Inaugural Issue I Volume I

Page 1


Microbiology and Immunology Program Research Interests 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.

Regulation of B lymphopoiesis during aging Generation of immune tolerance to human allogeneic kidney transplants Malaria, Leishmania Quality of the immune system in breast cancer patients in response to psychosocial intervention Neonatal immunity T Helper cell function in neonatal life Intestinal pathogens in neonatal life Autoimmune and inflammatory mechanisms in diabetes and cancer Defects in B cells, T cells and antigen-presenting cells Murine tumor models to develop multi-pronged approaches to potentiate vaccine- and naturally-induced antitumor immunity Personalized enzyme- based therapy for cancer of the pancreas, lungs, brain, colon, rectum, breast, head and neck Molecular genetics of hematopoietic stem cell differentiation Molecular genetics of stem cell self-renewal and maintenance Developmental biology and plasticity of hematopoietic stem cells Lupus and Type 1 diabetes but also to immunodeficiencies and B cell malignancies Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD) in models of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) Rejection of the marrow graft: The ‘barrier’ against stem cell and progenitor cell engraftment post-BMT Immunotherapy for Leukemia The ability to fix functions when killer lymphocytes are forced out of tune and overwhelmed by a continuously growing tumor or chronic infections such as HIV or Hepatitis B and C A unique mucin immunoenhancing peptide with antitumor properties Mammary tumor effects on thymic development and functions Impaired functions of macrophages from tumor bearing mice Role of tumor associated factors in the upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in T cells from tumor bearers Cytokine receptor regulation of T lymphocyte development, activation, and memory; T regulatory cells in suppression of autoimmunity Immunobiology of T regulatory cells The IL-2 receptor in T regulatory cell development T cell immunity and cytokine receptor signaling Memory T cells in tumor immunity Molecular mechanisms of viral carcinogenesis and angiogenesis activation by the Kaposi’s sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV) Identification of the viral G protein-coupled receptor as an angiogenic oncogene of KSHV Identification of Cyclooxygenase-2 as a mediator of vGPCR angiogenesis and tumorigenesis A cell and animal model of KSHV-mediated carcinogenesis Microbial pathogenesis, Transcriptional regulation Vaccine-induced memory CD4T cells and HIV reservoirs Antibody responses in HIV and aging Immune activation in virologically suppressed Indian HIV-Infected patients Molecular pathogenesis of Yersinia pestis Antigen cross presentation by chaperone gp96 to generate Cytotoxic T cells Regulating T Regulatory Cells with TNFRSF25 Membrane tethered Perforin-2 and control of intracellular killing Regulation of B Lymphocyte development and function in senescence Cellular microbiology Negative regulation of NF-κB and inflammation Mechanism of HTLV-1 Tax mediated NF-κB activation Negative regulation of JAK/STAT signaling pathway by HTLV-1 Tax Studies of TNF superfamily ligands as vaccine adjuvants for HIV, malaria, and cancer Construction and testing of molecular adjuvants that enhance replication-defective HIV or SIV attenuated virus vaccines Clinical study of therapeutic HIV vaccines containing antigen-loaded ex vivo derived dendritic cells Role of innate immunity and especially of macrophages in the interplay between a tumor and the host’s immune system

For more information please go to: www.facebook.com/microbiology.immunology https://advancement.miami.edu/netcommunity/sslpage.aspx?pid=1281 biomed.miami.edu/default.asp?p=199&s=71


Fall 2014 CONTENTS News

04

Ebola Timeline.................................................................04 Hurricane Season/Clostridia............................................06 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge................................................08

10

Articles

Mental Illness.......................................................................10 Pre-Med But No Med School..............................................13

Science through Photography 14 Corals Feature..........................................................................14

Freshman Advice

16

Research

22

Eat/Sleep/Grades......................................................................16 Your Health Your Wealth........................................................18 Top Ten Apps...........................................................................20

Journals

Why Should Undergrads do Research?/Blurbs..................22

24

Wilson/Lichtenheld..................................................................24

Ethics in Science

26

Food Science

34

Meducation................................................................................26 NAT Project...............................................................................28 Genomics...................................................................................30 Unwanted Guests.....................................................................32

Food Labels................................................................................34 Supplement Business..............................................................36

Opening

Table of Contents

Design by Savannah Geary

01


Editorial Advisor: Roger Williams, M.S. Ed. Editor-in-Chief: Victoria A. Pinilla Escobar Managing Editor: Jennifer V. Chavez Design Director: Michaela Larson Art Director: Mariana Braga Photo Editor: Mark Keroles Photo Editor: Natalia Beadle Copy Chief: Henry Mancao Copy Chief Assistant: Andrew Rubio Business Manager: Riva Trivedi Marketing Director: Pierrah Hillarie Distribution Manager: Priya Patel Public Relations: Khystel Bernard Articles Co-Editor: Sarah Poliquin Articles Co-Editor: Lauren Shahin Articles Writer: Valentina Suarez Innovations Editor: Zil Patel Innovations Writer: David Lin News Editor: Brandon DeSousa News Writer: Catherine Mulloor News Writer: Rick Lin Capturing Science Through Photography: Sara Friedfertig Ethics in Science Editor: Madiha Ahmed Ethics in Science Writer: Gabrielle Eisenberg Ethics in Science Writer: Barbara Puodzius Journals Editor: Rohan Badlani Journals Writer: Anum Hoodbhoy Journals Writer: Samuel Powell Food Science Editor: Renuka Ramchandran Food Science Writer: Faizah Shareef Food Science Writer: Elizabeth Foley Freshman Advice Editor: Kriti Sood Freshman Advice Writer: Michelle Xiong Freshman Advice Writer: Nicole Kloosternman Research Editor: Mirza Baig Research Writer: Dana Kajan Graphic Designers: Emily Russ Connor Verheyen Jiachuan Wu Savannah Geary Manuel Pozas


UMiami Scientifica Magazine Board of Faculty Advisors 2014-2015 Richard J. Cote, M.D., FRCPath, FCAP Professor and Joseph R. Coutler Jr. Chair, Department of Pathology Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Chief of Pathology, Jackson Memorial Hospital Director, Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Mathias G. Lichtenheld, M.D. Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology FBS 3 Coordinator University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine Eckhard R. Podack, M.D., Ph.D. Sylvester Distinguished Professor of Medicine Chairman, Department of Microbiology & Immunology University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Geoffrey Stone, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology Group Leader, HIV Immunotherapy Program Dodson Immunotherapy Institute Miami Center for AIDS Research Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Onur Tigli, Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr. John T. Macdonald Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNium) Department of Pathology Miller School of Medicine University of Miami

Thomas Goodman, Ph.D. Associate Professor-English Charles Mallery, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Biology and Cellular and Molecular Biology Associate Dean Leticia Oropesa, D.A. Coordinator Department of Mathematics Professor of Mathematics Marilyn Rodriguez, Ph.D. Lecturer Social Psychology, Attitudes and Persuasion, Experimental Personality and Social Psychology Geoff Sutcliffe, Ph.D. Chair Department of Computer Science Associate Professor of Computer Science Yunqiu (Daniel) Wang, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer Department of Biology Meryl Blau, M.A. Lecturer Portfolio Development/AAF Competition Sarai Nunez, M.A. Lecturer Graphic Design Randy Stano, M.A. Professor of Professional Practice in Journalism Adviser to the IBIS Yearbook and Distraction Magazine School of Communication

Michael S. Gaines, Ph.D. Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Research and Community Outreach Professor of Biology

Special Thanks To...

Michael T. French, Ph.D Professor of Health Economics Research Director and Senior Fellow Barbara Colonna, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer, Organic Chemistry

The College of Arts and Sciences The Microbiology & Immunology Department of the Miller School of Medicine The College of Engineering The Microbiology and Immunology Undergraduate Program


Letters to the Reader It is with great pride and profound enthusiasm that I introduce to you our first ever undergraduate scientific magazine at the University of Miami designed and written by students, UMiami Scientifica. Fifteen years ago, I began working in the Microbiology and Immunology Undergraduate Program and during this time I have witnessed the many passions that our students have had. Before my employment, I completed a Bachelor of Science in my department and later earned my Master’s degree in Higher Education with two certificates. It has been a learning experience to say the least but I am more than pleased with the quality and effort of all of our University’s students. I have advised a number of science and nonscience organizations on campus; however, this is my first role with a publication. I remember the day that our editor-in-chief, Victoria Pinilla, entered my office with this proposal. I’m sure, for a second, I was filled with some doubts about what I could contribute to this endeavor — but, as many of you may or may not know, I am not one to back away from a challenge. Interacting with our students and watching them develop into our future professionals and leaders makes me feel proud and optimistic. Interactions between students and students, and students and instructors are usually contained in the classroom or in an isolated place — with UMiami Scientifica, active scientific inquiry can and will occur in any location. Picture this: Mr. Microbiology is sitting on the steps of the Cox Science Building reading Scientifica when all of a sudden Ms. Sociology walks by and asks, “What are you doing?” In that split second, an isolated moment has now turned into an interdisciplinary experience. Mr. Microbiology and Ms. Sociology engage in conversation regarding a recent news item and both are able to share their specialized perspectives. As a child, I remember requesting a subscription to Popular Science Magazine, and I was always amazed and intrigued about what was occurring and what the future would hold. Many of those very things have come to pass but there is still so much more that lies ahead of us. Sometimes, genius can be found in random thoughts, mistakes and active discussion. Scientific discovery can happen on purpose, by accident or in a dream, and I hope that this publication is a way for these ideas to be explored. This is how I picture UMiami Scientifica Magazine and I will encourage and reinforce our amazing students to aim for the stars while keeping a steady eye on the ground ahead.

