Author Interviews, Macular Degeneration, Ophthalmology, PNAS / 27.10.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bradley D. Gelfand PhD Center for Advanced Vision Science Department of Ophthalmology Department of Biomedical Engineering University of Virginia School of Medicine Charlottesville, VA 22908  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly describe dry AMD? Response: Dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a form of AMD that affects about 11 million people in the United States, and many millions more worldwide. Dry AMD is a disease affecting the macula, the central part of our retina that is responsible for fine visual acuity tasks - things like reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Dry AMD typically develops in people in their 6th, 7th, and 8th decades of life and begins with small changes to the retina that are unlikely to affect vision at first. As the disease progresses, it can develop into more advanced stages ("wet" AMD and geographic atrophy), which can cause blindness. Unfortunately, there is no approved treatment that can prevent dry AMD or its progression to advanced blinding stages. (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Circadian Rhythm, Occupational Health, PNAS, Pulmonary Disease, Sleep Disorders / 11.09.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Frank Scheer, PhD, MSc Professor and Director of the Medical Chronobiology Program Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders Brigham and Women’s Hospital Steve Shea, PhD Professor and Director Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: For hundreds of years, people have observed that asthma severity often worsens in the nighttime. As many as 75 percent of people with asthma—20 million people in the U.S.—report experiencing worsening asthma severity at night. One longstanding question has been to what degree the body’s internal circadian clock—as opposed to behaviors, such as sleep and physical activities—contributes to worsening of asthma severity. Our research used long term intensive monitoring throughout two circadian protocols in dim light and without time cues to carefully isolate the influence of the circadian system from the other factors that are behavioral and environmental, including sleep. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, PNAS / 01.06.2021

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Haley Steele Graduate Student Researcher Georgia Institute of Technology  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Chronic itch is a debilitating symptom that arises from a broad range of etiologies including skin disease, systemic disease, and as a common side-effect of medication. While in the last few decades significant advances in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying chronic itch have been made, a large majority of those advancements were restricted to studies in hairy skin. Conditions such as plantar and palmar psoriasis, dyshidrosis, and cholestasis, however, are known to exhibit chronic itch restricted primarily to glabrous skin (found on the palms of hands and soles of feet). This is an area that is considered to be particularly debilitating. Therefore, in this study we investigated the role three previously identified pruriceptive neurons (MrgprA3+, MrgprD+, and MrgprC11+) play in mediating acute and chronic glabrous skin itch. (more…)
Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus, Gender Differences, PNAS / 18.10.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paola Profeta, PhD Professor of Public Economics, Department of Social and Political Sciences Bocconi University Director, Msc Politics and Policy Analysis, Bocconi University Coordinator, Dondena Gender Initiative, Dondena Research Center President, European Public Choice Society MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We interview more than 20000 men and women in 8 OECD countries in two periods during the lockdown. Using two waves from 8 OECD countries, we find that women are more likely to perceive the pandemic as a very serious health problem, to agree with restraining measures and to comply with public health rules, such as using facemasks. This gender differences are less strong for married individuals and for individuals who have been directly exposed to COVID, for instance by knowing someone who was infected.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, PNAS, Weight Research, Wistar / 15.10.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kristina M. Rapuano PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow BJ Casey, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Yale University Richard Watts PhD Technical Consultant Department of Psychology Yale University, New Haven, CT MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Around 35% of children and adolescents in the US are overweight or obese, dramatically increasing their likelihood of obesity as adults and the associated health risks. In our paper we use a novel MRI technique to investigate links between obesity and neurobiology in a large group of typically developing 9-10 year-olds. The data were acquired as part of the NIH-funded Adolescent Brain Cognitive DevelopmentSM (ABCD) study, which enrolled more than 11,000 children from across the US. We looked specifically at a reward-related region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. Previous human studies have shown that healthy weight and obese children display different responses to food cues, for example adverts for unhealthy foods, in this region. Animal studies have also found that a high saturated fat (unhealthy) diet induces inflammation in the nucleus accumbens, and changes in behavior including sucrose-seeking. We wanted to investigate if we could use advanced MRI techniques to provide evidence of a similar effect in humans. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Heart Disease, Karolinski Institute, Opiods, PNAS / 18.03.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mikko Myrskylä PhD Executive Director, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research Professorial Research Fellow, London School of Economics Professor of Social Statistics University of Helsinki MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Life expectancy in the U.S. increased at a phenomenal pace throughout the twentieth century, by nearly two years per decade. After 2010, however, U.S. life expectancy growth stalled and has most recently been declining. A critical question for American health policy is how to return U.S. life expectancy to its pre-2010 growth rate. Researchers and policy makers have focused on rising drug-related deaths in their search for the explanations for the stalling and declining life expectancy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Genetic Research, PNAS / 20.01.2020

