Thursday, June 30, 2011

Per Request

Just a quick post of what might the craziest thing you'll see all week...I present to you a Cyclops Shark!

That is a real shark baby that was found in the stomach of a dead bull shark.  Scientists are still investigating why it only has one, very cartoonish, eye but in reality this will most likely just haunt your dreams.  I wondered if the shark is related to Mike Wazowski.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Friday Fragments (6/24/11)

Author's Note: I wrote this last Friday and forgot to post it so I hope this can be a little pick-me-up for the Monday Blues this week....

I hope everybody's week has gone well.  I know mine has been an interesting one to say the least.  My car broke down as I was driving someone home from their car breaking down.  They finally transferred the cable in my apartment from Nova Cable to Comcast, which means I'm without cable for the next month or so (no worries I have Netflix).  And out of a possible three softball games I could have played this week, I got to play zero because of the stupid rain.  However, I did received my first new molecule to work on this week and have settled into my office nicely.

Side note about my office: It seems as though the boys and girls have separated themselves within the lab. My office which is on the first floor has myself and three other guys in it, where as the other half of our office space on the first floor is occupied by four or five girls (one is only part time in IPPH, I believe).  It's kind of like being in third grade again.

Anyway, my routine is working nicely into my blogging.  You can only sit and read about drugs for so long before you need to take a little break.  Thus I think you'll find this edition of the Friday Fragments to be fairly robust...

-Researchers in the UK have discovered a vaccine for a specific cancer.  I am not sure about the actual logistics of the situation, but it sounds more like a treatment than a vaccine, because they used a virus to inject prostate cancer presenting antigens into mice, where the immune system took over and eradicated the tumor.  To me that sounds like a treatment or cure for the cancer not a vaccine but whatever, it works!  Check out the full paper here or a brief overview here.

-Here is an awesome graphic showing what happens on the internet in 60 seconds...the volume of emails is the most striking thing to me!

Buzz and Woody Unleashed!
-Ever wonder what Toy Story would be like in a serious setting....check this out! I'm not sure that I would always "have a friend" in Woody if he looked like that ---->

-In electronics news, HP is working on flexible displays to used on wrists during combat.  They also list price tags as a possible use.  I'm thinking it would make great QB wristband.  Also, if you have some time to kill, this is an excellent article about wearable electronics.  I actually had to save the link and read it at home because it looked interesting but it is quite lengthy (so good for wasting time between 4-5pm or Fridays).

-In September 2012, the FDA is mandate that all cigarette boxes have one of nine new warning images to help deter people from smoking.  Some are good, some are gross, and some are just plain cheesy.  Decide for yourself.

-Ok Bryan here is a plug for your blog and what you're good at.  A few weeks ago, my friend Bryan wrote a good post on the Neuroscience of Alcohol over at his blog Mildly Competent.  Well, as fate would have it a came across a similar article written by someone who is paid to write about science stuff.  It discusses the Buffalo Theory and the actual neuroscience of how we react to alcohol.  I would recommend reading Bryan's first and then if you're still interested, you can read the other one.

-Lastly, I found this article about a math proof nicknamed the 3n+1 theory.  Evidently, if you take any number and divide by 2 if even, or multiply by three and add 1 if odd, and continue to do this with your subsequent answers you will always get 2.  However no one has been able to write an actual proof about it until now.  Well kind of, it has been withdrawn since I found the article but it's still fun to contemplate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Perspective Disclaimer

Everybody in the world has their opinion about things. And an opinion is basically someone’s perspective on a certain topic.  Thus, regardless of how many facts or evidence you can put in front of someone they are always entitled their opinion (or perspective).  I believe that we should relish our perspectives and understand that unlike math and most of science, there are not right and wrong answers for everything. 

Now the name of my blog is “Perspectives of a Young Scientist.”  I want to continue to give a glimpse of what it’s like to be in my shoes and hopefully enlighten a few people to a different side of pharmacy and science in general.  But I also think that I can use this blog to start intelligent conversations about some of the major concepts of today’s world.  I am NOT trying to force my perspective upon you, nor will I judge you based on whether or not you agree with what I am saying all the time.  I do ask that you always respect a person’s opinion and try to understand my take on things with an open mind. 

Now I have perspectives on many subjects that could really shape how you perceive both me and your own thoughts.  God and science is a great one that I intend to write about soon.  Controversial research such as stem cell research is another area.  Politics, which is steadfastly becoming a negative term, has a huge effect on our daily lives and my half liberal-half conservative viewpoints will probably spark lively debates. 
All in all, this is my disclaimer for future posts.  I have avoided some subjects for fear of so called “controversy” and potential backlash over my viewpoints.  But that is all that it will be, one person’s perspective on matters relating to our lives. 

