Charlotte Observer highlights Lab Land

Thanks to Amber Veverka for featuring Lab Land as part of the Charlotte Observer’s regular look at science-oriented blogs. I reproduce my responses here to add some links.

Describe the range of health science research you are covering on Lab Land – and a little bit about your intended audience.

Any intriguing idea emerging from basic or clinical biomedical research happening at Emory. The blog is aimed at people who are somewhat familiar with biological concepts, like graduate students, postdocs or science journalists.

What are some of the most exciting advances you’ve recently written about?

Here are a few!

*Neuroscientists found that a mouse can pass on a learned sensitivity to a smell to its offspring

*Cardiologists discovered that heart muscle cells in mice grow in a dramatic spurt after birth, with implications for the treatment of congenital heart defects.

*Some peoples’ brains produce something that acts like a sleeping pill, giving them hypersomnia. It’s not clear what this mysterious brain chemical is yet.

*Less invasive epilepsy surgery involving lasers; seizure control with fewer cognitive side effects

*Biomedical engineers are developing ways to prevent stem cells from being washed out of the heartDoes the blog get a reaction from members of the public who read about possible breakthroughs in cancer therapy, for instance, and want to know how they can tap into that for their own treatment?

Occasionally that happens, but not as often as I’d like! And I do try to avoid the word “breakthrough” and overhyping incremental advances. I think this is an intriguing trend: that oncologists might be able to exploit cancer cells’ warped metabolism. With a recent post on fine-tuning cisplatin, I was trying to tap into the big following that the drug DCA (dichloroacetate) has on blogs and patient support groups.

Immun0logy is a big focus of the blog. What are some of the trends in that field of research?

[This was a challenge to think about.]Genome-wide approaches, known as systems biology. Immuno-engineering, such as cell therapy or adoptive transfer. Bypassing mouse models. Capturing the breadth of human antibody responses to a vaccine or a virus by directly cloning antibody genes.

What are the biggest challenges in communicating news about health science research being done at Emory?

Staying in touch with busy scientists, finding the right images, and promoting the blog! I am always playing catch-up and learning about something new.

 

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Quinn Eastman

Science Writer, Research Communications qeastma@emory.edu 404-727-7829 Office

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