College is typically a time where we, as students, discover who we are as individuals. However, while we navigate through this process, we sometimes fall into the trap of trying to fit in — whether it is in a social group, sport, campus organization, the Greek system or even in academics. I have to say that it took me a while until I was able to find my voice and learn that we are meant not to fit in, but to be ourselves. For the two years I worked for the Ibis Yearbook, I really enjoyed being part of the team. When I became the Academics Editor, I was extremely excited for the opportunity to create the content that would be in the 2014 book. I was working on the medical school spread when I made the decision that led to Scientifica. I decided to include the HIV vaccine mechanism that was making national headlines. As I proposed my idea to the managing editor, I slowly realized that the mechanism did not belong in a yearbook. I began to ponder where it belonged and realized that our university did not have an appropriate platform. After going to my science lectures, I realized the mechanism needed its own platform. Scientifica Magazine was created as a platform to spark the curiosity and cultivate the ingenuity of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). After gaining the support of my advisor and friend, Roger Williams, I began to develop the idea into a reality. Currently, Scientifica is composed of 44 students from over 15 different majors from the School of Business, College of Arts and Science, Education, Architecture, and School of Communications. The students are advised by a group of 17 faculty members who comprise our magazine’s board of faculty advisors. Even though it has been challenging getting approved by the Board of Publications, becoming a COSO recognized group, and getting the funds for our magazine, in the span of two months we have planned, created and finalized the issue you are about to read. Volume I, Issue I of the first undergraduate scientific magazine at the University of Miami contains works ranging from freshman advice on how to balance eating, sleeping and grades, to the ethics of treating livestock with antibiotics — a practice that may eventually harm us. This magazine is the result of the hard work of some of UM’s brightest minds — that being said, I hope you enjoy our first issue!

Enjoy this issue!

Sincerely,

Editorial Advisor Roger I. Williams Jr., M.S. Ed. Director, Student Activities/Laboratory Coordinator/ Academic Advisor

Victoria Pinilla Editor-in-Chief

Editorials

Letter to the Reader


The Ebola Crisis Ebola is a rare but fatal hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus. There have been multiple outbreaks of this virus from as early as 1976, but this year has seen the highest number of deaths from the virus. Currently, the CDC reports about 5,000 people have died from this virus in this year alone. This dramatic increase has led to a slight panic and paranoia worldwide. There is some comfort in the fact that the Ebola virus is spread only through the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. It is not spread through food, water or air. Currently the most widespread cases are in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Based on these facts, it might seem disorienting that the virus could have made it to all the way to the United States. After all, the symptoms of the virus include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases both internal and external bleeding. Consequently, an infected patient would have a difficult time traveling. However, the first patients treated for the Ebola virus in the United States were two doctors working for aid groups in Liberia. Dr. Brantly and Dr. Writebol were administered an experimental treatment called ZMapp. It works by binding to the virus and helping the immune system recognize it as an infected agent, ultimately eradicating the virus. They were then flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and were later released, Ebola-free. Perhaps the most famous case of Ebola in the United States is Thomas Eric Duncan, who came to the United States from Liberia to visit his family. On

September 26, he went to Texas Presbyterian Health Hospital in Dallas because he had a fever, but he was sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol. A couple days later he returns to the hospital, is diagnosed with Ebola, and is isolated. Duncan later died in the same hospital. However, that was not the end of the story. It was later found that two nurses, Pham and Vinson, were exposed to the virus while treating Duncan. Vinson took a commercial airline from Cleveland to Dallas while she was experiencing a fever. This led to a slight panic due to the large number of people on that flight that could have been exposed to the virus. She was then taken to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where she was diagnosed with Ebola and subsequently flown to Emory University Hospital. Both nurses were treated with blood plasma transfusions from Dr. Brantly and Dr. Writebol and were released 13 days after diagnosis (Kroll). So far, every person infected with the disease in the United States has been treated and is now virus-free. If you are still worried about protecting yourself or others, Dr. Goldschmidt (Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine) offers three suggestions: 1 Don’t travel to countries in West Africa affecting by the Ebola virus, for academic or personal reasons, unless it is absolutely unavoidable 2 Wash your hands often 3 Get a flu shot because Ebola training is a precaution, but the flu is a certainty and it kills at least 3,000 Americans every year.

Design By: Michaela Larson & Jennifer Chavez

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Ice Buckets for ALS T

by Brandon Desousa

aking the nation by storm, the ALS ice bucket challenge helped spread awareness of the horrible disease. According to The ALS Association, the Ice Bucket challenge has raised over $115 million since July 29th. Pouring icedwater over our heads seems like a small cost for the amount of money raised, and awareness spread. The rules of the challenge state that, if challenged, a participant must publicly post a video where they pour a bucket of iced-water over their head. In this video, the participants must then challenge three others to partake in the challenge. The catch: the challenge must be completed within twenty-four hours of being challenged. If not completed in a timely manner, the challenger then is obligated to donate $100 to an ALS foundation of their choice. By adding rules, the act of spreading awareness is made fun. The Ice Bucket challenge has been coined as this summer’s “Harlem Shake”. While the Ice bucket challenge was more concerned with raising awareness and money, the fun factor involved makes comparing it to the harlem shake a no brainer. All games aside, do people actually know what ALS is? Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the hall of fame baseball player who had the disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to progressive muscle deterioration and weakness. ALS may currently be affecting around 30,000 Americans and is considered to be the most commonly occurring neurodegenerative disease. Victims of ALS tend to begin noticing symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60. These symptoms may include things like obvious muscle weakness, trouble swallowing, and impaired use of arms and legs. Most people don’t live past two years following the onset of symptoms. Photography by Mark Kerroles

04

NEWS

Ice Buckets for ALS

As horrible as this disease sounds, it actually


The Role of Cultural Background in

Mental Illness Although there is an enduring stigma associated with mental illness, mental illness is nearly as broad a category as physical illness and has many contributing factors. Just as the foods you eat and amount of exercise you get can influence your physical health, variables such as cultural background and family support have a profound effect on mental illnesses. Interestingly enough, in developed countries such as the United States, mental health patients tend to fare worse compared to countries in which a traditional culture is still prevalent. -Sarah Poliquin

been fascinated by culture’s influence on psychological In a paper by Dr. Harriet Lefley, a psychologist disorders since 1989. She said the reason for these at the University of Miami, states that 37 percent of variances comes down to the difference between schizophrenia patients in industrialized countries individualistic and collectivist have full remission and are cultures. Individualistic nearly three times as likely cultures, of which Angloto have impaired functioning America is a prime example, compared to less developed place great emphasis on places, in which the remission independence and individual rate averages 63 percent. Family responsibility. A person is care has a lot to do with this expected to do all things discrepancy. While the focus on themselves and should not rely deinstitutionalization has forced on others, because the outcome families in the US to take on a of nearly anything — good more active role in caring for or bad — is believed to be mental patients, only 34 percent within the individual’s control. of people with schizophrenia live Collectivist cultures, on the with their families, compared other hand, view individuals as to 88 percent in India and 90 part of a whole. One’s family percent in China. Ethnicity also members are an extension plays an important role in the of themselves, there is US — European Americans are responsibility towards others, much less likely to take care of and — importantly — people a mentally ill family member at are willing to receive aid. When home, compared to any other a person develops a mental ethnic group. illness, especially a severe one Dr. Amy Weisman, from such as schizophrenia, they are Above: the psychology department at the University of Miami, has Dr. Amy Wiseman from the Department

of Psychology of the University of Miami

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Articles

Mental Illness


likely to become more dependent on others. Lefley wrote, “In individualistic cultures, the realization that one is unable to perform former functions, that one needs help from others, is a critical issue in all disabilities.” Additionally, collectivist cultures are more likely to attribute mental illness to external sources such as the supernatural to avoid harming the reputation of the family. Collectivist cultures, which include East Asians and Hispanics, are more likely to have a close-knit extended family, in contrast to the Western nuclear family. A large family that emphasizes support for each other not only provides more care for a person suffering from a mental illness but also tends to provide care that is more positive. Psychologists use a variable called “expressed emotion,” or EE, which refers to the way that primary caregivers speak to the patient. High EE means that the family tends to express their frustration with the person, lay blame on them, see them as a burden and otherwise speak negatively. Families with low EE, meanwhile, either do not have as many of these sorts of thoughts or do not voice them (though repressing those emotions can be harmful as well). In general, individualistic cultures have higher EE — possibly due to the increased responsibility on the fewer caretakers in addition to the expectations of the culture — and this negativity and viewing themselves as a burden can stress patients. Stress is one of the main predictors of the outcome of psychological disorders, with higher stress being correlated with poorer outcomes. Relatedly, the way in which society perceives people with mental illnesses affects development and recovery. In some cultures, there is “less pressure for performance and more tolerance for subtle deviance,” Weisman said. If a person acts a little out of the ordinary and claims to talk to

spirits, it may not be considered worrisome and even might be taken as a sign of otherworldly favor in some cultures. Acceptance allows people with illnesses to maintain their involvement in the community as much as possible, while also experiencing a wider range of suitable contributions; they are not being pressured to live alone and get an office job. Community involvement is beneficial for many mental illnesses — especially for schizophrenia, because most symptoms are negative in the sense that normal behaviors decrease, in contrast to development of new behaviors, which is known as positive symptoms. Importantly, the violence rate of people with schizophrenia is negligibly higher than that of the general population. All of these factors are brought into consideration by culturally informed treatment, a method of psychotherapy that Weisman said massages cultural beliefs and tries to incorporate characteristics of traditional cultures. The therapist talks to the entire family and helps them adjust their pre-existing views and values to most benefit the patient and the family. Weisman related an example of a Cuban family who was struggling because their son had schizophrenia and was withdrawing from activities. Before the onset of the disease, the father and son used to love playing chess together, so the therapist encouraged that the family resume that tradition and then continue with other involvements, which helped the son to go into remission. Though industrialized countries have better access to mental health resources, people with mental illnesses surprisingly often fare worse than in developing countries. This is because mental health is heavily influenced by societal values and family care. Culturally informed therapy considers the factors that are related to the most success and attempts to bring these ideas into the treatments used in developed countries.

Factors Contributing to Recovery • • • • • •

Society and family have a responsibility towards others Individuals are willing to recieve help Large extended family Low expressed emotion Attribution to external variables Acceptance from community

Design by Emily Russ & Mariana Braga

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Disease Facts • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. • Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. turns out that most of the money being donated does not go to ALS research, but is actually split to cover several expenses within the ALS Association. When people donate to something like the ALS Association, they tend to assume that most, if not all, of their money is directly benefiting ALS research.

• About 20% of people with ALS live five years or more, up to 10 percent will live more than 10 years, and 5 % will live 20 years.

Michael Strupp, a sophomore business student, partook in the ice bucket challenge after being challenged by a friend. When he missed the 24 hour cutoff to respond, Michael committed to also donating $100 to the ALS Association, in addition to pouring a bucket of ice on his head. Michael suggested that “It felt like the right thing to do”. Along with spreading awareness and taking part in the challenge, he wanted to contribute from his own pocket. He was unaware that only about $28 of what he donated would actually be directly benefiting ALS research. According to a figure posted by the ALSA detailing their financial expenditure, only about 28% of all money being donated actually funds ALS research. “It’s a shame that so little of what I donated is actually going towards research,” citing that he donated mostly to benefit research endeavors. While 28% of all funds is still a rather sizable contribution, it is only a small fraction of what is being donated.