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Per Engzell PhD Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow Nuffield College, University of Oxford
Felix C. Tropf, PhD Assistant Professor in Social Science Genetics, CREST-ENSAE, Paris
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We know that parents and offspring often resemble each other in their socio-economic outcomes: higher-educated parents tend to have children who reach a similar level of education while children of disadvantaged families struggle in school. To the extent that this compromises equality of opportunity – that is, some children end up better educated only because of their social background – social policies aim to compensate for it and promote social mobility. At the same time, not all similarity between parents and offspring can be seen as equally troubling. A society that blocked entry to university for any child born to academics would achieve high mobility, but few of us would see it as a model of equal opportunity. So some channels of transmission then, it seems, are more fair than others. Although we may disagree where to draw the line, things like parents’ ability to pay for good neighborhoods, schools, or access to college appear clearly more troubling than the inheritance of traits that make for educational success. In this study, we ask whether societies that have achieved a high degree of intergenerational mobility have done so by limiting the reach of "nature" (inherited traits), "nurture" (other family advantages), or both. We do so by combining the rich literatures of social mobility research and behavior genetics, comparing variation across several cohorts of men and women in 10 countries.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, Genetic Research, PNAS / 10.09.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jacob S. Yount, PhD Associate Professor Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity The Ohio State University, College of Medicine Co-Director, Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program OSU Infectious Diseases Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Genetic defects in a human protein known as IFITM3 are linked to hospitalization and death upon influenza virus infections.  IFITM3 is an immune system protein that can inhibit virus entry into cells and it is produced as an early response to virus infections.  In order to better study the role of IFITM3 during infections, we engineered a mouse model that lacks this protein.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Lifestyle & Health, PNAS, Psychological Science, University Texas / 31.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John M. Griffin PhD James A. Elkins Centennial Chair in Finance McCombs School of Business The University of Texas  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The importance of personal traits compared to context for predicting behavior is a long-standing issue in psychology. Yet, we have limited evidence of how predictive personal conduct, such as marital infidelity, is for professional conduct. We use data on usage of a marital infidelity website as a measure of marital infidelity and find that it is strongly correlated with professional conduct in four different professional settings. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, PNAS / 02.05.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Casey Trimmer, PhD Geneticist, was a post-doctoral fellow at the Monell Center when the research was conducted MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: We detect odors using 400 different types of sensor proteins, called olfactory receptors, in our noses. An odor molecule activates a specific combination of these receptors, and this pattern of activation gives us information on what we're smelling--whether its floral or smoky, intense or weak, and how much we like it. However, how the system translates receptor activation to these perceptual features is largely unknown. Here, we take advantage of the extensive genetic variation in the OR gene family to understand the contribution of individual ORs to odor perception. By studying cases where the function of a particular OR is lost, we can examine what kinds of perceptual alterations occur, allowing us to link receptor to odor and understand what kind of information the receptor is encoding. Data linking genetic variation to perceptual changes exist for only 5 ORs. Here, we examined the perceived intensity and pleasantness of 68 odors in 332 participants. We used next-generation genome sequencing to identify variants in 418 OR genes and conducted a genetic association analysis to relate this variation to differences in odor perception. We then use a cell-based assay to examine receptor function and investigate the mechanisms underlying our associations. Finally, we examined the contribution of single OR genotype, genetic ancestry, age, and gender to variations in odor perception. (more…)
Author Interviews, Inflammation, Ophthalmology, PNAS / 25.04.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kip Connor, Ph.D. Harvard Medical School Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Department of Ophthalmology Massachusetts Eye and Ear MGH ECOR Ophthalmology Representative Associate Scientist MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Classically, the retina and the central nervous system (CNS) have long been considered immunoprivileged sites within the body. This is not to say that these sites lack immunity; rather, they are capable of exhibiting a contained yet modifiable form of immunological response. Indeed, an intricate immune surveillance system exists within the retina that can interact with the retinal cellular milieu both during development and in response to injury or disease. While activation of this surveillance system can help protect and repair the delicate neural tissue of the retina in certain disease states, over-activation of this system can exacerbate disease pathology, thereby worsening vision loss. Microglia are the resident immune cells of the central nervous system, including the retina, and are thought to function acutely in the homeostatic maintenance of the neuro-retinal microenvironment.  However in chronic conditions, like autoimmune uveitis, we hypothesized that microglia become neurodegenerative. In our current study we show for the first time a role for microglia in directing the initiation of this autoimmune disease by orchestrating the inflammatory response within the retina through the retinal vessels. (more…)
