Friday, March 28, 2014

Amazing social science... how to avoid dumb asses...

Amazing social science
I want to recommend this blog, first because is written by a female researcher, second because it is just really good!

I guess we all had had experiences with "Dumb asses", aka "players". The kind of guy/girl who treat you as a prince/princess in order to get you, and after they spill the spell on you, and you are enchanted with the bright words... well, they just get bored and left you. The other worse "Dumb asses" are the ones who continue the flirting after the situation is over, just to keep you in the list. like sending you messages about how gorgeous you were looking when they saw you the last time or how much they miss you.. even if they never really contact you in person... or you already have somebody else!
The last case not only indicated completely disrespectful for you and for you current partner, but also to themselves because they do not realized that it was over. It is a sad situation when a relationship that was apparently going great turn to be just illusions and lies. However, it shows our strength and wit, to move over, forgive yourself for being silly sometimes and fall in some dangerous zones... and finally be smarter next time: just date smarter!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Are we asking too much from the animal models?

Are we asking too much from the animal models?
I guess the answer is yes. From the controversial Rat Park, where Dr.Alexander tried to emulate "human" social conditions in order to study addiction, we have been claiming that we translate the results that we found in rodents to humans. Also the experiments in non human primates have been subject of manipulation, trying to appeal the similarities with men.
Are we just wasting thousands of animal lives in studies that are going no where, that are lacking controls and bringing empty results?
Well, the amount of animal killed without even been used in experiments is alarming. This creatures are eliminated just because they were sharing a facility venue with infected or "potentially hazardous" animals. So, without any functionality hundreds of lives are sacrificed because of bad experimental planing and lack of regulation.
As researchers we should take more seriously the animal use in science, why not treating your mouse/rat/hamster/ferret/monkey/dog/cat/horse/duck/pig etc... as you would like you childhood pet to be treated: with respect!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ebola, the hemorragic fever is closer that what yout think, but there is not reaon to panic, yet.

Ebola, the hemorrhagic fever is closer that what you think, but there is not reason to panic, yet.

In case you did not heard about it, the CDC (Center of Disease control)reported an outbreak of a "more virulent" Ebola virus infections in Guinea, spreading now to Sierra Leone . Ebola virus is the etiological agent of severe hemorrhagic fever. The symptoms? fever, rash, severe abdominal pain and vomiting, bleed both internally and externally. The fatality rate? around 90%. Even worse, this outbreaks are occurring with increasing frequency. Some explanations for this are the increased contact between humans and the natural reservoir of the viruses (fruit bats), and fluctuations in viral load and prevalence in this reservoir (Polonsky et al. 2014). The transmission of the virus mostly occurs by contact with infected blood, secretions or organs of either bats, nonhuman primates or humans. This is why you should not eat bats or monkeys if you visit any of the affected areas, or hung out around the cemeteries. Not surprisingly, Ebola was named as the most frightening disease in the world. It was documented for the first time in 1976 in the Republic of Congo, one of the sources came from the Ebola River.

In 2012 an outbreak in Uganda found us in a similar medical emptiness: the research of two of the vaccines that were "apparently" going great had been canceled by the department of defense, due to founding constrains. Therefore, so far we do not have any vaccine or effective treatment available.
Albeit a DNA based vaccine was described in 2003 to fully protected macaques against the fatal virus, it did not continue to further clinical trials.It was not until 10 year later, that a group in the US National Institutes of Health published the research about a vaccine consisting of a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the ebola glycoprotein which to protects macaques from Ebola virus infections, although this method is not licensed for human use (Marzi 2013). But, why does the US department of defense care about an African virus? the answer is pretty obvious: it can be used as a bio hazard weapon. On the other hand, no leading pharmaceutical is gonna invest in a "very expensive and time consuming" vaccine development to be used in countries that can not afford even a basic level of health care. Some compounds are showing a promising antiviral effect "in vitro" and/or an inhibition of a variety of viral protein activities. Sadly, all of them are in an early stage of drug development.
Before freaking out, the best "cure" and prevention method against this scaring virus is knowledge, so check out the updates in the CDC web:

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014 Feb 10. [Epub ahead of print]
Emerging Filoviral Disease in Uganda: Proposed Explanations and Research Directions.
Polonsky JA1, Wamala JF, de Clerck H, Van Herp M, Sprecher A, Porten K, Shoemaker T.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 29;110(5):1893-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209591110. Epub 2013 Jan 14.
Antibodies are necessary for rVSV/ZEBOV-GP-mediated protection against lethal Ebola virus challenge in nonhuman primates.
Marzi A1, Engelmann F, Feldmann F, Haberthur K, Shupert WL, Brining D, Scott DP, Geisbert TW, Kawaoka Y, Katze MG, Feldmann H, Messaoudi I.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sense to Synapse 2014 registration is open

Sense to Synapse 2014 registration is open

“Sense to Synapse 2014” mini-symposium will be held on Saturday, April 26th 2014, at Washington Square NYU Campus. Keynote speakers for the event include: Jonathan Demb (Yale), Jose Pena (Albert Einstein), Ofer Tchernichovski (Hunter College), Fred Sachs (Buffalo) and Glenn Turner (CSHL). The key-note lectures will be complemented with 8 short talks by postdocs and young faculty. This is an excellent opportunity for junior scientists to present their work to the experts in the field, as well as to the attending editors of renowned journals.