• Regardless of what body part is directly affected, muscular weakness will eventually spread to other areas of the body.

Based on the financial reports available on the ALSA website, 7% of funding is allocated to administration salaries. In addition to this, an additional $3.6 million is spent on “other salaries and wages”, and half a million is spent on “pension plans” and “employee benefits

• ALS does not affect any of the five senses. • According to ALSA, research is needed to understand the mechanism of motor

Donating to the ALSA supports a great cause and the response that the ice bucket challenge has created has definitely been overwhelmingly positive. There are many other places to donate for the cause, including our own University of Miami ALS Fund. To learn more about ALS, visit ALSA.com, or als-research.org, a website detailing ALS work done at the University of Miami. ▪

Why did YOU do the ice bucket challenge? Tatiana del Valle Industrial Engineering ‘17 “I decided to do the ice bucket challenge because I thought it would properly raise awareness to an issue that no one was really paying attention to”

Nitya Ramalingam Biochemistry ‘17 “I took the challenge because I thought it was a great way to raise awareness, and I thought the videos were interesting too!”

Design by Emily Russ

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Hurricane Season

- Yeh Shiuan (Rick) Lin

T

he wicked season has hit. As June approaches, people start pondering on whether a hurricane will hit this year. The hurricane season begins in June 1st and lasts until November 30th. University of Miami is located in South Florida, a region that is particularly prone to being hit by a hurricane. Therefore, several factors should be taken into consideration such as hurricane predictions and hurricane precautions to take. For instance, tracking predictability is a major portion of the research that is being done on hurricanes. Scientists are constantly researching about hurricanes, particularly on tracking predictability. The tracking predictability is mainly how the public checks whether a hurricane is approaching their area on the National Hurricane center website. Dr. Shuyi Chen, a professor in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science here at the University of Miami, studies tracking hurricane predictability among other areas. She said, “We are looking at shorter term, for instance, several days.” She uses a very high-resolution model to make these predictions for the next few days. Dr. Chen mentioned that as the time period becomes longer, the predictability becomes less accurate. Despite of this, Dr. Chen said better computer models and expansion of knowledge would help with predictability over a longer term. Another way Dr. Chen performs her research is observing hurricanes from an airplane. The purpose of this method is to observe certain regions of the oceans and understand why particular regions have a higher likelihood of a hurricane intensifying. Last year, a quiet hurricane season existed. The NOAA predicted that there was going to be a very active season

08

NEWS

Article Title

Destruction from hurricane Sandy Courtesy of Federal Emergency Management Agency Photo Cred: Ryan Courtade

in 2013. However, the season turned out to be one of the quietest. Dr. Chen mentions that this shows the level of difficulty scientists have with predicting longer-term hurricane seasons. Many suspect that the reason for this is that global warming is worsening. The building of warmer and drier air over the Atlantic Ocean causes the atmosphere is become more stable. Therefore, tropical storms are not likely to form in this type of condition. “The size of the hurricane determines its strength.” That is one of the most common myths about hurricanes. Certainly an abundant of other myths also exists. Has anyone told you that you should open your windows during a hurricane to let the air flow easier? That simply just allows air to come into the house and may “inflate” your home. Dr. Chen also mentions another common myth is that predictability of the long term is better than predicting hurricanes during the short term. However, the truth to that is that there are better models to predict hurricanes for the next several days compared to predicting the hurricane for the next several months. Another common misconception about hurricanes is the comparison between hurricanes and tornados. Which one do you think has a higher wind speed? The answer is that tornados have speeds up to 300 mph, while hurricanes have only up to 190 mph. That is definitely a big gap between the two. Remember always be prepared to encounter a hurricane and if it is hurricane season keep an eye out on the forecast particularly because forecasts are more accurate for the short term. ▪


Clostridia & Food Allergies - Brandon

R

esearchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center have identified a class of bacteria in the gut, called Clostridia, through studies with mice. The role that Clostridia plays in the gut is that it reduces allergen exposure and sensitization. While the fundamental mechanisms behind allergies are relatively unknown, scientists believe that the identification of this bacteria might be a step in the direction of better understanding and treating food allergies. Scientists believe that it is our evolving lifestyles that have led to coevolution amongst the microbiota that help sustain us. Senior author, Cathryn Nagler, PhD, blames modern practices such as caesarean births and formula feeding as the reasons for why food allergies may be present in some individuals. Modern practices lead to food allergies due to deviation from natural development. This is because most of the microbiota responsible for food allergies is obtained naturally through processes like childbirth and breast feeding. The team that is currently researching on the identification of Clostridia has also discovered that it induces an immune response that prevents allergens from entering the bloodstream. To ensure that it was actually the Clostridia that was re-

Desousa

sponsible for providing protection from allergens, Nagler and her team studied lab mice. The team studied responses resulting from exposure to food allergens of mice, some germ-free and some treated with antibiotics. When compared to Clostridia-carrying mice, the Clostridia-free mice possessed a greater presence of antibodies as a result of a stronger immunological response. Following identification of Clostridia as the bacteria for allergen protection, researchers sought to explore the mechanism behind the protection. Through genetic analysis, Nagler and her team discovered that Clostridia induced the production of interleukin-22 (IL-22) by innate immune cells. IL22 is responsible for decreasing the permeability of the intestinal lining. By doing so, the Clostridia is ultimately preventing allergens from entering the bloodstream. Understanding the biological impact that Clostridia has on digestion provides scientists with information that can potentially spark a medical breakthrough. Potential therapeutic options may begin to open as we continue to learn more. This can range from treatments to preventative measures. Considering the widespread impact of food allergies, it is imperative to research different treatments and alternatives in controlling or even eliminating the allergen. Clostridia can be a new breakthrough in accomplishing this goal.

Design by Emily Russ

03


The Role of Cultural Background in

Mental Illness Although there is an enduring stigma associated with mental illness, mental illness is nearly as broad a category as physical illness and has many contributing factors. Just as the foods you eat and amount of exercise you get can influence your physical health, variables such as cultural background and family support have a profound effect on mental illnesses. Interestingly enough, in developed countries such as the United States, mental health patients tend to fare worse compared to countries in which a traditional culture is still prevalent. -Sarah Poliquin

been fascinated by culture’s influence on psychological In a paper by Dr. Harriet Lefley, a psychologist disorders since 1989. She said the reason for these at the University of Miami, states that 37 percent of variances comes down to the difference between schizophrenia patients in industrialized countries individualistic and collectivist have full remission and are cultures. Individualistic nearly three times as likely cultures, of which Angloto have impaired functioning America is a prime example, compared to less developed place great emphasis on places, in which the remission independence and individual rate averages 63 percent. Family responsibility. A person is care has a lot to do with this expected to do all things discrepancy. While the focus on themselves and should not rely deinstitutionalization has forced on others, because the outcome families in the US to take on a of nearly anything — good more active role in caring for or bad — is believed to be mental patients, only 34 percent within the individual’s control. of people with schizophrenia live Collectivist cultures, on the with their families, compared other hand, view individuals as to 88 percent in India and 90 part of a whole. One’s family percent in China. Ethnicity also members are an extension plays an important role in the of themselves, there is US — European Americans are responsibility towards others, much less likely to take care of and — importantly — people a mentally ill family member at are willing to receive aid. When home, compared to any other a person develops a mental ethnic group. illness, especially a severe one Dr. Amy Weisman, from such as schizophrenia, they are Above: the psychology department at the University of Miami, has Dr. Amy Wiseman from the Department

of Psychology of the University of Miami

14

Articles

Mental Illness


likely to become more dependent on others. Lefley wrote, “In individualistic cultures, the realization that one is unable to perform former functions, that one needs help from others, is a critical issue in all disabilities.” Additionally, collectivist cultures are more likely to attribute mental illness to external sources such as the supernatural to avoid harming the reputation of the family. Collectivist cultures, which include East Asians and Hispanics, are more likely to have a close-knit extended family, in contrast to the Western nuclear family. A large family that emphasizes support for each other not only provides more care for a person suffering from a mental illness but also tends to provide care that is more positive. Psychologists use a variable called “expressed emotion,” or EE, which refers to the way that primary caregivers speak to the patient. High EE means that the family tends to express their frustration with the person, lay blame on them, see them as a burden and otherwise speak negatively. Families with low EE, meanwhile, either do not have as many of these sorts of thoughts or do not voice them (though repressing those emotions can be harmful as well). In general, individualistic cultures have higher EE — possibly due to the increased responsibility on the fewer caretakers in addition to the expectations of the culture — and this negativity and viewing themselves as a burden can stress patients. Stress is one of the main predictors of the outcome of psychological disorders, with higher stress being correlated with poorer outcomes. Relatedly, the way in which society perceives people with mental illnesses affects development and recovery. In some cultures, there is “less pressure for performance and more tolerance for subtle deviance,” Weisman said. If a person acts a little out of the ordinary and claims to talk to

spirits, it may not be considered worrisome and even might be taken as a sign of otherworldly favor in some cultures. Acceptance allows people with illnesses to maintain their involvement in the community as much as possible, while also experiencing a wider range of suitable contributions; they are not being pressured to live alone and get an office job. Community involvement is beneficial for many mental illnesses — especially for schizophrenia, because most symptoms are negative in the sense that normal behaviors decrease, in contrast to development of new behaviors, which is known as positive symptoms. Importantly, the violence rate of people with schizophrenia is negligibly higher than that of the general population. All of these factors are brought into consideration by culturally informed treatment, a method of psychotherapy that Weisman said massages cultural beliefs and tries to incorporate characteristics of traditional cultures. The therapist talks to the entire family and helps them adjust their pre-existing views and values to most benefit the patient and the family. Weisman related an example of a Cuban family who was struggling because their son had schizophrenia and was withdrawing from activities. Before the onset of the disease, the father and son used to love playing chess together, so the therapist encouraged that the family resume that tradition and then continue with other involvements, which helped the son to go into remission. Though industrialized countries have better access to mental health resources, people with mental illnesses surprisingly often fare worse than in developing countries. This is because mental health is heavily influenced by societal values and family care. Culturally informed therapy considers the factors that are related to the most success and attempts to bring these ideas into the treatments used in developed countries.

