Imagine waking up in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Your thinking is sharper, your memories are clearer, and you may even feel a lot happier about the day. Every organism studied by scientists has a period of sleep, although requirements for duration and physiological patterns may differ between species. Sleep is critical for memory, thinking, and physical health. Diseases or disorders that cause loss of sleep or changes in sleep patterns often lead to health problems. Our bodies let us know when we aren’t getting enough sleep and we all intuitively understand that sleep is important, but have you ever wondered exactly why humans need to sleep?
As a Professor of Medicine, Health Research and Policy, and Statistics at Stanford University, John Ioannidis has profoundly changed the field of meta-analysis. His paper, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, which garnered more than 2.7 million readers, offers a mathematical model to calculate the PPV, positive predictive value, which evaluates the likelihood that a research result claimed to be statistically significant is true.
By successfully isolating the period gene and PER, the protein encoded by period, Jeffrey Hall and Michael Rosbash discovered the molecular mechanism that regulates our biological clock (circadian rhythm). This groundbreaking work won them the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Another Nobel laureate, Michael Young, discovered the TIM protein, which combines with PER to form an inhibitory feedback loop. Combining their work, we now understand the circadian cycle as the accumulation of the PER protein at night and the degradation of it during the daytime. The key role of PER protein as a biosignal highlights the function of cell signaling in our physiological functions.
If you cracked open a dictionary and looked up the word “couch potato” prior to me coming to Stanford, my name would have been written all over the page. So when I joined Stanford Women in Rugby and realized I could only run .2 seconds until fading from existence, I decided to start running everyday. I own an Apple Watch (thanks Costco sales!) and love tracking how many miles I have run and how many calories I burn from it. But I started to wonder just how much should I believe my watch…
Varmus’ proposal led to a paradigm shift in cancer research. Ten years after the publication of his seminal c-SRC paper, laboratories around the world discovered dozens of proto-oncogenes.
Magical approaches were not simply the consequence of an inadequate body of scientific knowledge. Analysis of a variety of ancient gynecological artifacts, including rituals and incantations along with tools and treatment instructions more contemporarily regarded as scientific, illustrates that they are profoundly intertwined with science to promote not only the physical health but also the mental wellbeing of Egyptian women.
“So...who’s ever been stressed at Stanford?”
I half-jokingly asked this question to a group of undergrads, PhD students, and faculty on a rainy Thursday night. It was the middle of the quarter, right before the dreaded “midterm season.” With upcoming deadlines for projects and tests, while balancing extracurriculars and friendships, students can feel overwhelmed by all of their commitments.
What makes a human being? This question, which has been asked since the beginning of history, takes on a different interpretation when applied to translational research. Scientists use animals, from apes to zebrafish, as models for the human body. This practice, which extends back to the ancient Greeks, changes the question from “What makes a human being?” to “What are the core necessities for being human-like?” Up until recently, the criteria for being sufficiently human-like has been solely physiological.
Many people, especially those who have grown up around the water, have stories about jellyfish, be it finding them littered on the coast in gelatinous pieces or watching them surrounding you deep in the ocean. But most of us do not give a second thought to their life cycle, their ecological niche, or even the impact they have on the oceans as a whole.