Category Archives: Genetics

The multi-functional protein kinases: ATM and ATR

By Carly Cheung, Microbiology, ‘17

Author’s Note:

“The goal of this paper is to portray the multifunctionality of proteins involved in the cell and how interconnected one process is to another, even though two processes appear to be unrelated. I am fascinated by the system of signal transduction in our cells and admire how elaborate and complicated the network is. This is best shown by examining the two proteins, ATM and ATR, that are known for their functions in cell cycle regulation and DNA break repair. The paper explores the changes in their transduction pathways seen in mammals with cancer, metabolic diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.”

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Epigenetics and Intergenerational Health

By Wren Greaney, History major, Biological Sciences & Community Development minor, ’17

Author’s Note: “I became interested in the impact of epigenetics after reading an article about the effects of environmental pollution on generations beyond the population subjected to the pollution. So much focus in human biology is placed on genetics; it is fascinating that a closely related and significant topic exists that is unique from genetics itself. As epigenetic research progresses, I think it will find a large role in advancing healthcare as well as our understandings about humans’ biological identities.”

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The Past, Present, and Future of Genetically Modified Organisms

By Rachel Hull

Author’s note

When I began my research for this piece, I was primarily interested in the controversy over the fairly new bill in the United States requiring labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Little did I know that as I was gathering my sources, a new GMO dispute would emerge, this one revolving around bioengineered non-browning apples. Thus I switched my focus from the bill to the arrival of these apples to stores across the U.S. — an arrival that means an investigation into the history and science behind genetically engineered food products is even timelier than I originally thought.

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A Case Report of Tourette Syndrome

By Lo Tuan, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and Managerial Economics, ’17

Author’s Note:

“I chose to write about Tourette Syndrome because someone who is dear to me was diagnosed with it. Watching him struggle at a young age, I could only imagine how difficult it must have been dealing with strange and disapproving looks from peers and teachers. Through the gradual decline of symptoms over the years, he learned to cope with his tics and sought to educate others about the syndrome. Inspired by his story, I wrote this case report in hopes of share his journey with others.”
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An Overview of Tension-Type Headache

By Lo Tuan, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and Managerial Economics, ’17

Author’s Note:

“I chose to write this paper because I have a family member who suffers from TTH and expanding my knowledge of the topic through researching and writing empowered me to play a more active role in assisting my family with addressing such medical condition.”

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The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

By Mor Alkaslasi, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, ’16

Author’s Note:

“I chose to write a review about this book because I kept finding myself telling my professors and peers about it. As a student in a scientific discipline to which genetics and DNA are crucial, I feel that this book is a notable chronicle of the scientific process and of one of the most groundbreaking discoveries of the past century. I hope that this review serves to encourage anyone with an interest in science to read this book, or at least to realize the book’s importance in the scientific community.” Continue reading The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

Exploring the Known Unknowns Using the Power of Metagenomics: Discovery of the crAssphage

By Connie Chen, Microbiology, ’15-’16

Author’s Note:

“Metagenomics is the study of genetic material directly from environmental samples such as the soil or the human gut. With whole metagenomic sequencing, it is possible to obtain and analyze every piece of genetic material in the sample. As we being to learn more about the world, it becomes evident that there is more that is unknown. The crAssphage is an example of a “known unknown” because through metagenomics, the virus’s genome has been built and certain properties can be interpreted from the genome, but it has never been seen under a microscope and there is much still unknown about the virus. Metagenomics have opened the doors to analyzing multiple sequences and determining the ecology of the environment. Because metagenomics is becoming more prevalent, it is essential to understand the potential of this growing field. I hope that by learning about the potential of metagenomics, new ideas can sprout from using this technology in order to help others.”

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Stem Cells: Important Yet Controversial

By: Lauren Forsell, Biological Sciences ’16 and Parnya Baradaran, Computer Science Engineering, ’16

Author’s Note: 

“Parnya and I collaborated on this piece for a Science and Religion: The Case of Galileo seminar assignment. This assignment was inspired by the seminar’s focus on religious controversies surrounding scientific advancements, theories, and concepts. Another main reason why we wrote this piece is because of our backgrounds. Parnya, a computer engineer major, and myself, a biology major, both attended Catholic high schools. We enjoyed writing this piece because analyzing science and technology in the face of religious teachings and practice is something we will have to consider in our future careers. We chose to analyze abortion because it is one of the most popular and controversial science vs religion topics today. After reading this piece, we would like our readers to understand that while science can heal and cure, it can also offend and upset religious groups. As college students studying science, it is our job to develop our own opinions, while respecting those whose beliefs differ from our own.”

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The Infant Airway Microbiome Linked to Childhood Asthma

By Shivani Kamal, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’17

Author’s Note:

“I am pursing a career in pediatrics and wanted to familiarize myself with new research regarding health and development of children. I was amazed at the advancements of medical technology which allow us to understand diseases and create potential cures, previously never thought possible. My purpose for writing this review is to show scientific audiences the most current research on how bacteria in the respiratory microbiome has an impact on asthma. Recently, much research initiated by the Human Microbiome Projects (HMP) proved that the bacteria living on and inside humans contribute to the health and disease of the body. This review is meant to educate scientists on the most recent information on development of childhood asthma and prompt others to conduct future research on preventative treatments for the disease.”

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A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

 Exciting, new gene therapy treatments for breast cancer are on the verge of making a breakthrough. With proper funding, these procedures could reduce the need for the surgical removal of organs.

By Rayan Kaakati, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior

Being born female automatically enters one in a game of Russian roulette: About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime; for American women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death (U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics).

Breast cancer is a disease that starts in the tissues of the breast and is statistically fatal for one in thirty-two women (Breast Cancer Facts). Many women, throughout recorded history, have succumbed to this malignant disease. Rapid advancements in research have been very promising for cancer cell-targeting medications and for gene modification techniques.

Medicine in the twenty-first century is still resorting to what the ancient Chinese and Arab doctors used to practice: “If cancerous, cut it out if possible,” or in current-day terms, order a “lumpectomy” or a “mastectomy” (if the entire breast is to be removed). In recent years, a toxic chemo “smoothie” and an intensive radiation regimen have been added, coupled with hormone therapy.  While these medical procedures are credited with saving thousands of lives, they are still primitive compared to current, promising research works.

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