Factors Contributing to Recovery • • • • • •

Society and family have a responsibility towards others Individuals are willing to recieve help Large extended family Low expressed emotion Attribution to external variables Acceptance from community

Design by Emily Russ & Mariana Braga

15


Coral

Fluorescence

The Deep-Sea Rave

With

calcareous skeletons that serve—quite literally—as the building blocks of our beloved city, corals hold eminent importance not only in their native oceanic ecosystems, but also in our land-based society as well. Yet, when given the blue-light spotlight, they double as some of the most aesthetically appealing and photogenic creatures under the sea. Reminiscent of psychedelia, certain corals have been observed to emit fluorescent light that warp them into beautifully intense, seemingly-extraterrestrial organisms. Moreover, studies are in the midst of proving the phenomenon’s potential applications in the biomedical industry, catalyzing progress in both Alzheimer’s and cancer research. But the question of the fluorescence remains: why?

Mycetophyllia spp. plain white light. The reason? Pure biological science. Coral pigmentation is nothing more than a product of zooxanthellae, which are the photosynthetic algae that live in their tissues. The zoox provide each coral with oxygen, glucose, glycerol, and amino acids (yielding the corals’ renowned production of calcium carbonate) as well as aid in waste removal in return for a safe environment and the compounds needed for photosynthesis. The relationship is certainly a visible one: under stress, when the zooxanthellae are expelled by the coral’s polyps, its color fades to white—a phenomenon known as “coral bleaching.”

Coral reefs are already known to boast an entire spectrum of bright colors in

Mycetophyllia spp.

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Capturing Science in Photography

Coral Fluorescence


However, even with thriving zooxanthellae, their daylight colors dull in comparison to the neon vibrance that emanates from certain corals when the light is tinted blue, nearing ultraviolet wavelengths. Here’s how it works: when encountered, electrons turn photons of light into energy. Specific zoox pigments absorb some of this light; but when said electrons are excited, they “level up” to a higher energy state and must emit a given amount of light in order to return to their normal, stable energy level. The radiated light produces the electric, fluorescent colors that light up even the darkest depths

of

the

sea.

Zoanthus spp.

The above-pictured paragons of this marine fluorescence phenomenon were saved and are presently being nursed by the University of Miami’s own Aquarium Club (UMAC). The organization is run by a group of dedicated students who share a common passion for and curiosity about marine life. They invest a great deal of time and effort in the maintenance of the university’s tanks and go as far as offering advice and insight to those wishing to keep their own aquaria. ▪

- Sara Friedfertig UMAC’s Vice President, Sam May, is one of the proud maintainers of our campus’s aquaria and is to be thanked for his efforts in rescuing many endangered/threatened marine organisms from the Port of Miami’s Deep Dredge Project, including the ones featured here. To learn more, visit http:// umaquariumclub.weebly.com. Photography by Sara Friedfertig

Design by Emily Russ, & Mariana Braga

15


Social Life, Good Grades & Sleep... ...Can we really have it all?

The transition from high school to college should not be underestimated. In college, professors have syllabuses, which become both your guideline and your lifeline for the semester. This means that you have free reign over how to approach the class and when to read the lectures, practice the material and study for exams. Sometimes your grade for the class is determined only by three exams. This means that you have those three chances to prove that you mastered the material. When students are freshmen, they worry the most about their grades. If we spend so much time stressing over grades, how will we get time to make friends, be social and — most importantly — sleep? In many cases, people are told to choose two of the three options. But from my own experience, I can tell you that having all three can be a reality. All three aspects are vital in college and in life. Your GPA is important because it is integral to your future schooling — but without sleep, your health is at risk, and without a social life, college will not be as memorable. One of the most important techniques for students to learn is time management. If you actually use the university-provided agenda and set academic and personal goals and deadlines, then you eliminate all factors that drive you to succumb to bad habits. You are given your schedule at the beginning of the year, so take that information and plan out how you are going to play the semester. Setting due dates for your short-term goals will be extremely beneficial because you will reduce the possibility of procrastinating, which means no allnighters for you. So, while your peers are overusing the Starbucks across Richter, you can sleep peacefully or go out with friends the night before an exam or due date.

Rachel Johnson (Class of 2014): Computer Science

Rachel Johnson is a Computer science major in her senior year at the University of Miami. She is involved in her Tri Delta sorority, Relay for Life, and Miami Motion. If you were to give freshmen a piece of advice, what would it be? Throughout life, I was so focused on working hard to get into a good high school and to get into a good college. So I would definitely say be willing to try new things. The world is your playground and there are endless possibilities. Be willing to explore the unknown. How do you balance going to sorority events and managing your academic life? The good thing with sorority events is that you know what is planned out well in advanced. It is really structured in that I know every Monday night I have a meeting. A lot of times it can seem overwhelming to have all of these philanthropic or social events and manage your academic life, but a good tip is to choose the one you most want to go to. It is not necessary to go to all of them. If you don’t have time to attend the entire event, then just showing up for a short while is still beneficial. We take study breaks as it is, might as well do something that makes a difference for the community in that short time.

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Freshman Advice

Eat, Sleep, Good Grades


Ethan Homedi (Class of 2016): Neuroscience Ethan Homedi is a Neuroscience major in his sophomore year, (although he plans to graduate early), he is involved in Camp Kesem as a volunteer coordinator, participates in research in the neuroscience department, as well as Phi Delta Epsilon as the community service chair. What do you miss most about freshman year? I would say that I miss the “blank slate” nature of the entire year the most. Who we were or what we did in high school has little influence over the kind of students we could become in college. Of course, this could work as both a positive or a negative, depending on what one decides to do in his or her first year. But I certainly believe that our high school selves were no longer who we felt that we had to be in college. For instance, I was an incredibly shy and reserved individual in high school, only really focusing on my academics. And while I thrived academically because of that, I lost the ability to form a lot of close friendships that I could have had had I been a bit more open and better with budgeting my time. Freshman year here at UM allowed me to realize this, and as such, I felt the drive to become the person

that I wanted to be. I learned to balance classes with extracurriculars and friendships, and as a result, I feel like a more well-rounded, balanced individual. It was only through the essential limitlessness of freshman year that I believe this change could have been made. What was the most valuable? The most valuable thing I took away from freshman year was to try everything at least once. Obviously this does not extend to anything illicit, but I do believe that it is beneficial to step outside of your comfort zone or area of familiarity whenever presented with the chance to do so. You may realize that whatever you tried just wasn’t for you, and that’s okay; if you hadn’t tried it at all, you wouldn’t know whether you would’ve liked it or not. For instance, I was dragged to my first Camp Kesem meeting by a friend; I had little interest in doing this camp and “sacrificing” a few weeks of my summer to come back to Miami early to attend the camp. However, after attending a few more meetings, I fell in love with the organization, and here I am now, one year later, on the executive board for it. This one specific example just proves to show that preconceived notions are hardly ever true, so I really would encourage each and every freshman to keep an open mind and explore everything UM has to

Kayla Etienne (Class of 2017): Biomedical Engineering Kayla Etienne is a Biomedical Engineering major in her sophomore year at UM, she is involved in many off campus art expositions, NSBE, UDoodle, and practices Taekwondo.

Knowing what you know now, what would you say to your freshman year self? I came into college thinking that I could do the same amount of studying I did in high school, and still pass. It took a couple of bad grades for me to wake up and realize that being here required so much more of me. I would tell myself to freak out less--to study more, and to be okay with the adjustment from high school to college. It’s very different. It was also hard to adjust, because I denied myself gym time-which is important for me--so go to the gym! Finally, breathe. Perfection is not real--we learn from our mistakes and we keep going. Your first F is not the end of the world, you can come back from it. The curve is your best friend. Failing is not the end of the world-- failing that very first quiz in college-- it’ll hurt, but you aren’t the same straight-A student from high

school. Make use of your resources, go to tutoring, go to your professor’s office hours. As long as you catch yourself, things will work out. My dad always tells me that its not how you fail, its how you pick yourself back up. Oh, and take more naps--that’s important too. How do you maintain a perfect balance? A lot of my friends are from the STEM field, so when one person is suffering, we are all suffering-and we all understand each other. It helps to just take a break-- even when you think you can’t afford it, or don’t have the time, because that is when you need that break the most. Sometimes during my freshman year, I would just sit in the gliders outside of Stanford with my sketch book and just draw. Of course, it was time I could’ve spent studying, but, it was also time I needed to myself. I also realized after trying to pull a couple of all-nighters that they weren’t all that smart. Staying up until 2, when your exam is at 8 won’t help you learn the material any better-- it’ll only make you that much more anxious. I find time for myself, I sleep well, I go to the gym, try to limit my junk food intake and I make sure I spend time with family and friends.

Design by Jennifer Chavez & Michaela Larson

15


Your Health = Your Wealth by Michelle Xiong

Alexandra Golovac is a University of Miami graduate and currently conducts her own practice as a personal trainer and fitness nutritionist. She is also a spin class instructor at the University of Miami Wellness Center. Alexandra Golovac graduated from the University of Miami 3 years ago and has her own practice while also working at the Wellness Center as a spin class instructor. Photo by Conrad Golovac conradgolovac.com

Q:

Weight is definitely a major concern for college students. What is your plan for students for maintaining their proper weight?

A: The most effective way that will last you a lifetime is eating with proper nutrition. It's the best way to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight or to even gain weight.

A: It's the dressing. If you get it bottled, it is usually filled with chemicals, so when I work with my clients, salads are not always on their meal plan. Some natural dressing you can put on your salad is vinegar and lime or lemon juice. Dairy is part of the new MyPlate and a delicious addition to your plate. Photo by Michelle Xiong

Q: Food options are a struggle especially on campus. Are there any tips you can give to our students for choosing what is healthy on the menu?

Q: Not everyone lives on campus and it's a struggle to put time into the gym, so are there any tips or tricks for those who can't?

A: Always look for vegetables and fruit and fill your plate with that first so you will have less room for other fillers such as chips. Go for the salad bar if the place has one, or sautĂŠed vegetables and lean protein, which would include eggs, lean ground turkey, chicken breasts or any part of the chicken, or seafood. The rest of your plate should be be whole grains so avoid all the white pastas and go for the full grains like brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and sweet potatoes.

