Archive for September, 2009

September 28th, 2009 · Leave a Comment

What’s in Your DNA?

By Admin

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September 21st, 2009 · Leave a Comment

Why are we diverse…hmmm…Would you get your genome sequenced?

By Admin

nextgen jessAs we all know, we are capable of anything! We are currently going through one of the most exciting times in Science right now where the technology we are using seems to be out of this world. We are learning new things everyday about ourselves mentally, physically,... genetically? What am I talking about.....well well, have you ever thought....what exactly am I made of and why am I different from everyone else? Let's begin from the beggining, you are made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).   Now, lets talk about GENES. A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Genes that are made up of DNA, act as instructions to make molecules called proteins. Now lets talk about your GENOME. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, this  includes all of its genes. The genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people.

Where am I going with this. In April of 2003, the Human Genome Project (HGP) was completed. To make a long story short there were to two projects an international public-sector (collected blood from female and sperm from male donors) and Celera Genomics private-sector project (few different genomes was mixed and processed for sequencing. Craig Venter, the lead scientitst has since acknowledged that his DNA was among those sequenced. Soooo its HIS sequence! My opinion and others...). Anyhow, since then many genomes have been sequenced from bacteria to mouse. Currently, there have been 5 genomes sequenced, including Ventor, Watson, Xinhua-Han (Chinese genome), Yaruba (African Genome), and some Korean dude (as my mentor names him).


Currently, one can pay for your genome to get sequenced by companies like 23andme,  deCOde Genetics, and Navigenetics for about $1,000-$3,000 or so. There have been criticism about these types of at home personal DNA testing. Several brave souls have gotten their genome sequenced by two of these methods and have found some similarities and more differences. Dr. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School is running a Personal Genome Project. Its mission is to "encourage the development of personal genomics technology and practices that: are effective, informative, and responsible,yield identifiable and improvable benefits at manageable levels of rik , and roadly available for the good of the general public." Their goal is to enroll 100,000 informed participants from the general public, focusing on technology, science, ELSI (ethical, legal, and social issues), health care, personal knowledge, and products. Currently, they have already sequenced the first 10 participants called the PGP-10.

This means YOU, yes, YOU, can get your personal genome sequenced!!!My question here is would YOU be interested? If you either had to pay for it or get it for free? Many people I asked have replied saying, o no way! Why...fears of getting your genetic information displayed publically, insurance companies finding out your at risk of diseases, your job finding out your at risk of diseases, your family finding out your at risk of diseases, or you finding out your at risk of diseases.

As a student of Genetics and this growing field of NextGen sequenceing and personalized medicine....Yee Haa, I totally would! I actually already submitted my name to the PGP as a participant. I am curious however as to how they are going use my information. Can you beleive how much info they are going to obtain!

My main point...........What questions would you ask?

Maybe some of these pertaining to diversity................why are we different, is it in our genes?, what genes may dictate race/ethnicity?, if we are of a certain race/ethnicity do we have genes that put us at a higher/lower risk for diseases?, does our race even matter?

OR Maybe these........why am I short?, why can't I run a marathon?, why don't I like reading?, or why don't I like onions?     

OR positive ones......why am I great at science?, why can I dance my tail off in rythm all night and not be tired?, why can I ask silly questions and be really loud and not be embarressed?  ;)

All I do know is that we all are different in our own way. We can all accomplish our goals and conquer our dreams. Here at Mayo Clinic there are people from all over the world who work here, learn here, and live here. We are at the leading edge of science and we certainly are pushing forward. Currently, Mayo contains several NextGen Sequencers (i.e. Illumina) and are anxiously awaiting a SOLID system. As a graduate student you get to see these accomplishments in action and sometimes be a part of it. Me...I'd rather be apart of it!!                                                   Jess

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September 14th, 2009 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Medical Students Honoring Dr. Eddie L. Greene

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dr. greene Every year, the Organization of Student Representatives seeks nominations for 2009 Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award, presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges with the support of the Arnold P.Gold Foundation.  This award is received from all medical schools across the country. Leslie King-Shultz along with Kamran Ahmed and Elizabeth Scoville, the other two OSR reps from Mayo organized this years efforts for nominations. The process included students sending emails to solicit nominations from members of all medical school classes.  Dr. Eddie L. Greene was chosen as the professor who contained many qualities which fit the award, these included positive mentoring skills, involvement in community service, compassion, sensitivity, collaboration with students, colleagues, and patients, and modeling the ethics of the profession. Dr. Greene's name was submitted so many times by students who have worked with him that he was the obvious choice for this year's nomination. 

Here are some kind words from students about Dr. Greene:

"He is able to engage students in such a way that they want to learn more from him, and he makes sure that everyone involved understands the material being covered. He is without a doubt one of the best instructors I have had not only in medical school, but throughout my life. He is an absolute superstar in teaching capacities." Medical Student

"...he gave a lot of his personal time to his students, and was always willing to help. During my Ph.D. training, I ran into him a lot. He was always willing to stop and talk about my project and science in general. You can tell he loves what he does." Former Student

Although, Dr. Greene was not selected as the finalist this year, all students feel he was certainly deserving of the award.mayo brothers

  On behalf of Mayo Clinic students and Diversity Bloggers Team, "Congratulations!!!" Jess

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September 8th, 2009 · Leave a Comment