Author Interviews, McGill, PNAS / 20.02.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ben Gold, a PhD candidate Lab of Robert Zatorre The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) McGill University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Music is just sound in air, but it carries considerable power. It captivates our brain’s reward system, we devote an enormous amount of time and money to it, and we're just beginning to tap its therapeutic potential. We wanted to explore how something so abstract could have such an impact, and since music is so well suited to establishing and manipulating patterns of sound as it unfolds, we focused on how it manipulates expectations. Previous research has shown that surprises are often the most emotional and pleasurable moments in music listening, but whether and how this engaged the brain's reward system was unclear. So we adapted an experimental protocol designed for studying learning and surprise about more concrete rewards like food or money, and applied it to a musical context during brain imaging. This protocol relies on participants making decisions from which we could infer their expectations, allowing us to estimate how surprised they were by each outcome whenever it occurred. In our case, we asked participants to make choices about colors and directions that were associated with different musical outcomes, but we didn't tell them what those associations were so that they they started with no expectations and learned as they went. We found that our participants could learn about music just like they would learn about how to find food or win money, and that the same neural process was involved. Specifically, we saw that the activity of the nucleus accumbens -- a central hub of the reward system -- reflected both how pleasant and how surprising each musical outcome was: a computation known as a reward prediction error. Across individuals, those who better represented these reward prediction errors in their nucleus accumbens also learned better about the music in the experiment, making more decisions over time to find the music they preferred.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, PNAS / 21.01.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kelly Russell PhD Department of Pediatrics and Child Health University of Manitoba MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important patient-reported outcome that measures the patient’s perception on how their condition effects various aspects of their life, such as their physical, emotional, social and school quality of life.  HRQOL can measure the more subtle or hidden consequences of a condition, such as concussion.  Patient reported outcomes are important because they give a more complete picture of the patient’s condition than just reporting symptoms or outcomes that are only measured by their clinician.  We wanted to compare the effects of sport-related concussions versus sport-related limb fractures on HRQOL in adolescents after their injury and during their recovery. We chose to compare adolescents with sport-related concussions to a sport-related limb fracture group because we wanted to be able to attribute the results to having a concussion since not being able to play sports with their friends and teammates may decrease HRQOL regardless of the actual type of injury.  We also wanted to identify which clinical variables were associated with worse HRQOL in adolescent patients with sports-related concussion. (more…)
Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, Microbiome, Occupational Health, PNAS / 15.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Hans Van Dongen, PhD Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center. ELSON S. FLOYD COLLEGE OF MEDICIN Washington State University Spokane, WA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Night shift workers are at increased risk of metabolic disorders, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and cancer. Although it is believed that the biological clock – the master circadian clock in the brain – plays an important role in these adverse chronic health consequences of night shift work, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. (more…)
Author Interviews, Microbiome, PNAS / 13.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Josh D. Neufeld PhD Professor; Department of Biology Ashley A. Ross MSc University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario, Canada  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Given important implications for skin health and our relationship to the microbial world, we are curious about the microorganisms on human skin, how these microbial communities are formed and passed on from generation to generation, and how these communities differ between mammalian species. Our main finding is that human skin microbial communities are distinct from nearly all of the other animals that we sampled, in terms of both diversity and composition. We also found initial evidence that animals and their skin microbial communities have co-evolved over time.  (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, NIH, PNAS, Sleep Disorders / 19.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nora D. Volkow MD Senior Investigator Laboratory of Neuroimaging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Findings from animal studies had shown that sleep deprivation increased the content of beta-amyloid in brain, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.  We wanted to test whether this also happened in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. We found that indeed one night of sleep deprivation led to an accumulation of beta amyloid in the human brain, which suggest that one of the reasons why we sleep is to help clean our brain of degradation products that if not removed are toxic to brain cells.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Lung Cancer, PNAS / 08.04.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nada Kalaany, PhD Harvard Medical School Boston Children's Hospital Boston, MA 02115 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: ​ Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the predominant form of lung cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in the US and worldwide. Over a quarter of NSCLC harbors activating mutations in the KRAS oncogene, which despite decades of attempts, has proven to be very difficult to target. KRAS has previously been demonstrated to directly bind to and activate the pro-proliferative kinase PI3K, which is typically activated by insulin/insulin-like growth factor1 (IGF1) signaling. KRAS-PI3K binding is required for KRAS-driven lung cancer formation and progression. However, whether this interaction is sufficient for lung tumor formation and whether additional input is required from insulin/IGF1 signaling, has remained largely controversial. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Emory, PNAS, Technology / 16.