A: Well one of the great things at the University of Miami is that your tuition includes gym membership here, so you always have access to it. It is difficult to set aside time with busy schedules, but you have to make it a part of your life. That is something I always teach my clients and want to instill in people. If you have a pretty active lifestyle, 60 minutes of active work every day is enough to maintain a good weight and health. Honestly, there are no easy tricks to it.

Golovac suggest to fill your plate with vegetables first. Photo by Michelle Xiong

18

Q: There have been articles that have said the salads can be the worst options on the menu. Why is that?

Freshman Advice

Your Health= Your Wealth


Q: What are some at-home workouts that anyone can do?

Q: What have you seen people do incorrectly at the gym?

A: You can always do intensity workouts with your own body weight to get your heart rate up at more than just a medium level. A good base time to start on is 25 minutes of one minute on high intensity and 30 seconds off for rest. You can do jumping jacks, high knees, burpies, pushups, and bicycle kicks. You want to break a sweat because you want to know you're doing something a tive and good for yourself.

A: I've seen many people lift weights that are not in their proper form and stance so most likely they will have an injury whether it's right now or it's 10 to 15 years from now. A lot of back and knee injuries can happen or you can pull a muscle or strain a shoulder. Crossfit is a big thing that has come up in the past 5 years, and many injuries have occurred by compromising their backs and knees rather than going down a weight level and first achieving that weight. It is important to research how to do these and practice.

Q: Motivation and getting started is a key factor. What is some advice you can give for those starting out?

Q: Do you recommend any websites or resources to start off?

A: Have a goal in mind like if it's a certain physique or weight or whatever it is, small or big. Reach it! Once you've reached it, then set another one. Always try to prove to yourself that you can do it and when you've done it, you feel satisfied. I don't like anything that has a negative connotation to it for example “I'm going to eat well for five days and have two cheat days”. A bad way of reaching these goals is not eating or exercising for hours on end. Make sure to stay on an achievable long-term plan. You may reach your goal of losing 5 pounds for only doing it for five days, but you're not continuing on the path to reach your next goal. It's all part of a lifestyle.

A: Bodybuilding.com is wonderful website. It's not necessarily going to make you a body builder, but they have videos and written instructions on how to properly do a squat and bicep curl. They also have nutrition on there as well, but it is geared more towards muscle mass and bodybuilding. I have the NikeTraining app, which is free. It does the videos with you and structures different workouts that use body weight for 25-45 minutes.

Q: Does the MyPlate also include foods like pizza and implicate you can have junk foods in certain portions? A: There are no processed foods or anything like sugar or sweets, which the previous pyramid had at the top. MyPlate is focusing on whole, real foods meaning these foods have not been processed and are whole in their nutrition. Processed foods are man-made and are foodlike items, which is what I like to say, rather than real food. It may be satisfying for you for a little bit by giving your body the calories it wants or needs, but it's not giving you the nutrition. Golovac explains why sleep is so important. Photo by Michelle Xiong

“Sleep is where all the work you have done comes into play.” Q: What's your advice on sleep? A: You have to do it. Everyone is a little different but definitely get within from 5-8 hours. One of the things people say is, "I'm not losing weight," or "I'm not gaining muscle mass," and it's because you might not be sleeping. Sleep is where all the work you have done comes into play. MyPlate is a new icon that intends to promote building a healthy plate for meals. Photo Credit: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/print-materials-ordering/ graphic-resources.html

Design by Mariana Braga and Emily Russ

19


There’s an app for that! College students now are definitely a technology-oriented generation and to keep up with the demanding workload, the following applications are a few suggested tools to cut down on the smaller tasks, so you can focus more on the bigger tasks. If you want to coordinate your social media into a streamlined automation, there’s an app for that! If you want fast solutions for time consuming tasks like citing, there’s an app for that! If you direly need focused study time, there’s an app for that! 1. Mathway This handy app is like Wolfram Alpha in your pocket! Mathway can be used in calculus, statistics, chemistry and even linear algebra. Step-by-step instructions and explanations are available, and it can even work without network access. Available for iOS, Android 2. IFTTT Uploading to multiple social networking sites can take forever; this app lets you capture and upload to all your favorite social media outlets with the touch of a button. If This Then That is an innovative, up-and-coming app that allows you to create “recipes" between “channels” like Instagram and Facebook. You first choose an event (e.g., “I upload a picture on Instagram”) that will trigger an action (e.g., “upload picture on Facebook”). Now everyone can appreciate your selfies! Available for iOS, Android 3. Molecules For chemistry enthusiasts, Molecule is a fun app in which you can view a 3D ball-and-stick model of any molecule. Just touch and drag around to view it from all sides or to zoom in and out. For those who want more, you can also download other models from PubChem or the Protein Data Bank within the app. Available for iOS 4. Dropbox Accidents happen. A presentation that you pulled an all-nighter to finish can be accidentally deleted or maybe you cannot meet up with your classmates for that group project. Simply back up and save your important documents to Dropbox. You can share whichever documents you choose and non-Dropbox users can access them too. Available for iOS, Android 5. TED Technology and ideas are advancing quickly and, to be successful in life, students should be up-to-date on the latest news. If you want to keep up with leading experts in business, medicine and technology, download TED. This app even features a search option for videos in different languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Creole and much more. Available for iOS, Android 6. Evernote Evernote takes paper post-it notes and digitizes them so you can remember everything across all your devices. Some key features include options to tag notes for easier searches, scan business cards, and share notes with classmates and friends. Available for iOS, Android 7. SelfControl

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Freshman Advice

Top Ten Apps


Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and a long list of other distracting websites grace your screens. Try SelfControl. Once you download this app onto your device you can add sites and mail servers onto a list that will be blocked for a period of time that you set. Even if you delete the application or restart the device, you will still be blocked from the sites you have added onto the list until the timer is finished. Available for iOS, Mac 8. Acorn App College students nowadays just don't have time to remember the little things, especially with that chemistry exam tomorrow or that big performance tonight. Try Acorn, a location-based reminder app, in which you create acorns (the reminders) and drop them at chosen locations. Then when you are nearby, a notification will pop up. Acorns can also be dropped to specifically remind friends and family. Available for iOS, Location Services necessary 9. RefMe You've done your literature search for biology lab but you forgot to include the citation of the research paper. RefMe creates bibliographies, citations and reference lists in any of its 6,500 referencing formats, including APA and MLA. Other features include a 1-click search option to quickly reference journal articles or book titles without having to gather all the information yourself. It even includes an email and Evernote export option. Available for iOS, Android 10. Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal Trying to eat healthy and maintain your weight in college is a struggle. This diet tracker has the largest food database with over 40,000 foods and an easy-to-use calorie counter. This app gives you the option to diet with your friends too, so you can support each other through your weight loss journey. Available for iOS, Android

Design by Michaela Larson & Jennifer Chavez

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Why Should Undergraduates do Research?

Lab Discussion with Dr. Baker, Sophia Liu and Josh Bitran Photo credit: Mark Kerroles

R

esearch is the learning of methods and practice of scholarship on generating an original intellectual or creative contribution to a discipline. This endeavor encompasses all subjects of academia, whether it is of the natural sciences ranging from physics, chemistry, and biology, to even the humanities and fine arts, including economics and art history. The University of Miami provides its students with a myriad of opportunities to partake in their inquiries with locations on the Coral Gables campus, the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, or even at the world-class marine and atmospheric hub in Biscayne Bay. With over $360 million of annual funding to conduct research, the University prides itself of being the academic capital that it is through its students’ ambitions to pursue learning outside the classroom. Research is most definitely not only restricted to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as some might believe, however. Undergraduate research is regarded to be at the forefront of the list of essential academic activities a student can participate in. Some students don’t know where to begin or why it is such a helpful experience in their tenure here at the U. Dr. Helen Bramlett, Director of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, describes how undergraduate students can participate in research and can provide the insight on making one’s experience at research worthwhile.

20

Freshman Advice

Top Ten Apps

Josh Bitran is knocking out flies with CO2 and looking for a phenotype of interest. Photo Cred: Mark Kerroles


Paola Barrios Biochemistry & Molecular Biology ‘15 Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute “While I have lived in Miami for a while now, I am originally from Mexico City. I am a Senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major and I also pride in my Studio Art Minor. I am working with Dr. Rodrigues in the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute where we currently seek molecular targets that contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients.”

Ryan Joseph Geusz Biochemistry & Marine Science Biology ‘16 Diabetes Research Institute “I’m currently working at the Diabetes Research Institute in a lab that is testing the abilities of calcium peroxide, an oxygen-generating biomaterial, to extend the life of transplanted islet cells.”

Nick Haenel Biochemistry ‘15 Rosenstiel Medical Science Building “I am currently researching the antimicrobial potential of compounds in garlic, specifically their action against betalactam-resistant strains of bacteria. We have done a series of tests that looked into the effect that human digestion has on the antibacterial properties of garlic isolates, and we are now starting a project focusing on volatile garlic compounds isolated via iron fixation.”

Design by Michaela Larson & Jennifer Chavez

21


Dr. Mathias Lichtenheld is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology located in the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In part of his ongoing research, Lichtenheld explores killer lymphocytes that have the ability to eradicate viral infections and even cancer. He researches extracellular and intracellular molecules that control the processes driving the killer lymphocytes to have the potential to fight against immunological terrors such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. In one of his popular research articles, Lichtenheld discovered an important role of CD8 T-cells in eradicating tumor cells. In his publication, he explains that it is the short term activation of CD8+ T-cells when IL-12 is present that will eventually eliminate B16 melanoma. In addition, it was investigated that adoptive transfer into tumor-bearing animals (after a single dose of cyclophosphamide is added) is vital for this to take place. These tumor reactive T-cells also have the ability to induce long term immunological memory. The activated donor cells that were transferred into tumor bearing animals expressed special qualities such as cytotoxic effector function, central-memory likeness, and homing and senescence, which were seen as vital features in eradicating tumors inside these animals. One of the primary goals of this investigation was to “take and isolate tumor specific T-cells of the patient, do something with them outside of the patients, grow them up to large amounts, give them back to the patients who have the tumor, and destroy the tumors,” Lichtenheld described. These experiments were initially conducted on mice — tumor specific T-cells were extracted from tumorbearing mice and then given back to mice to completely eradicate the tumor, preventing tumor relapse. Lichtenheld described two ways through which one can completely eradicate tumor cells particularly for metastatic melanoma. One way is to directly place the killer lymphocytes on the tumor, and the other way is to give checkpoint inhibitors to the patients. These molecules are described as immunologically active molecules that will help eliminate the tumor and, if applied, one can eliminate almost 30 percent of the melanoma present. Lichtenheld is also looking to expand his research by investigating the functionality of the T-cell as a whole. He wants to find out if there is a way to take any T-cells out of the blood, activate them, then re-infuse them together back with the antibodies that will recognize the tumor to see if they can also contribute to eradicating tumors. He also offers valuable tips to undergraduates who are currently in research or would like to get involved in research.

