SUMMER RESEARCHERS REPORT BACK: Victoria Yan ’19 shares experience at MD Anderson Cancer Center

SUMMER RESEARCHERS REPORT BACK: Victoria Yan ’19 shares experience at MD Anderson Cancer Center

BY SABRINA EDWARDS ’18

Q: Where did you do research this summer?

A: I was in Houston this summer doing research at MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is affiliated with the University of Texas. 

Q: What specifically were you researching?

A: So MD Anderson is obviously focused on cancer and eliminating cancer, so I was working on more of the chemical synthesis lab and chemical biology side of that area. I actually had two projects because we were initially assigned mentors and we didn’t really have a choice over who we were being assigned to.

Summer researchers report back: Yewon Lee ’19 forges ahead with protein mutation research

Summer researchers report back: Yewon Lee ’19 forges ahead with protein mutation research

BY SABRINA EDWARDS ’18

Q: Where did you do research this summer?

A: I was here at Mount Holyoke in Professor McMenimen’s lab.

Q: What was your project?

A: I was assigned a new project with my lab partner during the spring semester, but my lab partner had another internship so she wasn’t here for the summer, so I was alone in the lab. I created a TAG point mutation in the n-terminus region using PCR of a small heat shock protein, specifically HSP27. Traditionally, the translational machinery would stop translation at the stop codon, and produce a truncated version of the protein. In my research, I transformed an orthogonal translational machinery and with the addition of unnatural amino acids (UAA), we are hoping to see the machinery charge the UAA at the stop codon, and continue translating to produce a full length protein.  

Never Fear: Ask

BY TEAGAN WEBB ’18

As someone who works with my brain all day, it can be really scary when my body hurts and I can’t figure out why. “Why can’t I control this? Why is my body falling apart?” I think in a panic at 3 a.m., after googling ‘clitoris pain’ again but this time adding ‘sharp’ and ‘random.’ Luckily, I am blessed with funny, frank and non-judgmental friends. They sit with me while I read forums and tell me about their most unfortunate UTI’s. Moments like these remind me to feel unashamed that I can’t control the most vulnerable parts of my body. 

This week, to start off the semester, I want to talk a bit about self-diagnosis, participatory medicine and my experience in the first few weeks of college. Growing up, my parents avoided taking me to the doctor or giving me medication as much as they could. This is partially due to economic instability and partially to the general hippie — “Have you tried sunrise yoga?”— attitude of Boulder, Colorado. 

When I first arrived at Mount Holyoke, I was faced with the realization that I had no idea how to buy medicine, call my insurance company or get what I needed from a doctor’s visit. Ask anybody who knows me — I can barely get up the nerve to buy Advil (Who am I? The queen of England?), but I will shell out for some apple cider vinegar and a tincture. Alternative medicine is more comfortable for me because it feels more participatory; I feel more trusted as an expert in my own care. But I recognize that is a feeling born of privilege; I can participate in traditional biomedical cures and spaces — and I do — whenever I need it. My degree and passion is in medical anthropology and biology, so I hopefully know what I’m talking about. Most importantly, I want to teach people to participate in their own care, and find a balance between biomedicine and holistic care which works for them. Becoming a self-advocate is one of the most difficult but rewarding things about growing up.

To me, having a body is not about mastery or control or any other masculine ideas of expertise and competency. I will always value communication over conquering. I have learned the most from the shared knowledge of a community which understands the faults and limits of biomedicine at addressing the health of marginalized people.

 Most of all, I want to become an active part of this network, to give as much as I have received from the bravery and honesty of those people who taught me what a yeast infection is and how to trust my body implicitly. So this year, I will be answering questions submitted to an anonymous Google form about sexual health, relationships and bodies. 

As a person who often feels ignored, anxious and silly in a doctor’s office, I hope to connect you with resources that make you feel unashamed, valued and competent. But if the topic of the week doesn’t apply to you, I hope my misadventures make you feel a little less alone and embarrassed the next time it burns when you pee. 

AAAS chief voices support for the March for Science

BY SABRINA EDWARDS 

The election of Donald Trump to the United States presidency has instigated a slew of protests and rallies for issues like women’s rights, the immigration ban, and the continuation of funding for Planned Parenthood.