Now, as a little foreshadowing, I will give a preview of what I am talking about. 

For those of you who don’t know me, my mother was a sex education teacher.  She taught at my school, at my church, and even taught me and friends one year.  And for some reason, that made me a strong advocate for sex education.  Yes, I will preach abstinence with the best of them, but I also feel that complete sex education is needed in schools today for the sake of our health and overall well-being.  More teens are getting pregnant and unfortunately shows like “Secret Life” and “16 and Pregnant”” glorify those situations.  But most teens and college kids do not know all the risks associated with having unprotected sex (or even protected sex). 

Side Note: Did you know that the HIV virus is small enough to potentially get through the latex matrix of a condom?  Condoms were designed to prevent sperm from passing through the latex. And my reference is my mother who has years of both nursing and officially licensed sex education experience.

My point is that we must consider society as a whole when trying to educate people about sex.  We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs but that does not mean we won’t encounter a situation that tests those ideals.  Being educated about sex is best way to make intelligent decisions that are helpful, not harmful for our futures.    

So there is a small sample of the perspectives I am talking about.  I would always love to talk with people openly about these subjects in a constructive manner so if you really want to send me your “perspective” send it to…  And I just realized that if you want to send me your own small “Perspective” on anything I could possibly post it up here in a special guest posting section. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Fragments (6/17/11)

Well, I finished up my lab practical assignment for my summer class this morning and I decided to put together the Friday Fragments over lunch today.  I have been trying to get into somewhat of a routine every day and have been able to spend a little time every day in the morning to spend trolling the internet for cool stuff.  So, hopefully this can become a weekly thing and you can just count on checking in every Friday afternoon for some time-wasting links to help you get to the weekend!

-Find your blind spot. For real, every person has a blind spot based on the anatomy of the eye.  Try it for yourself.  It's weird to think you mind just "fills in the gaps."

-New artificial heart gives humans no pulse. This new artificial pump only hums as it constantly pumps blood throughout the body.  So if you check for a pulse, you'll get nothing.  Let's see EA Active track my progress now.

-The weather has been quite awe-inspiring as of late. Click here for a video of a microburst. These are different from tornadoes and only last a minute at the most.  And in Wichita, they had a similar experience only with just heat int he middle of the night.  Temperatures climb 20 degrees in the wee hours of the morning due to a collapsing storm.

-Awesome picture of the nearby universe!  Check it out...

-First living laser. Scientists have engineered cells that give off bio-luminescence to amplify normal blue light into a beam of green laser light.  Now the beam is magnitudes lower than your average laser, but someday you may be able to just point your finger and have a laser beam.

-Lastly, this beach is extremely close to the airport!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Under the Hood: Amorphous Solids

Part 1 in my Under the Hood series.

Amorphous solids.  Those of you who may be frequent readers of my blog in the future, this may be the single most important scientific post to understanding what my graduate research is all about.  Entire journals and books can be written about the amorphous state, but I will do my best to summarize and generalize as best I can.
Amorphous Solids lack the long range order of Crystalline solids,
which leads to greater molecular mobility.
(Taken from IPPH 587 notes)

This free energy diagram shows how the phases change with
respect to theromdynamics of the system.
Tm is the melting point, and Tg is the
glass transition temperature of the amorphous solid.
(Taken from IPPH 587 notes)
So, what is an amorphous solid?  I like to tell people it is the state between solid and liquid, however that is not exactly true.  It is between these two in the classical sense.  In grade school, a solid is anything that has long range order and a melting point (some even define a solid as anything that doesn’t take the shape of the container it is in).  Well, this is the definition of a crystalline solid.  The majority of “solids” are crystalline solids including metals, alloys, salts, etc.  Then there are amorphous solids.  These are essentially solids that lack the long range order of crystalline solids, but also lack the mobility of liquids.  For simplicity I will refer to all amorphous solids as the same thing but there are really two types of amorphous solids; those being glasses and super-cooled liquids. The diagram to the right shows a thermodynamic view of these states.  Overall, these are meta-stable states and need some kind of thermodynamic event or action to occur.  Nature prefers crystalline solids and liquids over amorphous forms.

BCS drug classifcation system.  Here, BCS is not some
money hungry way to exploit football, but actually a way
to classify drugs and allow biowaivers to expedite the drug
development process.