CD8 T-Cells and Their Ability to Eradicate Tumors and Generate Tumor-Specific Memory “You have to be pretty resistant and driven to get things to work,” he advised. “This is not a nine to six job. Your weekends will be ruined; it is like being on call because the only way we can move forward and be competitive is to work very hard ... It is about your personality, your drive — and your heart as to be into it; otherwise, it can be frustrating. So just keep at it.”

Dr. Mathias Lichtenheld- Associate Professor in the department of Microbiology & Immunology

Left: Strongly activated cytotoxic lymphocytes growing in tissue culture.

By Anum Hoodboy

24

Journals

CD8 Cells/Fluorescent Probes


Fluorescent Probes: Finding the Molecule of Best fit Targeting molecules with fluorescent probes enables It was shown through the evaluation of binding and scientists to investigate a wide variety of phenomena in the displacement kinetics that the NET is able to bind to human body at the molecular level. This important area dyes that possess significant expansion. However, this of bioorganic chemistry is currently being investigated by was only the case for probes that were expanded along Dr. James Wilson, an assistant professor in the chemistry the long axis. Extensions of the N-alkyl pyridinium tails department at the University of Miami. Wilson’s projects was well tolerated, while expansion of the aryl head, an focus on developing fluorescent analogs of biomolecules electron donor, reduces the attachment of the substrate to along with probes to target DNA, transmembrane proteins, its binding site. Through the investigation of dimers, it was receptors and enzymes. Through the use of combinatorial suggested that a headfirst orientation alone triggered the synthesis, a technique allowing an investigator to turn-on emission characteristic of stilbazolium dyes. Creating biomolecular analogs is no easy task. essentially cast a wide net and test a number of molecules “Humans are really for their compatibility with terrible at designing target structures, he is able molecules,” Wilson to create dyes that target explains. “You can try specific macromolecules. to rationally design Of note is his research something ... and it on the norepinephrine just doesn’t work.” To transporter (NET), which is overcome this obstacle, a sodium-neurotransmitter Wilson utilizes symporter that binds to the combinatorial norepinephrine and other strategy of testing substrates. The results of a large number of his study were published fluorophores with the in his paper Fluorescent protein to see which stilbazolium dyes as probes molecules are effective. of the norepinephrine Interestingly enough, transporter: structural The red is a membrane costain, we have illuminated NET in the HEK293 cells with a stilbazolium dye. molecules that behave in insights into substrate binding. a manner similar to target The NET is the target of ligands which include recreational drugs such as cocaine along molecules may actually look quite different. This was the with inhibitors such as desipramine. In this study, the case with norepinephrine in his study of the norepinephrine investigative team tested various sterically demanding transporter. This type of research has a number of different dyes in order to gain more insight into the binding of substrates to the norepinephrine transporter. A series of applications. By creating probes for different molecules, bulky stilbazolium dyes, including six newly synthesized Wilson is able to explore the efficacy of different forms of compounds, were evaluated to determine the effect of therapy, such as chemotherapy for cancer patients. Using these probes in marking certain drugs, he is able to see extending the molecular probes’ heads or tails. To design a probe, Wilson and his team used how the medication interacts with the target cells and if it known substrates for the transporter and assigned a is effective in treatment. What fuels Wilson’s drive to find the answers to family of related dyes to probe the functional limits of the NET. They then executed timed experiments to evaluate pressing questions is his interest in the subject. He advises, probe binding and displacement of both desipramine and “If you’re going to do well, you have to be obsessed with norepinephrine as competitive inhibitors. In the process, it. If you’re just looking for all these grant opportunities, the team exposed cells to 1 μM solutions of the stilbazolium you’re not going to do well. It’s about trying to take the dyes. Some factors that were taken into consideration were stuff you love and do something useful.” However, Rome the structural elements of each dye along with whether the was not built in a day. Wilson experienced a great change in his outlook from starting out as a graduate student to molecule had a “head-first” or “tail-first” orientation. becoming a postdoc. He elaborates, “Your perspective goes from being task oriented and trying to do what your boss told you, to trying to answer the big questions.” By Rohan Badlani

Design by Savannah Geary

25


a never ending cycle by Madiha Ahmed

Beanies. Uppers. Speed. Double trouble. These are just a few names for one of the most familiar and most used (and abused drug) in academia. How could a drug be used for academia? Performance enhancing drugs are only for sports. Au contraire, cognitive performance enhancing drugs are quite common in the education setting, and are not always used in correct manner. Some of the most common are Adderall and Ritalin, to name a few. It is estimated that one to five percent of college students enter their freshman year with previously diagnosed ADHD/ADD. This is a serious issue that students face and the prescription medicine they receive is imperative in their ability to perform day-to-day activities. An issue arises somewhere along the path of getting to college and then again in college itself. Students are under more enormous pressures to succeed than ever before. In a study done in 2014, teens and college students report stress levels higher than adults for the first time in twenty-five years.

26

Ethics in Science

Meducation


Stress levels are likely to increase by thirty four percent with a progressive year in school. A further possible source of stress for kids in the new age of technology are the pressures to fit in, made worse by social media. Along with these new and profound pressures, the pressure to succeed and level of performance in regards to school has become significantly higher than in the past. Students’ extremely elevated stress levels corroborate this. Pressure leads to depression and students often turn to performance enhancing drugs to help give them an edge in order to ace a final or whiz through a fifteen paper due the following morning. These pills are not hard to find for students and many are affordable enough for the average college student.

impulses, then the more direct pharmacological approach bypasses a crucial element…By treating the restlessness of youth as a medical, rather than a moral, challenge, those resorting to behaviormodifying drugs might deprive that child of an essential part of this education.” Since students are still developing mentally while they are in school, taking performance enhancing drugs in order to meet expectations leaves sparse room for growth, development, and overall readiness for the real world once they graduate. On the flip side of this dilemma, the system in which students must prepare for the real world doesn’t always offer a level playing field and the competitive nature of academia fuels a rat race. This doesn’t necessarily justify the actions of those taking pills in sporadic doses when they don’t really need them, but certainly puts it in a pragmatic light.

Albeit, the pressures of today’s world that students face will not go away and that in itself is a problem that must be dealt with. However, a bigger problem can be pinpointed within the system these students function. The bigger problem When the Health Center at that is arising in academia is the University of Miami was asked availability of these drugs, ease in “On the flip side of this whether or not the problem which it can be diagnosed, and the extended to our campus, they dilemma, the system fact the moral question of whether or not claim to be unaware of in which students must did not to take them has become almost the national problem of “study obsolete. Many students do not prepare for the real word drugs”. Adam Troy, Health think twice before taking pills such Educator at the University doesn’t always offer a as Adderall or Ritalin for a couple level playing field and of Miami elaborates that, “it of reasons. Firstly, self-diagnosis definitely is an issue that needs the competitive nature of of ADHD/ADD has become to be addressed. It’s an issue something that is not unheard of. academia fuels a rat race.” in multiple areas on campus, Of course, a doctor must back up including medical and law the claim and is responsible for students”. He qualified his the prescription, but many students chalk inability statement later with “There are certainly cases of to concentrate in school alone to ADHD. The fact of people who genuinely need Adderall and Ritalin, the matter is that this diagnosis would have to take and they completely legitimate functions. We are into account all aspects of daily life and school just one hundred percent in support of that. In the same alone cannot be enough. Secondly, if a self-diagnosis time it’s about finding the balance even when you does not work, that isn’t a crippling problem for need it. When does the use of something become kids. Adderall and other such drugs are available on harmful and abusive? The responsibility falls campuses, while many campus officials would not to physicians and health providers to ascertain like to admit it. who gets it.” Currently the University of Miami Moral agency and authenticity take a huge physicians on campus do not prescribe Adderall hit when widespread problems involving “study and forward diagnosing patients with ADHD/ drugs” arise. Unfortunately, the playing field will ADD to psychiatrists nearby and study drugs have never be even in academia with this problem being not become an issue for the Health Center. Troy so widespread, making the problem intrinsic to the furthers that there is not a psychiatrist on campus system. Another ethical concern is illustrated by, US for these types of medications, but it might be President’s Council on Bioethics, “If the development something to look into for the future. ▪ of character depends on the effort to choose and act appropriately, often in face of resisting desires and

Design by Jennifer Chavez & Mariana Braga

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Future of Drug Rehabilitation? by Sam Powell

Recent large-scale, international, collaborative projects like ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) and FANTOM (Functional Annotation of the Mammalian Genome) have revealed that much of our genomes are in fact transcribed. While approximately 1.5 percent of the human genome consists of protein-coding genes, anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of the human genome is, at some point in time, in at least one type of cell, transcribed into an RNA transcript. The fact that a region of the genome is transcribed does not mean that the particular RNA transcript is necessarily functional, but several recent studies have indicated crucially important roles for over 120 different long nonprotein-coding RNAs (lnc-RNA) in human health and disease. Because of this, a strong interest in lnc-RNAs has emerged, and new studies are continuously emerging that reveal novel roles for these new non-protein coding transcripts. Natural Antisense Transcripts (NATs) are a major type of lnc-RNA, and are transcripts that have reverse complementary sequence to a protein-coding, or “sense� gene.

