood cells before.

Whether you look at tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, marrow-derived natural killer (NK) cells, or chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells, lymphocytes in general have many different therapeutic applications that are currently being researched, especially in the field of oncology. However, these are all the more aggressive parts of the immune system, and even among a subclass as specific as T-cells, there are several other functions that we haven’t touched on.

Last time, on the Amazing Sample blog series, we discussed CNF and neural tissue. This time, let’s break down some of the ways T-cells can be amazing samples in their own right.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

Amazing Samples: Neurons and Brain Cells and Fluids - oh my!

Did you know ancient Egyptians used to remove corpses’ brains when mummifying their deceased? I remember being taught at a young age that it was because the civilization did not value the brain as an organ, but it turns out that’s far from the truth. Not only were there many different factors that could affect excerebration, but the ancient Egyptians were the first recorded civilization to study the actual anatomy of the brain, even hypothesizing the communicative function of the spinal cord… But we’re not here to discuss antiquity.

In modern day, we more definitively know that the brain is the seat of both thought and emotion, and have better learned how little we actually know of its functionality. From a macroscopic perspective, we can study how the different areas of the brain and central nervous system respond to any number of stimuli: music, foreign languages, food, even bad dreams. But focusing on a smaller scale can uncover the mystery of how the greater machine works, and how it can even be assisted and improved.

Last time on our Amazing Samples blog series, we took a look at the research being put into eyes. Today, let’s feel out some of the ways neural tissue can be an Amazing Sample.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Amazing Samp..........

Amazing Samples: The Window to the Soul

I’m not sure about you, but the only time I really think about what’s in my eyes is when I sit up quickly and end up seeing floaters. Well, that, and any time I think about having crystals at the head of my optic nerves… but the American Academy of Ophthalmology says there’s nothing to worry about too much.

However, just as with any other part of the body, eyes have a wealth of information, and some interesting treatments have come up around them. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we discussed curry the interesting applications of bone marrow research – this time, let’s take a long hard gander at ocular research.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........

Amazing Samples: Bone Marrow

When I was young, my father tried to teach me to eat everything put on my plate (though it was an uphill battle, since I was quite the finicky child). One of the few “bizarre” foods that I took a liking to, though, was sucking the marrow out of goat, lamb, or beef curries (my father was clearly not a devout Hindu). Even now, it’s one of my favorite parts of such dishes, and I recently added San Diego to my travel wish list if just to eat swordfish marrow (thanks for the tip, Andrew Zimmern).

But that’s clearly not what we’re going to talk about right now. Everyone knows that human bone marrow is rich in stem cells, specifically hematopoietic. In fact, without research on bone marrow, stem cells might not be as well understood, and accordingly we might not have reached the current burgeoning development in the cell therapy field. Last time in our Amazing Samples blog series, we discussed the value of adipose tissue cells. This time, let’s savor the rich history of bone marrow research.

… Man, I should cook some curry.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cell T..........