Monthly Archives: November 2012


The PhD Route To Becoming a Science Writer

Posted 29 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

If you know that you want to become a science writer, should you even bother with obtaining a PhD in science? There is no easy answer to this question. Any answer is bound to reflect the personal biases and experiences of the person answering the question. The science writer Akshat Rathi recently made a good case for why an aspiring science writer should not pursue a PhD. I would like to offer a different perspective, which is primarily based on... Read more

Great Expectations For Scientific Publication: How Digital Publishing Is Helping Science

Posted 22 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

I recently came across a rant that lamented the advent of digital publishing, open access publishing and self-publishing in science. The rant was published in the Huffington Post as a “digital” blog post (ah, the irony), entitled “50 Shades of Grey in Scientific Publication: How Digital Publishing Is Harming Science”. It was reminiscent of the rants that might have been uttered by calligraphers who were upset about the emergence of Gutenberg’s printing press or concerns of European aristocrats in the... Read more

The Healing Power of Sweat Glands

Posted 20 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

Two kinds of sweat glands are present in the human body. Apocrine sweat glands are located in arm-pits or rectogenital areas and are responsible for "smelly" sweat. Eccrine sweat glands, on the other hand, are distributed all over the human body and produce a non-odorous sweat. The eccrine sweat glands are primarily found in humans and certain primates. They also exist in some other mammals, but are usually restricted to the footpads of non-primate mammals. There is some controversy about... Read more

Somatic Mosaicism: Genetic Differences Between Individual Cells

Posted 19 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

The cells in the body of a healthy person all have the same DNA, right? Not really! It has been known for quite some time now that there are genetic differences between cells within one person. The expression to describe these between-cell differences is "somatic mosaicism", because cells can represent a mosaic of genetic profiles, even within a single organ. During embryonic development, all cells are derived from one fertilized egg and ought to be genetically identical. However, during every... Read more

Recent Study Raises Questions About Using Adult Stem Cells for Chronic Heart Disease

Posted 15 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

A recent clinical study (POSEIDON Randomized Trial) investigated the effects of transplanting bone marrow derived adult stem cells into patients with known heart disease. The results were presented at the 2012 American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Los Angeles and also published in the article "Comparison of Allogeneic vs Autologous Bone Marrow–Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Delivered by Transendocardial Injection in Patients With Ischemic Cardiomyopathy: The POSEIDON Randomized Trial". The article by Dr. Joshua Hare and colleagues appeared in the online... Read more

Science Journalism and the Inner Swine Dog

Posted 5 November 2012 by Jalees Rehman

A search of the PubMed database, which indexes scholarly biomedical articles, reveals that 997,508 articles were published in the year 2011, which amounts to roughly 2,700 articles per day. Since the database does not include all published biomedical research articles, the actual number of published biomedical papers is probably even higher. Most biomedical researchers work in defined research areas, so perhaps only 1% of the published articles may be relevant for their research. As an example, the major focus of... Read more