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ETHICS IN SCIENCE

Future of Drug Rehabilitation


A single sense gene can have one or several NATs in the mouse brain, I injected mice with cocaine for and current estimates suggest that anywhere from a period of two weeks, which is a “chronic” period 25 to 40 percent of all protein-coding genes have for a mouse. After doing so, I sacrificed the animals at least one NAT. NATs act through a variety of and isolated a brain region called the Nucleus different mechanisms to regulate the expression Accumbens (NAc), which is considered the reward of their corresponding sense-gene partners, and center of the brain. I extracted the RNA from these a given NAT can either increase or decrease tissue samples and used real-time, quantitative the expression of the mRNA to which it binds. PCR (rt-PCR) to compare the expression levels Addiction is a debilitating psychiatric disorder of over 60 NATs in saline-treated versus cocainecharacterized by the compulsive intake of a drug treated mice. I found that the expression of several of abuse despite adverse consequences to the NATs was changed in some way by cocaine, and individual’s physical, mental, psycho-social and decided to focus on a particular transcript — the occupational health. Chronic intake of cocaine is NAT for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf). known to cause lasting changes in the structure Bdnf is an important addiction-related gene. Previous and function of the circuits Chronic intake of cocaine is known to studies have shown that drugs in the brain that process cause lasting changes in the structure of abuse increase the expression of Bdnf, and that blocking rewarding stimuli, regulate and function of the circuits in the mood and drive, and form brain that process rewarding stimuli, this effect either attenuates or completely prevents the memories. These changes regulate mood and drive, and form acquisition of addiction-like are facilitated by widespread memories. behavior in animal models. I alterations in patterns of found that chronic exposure gene expression in these to cocaine decreased the expression of the natural brain areas brought about by cocaine. These gene expression changes come about by what are antisense transcripts to Bdnf, and the next step, which called “epigenetic” mechanisms, which, broadly I am working on now, is to tease out the mechanism defined, are processes that alter gene expression of how this transcript may affect Bdnf expression. without changing the sequence of the gene itself. For this part of the project, I am currently working in Knowing that Natural Antisense Transcripts an in vitro cell culture model. Using mouse neuronal regulate gene expression in an epigenetic precursor cells called N2a cells, I am knocking down fashion, I wanted to see if NATs have any sort of the expression of the Bdnf antisense transcript that I role in facilitating many of the gene expression found was affected by cocaine. Following this, I will changes caused by cocaine, and if NATs could see how knockdown of the Bdnf antisense transcript be targeted to block and/or treat drug-seeking affects the expression of Bdnf mRNA and protein. behavior in animal models of addiction. From there, I will do further studies to figure out how The first step in this ongoing project was to test the Bdnf antisense transcript alters the expression of how simply exposing mice to cocaine affected the Bdnf, and may even transition to behavioral models expression of NATs to genes that are known to be to test how knockdown or forced overexpression involved in the molecular mechanisms of cocaine of the Bdnf antisense transcript affects drugaddiction. After screening a transcriptomic database seeking behavior in animal models of addiction. called Aceview to identify which cocaine-related This series of studies is the first to implicate natural genes have NATs that are endogenously expressed antisense transcripts in the molecular mechanisms of cocaine addiction, and may even pave the way for innovative treatments that target these transcripts.

Design by Christine deSilva

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Mapping the Future of Medicine

-Gabrielle Eisenberg

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n the 1800s, a simple monk named Gregor Mendel performed experiments on pea plants in his garden and spurred the beginnings of modern genetic research. Since Mendel, the structure and function of genes and DNA have been subject to insatiable human fascination and continuous experimentation. Among the many scientists throughout history who explored this subject, there exists a few notable figures that one can almost be certain will pop up in any introductory biology lecture. Erwin Chargaff developed base-pair ratios, and Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase confirmed DNA to be the genetic material. James Watson and Frances Crick (using photos produced by Rosalind Franklin) determined the double-helix structure of DNA, and Matthew Meselson and Franklin Stahl identified the semi-conservative nature of DNA replication. Each of these discoveries revolutionized our understanding of genetics, and by 2003, researchers were able to sequence the human genome. This amazing advancement in science and technology opens the doors to previously unimaginable medical opportunities; however, it also brings new ethical dilemmas that need to be addressed. You may be wondering how the process of mapping the human genome works. Dr. Liyong Wang, a molecular biologist at the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the Miller School of Medicine, whose research focuses on the genetics of complex diseases, described the different ways this can be done. The first, more traditional method is familylinkage analysis, where samples are collected from families in which the target gene is present. Dr. Wang states, “There are 23 chromosomes and within them are microcell markers. These are used to identify DNA in an individual or related individuals, and you can genotype about 400 of these microcell markers across 23 chromosomes. Some chromosomes are longer, so there are more markers there, and some chromosomes are shorter so there are fewer markers. Since they’re across the genome, you can use the microcell markers to do a linkage analysis in families.”

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Ethics in Science

Human Genomics

However, simply using these markers is not enough, for they do not provide a clear enough picture. Because the human genome has 3 billion base pairs, using a 300 base microcell marker only shows results at every 10 megabases. Dr. Wang explains, “That’s a long sequence, so even if one marker is travelling with a disease, you still have a 10 to 20 megabase region that has hundreds of genes in it. You just know that this is a region with the disease, but you don’t know where the disease is.” Luckily, there is a solution. Dr. Wang continues, “You use single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). There are over 10 million of them across the whole genome; therefore, 10 million compared to 300 makes the resolution much higher. You do that and then use family base association to narrow down the region.” Another method commonly used in genome mapping is the case-control method. Dr. Wang explains, “There is no linkage because there is no segregation between generations, so for a case-control design you always just do association. Right away, you use the SNP marker and do association to see which SNP is more represented in a case compared to a control and vice versa. You can do about one million markers through the genome,

“Genomic medicine is probably going to be the next big disruptor in medicine. It’s going to hopefully revolutionize the way we practice. ” (Susan Hahn, genetic counselor at the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics) and then you can use a computer to predict your genotype at the next marker, where there is a reference panel that has the sequences of approximately one hundred individuals. This resolution is getting higher and higher for associated study.” Finally, although now the whole genome can be sequenced in just a few days, researchers commonly use exon sequencing, which maps only the small percent of genes that code for proteins. According to Dr. Wang, “We focus on those exons first


because if there’s a variation in the exons, it is likely to change the protein sequence and may have a stronger function impact. Although, we know from our experiments that a lot of variations in the intragenic regions are also very important for regulating gene expression. They do not directly affect a protein product, but they can affect how much a gene is expressed or where a gene is expressed, which is more relevant to the complex disease.” Once the genome is mapped, what happens next? That’s where things get tricky. Because genetic information reveals so much about our bodies’ functions, it is very different from other health information and therefore presents challenges to medicine that have not been dealt with previously. For example, DNA is the genetic material, so what is found in your genes was passed to you from your parents, and it is what you will pass to your children. Therefore, genetic testing differs from other medical testing, for the results give information about other family members’ health. Susan Hahn, a genetic counselor at the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, explains, “If you have an identical twin, and you wind up testing for a gene your twin didn’t want to be tested for, I’m basically testing you both because you have identical genes. It’s the same thing with testing a child for a disorder the parent doesn’t want to know about… if the child has it, you know that the parent has it. That’s an ethical issue, trying to protect people’s autonomy.” Additionally, the knowledge you gain from these tests is permanent. Hahn elaborates, “Once you know something about yourself – once you know that you have a gene that causes some sort of health effect – you can’t undo that information. And until we can actually do something about that, and you have power from that information, it leaves you in this awkward limbo land where you might know something about yourself and what your future may hold without having any avenue to fix that issue.” Genomics is further complicated by the fear of discrimination. In order to address some of these fears, the federal government passed a piece of legislation called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA. However, GINA has its limitations. According to Hahn, “It only protects a person in the presymptomatic state, so for example, if you have a mutation that puts you at risk for breast and ovarian cancer, prior to having cancer, GINA would protect you from discrimination. But once you get cancer, or whatever disease based on the genetic information, it doesn’t apply anymore.” Furthermore, Hahn says, “GINA does not protect against life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance or any other type of coverage; it only pertains to health insurance. It also protects against employment discrimination, so an employer can’t require the information and can’t use the information if they happen upon it to make any decisions regarding hiring, firing, promoting, or paying their employees. Basically, they’re not allowed to touch the genetic information or use it in any way. And this only pertains to employers who have 50 or more employees, so small companies are immune from the legislation.”

These are just a few of the potential obstacles genetic mapping presents. However, the prospect of genomic medicine outweighs these issues. In reference to this promising medical future, Hahn states, “Genomic medicine is probably going to be the next big disruptor in medicine. It’s going to hopefully revolutionize the way we practice. Currently, medicine is focused more on a reactive than proactive approach. And what I mean by that is currently, we don’t treat people until they get sick, so there’s a lot of effort and energy that is focused on treating diseases after they occur rather than preventing them from happening. And part of that, in the health care system’s defense, is that we don’t actually have a lot in the arsenal right now to put towards prevention. And so genomic medicine is hoping to remedy that.” Also, genomic medicine will help immensely with prescribing medications. According to Hahn, “How people respond to a medication is largely driven by their genetics… whether or not a drug works for us and what dose we should take is largely driven by our genes. At some point in the future, we’ll have genetic testing and have a profile on hand, and a physician will look at that to decide what drug and dose they’re going for that person just so that prescribing is a little more precise, you can minimize side effects, and you can increase the chance that the drug is going to work the first time.” Finally, genetic mapping and genomic medicine will change the way we look at diseases in general. Hahn says, “By understanding the genes that put us at risk for disease and understanding how those genes are causing the disease or contributing to that disease occurring, not only does it help us identify through genetic counseling who is at risk for disease, but it also gives us avenues for new therapies. If you understand the biology behind a disorder through our genetic understanding of the disorder, then that is going to help us figure out what is going on in the body and will give us different ways to intervene so that you never get that disease to begin with. This way, you can identify people at risk and hopefully prevent them from developing the disease later on.” It is clear that genomics easily lends itself to ethical conundrums; however, this is only because it is so novel. As genomic medicine becomes more realistic and common, more legislation will likely be passed to protect the rights of the consumer. Genomic medicine will be revolutionary, and it is only possible due to the technological advancements in the study of genetics, advancements that researchers like Mendel and Watson and Crick could not begin to imagine. And because of this progress, genomics can shape the future, creating a map to better medicine.