JJ’s Issue 4: A Year in the Life…

By Joseph Dolence

“525,600 minutes…five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear, 525,600 minutes…how do you measure, measure a year?” is the start of a famous song called “Seasons of Love” from the musical RENT. Well since you last read my thoughts and musings on this diversity blog—its been slightly longer than that—its actually been closer to 382 days or 550,080 minutes since my August 14, 2008 blog entry (rounding to the nearest day)…anyway, I figured I’d write down my thoughts on how 2008 ended and about 2009 so far as the year moves steadily toward the fall season which officially begins in less than three weeks time on September 21. When you last read my thoughts, I was breaking down what I thought the Olympics meant to China. I read that entry this morning and smiled. Not because I thought it was the greatest thing in the world, but because what I said a little more than a year ago is as true today as it was then. It might be even truer given how China owns a pretty substantial amount of US debt. In the past year, many things have occurred that have made me smile and a few things that have made me shed a tear. So I will bring all you out there in the blog hemisphere along with me for a walk through my thoughts… *

*Remember when Mr. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the Olympics? It was the last time I jumped off my recliner with such jubilation—both when Phelps out touched Cavic in the 100 butterfly or when Jason Lezak snuck in his fingertips to help the USA win the 400 freestyle relay by 0.08 of a second. I know I had a magical feeling that night.

**Remember when we all thought the stock market was falling through the ground, the first huge check was sent to all those Wall Street guys, Bear Stearns died, AIG was being about as irresponsible with money as possible (not that the other companies were responsible), and yes, McCain and Palin had made it interesting in the polls…only to have McCain say the fundamentals of the economy were strong, the stock market nosedived and Mr. Barack Obama started the final ascent toward the Oval Office…

**On a personal note: I remember vividly September 25, 2008 when I was at the soon to be vacated Metrodome for the best game I have ever seen. A 7-6 Twins victory that swept the Chi Sox, taking us into first place, and it was pandemonium inside that place. Visions of 1987 and 1991 were in my mind. I had never seen brooms brought to a baseball game before…I will never forget what will probably be my lasting memory of the stadium with a white roof and blue seats…

**Remember Election night 2008? No matter where you fell on the political spectrum, you had to admire the story of Barack Obama. You also had to admire the people who were inspired to believe that this country can do better, some for the first time. I generally am pretty skeptical about politicians (still am) but for one night, it was incredible.                         

Two quotes will sum up the night for me:

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” President-Elect Barack Obama

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Caroline Kennedy in a NYT Op-Ed piece before the election.

I will never forget the look on the faces of the young people that night when they truly believed anything was possible—that the nation we all love and study in at Mayo, is a union that can always be perfected. Now Obama seems to be dealing with some tough times, but I hope that this fall we can come together to make the health care system better for everyone, not just those who have been incredibly blessed with great health care—like us at Mayo.

I call and challenge everyone at Mayo to get involved and speak up—Mayo is a great example of how medicine should be practiced…lets spread that message… **Remember what you did New Year’s Eve and your welcome to 2009 and goodbye to 2008?

**Remember the depths of winter? Well if you don’t, you will be soon reminded again…

**Remember when the stimulus package was signed and all the hullaballoo that created?

**Remember grad school interview weekend? I always enjoy these but this year it was different—this first year class is awesome! Just ask Amanda, Patrick, Danielle, Rachel, June, Fan Chi, Naomi, Mallory, or any of them. Again—awesome!!!!

**On another personal note: Since I last wrote to you, I have basically finished all of my classes (1 credit left to go) and I have passed my written qualifying exam. October 6th brings my oral exam. Wish me good luck. I also have traveled to present research at AAI meeting in Seattle—which was pretty awesome…I even got to fly out there first class for free…

**Remember when summer started? Seems like yesterday right? During the depths of winter, I encourage everyone to think of those days—playing volleyball or taking a walk along the river or smelling the fresh grass at Mayo Field watching our 2009 Northwoods League Champion Rochester Honkers or the fun BBQs you were a part of this summer? With that last thought, I will wrap this up with some final thoughts—over the course of the last year, I have traveled around the state a lot seeing some beautiful things—a week in Brainerd in July with my best friend Jacob and his family playing golf, fishing, and jet skiing, countless trips to my favorite city in the world, Duluth, back home to the Iron Range, playing disc golf with Justin, hanging out with Eric and Kat and having some great fires, and shooting a handgun for the first time in a long time…I even went to an authentic midnight mass on Christmas Eve/morning in Hibbing, MN, the birthplace of Bob Dylan…

What will the next year bring? In a lot of ways I sort of know, but in a fascinating way, other things are a mystery…that’s the beauty of life right? But one thing I do encourage each and every one of you to do before Labor Day is this: Get up to St. Paul and go to the Minnesota State Fair…it is a great time to relax, walk around, learn something about the state you are getting a fabulous education in, and see the diversity of MN. You can say that there isn’t any of that here if you want to be ignorant. But a walk through, for example, the Fine Arts building at the fair will vindicate my comment that we are more diverse than you think. And the food is wonderful as always…the picture I place below here shows you the spectacle that is the “Great MN Get Together” with a quote that sums it all up—I saw this last year! “I’ve always loved the fair. As a kid, I loved it for the rides and attractions. As a teenager, I loved it as a place to take dates and hang out with friends. But as an adult, I love it as a showcase of the skills and talents possessed by my friends and neighbors, and as a lingering slice of Americana. When I walk onto the fairgrounds, I feel like I’m walking back in time.

dolence st fair

I hope you enjoyed my walk back in time. Until next time, your friend and colleague, JJ

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