“Oh dear…not those chilli flakes again”


In The Middle.

The above is the title I was planning on using, but the events of this weekend have forced a change. As is so often the case with me, there so many trains of thought all of which enter that cerebral station…and so it would appear that the more obscure the title is, the more fitting. Not in the least to say the the intended was not obscure, but certainly not as obscure as what it is now.

So, enough of the waffle (although I do love waffling…and procrastinating, one would say that they both go hand in hand, I would agree), March is over and April has begun, which means my deadline is ever near. And strangely enough, despite realising that the mountain of work I have yet to get through is ever growing, I seem somewhat unfazed. Perhaps through naivety? Or perhaps the dawning realisation that my shackles will soon come loose have shed perspective on what really matters? I suppose I can only answer that when I am well and truly free.

Now it may seem as though, the sentiment I have expressed would have me rushing towards a secure job with no sight of the tedious and uncertain world of research; on the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. I’m well prepared and more than ready to take the plunge into unknown waters. With the hope that the hopelessness I’ve experienced will equip me with the best of buoys to keep me afloat. Yes, that’s right, I’ve applied for a research position AND also finally communicated with Rainbow (one-sidedly of course). It’s an entirely different matter as to whether or not there is gold to be found beyond the rainbow. If there isn’t, well it certainly isn’t for a lack of trying.

I’ve actually been procrastinating with this post a lot more than I would have thought…a lot more activation energy required…it has been far too easy to simply lie on my floor and mindlessly stare at the ceiling. Something which is often associated with the pursuit of a doctoral programme. In fact, the past few weeks have been very contrasting, going from very productive to not; not due to a lack of mental capacity, but due to a lack of physical capacity. Sometimes it all just adds up and hits you when you least expect it. In fact, it hits you more often than not. I think I’ve recovered, but either way I have no more time to lose. I need to finish everything I’ve got lined up by the end of the month, not just because I’m starting back at my summer job (I love it there!), but because there is going to be a massive upheaval of equipment and much of what I need will disappear in a matter of days!

So, as it’s always said…certainly in my own head…get a move on Nazra!

Toodles!

 

PS. Titular reference is what Nazra ends up screaming when she clearly pushes a limit, darn you hot sauce! And also, I’ve been seriously binge-watching The Middle…not much else you can do when you have a cold 🙂 And the more I watch, the more I relate.

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Welcomed back by rain (3).


So my final post for this trio, sadly not a very ‘happy’ one. Amsterdam and Buenos Aires were both amazing experiences, I certainly learned a lot. A heck of a lot. But at the same time…I had my eyes opened. An unwelcome brush with reality…not to imply that any reality check is truly welcome. I’ll keep this short. Seeing the research that’s being undertaken excited me, but at the same time left me feeling dejected.

See…I had never been to anything like this before. A world congress, where the majority of delegates were actually researchers…not PhD students like myself. The research presented inspired ideas in my mind, but at the same…reality was truly hit hard. I realised very quickly that I would never be able to look at the things I want to look at…certainly not whilst I’m still a student. I have to admit, that realisation hit me a lot harder than I would’ve thought. I suppose it was partly because my confidence had already been knocked and despite the interest I found in my own research…I lost inspiration in my own work. It feels now as though it’s a question of whether I keep my head down and just do as I’m told…or if I fight back and truly push my own ideas. I’d love to do the latter…but it’s draining, and with starting my job this week…I don’t think I have the energy to push my ideas forward.

Still, I don’t think I can ever truly lose hope. I thought I could…but some things bring you out of the gloomiest of moods. That being said…what on earth is going on with the weather?!

“And what do you get out of this, Peanut?”


It’s not often that something can strike me, but when it happens…it usually opens up a whole can of worms, which really should be left alone. It’s interesting how one thing, completely unrelated to the next, can result in a cascade of thoughts and questions that make current priorities obsolete. Although I realise how cryptic this may all sound to be, it’s in fact not so cryptic at all…since there’s no ‘one’ trail of thought…it’s hard to trace. I had a meeting with my DoS today…one that I wasn’t looking forward to at all, and clearly it lived up to that. He implied that he didn’t think that I was doing any work. That was a hard blow. For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting into the lab an hour earlier than I should (lucky that my staff card grants me access), and often leaving past 5 or 6pm. I’ve been stretching myself to ensure that I’m able to make the most of my time and be productive; but not only that, I’ve been unreasonably helpful to my colleagues, who although express their thanks, reciprocation is left to be desired. Something which I’m now being told off about…from more than one person.

I guess, what I’m really trying to say is that, although I came out of that horrid excuse of a meeting, feeling like I’d been hit in the gut with a sledgehammer…I was really hoping that one of my friends*, would cheer me up and that it would work. It didn’t. I’m not sure if my re-evaluation of things, is due to my meeting or the crush of my expectations; either way, I’m not happy. And being asked if I’m angry, is certainly not the right question; my response would’ve been far different had the question been “are you upset?”. So, what have I learnt today? Well, other than the fact that my DoS is completely out of touch with his students, I realised today that I have a very unidirectional friendship with one of my friends*…and perhaps that requires some evaluation…because Peanut needs something back.

 

PS. I was supposed to have another meeting a little later this week…so that I could ‘prove’ that I am in fact doing research…well, I just got an email saying that it’s cancelled. Should I be surprised? Probably not.

 

* not certain ‘friends’ is the appropriate definition.

What’s in a name…or gender?


From a purely scientific perspective, males and females vary. And sticking with this theme, (aside from the blatantly obvious) the variation is observed across several aspects of physiological and also pathological functions.

I stumbled across an article from earlier this year (01/2015), regarding the sexual dimorphism observed with doxorubicin mediated cardiotoxicity. Doxorubicin is an anthracycline used in the treatment of several different cancers. Whilst it is potent in its ability to reduce tumours, it has been found to be very cardiotoxic. With my research investigating drug induced cardiotoxicity, this particular news is of significance to me. A lot of the models used and indeed clinical trials that take place to investigate novel drug compounds, often only look at males, especially in the early stages. And whilst it is found that the severity of side effects are potentially more apparent in males than females (due to females generally presenting sustained cardiac function); it begs the question that finding a difference in the way we respond to drugs as a gender, should warrant the introduction of a model which can account for these differences. Having a brief glance at the paper, the study shows a remarkable difference in the response to doxorubicin between male and female models, where treated male rats showed 50% mortality and significant changes in cardiac function compared to females who showed no mortality and far less adverse changes with regards to cardiac function (left ventricular ejection fraction). These differences were seen as a result of changes to the signalling pathways which mediate everyday cellular function, such as affecting the mitochondria (the cellular “power” house); where females had fewer alterations in mitochondrial function compared to males.

So what does this mean? It means that there are differences in the way we respond to drug treatments, and that means that “blanket” studies or safety tests can’t truly provide accurate results with regard to clinical safety. Yes, in the case of doxorubicin, females are not affected with the same severity as males, which would provide an overestimate regarding toxicity; however, it is also entirely possible that with some classes of drugs, males may not experience the adverse effects that females would. And these adverse toxicities (particularly cardiac related) are uncovered during the later stages which often mean in the post-marketing phase of drug development.

Cardiac safety profiling and establishing appropriate models is a major issue, especially because so many of us end up with co-morbid conditions and end up having to have a combination of drugs, which again affect the way we respond to drugs. Hopefully, with more studies and with the emerging technologies we have under our vast scientific “tool belt”, we can find the right answers to these questions.

 

Hope this very brief overview is insightful! Check out the paper for an in-depth view of things!