And why do we care about amorphous solids?  Let’s begin with drug development/discovery.  Here in the western hemisphere (and increasingly in the entire world) we prefer solid dosage forms compared to liquids or parenterals (injections).  They are more patient compliant and easier to market not to mention it is much easier to ask someone to take a pill twice a day rather than give them a shot or make them drink really, really nasty tasting liquids.  So we want pills, tablets, capsules, something solid to swallow.  There are many other reasons why these are preferred but this will have to suffice for this explanation. Now, the stomach and intestine need to be able to dissolve the drug and as you probably learned in 4th grade, we are roughly 60% water.  Thus new drugs need to be water soluble.  Unfortunately new molecules which show some biological activity are not water soluble.  Depending on who you ask 60-80% of new drug molecules fall into this not water soluble category (Class II/IV drugs, see BCS chart).  Thus, we must come up with strategies to obtain higher solubility.  Here is where amorphous solids come in.  Since these solids have less order and are more unstable than their crystalline counterparts, they can obtain higher solubilities.  Sometimes 10-50 fold higher.  Thus we can use drugs in their amorphous form to utilize drug molecules that otherwise we have rendered useless.  Not to mention we can lower doses, lower prices, and increase efficacy on drugs already on the market.  I think everyone can agree those are all worthwhile. 

Studying the crystal growth rates from the amorphous
state is very critical to our research.  This is a crystal
growing from the amorphous state under cross-
polarizing light to determine crystallinity.
And where does my research fit in?  Well, these amorphous forms are unstable and want to convert to their non-soluble crystalline forms.  The research I am working on deals with understanding the kinetics and mechanisms behind stabilization of amorphous drugs.  Even though we can observe what happens, we want to be able to explain and even predict what will happen to drugs in the amorphous form.

I will leave you with an example and an explanation of one more common term.  First, most glass is amorphous.  If glass had a crystal lattice structure, light would refract through it like a prism and we couldn’t see through it clearly.  So the next time you are in a really old building or barn, check out the windows.  They may appear to be “collecting” at the bottom like they are liquids.  And finally, if you ever see the term amorphous solid dispersion (or ASD), it is when a drug or compound is “dispersed” with a polymer to create an amorphous state.  The polymer, which is inherently amorphous because of the repeating nature and large molecular size, acts to inhibit crystallization of the drug.  Using these ASD’s are common place in both research and pharmaceuticals and are the basis for most of the research on our lab. 

Well, there is a quick overview of amorphous solids.  If you have any questions just leave a comment or shoot me an email and I can try to answer, or point you toward a source that can hopefully explain in better.

Under the Hood

Well, for those of you curious about what exactly I "Under the Hood" series of posts will hopefully help to explain it.  I chose to name it Under the Hood for two reasons;  one, it's kinda catchy and relates to a fume hood in a laboratory. Two, so I can keep all of these related posts organized and can easily find them.  

First up...amorphous solids!
2011 Camaro Engine
Not as elegant as the Camaro hood
(and note this is not a
 Purdue fume hood).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Fragments (6/10/11)

Well, it's Friday again! They seem to take forever getting here and yet they fly right by into the weekend.  I posted some interesting links below with some comments per the usual.  But before we dive into the world wide web let me give you a quick glance at how my summer is going.

Did you know...
most standard glass is an amorphous solid.
I'll explain next week!
A month into the summer and I am beginning to progress into to the grad research life.  I just finished a two week course on Pharmaceutical Solids.  The course, however long and monotonous it could have been at times, is quite motivational towards jump starting your own research projects.  Basically, the course consists one hour lectures taught back to back (sometimes up to 7 in a day) by a professor or scientist who is an expert in that particular field.  It is inspiring because all of the lecturers speak of when they were grad students and how they have progressed in their respective careers.  It is a privilege to have been taught by these people and I only hope I can do them justice with my own work.

Speaking of my own work, slow and steady seems to be the way to go.  I have just begun taking small amounts of data for my first study and I am slowly learning the ropes of working in the lab.  Some days it feels like being thrown to wolves because I am told what to do, not always how to do it (such as ordering new Nitrogen tanks).  But, I push aside my pride, ask someone who knows, and I get the job done.  Eventually, I won't feel like the new guy but for now I continue relating this time to that of freshman year of marching band or my first week of RA training.

The Pharmacy Building at Purdue (RHPH)
All in all, life in RHPH is going well.  Next week expect a piece on amorphous solids as that is what the majority of my research will entail  to some degree.  Ok, now for the reason you clicked on the are your time-wasting fragments for today!

