Of Medicine & Scientific Research

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It has been 3 days in Prince Henry's and I have come to an awful conclusion that I am an complete idiot in molecular biology. Due to the fact that I have a very limited knowledge and experience in lab techniques and molecular work, It makes it even harder to comprehend the stuffs and materials that were delivered to me. Even a simple task like handling micropipettes poses some difficulties for me. Things like handling the biohazard hood for tissue culture and the required fundamental sterile techniques are so unfamiliar to me. Sometimes, things that we perceived to be useless and waste of time in the past could come in useful and handy in the near future. So I reckon a good student is like a sponge, constantly absorbing all the knowledge and materials that are delivered to him without doing any selective studying. So I guess, its time for me to revisit some of the epidemiology and the public health topics covered in these 2 years.

Within 3 days, I've experienced an explosion of knowledge and has been able to witness with my own eyes how science and medical research could have such a big impact factor in our daily life, especially in health care. All the researchers and students in PHI are incredibly passionate about the work that they're working on. Some of them even discuss and talk about it over lunch breaks, reading journals, trying to keep themselves up to date with the latest research in the scientific field. It really does give you the feeling that you are currently in a tertiary research hub. This does not only apply to PHI, It also applies to the people from MIMR, the doctors involved with research work, basically the whole scientific community of Southern Health. This is the main reason why Monash is at the forefront of medical research-excellent environment for scientific work as well as a bunch of dedicated people.

In PHI, there are seminars and forums being held once in a while. All the staffs and students are required to attend the talk no matter who the speaker is, to show respect to the invited external speaker ( It could be internal speakers at times). When talks are being scheduled, Dr Simon or other people in the lab will not hesitate to update me about it, making me feel like I am really part of the group.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to attend two of the seminars held recently. The first one was on "Novel medical therapies to cure ectopics" by a researcher from Centre for Cancer Research, MIMR discussing about the potential use of Epidermal Growth Factor Inhibition in conjunction with Methotrexate(MTX) which also serves as an anti-neoplastic drug to cure ectopics. The second one actually revolved around the role of apoptosis/apoptotic cell death in folliculogenesis. Will blog about them soon, more reading to catch up with before I am able to write about that.

The steroid biology group meeting was held yesterday morning chaired by Prof Fuller. This is a venue for each member of the group to evaluate their own progress and also to get updated with what others have been doing over the week. In that meeting, James was presenting on his work which deals with glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors. Have you guys ever wondered why mineralocorticoid receptor has glucocorticoid activity (i.e cortisol can bind to mineralocorticoid receptor) but on the other hand glucocorticoid receptor has high affinity and specificity only towards cortisol and not other mineralocorticoids.

Extensive studies are being carried out in PHI itself, looking into the structures, genes and functions of these receptors, they've managed to narrow down to a few amino acids that are responsible for the difference between the 2 receptors. Not far from now, perhaps in Guyton or Ganong, there will be a section that explains why this happens.

I truly believe, clinicians who are active in research are at the forefront of medicine. As clinicians, they are familiar with the clinical aspect of their work, but I guess It is still due to their inquisitive nature of their character and their hunger for knowledge that got them into research. Isn't it fun to know how things work even if It requires you to look into the molecular aspects of it? One of the perks of research I would say!