Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

My research mentor for most of my undergraduate career.

As an undergrad at UW, I was fortunate to work in James Thomson’s regenerative biology lab. Jamie (as he was fondly known) was the first cellular biologist in the world to derive the first set of human embryonic stem cell lines and in 2007, matched his previous brilliance with a new ability to program adult skin cells into becoming pluripotent stem cells. Although rather demure in nature, Jamie’s novel work catapulted him into not only the limelight of scientific endeavor but also the ire of certain conservatives as well. His breakthroughs were discussed in terms of not only medical impact and potential for progress but initiated tangents on moral and ethical guidelines. From the Bush administration to the Obama administration, regulating stem cell research is a topic still laced with obstacles and contrived of many ill-formed perspectives. The promise stem cells hold in terms of treatment towards many debilitating diseases on the face of planet today is boundless and immense—something I won’t even attempt to approach in this blog. Likewise, the amount of funding poured into such research endeavors stands to be astounding, especially if the president is allowed to lift the limit on how much funding can be provided. Continue reading

Of Hope and Hogwartz

I’ve been meaning to write this particular post for a while now. In the midst of getting ready for Grenada, and moving out of Madison, I haven’t fully had time to reflect on all that I’ve learned while I was out visiting with my girlfriend’s grandparents. They live in a massive retirement community spanning three counties  in Florida called The Villages intact with pools, movie theaters, communal squares, shops, golf courses and all of these places are accessible by golf carts…I’m probably not the only 23-year-old drooling over this palatial retirement resort.

We visited the Harry Potter portion at Universal Studios in Orlando. Hogsmeade is pictured above.

Over the week, I relished in the honor of getting to know my girlfriend’s grandmother, Peggy, very well. Her life in recent years has emerged as an overlapping case report of medical episodes. She suffers from peripheral neuropathy where she gradually continues to lose sensation in the tips of her fingers and toes. She also simultaneously suffers from diabetes type 2. After gaining sores in her feet from what would be only the second pedicure of her life, her life led into a downhill spiral full of doctor’s visits and treatments. As her sore was getting better on her right leg, doctors discovered a blood clot in that very leg. It might not have been so bad with diabetes alone but that compounded with 40 years of smoking history only served to exacerbate the situation. She had a catheter placed within her that delivered chemicals to diminish her clot. While the clot successfully lessened, severe immobility due to the placement of the catheter worsened her sores. It was only through rehab that she regained movement of her foot. Continue reading