Design by Emily Russ & Michaela Larson

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Antimicrobials: Unwanted Dinner Guests by Gabrielle Eisenberg

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When you take that first bite into your delicious steak, do you ever wonder about the cow from which it came? Most likely you just think about its tenderness or contemplate whether it is actually necessary to add that steak sauce sitting across the table. However, it may be worthwhile to overcome this taste-centered thinking and really question the origins of your meal. In recent years, the use of antimicrobials — drugs that target viruses and bacteria and other pathogens — has largely increased in agriculture — specifically in animals that we eat or that produce our food. When first hearing this fact, it is possible that this practice’s implications are not obvious. However, upon closer examination, the severity of this problem is apparent — the indiscriminate use of these drugs is causing an alarming rate of antibiotic resistance. As consumers, we have a responsibility to question the ethics of such practices and determine how they and their consequences can be combated. The first question one should ask is why antimicrobials are used so casually. According to Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), these drugs are used “for growth promotion, feed efficiency, and routine disease prevention in food animals.” In other words, using antimicrobials ensures a greater output of product, which in turn brings in a greater profit. Consequently, these animals are exposed to far more drugs than are necessary, which leads to resistance. In a 2013 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delineates the sequence of this process. Basically, the administered drugs kill both the good and bad bacteria present in the animal’s body, leaving just a few naturally resistant bacteria behind. These bacteria then multiply unaffected by the drugs and are free to then transfer some of their genes to other bacteria, allowing them to be resistant as well. As the bacteria continue to proliferate, the resistant strain takes over and cannot be treated with antibiotics. This brings us to the second question: How does

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ETHICS IN SCIENCE

Antimicrobials

antimicrobial resistance in animals cross over to humans? This process is a bit more complicated, but the CDC provides a few helpful examples. Each scenario begins with the development of resistant bacteria in an animal, but one process is more direct. In this chain of events, the animal meat is not handled correctly, allowing for the bacteria that remain to be spread upon consumption. In the other more indirect process, the bacteria are spread to crops through fertilizer and water that contains animal waste. Waste particles can

“Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), kills more Americans every year (~19,000 than emphysema, HIV/ AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide combined)” -The ISDA remain on the crops and again, upon human consumption, the bacteria spread. Regardless of the journey bacteria take to the human body, the result is the same — an increased risk for serious infections. Another report released by the ISDA says, “methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), kills more Americans every year (~19,000) than emphysema, HIV/ AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and homicide combined” — and that is but one organism of many. A problem that may seem insignificant or unimportant at first is actually leading to a public health crisis. The final, most important question to ask is: What is being done to combat this growing problem? The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) main strategy is to change the status of many over-the-counter drugs to that of prescription, and revise current prescription regulations. Part of this plan includes working with the drug companies in a cooperative approach. The FDA says the manufacturers would “voluntarily work with FDA to revise the approved use conditions for their medically


important antimicrobial drug products to remove production ... and bring the remaining therapeutic uses under veterinary oversight.” This allows for important medicines to still be available to animals but at the discretion of trained medical professionals. If drug companies change the labeling of their products themselves, the FDA does not have to review every single antimicrobial drug — this will prevent continued interruption to the animals’ health and will serve as the most efficient way to make crucial changes in public health legislation. Antimicrobial resistance is not solely caused by the actions of the agriculture industry; antimicrobials have been overused in medicine as well. However, as consumers of these food items, we must question the ethics of such abuses because we are facing the consequences of years of complacency. If you would like more information regarding the actions the FDA is taking against this growing problem, you can visit the FDA’s website, www.fda.gov.

Unintended farm-aceutical effects on livestock.

Photo by Vania Braga

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Lots of germs. A few are drug resistant

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Antibiotics kill bacteria causing the illness as well as good bacteria protecting the body from infection.

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Some bacteria give their drug-resistant to other bacteria, causing more problems.

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The drug-resistant bacteria are now allowed grow and take over.

Design by Victoria A. Pinilla

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The Supplement Industry A Business in the Shadows

Faizah Shareef & Renuka Ramchandran

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any individuals tout the potency of their supplements and vitamins, stating that these mechanisms are what enable them to build muscle, grow stronger or simply get through the day. However, longitudinal studies do not indicate an increase in performance or growth in muscle tissue density but instead link the success of the supplement to the placebo effect. In the early 1990s, the Congress sat down to discuss increasing the powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on food and

Vitamin B by Ragesoss (Own work) [CC-BY. . . . h p creati ecommons.org licenses by sa . or h p www. gnu.org copyleft fdl. html , ia ikimedia Commons.

Food Science

The Supplement Industry

supplement labeling. They initially decided to integrate the Nutrition Advertising Coordination Act of 1991 to create more stringent protocols for approving supplements. This action did not come without significant lobbying, where companies such as Nature Plus deemed the FDA biased and these changes unnecessary. As a result, in 1994, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced to the public the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which allowed supplement companies to bypass the FDA approval process and place their products on the market without demonstrating their efficacy or safety.


Vitamin B by Ragesoss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http:// www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Under this act, supplement companies hold free reign to promote their product in any manner. These products tend to include a single substance thought to increase performance. This substance is then surrounded by stimulants such as caffeine that make the body more sensitive to adrenaline, thereby fabricating a high that is then associated with their supplement. This increased reliance on the product creates a cycle in which the individual believes their success in the field cannot be achieved without it, and this phenomenon has led to the construction of a multi billion-dollar industry fueled by fallacy. One strong example would be the promotion of nitric oxide supplements. Nitric oxide, when produced by arterial endothelium, acts as a potent vasodilator and increases blood flow to the working muscle, thereby increasing performance. In theory, if one were to take in nitric oxide supplements, they would have increased blood circulation and bodily function. Based on this premise, companies have created products promising these effects. However, studies have found that supplementing nitric oxide actually decreases the body’s capability of producing it on its own. This supplement actually decreases overall body function by inhibiting the endothelium’s capability to protect itself against the stress of blood flow, causing consumers to suffer from arterial damage. Many supplements such as testosterone boosters (known to lower HDL levels), enzyme supplements (the enzyme breaks down before it can reach potency) and HMB (no conclusive data proving efficacy) fall under the same category. Even in the dismal nature of this industry, there are some supplements that well-designed studies have deemed effective. Creatine and omega-3 tablets are a few that have exhibited their promised goals. Furthermore, to increase consumer awareness of supplement strength, organizations such as United States Pharmacopeia have made it their goal to test the supplements on the market and provide their stamp of approval.

Vitamin World have been stocking their shelves with unapproved products that may or may not deliver on the claims they state. Although most of the industry lies in obscurity, there are some products that live up to their name. Finding those products, however, is the job of the scrutinizing and careful consumer. With the help of third-party organizations, consumers can take into their own hands what to purchase in the realm of supplementation. This increased awareness will help to

Ever since the passage of the DSHEA, companies such as GNC and Design by Savannah Geary


Reading | Between The Labels

- Renuka Ramachandram

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t’s 12:15 and you’re sitting in class waiting to be dismissed but class doesn’t end for another half hour. All you can think about is what you’re going to eat for lunch. Your mind starts to wander as you consider all of your options. You say you’re on a health crunch, but is a salad really going to cut it? That grilled chicken in the dining hall seems exceptional today. There could be those soft, gooey chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps, today is the day to take a visit to Chipotle. It is estimated that the average person makes over 200 decisions regarding food each day. It comes as no surprise that consumers rely on the “Nutrition Facts” labels found on the back of food products to keep track of calories, check fat and sugar content, and ultimately decide if what they are putting in their body is actually healthy. Food labels have come far in a short period of time. Before the 1970’s, food labels didn’t even exist, as there was no particular demand for nutritional information, with most households using basic ingredients to make home-cooked meals. However, as the presence of processed foods increased over time, buyers began requesting information that would help them understand the products they purchased. This led the Food and Drug Administration to consider developing a system for identifying the nutritional aspect of food.

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Food Science

Food Labels


Nowadays, with processed foods taking over the supermarket, nutritional labels have become an integral part of our daily food decisions. The question is: How much do nutritional labels actually help us? There is no doubt that food labels have come a long way from their birth in 1970. From developing daily reference values to establishing specific nutrients to be listed, that little box of information has arguably become the most important factor in determining whether or not we pick up a product at the grocery store. However, some experts, such as nutritionist Dr. Sheah Rarback, would say that the information provided is important but never enough. In fact, the labels can be misleading. Along with the lack of regulation on the word “natural”, there is ambiguity in the way certain nutrients are listed. For instance, let’s consider the listing of the sugar content. This refers to the total sugar found in the product, which includes both the added sugar as well as the natural sugar that may have already existed before it was processed. Many nutritionistsare arguing for the separation of these two on the nutrition label, so that consumers can be aware of the additional sugar present in the foods they are eating. Nutritionists have also found that the percentages of the daily-recommended value found beside each nutrient can be confusing for the average consumer to apply to calculating their own diet.

itor our sodium intake, reducing the chance for high blood pressure and other health problems. However, what if less processed foods were available? Would food labels be as necessary in our daily lives? The healthiest foods, such as our natural fruits and vegetables, do not have any nutrition facts on them. Most health experts and doctors say that as long as half of your plate is covered in vegetables, the rest of your diet will fall into place. In today’s society, those individuals who check the food labels of their products are considered the most concerned with their nutrition. However, perhaps some reevaluation of the strength of food labels as well the nutritional content of the food that we are consuming is necessary for the health of our nation to move in a positive direction. ▪

In another situation, let’s say your doctor tells you to watch your fat intake. You come across olive oil and see that it is around 15 grams of fat in one tablespoon. Does that mean you should avoid olive oil? “Not necessarily,” Dr. Rarback states. “Olive oil, in moderation, can actually help you manage your blood cholesterol levels.” In Dr. Rarback’s opinion, not only is the information found in the nutrition facts section confusing for the average person, it has people focusing more on numbers and calories than actual nutrition and effect on health. That is not to say that food labels have not helped us improve our health as a society. The inclusion of trans fat in the nutritional label has encouraged us to change our eating habits and avoid the risk for increased inflammation as well as lower HDL and higher LDL levels. In the United States, most people get more sodium in their diets than they need. Because of food labels, we have been able to mon-

Dr. Sheah Rarback, Nutritionist at the University of Miami, and Writer for the Miami Herald

Design by Michaela Larson & Jennifer Chavez

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CONGRATULATIONS! The School of Education and Human Development and its Undergraduate Researchers wish to congratulate: The UMiami Scientifica Magazine on its inaugural issue!

For more information on the Research Honors Program in The School of Education and Human Development, please contact Asst. Dean Astorini (gfastorini@miami.edu).


Roger on the EDGE

Ebola has been in the news a lot. Everyone knows that we have U.S. embassies throughout the world. Why is it that we don’t have U.S. CDC satellite locations? Responses would be quicker, more efficient and less costly. Our scientists could be employed to serve like those in the Foreign Service, and we could educate and help surrounding communities. If we can spend to make sure that our American citizens have refuge abroad, why can’t we do the same for their physical well-being? Hospitals abroad may not be adequately equipped to serve our needs, but we can make sure that we are. What are your thoughts on this? Comment on our Facebook site @UMiami Scientifica.



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