-A man from Berlin has been functionally cured of HIV.  It is quite remarkable and undoubtedly will lead to great advances in HIV research but the technique used to cure him was a bone marrow transplant (which can be fatal) and was intended to cure his leukemia, which it did.  The cool thing is that they discovered that the donor is one of the 1% of people in the world who is inherently immune to HIV.  I'll let that sink in for a moment.

-Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Chickens?  A paleontologist wants to create a dinosaur from a chicken by turning on old genes within the chicken DNA.  Thus, he wants to create the chickenosaurus!  And in Malaysia, the skeleton of a rare lizard has been unveiled, which resembles the modern day dragon.  And it is rightfully named the Malaysian Dragon.  Unfortunately, it is just a sculpture made from chicken bones.

-Yes this is a real sign in Indianapolis, Indiana.  It's a sad day to be Hoosier.

One of Intel's Atom Processors and a penny.
-And finally, in computer science news, Intel released news about it's upcoming line of processors.  It plans to defy Moore's law with it's line of Atom processors.  Moore's law basically state's that computing functions improve at an exponential rate over time (i.e. processing speed, memory capacity, chip size, etc).  Intel plans to make the new Atom chips which will improve faster than the predictions of Moore's law.  I don't know whether to be excited, scared, or both.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

That's One Expensive Piece of Paper

The graduation season is upon us!  Students across the country have finished school and completed their bouts against “senioritis” in order to walk across a stage or gymnasium for a single piece of paper.  It’s quite ironic that as students we spend countless hours using thousands of pieces of paper to get a single one that is written in calligraphy and has our own name on it.  Before I get too much further I must congratulate a few people who have just graduated and are beginning a new chapter in their lives.

Congrats to the ladies of Pierce Street (Heather and Kristin), friends from res life, and all other 2011 Boilermakers who have just graduated from one of the greatest institutions in the world!  I wish you all nothing but the best and look forward to a brighter future knowing you all will be leading it. College truly is one of the best times in life and I feel privileged to have shared that experience with all of you. I must remind you that even though the door to this part of your life is closing, an even bigger and better door is opening for you all! I must also give a quick shout out to any other college graduates as you have just completed one the biggest steps in your life. (Pharm D pals, your shout out will come next year but best of luck in rotations and I can’t wait to celebrate with you all next May!)

Next, a congrats goes out to my brother, Jacob, and the high school class of 2011.  I attended Jacob’s graduation at my alma mater, Brownsburg High School last week and I must say, it kind of made me feel old.  First, it was my seventh BHS graduation (3 for band, my own, Heather’s, Adam’s, and Jacob’s) and the ceremony itself hasn’t changed, which is a good thing.  The traditional ceremony BHS has is has short and sweet as a graduation with 400+ students can be.  Second, I vividly remember babysitting students in this class.  That’s right, I got paid to put some of you to bed and stay up watching Sportscenter. Now you are all going off to college and being all independent, dang.  Lastly, I only saw a handful of teachers at graduation that I had or even knew.  The turnover in 5 years is extraordinary and if any of my past teachers happen to read this post I hope you know that every little thing you do for your students sticks with us whether we know it or not. 

Now, I am just a year removed from graduating college and still a good 4 years from graduating again, hopefully for the last time.  But I’ll offer a little piece of advice to all those who graduated.  Be thankful!  Thank your parents and your family for supporting you through school (whether it was financially, emotionally, or both).  Thank your friends for sharing the journey with you and making memories you will never forget.  But most of all, thank yourself!  Thank yourself for not giving up when things got tough or for not giving into peer pressure.  Thank yourself for studying and having the courage to try new things.  No one person is solely responsible for their own education, but you are the main benefactor!  That little piece of paper that you get when you walk across the stage (or in the mail later) is the most expensive piece of paper you’ll ever “buy.”  So you should thank the person who got it for you….you!

Alright, now that my emotionally expressive side has finished being all deep I plan to shed some light into a “Summer at School.”  Purdue in the summer is a completely different animal and I hope I can do it justice.  I have also begun a couple projects and even though I can’t go into to much detail I will begin a series of posts outlining some key subjects I will be working in (amorphous solids, solid state chemistry, infrared spectroscopy, etc.) I have also noticed that I have lacked visual aids in my blog lately and that will most definitely change.  Lastly, please check out the because I will hopefully be writing a guest blog about science movies on there sometime in the near future.