Two stories of waiting. Does this ever happen to you? You read a story, and it just sticks with you. Over the past 2 weeks, I felt like I was repeatedly playing that Portlandian game “did you read…?” with the following: Story 1: ‘Babies-in-waiting’ First up is a brutally honest essay from the Wall Street Journal by a woman who flipped the script on societal / self-inflicted pressures to settle down and opted to cryopreserve her eggs in her late-30s.... Read more
Nsikan Akpan: ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm a science writer based in Brooklyn, but I was previously a molecular neuroscientist/pathologist (PhD, Columbia). After a stint as a PIO with the Center for Infection and Immunity, I'm now a medical writer with Medical Daily and the International Business Times.
Over the course of my graduate career, I studied how neurons commit suicide after a person has a stroke (and ways to convince them otherwise). Prior to CU, my other major research project involved Houdini-like parasites from South America, Tyrpanosoma cruzi, that gain access to our cells via a little ‘molecular sleight of hand’.
*All opinions expressed on the blog are my own and don't necessarily reflect the views of my employers.
Nsikan Akpan: All Posts
A historical investigation into the mysterious disease that haunted the famous evolutionary biologist. Week number 1 at the new job is complete, and I’m exhausted! I’ve written more pieces this week than I have in the past year, which led one of my buds to remark, “you are knocking these back at a crazy pace.” Too true, my friend. Too true. Some were good and others…well, ‘Lindsay Lohan’ counts as a health topic in her own special way, am I... Read more
How to use sound to beat illiteracy and age-related memory deficits. It’s debatable whether I would have graduated from college without The White Stripes. My study prep for every exam was accompanied by one of their tracks, played mercilessly on repeat. The song ‘Seven Nation Army’ is a perfect example. As it opened with its thumping, militaristic chords, I would drum on my desk, and my mind would automatically lock into whatever I was reading. While it’s easy to regard... Read more
Instead of writing a love letter to an ex, I wrote one to stem cells. My Dearest Stem Cells, When we first met in 2004, I couldn’t stand you. I was 18, a college junior, and finally learning to question the common scientific rhetoric, a rite of passage for becoming an “adult scientist”. You let the press and politicians make so much fuss about taking you from embryos, at a time when we knew so little about you. You stood... Read more
Earlier this week, I wrote a story for Scientific American, "Fiscal cliff" threatens to impede biomedical discoveries, which discussed the potential impact of the looming federal budget cuts on the health research industry in the U.S. As I recover from the adrenaline rush/dopamine overload that was triggered by publishing my first piece, I thought it’d be worthwhile to share a few factoids (with some related resources) that didn’t make it into the piece: Half a million The National Institutes... Read more
Autumn is “the season of sniffles”, especially here in Brooklyn. Once the temperature drops, I can’t help but notice all the coughs and sneezes that start emanating thru the early-morning din of my subway commute. Most of them are probably suffering from a common cold and will do so a handful of times throughout the year1. But have you ever wondered: if the common cold is so…common, why hasn’t a cure been found? Blame should be heaped upon rhinoviruses (the #1 cause of... Read more
Biogram Serotonin: Fertilizer For Your Patience & "Herbicide" For Your Liver (mirrored from here) Seeing the beauty in biology is easy. The earth’s canvass is painted with life…from the microscopic and abstract to the grand and inspiring. We are inundated with amazing images of life, some obvious, many obscure. To this end, That’s Basic Science is joining forces with Tessa Beligue Photography to bring you… Biogram: A Biology Photolog. In brief, Tess will provide the pretty pictures, and I’ll... Read more
After another hiatus, That’s Basic Science (TBS) is back and just in time for its 2nd year anniversary! (mirrored from here) Here’s what I was happening with me while I was away: I defended and edited my thesis! I was hired as a science writer by the Center for Infection & Immunity. Hooray! Gainful Employment! TBS landed its 100,000 visitor (and only 80,000 were my mom!) Over the next few weeks, I’ll unveil two new concepts for the blog: Biogram & Three... Read more
Llamas! (Llama glama) Llamas could be the clue to finding a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, according to virologists at University College London. By harnessing a peculiar quirk in the llama immune system, the researchers were able to generate a special antibody that broadly neutralized the most common HIV strains known to man. HIV infects a cell by using a special “key” that coats the virus, called “envelope protein”. In defense, humans will produce antibodies that stick to the... Read more
Liver damage caused by Tylenol is preventable, according to researchers from Harvard and MIT. The key to their cure involves microscopic tunnels that connect liver cells called “gap junctions”. Tylenol is a brand name for the pain-reliever acetaminophen, which is found in a variety of headache and cold medications. At a regular dose, liver enzymes easily process this drug into its beneficial components. However, a rogue liver enzyme – cytochrome P-450 E1 – takes about 5% of what’s ingested and... Read more