The success of the previous editions prompted "Sense to Synapse" to become an annual event, and we are happy to announce that the registration for this year's edition is open:

Abstract submission deadline is 31st March
Registration deadline is 18th April

For more information, to register, and to submit an abstract, please visit :

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why neurobiologists are cooler than other scientists?

why neurobiologists are cooler than other scientists?
They love to teach their science, to be involve in social events and they are always there when a help sing is posted. Also, they like to outreach and organize brainy events. Who am I talking about? yes, of course: researches in the neuroscience field. They are the coolest, from the nerdy side to the happy social life.
But the question is why?
Only the genetically awesome curious minds choose the neuro research?
or how a science college student change in order to become a neuro scientist?
They organized the brain week, with an amazing turn out, have you hear about genomicweek? or immunoweek? NOP. Therefore, you will expect that they were more neuro scientists walking on the earth than any other scientist. In fact it is not a "numbers game" : the search in pubmed for the word neurology gives 234150 hits, neurobiology 62623, microbiology 990706, molecular biology 383907, genetics 2627208, immunology 1368182 if you add oncology the number of publications gets multiply. This means that they are not publishing more or even more represented in the scientific world. Instead they scream louder, they get out attention and drag us to the "Brain world".
If you attend any executive committee you will find a majority of them, if you go to a seminar oriented to improve some skill or expertise... they will have a heavy representation, furthermore, probably they organized the event.There are exceptions, like in all the orders of life. But you must admit that you met more amazing outstanding neuro scientists than any other kind of researcher.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Take home message from the Cosmos: to the scientists: go out and recruit more scientist

The first episode of the TV series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”, was in part a tribute to Carl Sagan, the astrophysicist writer and presenter of the original “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”, and a reminder about the importance of mentoring the next generation of researchers. Moreover, it defines science as a community experience where the exchange of hypothesis and results between researchers is the driving force of knowledge evolution. The more curious minds we can attract to become scientists, the faster we will unravel the mysteries of the universe. After all, "vires in numeris", which means, "strength is in numbers".
As presenter of the new “Cosmos” series, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson repeatedly hallmarked the merits of science and the scientific method; science is powerful, Dr. Tyson argues, because it operates using empirically verifiable evidence. As he says,
“We are all connected; to each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”
Human existence and the survival of the future generation relies on the in-depth comprehension and understanding of the forces of nature. Dr. Tyson reminds us that our predecessors on earth were the earliest astronomers, to whom we owe the survival of the human race.
My favorite quote is: science is a cooperative enterprise spanning the generations, it’s the passing of a torch from teacher to student to teacher, a community of minds reaching back to antiquity and forward to the stars.
At the end "we are all made of star stuff" and we love big explosions on screen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why most of the postdocs are lazy..... to go out of the lab?

It is a sad reality, postdocs work very hard in the labs and/or offices, and when they are "done" they just want to go home. Therefore, all the social activities that would promote and improve the scientific life are pushed out, they are added to the list of things to do "whenever i would have time"... in other words "walking the LATTER street you arrive to the NEVER avenue.
Why is this behavior so spread?
One possibility, is the "physical and psychological tiredness" exposed before. After 9 to 12 h of experiments and mind squeezing projects and seminars, it is not surprising that a person would not have energy or interest in participate or take any responsibility outside the current one.
The more frightening option, it is the fact that most of the people who choose to became a postdoctoral fellow, are just socially boring, introverted and non interested in know or interact with the world outside the laboratory. Within this hypothesis, rest the idea that scientist are awkward people not capable to survive in the human jungle, so they hide or shelter themselves in a solitary career.
Of course, they are a lot of exceptions, but this article is not about those great communicators and teachers. Fortunately some researchers are more social and they take the initiative to have networking events, meetings, postdocs days, etc. All of this projects are volunteer based and they just pay off with the good feeling of being helping your peers.
How can we solve this situation? do they want to be save or abducted to the "outside" world?
First, we can start with not freaking out when somebody answer "i am a PhD." to the question "what do you do for living?". on the other hand, the researches should be more outreaches, trying to find join in communicating they research to non-scientific public.
Second, is good to remember that no man is an island. Only trough collaborations and collective projects we can reach a successful career and discoveries.