Category Archives: Life Science

Gertrude B. Elion

For every Nobel Prize there is a story. Gertrude B. Elion has made enormous contributions to the medical and pharmaceutical world, but in order to understand her achievements we must first take a look at her past.

Gertrude Elion CC BY
Gertrude Elion

Born in New York in 1918 Gertrude spent a lot of her childhood in Manhattan, later moving to the Bronx.  Even through her earlier years of education, she was a very bright student that was driven by an”insatiable thirst for knowledge“. However, when Dr. Elion was only 15, she witnessed a familial tragedy; the death of her dear grandfather whose life had been taken by cancer. This event pushed Gertrude even further towards a path in science so that she could eradicate the tragic health issues that affect so many innocent people, including her own family. By the age of 19, Gertrude impressively graduated summa cum laude in chemistry, her motivation no dimmer than it had been before. While continuing her education, she also worked as a part-time lab assistant and substitute teacher. Alongside of a honorary Ph.D. from the Polytechnic University of New York, Dr. Elion also received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Harvard University.

With an excellent educational background Gertrude started working for Burroughs-Welcome in 1944, with Dr. George H. Hitchings. Unlike many scientists at that time, she used a unique approach, studying diseased cells to create medicine. To block viral infections they designed drugs by examening the biochemical difference between cells. This new perspective provided much success, allowing Dr. Elion to create drugs treat issues such as leukemia, AIDS, herpes and transplant rejection. Throughout her carreer she created 45 medical patents and gained so much respect and praise in the scientific community.  Dr. Elion’s contributions got her 23 honorary awards, a Nobel Prize in Medicine and she was even recognized as an adviser for the World Health Organization.  Gertrude Elion’s perseverance and pharmaceutical journey has provided us access to drugs such as Nelarabine (cancer treatement), Azathioprine (first immuno-suppressive), Trimethoprim (meningitis) and many more. Her hard work payed of by saving and improving so many lives over the past few decades and Dr. Elion will surely be remembered for innovation in biochemistry and pharmacology.




A Future In Science

“Field trip!”, two words that get just about anyone excited, including myself.  Just a few moments ago, I got back from the StemCell Technologies lab and I was feeling really inspired. After getting a tour of the location where stems cells are proliferated to be shipped all over the world, I’ve been feeling more excited about a future in science. Since an early age, I’ve been aware that I wanted to grow up to become a scientist, but this recent field trip has got me wondering about different possibilities in the realm of science. So what are the most open employments for modern scientist?

The future is in our hands. "World1" by Shevateganeshd - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
The future is in our hands.
“World1” by Shevateganeshd – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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The Science of Concussions

According to NFL concussion data, NFL players have nearly a one in three chance of acquiring some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  With all the head-on-head, and head-on-other-hard-object collisions that wrestles and footballers and other contact sport players, encounter on a weekly basis, its very easy to picture how so many players can end up with severe brain damage.

Patrick J. Lynh | |Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License 2006
Patrick J. Lynh | | Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License 2006

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Pushing The Limits of Our Brains

Imagine being able to predetermine someone’s talents and abilities, giving them artistic capabilities or an aptitude for math before they’re even born! In the past few months I’ve been trying to come up with ways to increase human potential, and really push the limits of our human brain. It all started after watching “Lucy”, a movie about a woman that was given some drugs that transformed her into a being without limits. Although reading minds and telekinesis are incredibly cool powers, I was hoping to simply find a way to boost more typical abilities such as coordination, memory intake or rehabilitation. After some reading, I came across a method involving transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

TMS Public Domain
Public Domain

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Radiation-eating Mushrooms, and What This Means for the Future

Lately, I have been fascinated by a certain adaptation that nature has undergone as more radiation is being introduced into the environment: the usage of radiation as a food source, a prominent trait in many species of fungi. What is even more interesting is that the substance which is responsible for this action is the very chemical which gives our skin its pigment, melanin.

Stachybotrys, more commonly known as black mold, can convert radiation into energy using a pigment called melanin
Stachybotrys, more commonly known as black mold, can convert radiation into energy using a pigment called melanin. Photo Credit: Dr. Sahay

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Our Lives Depend On Bees!

Bees, you think you hate them, but what if I that we wouldn’t be able to live more than 4 years without these critters?

Tears streamed down my face about six years ago as my hand swelled up, the stinger of a honey bee sticking up from the middle of my palm.  Although I was in utter shock and having a crisis, my father, who had witnessed the whole scenario, completely ignored me and calmly turned to the still striped buzzer instead. I felt isolated in my injured state, but it turns out that the poor bee was much closer to death than I was. Through autotomizing, the bee dies due to the fact that when their stingers get stuck in the flesh of what they have stung, they face a deathly process in which their abdomen also gets torn.

Honey Bee Pollinating CC BY-SA
Honey Bee Pollinating

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