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lee Cooper, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Emory University School of Medicine - Georgia Institute of Technology MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Gliomas are a form of brain tumor that are often ultimately fatal, but patients diagnosed with glioma may survive as few as 6 months to 10 or more years. Prognosis is an important determinant in selecting treatment, that can range from simply monitoring the disease to surgical removal followed by radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Recent genomic studies have significantly improved our ability to predict how rapidly a patient's disease will progress, however a significant part of this determination still relies on the visual microscopic evaluation of the tissues by a neuropathologist. The neuropathologist assigns a grade that is used to further refine the prognosis determined by genomic testing. We developed a predictive algorithm to perform accurate and repeatable microscopic evaluation of glioma brain tumors. This algorithm learns the relationships between visual patterns presented in the brain tumor tissue removed from a patient brain and the duration of that patient's survival beyond diagnosis. The algorithm was demonstrated to accurately predict survival, and when combining images of histology with genomics into a single predictive framework, the algorithm was slightly more accurate than models based on the predictions of human pathologists. We were also able to identify that the algorithm learns to recognize some of the same tissue features used by pathologists in evaluating brain tumors, and to appreciate their prognostic relevance. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Microbiome, PNAS / 22.08.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel Kalman, Ph.D. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Emory University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  1. We think a lot about living longer, but that means we will also have a longer period of frailty and infirmity, which isn't optimal. Moreover, with geriatric populations projected to expand by 350 fold over the next 40 years, healthcare costs will be unsustainable.
  2. We were interested in understanding how health span of animals is regulated, and whether the microbiota plays a role. The microbiota, which is composed of bacteria inside and on us, when dysregulated (called dysbiosis) contributes to disease; the question we asked was whether it could also contribute to healthy aging, and how.
  3. We showed that animals of widely divergent phyla and separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary time, all utilize indoles to regulate how well they age; in short indoles  make older animals look younger by various metrics, including motility, and fecundity.
(more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Biomarkers, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Cancer Research, PNAS / 19.07.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chonghui Cheng, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Molecular & Human Genetics Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX77030 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Understanding the mechanisms that give cancer cells the ability to survive and grow opens the possibility of developing improved treatments to control or cure disease. In the case of glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest type of brain cancer, abnormal EGFR signaling is frequently observed. Treatment with the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib attempts to kill cancer cells. However, the clinical benefit of treatment with this and other EGFR inhibitors has been limited by the development of drug resistance. Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine discovered that the molecule CD44s seems to give cancer cells a survival advantage. Eliminating this advantage by reducing the amount of CD44s resulted in cancer cells being more sensitive to the deadly effects of the drug erlotinib. (more…)
Author Interviews, Neurological Disorders, PNAS / 17.04.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Zhiyong Zhao, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore, MD MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Diabetes in early pregnancy can cause neural tube defects in fetus. The defects are a result of failure in neural tube closure, due to excess cell death. The aim of this study was to delineate molecular processes that induce cell death. The main findings of this study are: (1) Hyperglycemia disrupts protein folding. The misfolded proteins, including the ones that are associated with neurodegenerative diseases, form aggregates, indicating similar molecular processes in both fetal neural tube defects and adult neurodegenerative diseases. (2) Protein aggregation leads to formation of a neurodegenerative disease-related cell death inducting mechanism. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Heart Disease, PNAS, UT Southwestern / 09.02.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lawrence Lum, Ph.D. Associate Professor Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Medical Research UT Southwestern Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Scarring of the adult heart due to excessive fibrotic responses is common after a heart attack, or following radiation therapy for the treatment of certain cancers. We have identified an anti-cancer agent currently in clinical development called WNT-974 that decreases fibrotic responses and improves heart function following myocardial infarction in mice. This unexpected observation was the outcome of a study focused on identifying unwanted adult tissue toxicities associated with this class of chemicals. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, PNAS / 20.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Janet Shibley Hyde Evjue-Bascom Professor Helen Thompson Woolley Professor of Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies Director, Center for Research on Gender & Women University of Wisconsin Madison, WI MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: The background is that, in the U.S. and many other Western nations, we don’t have enough people going into STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Innovations in STEM fields are enormously important in 21st century economies. So, we need to encourage more people to go into STEM fields. To do that, they have to major in a STEM field in college, and to do that, they need to prepare in high school. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, PNAS, Stem Cells / 20.11.