Tag Archives: cancer

Shiny Brains (and Other Things I Wouldn’t Mind Working On For My PhD)

So, the last few days I’ve been spending a fair amount of time trying to figure out and narrow down what sort of topics interest me. I don’t know if any of my thoughts will actually pan out into actual research, but I figure at least I have something to say when I talk to someone about my PhD thoughts and stuff – “um”, “I don’t know” and “anything” doesn’t make me sound like I actually want this, does it?

My process is pretty simple – I just pick an institution (a university) and go through their lists of research areas and topics. And so far my main thoughts are:

Interestingly (for me), I find that I don’t particularly feel like getting into the sort of thing that I’ve been doing so far – microfabrication, surface chemistry, biochip fabrication, that sort of thing, at leats not as the main focus of my work.

Neurobiology / developmental biology is extremely interesting. However, I’m a bit worried about the amount of genetics involved, because after photosynthesis, that’s the biology topic I find most difficult. Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, challenges make things more exciting; genetics and epigenetics fascinate me. Plus, I would get to work with fruit flies whose brain light up in different colours.

Cell biology: stem cells, cancer, all that stuff. I have a bit of experience there now and I’ve taken quite a few university courses in that general subject, so this one feels most comfortable in a way, but there’s also stuff going on there that makes things interesting – genetics / gene expression, proteomics, and that’s just glancing through a fairly random sample during a couple of days.

Just realising that I haven’t stumbled upon any laser-tech-involving topic yet and wondering whether I even want to,


Some Science That Surfaced This Week

I’m trying something new here. I’ve long admired many other science type blogs out there which offer a news round-up sort of thing, once every week. So, I decided to make an attempt at it too. Please, forgive the feebleness.

Oh, and a disclaimer, I suppose. This in no way reflects the actual field I’m doing research in at the moment. It does, however, reflect the random things that catch my attention in the never-stopping science news flow that I happen to catch. I should probably make a better effort to keep up with news that are more relevant to my research (note to self).

Pulling all-nighters to study doesn’t really help (much). Ha! I knew the system of studying more or less continuously (which I used all through high-school and university) and then just going to bed early before tests worked much better than late-night cramming, and now there’s actual data on it.

Green tea 1:0 tumours. I’m always a little sceptical about the studies that find yet another way to treat cancer in mice, but so long as we know that this just ‘shows promise’, sure, why not. However, I love how they used something as simple as tea and added it to these little vesicles (which are kind of bubbles of fat with a space within them) which also carry a key (protein transferrin) to unlock and get into cancer cells (they have transferrin receptors to which the protein attaches and then the cells eat it and the vesicle).

This is from last week, but it’s still cool this week, in my opinion. A new family of spiders discovered in a cave somewhere. If you don’t like spiders, better not look – there are some awesome close-ups in there.

Not strictly news, perhaps, but I guess this article on Yoshiki Sasai, a scientist trying to understand and control stem cells is probably the most relevant thing to my own research that I managed to catch this week. Some pretty fascinating stuff, though again, lest someone blows this out of proportion, these are just delicate tissue layers and not, you know, actual developed eyes.

Genomic sequencing of bacteria helps track a breakthrough. I have no idea how this works. A group of smart geneticists did a load of sequencing and saw answers in the results. I envy them.

Also, not a news item, maybe, but a cool article on Nature site, about computational sciences taking a turn for the social. First, it was physicists in mid 20th century leaving their field to study Biology, now this. Interesting.

Lastly, a study on theatre audience demographics (I hope that’s the right word for it) which I find interesting because I love going to the theatre. I guess, I belong to the “cultural” group.

Science-ing out,


P.S. The new broke out while I was writing this post that Neil Armstrong died. RIP. Almost exactly a month ago, Sally Ride, the first female US astronaut died. RIP.