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thomas Bartosh Jr, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Medical Physiology Texas A&M Health Science Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: One mysterious and devastating aspect of breast cancer is that it can reemerge abruptly, often as metastatic disease, in patients many years after an apparent eradication of the primary tumor. The sudden reappearance of cancer has been termed relapse and is thought to occur because a minimal number of resilient tumor cells are able to evade frontline therapies and linger in an undetectable/dormant state somewhere in the body for an unpredictable amount of time. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, these same dormant cells awaken and rapidly grow, and produce almost invariably fatal cancerous lesions. The therapeutic challenges of tumor dormancy and need to decode the underlying mechanisms involved are apparent. Cancer cell behavior is strongly influenced by various non-malignant cell types that are found within the tumor mass itself and that help make up the tumor microenvironment (TME). In particular, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), which are actively recruited into the tumor stroma, directly interact with carcinoma cells and significantly impact cancer progression, although the role of MSCs in tumor dormancy remains ill-defined. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, PNAS / 12.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Magdalena Sastre PhD Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medicine Senior Lecturer Imperial College London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting over 45 million people around the world. Currently, there are no therapies to cure or stop the progression of the disease. Here, we have developed a gene therapy approach whereby we delivered a factor called PGC-1α, which regulates the expression of genes involved in metabolism, inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain of transgenic mice. This factor is also involved in the regulation of energy in the cells, because it controls the genesis of mitochondria and in the generation of amyloid-β, the main component of the neuritic plaques present in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. We have found that the animals with Alzheimer’s pathology treated with PGC-1α develop less amyloid plaques in the brain, perform memory tasks as well as healthy mice and do not have neuronal loss in the brain areas affected by the disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Mammograms, PNAS, Radiology / 31.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karla K. Evans, Ph.D. Lecturer, Department of Psychology The University of York Heslington, York UK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: This research started after initially talking to radiologists and pathologists about how they search a radiograph or micrograph for abnormalities. They talked about being able to tell at the first glance if the image had something bad about it. Jokingly, they talked about “having the force” to see the bad. We wanted to know whether this hunch after the brief initial viewing was real and to systematically test it. We collected radiographic and micrographic images, half of them that had signs of cancer in them and half of them that didn't, and we briefly presented them (250 millisecond to 2000 milliseconds) to radiologists or pathologistsrespectively. They simply had to report whether they would recall the patient or not and try localize on the outline the location of the abnormality. We first reported these finding in the following paper. Evans et al. (2013) The Gist of the Abnormal: Above chance medical decision making in the blink of an eye. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (DOI) 10.3758/s13423-013-0459-3 In addition to finding that radiologists and pathologists can indeed detect subtle cancers in a quarter of a second we also found that they did not know where it was in the image leading us to conclude that the signal that they were picking up must be a global signal (i.e. the global image statistic or the texture of the breast as a whole) rather than the result of a local saliency. This led me to start further exploring this signal in order to characterize it when I moved to University or York, UK to establish my own lab. (more…)
Author Interviews, Fertility, OBGYNE, PNAS / 23.08.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Peter Sutovsky PhD Professor of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources University of Missouri Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the School of Medicine University of Missouri Health System MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Strictly maternal inheritance of mitochondria, the cellular power stations, and mitochondrial genes that mitochondria harbor, is a major biological paradigm in mammals. Propagation of paternal, sperm-contributed mitochondrial genes, resulting in a condition called heteroplasmy, is seldom observed in mammals, due to post-fertilization elimination sperm mitochondria, referred to as “sperm mitophagy.” Our and others’ recent results suggest that this process is mediated by the synergy of ubiquitin–proteasome system (UPS) pathway that recycles outlived cellular proteins one molecule at a time, and autophagic pathway capable of engulfing and digesting an entire mitochondrion. Here we demonstrate that the co-inhibition of the ubiquitin-binding autophagy receptor proteins SQSTM1, GABARAP, and UPS, and the UPS protein VCP dependent pathways delayed the digestion of sperm mitochondria inside the fertilized pig egg. By manipulating said proteins, we created heteroplasmic pig embryos with both the paternal and maternal mitochondrial genes. Such animal embryos that could be used as a biomedical model to research and alleviate certain forms of mitochondrial disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, PNAS / 27.07.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adam Hayward PhD Impact Research Fellow University of Stirling MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Adult life expectancies in industrialized countries have increased dramatically in the last 150 years, even once we’ve accounted for the fact that previously common deaths in childhood and now very rare. One hypothesis seeking to explain this increase is that childhood infections cause chronic inflammation, which are then linked with heart disease and stroke in later life, reducing lifespan. Since such childhood infections were previously common but are now, thanks to vaccine and sanitation, much rarer, chronic inflammation should be lower and people should live longer and be less likely to die from early-onset heart disease. If this hypothesis is correct, we should see that higher exposure to infections in early life leads to increased adult mortality and deaths from heart disease and stroke. (more…)