Mount Holyoke American Red Cross Chapter hosts blood drives and more

Mount Holyoke American Red Cross Chapter hosts blood drives and more

Since its founding in 1881, the American Red Cross has provided humanitarian disaster relief and education both in the United States and internationally. Similarly, the Mount Holyoke College American Red Cross Chapter holds the mission of “[providing] a service to the community and [spreading] awareness on campus.”

Trump administration’s vaccine views may have global effects

Trump administration’s vaccine views may have global effects

On March 27, 2014, now President Donald Trump took to Twitter to relay his perspective on vaccines.

“If I were President I would push for proper vaccinations but would not allow one time massive shots that a small child cannot take — AUTISM.”

Research on immunotherapy as cancer treatment continues

Research on immunotherapy as cancer treatment continues

Cancer patients worldwide could soon be offered a new, less painful form of treatment that makes use of the body’s built-in arsenal to combat the disease. Doctors and researchers have been studying the human body’s immune system as a method to treat and prevent serious disease for centuries, but it wasn’t until the development of immunology that immunotherapy could be considered as an alternative to traditional cancer treatments.

Global pandemic preparedness remains in question

BY SABRINA EDWARDS '20

From 2014 to 2016, West Africa endured the largest known outbreak of the Ebola virus, a devastating viral infection which causes bleeding and organ failure. In Sept. 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report stating that the worst of the pandemic was still to come as local healthcare systems, international health groups and medical professionals all rushed to catch up to the disease. This report predicted that with "every 30-day delay in increasing the percentage of patients in [Ebola Treatment Units]... was associated with an approximate tripling in the number of daily cases that occur at the peak of the epidemic."

Amid new administration, NASA initiates two new space missions

BY HALEY LUCIAN ’17

On Jan. 4, 2017, NASA announced two new exploratory space missions, Lucy and Psyche. The goal ofthese two missions is to shed light on the period of time after the sun's birth. Each mission is estimated to cost roughly 450 million, which – according to NASA – is relatively inexpensive. The Lucy spacecraft will be launched in 2021 and will travel to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids that orbit with Jupiter around the sun. The Psyche spacecraft will follow in 2023 to explore a metal asteroid that, NASA said, has not been previously visited. 

Perseverance overrules IQ in determining success

BY SABRINA EDWARDS '20

Google “IQ test” and hundreds of online examples of IQ, or intelligence quotient, tests pop up. Even when searching “IQ” questions pop up, like “What is a good IQ?” and “What was Einstein’s IQ?” These searches show modern culture values intelligence and enjoys quantifying it in order to better compare people and their success. However, this concept of IQ comesfrom dubious sources and may not actually determine success, either in the classroom or in the real world.

CDC reveals rapid rise in cases of STDs throughout U.S.

BY HALEY LUCIAN '17

Two weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their 2015 STD Surveillance Report, which details “statistics and trends for sexually transmitted diseases in the United States through 2015.” The principal diseases tracked by the CDC in this report are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, all of which reached unprecedented levels of incidence in the 2015 United States population.

Learn how to conduct a breast self-exam

BY MEGHA PATEL '20

Performing monthly breast self-exams allows you to familiarize yourself with both the look and the feel of your breasts, helping you to easily recognize any abnormalities when the time comes. According to the nonprofit Breastcancer.org, three-quarters of breast cancer patients have no family history and are therefore not considered high risk, so it is important to check frequently, even if there are no other warning signs. There are several ways to complete a breast self-exam, so feel free to choose which one works best for you.

When should I start thinking about my breast health?

BY SABRINA EDWARDS '20

The number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime in the U.S. has increased steadily from 10 percent in the 1970s to 12.4 percent today, according to the National Cancer Institute. A lifetime is a long time, though; when should women start considering their breast health?

Increased breast cancer risk stems from age and genetics

BY HALEY LUCIAN ’17

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and is the second leading cause of death due to cancer among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to Breastcancer.org, it is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, so it is not surprising that over time this topic lingers in the back of people’s minds.

Focus on early breast cancer detection this October!

BY SARA ROTTGER '19

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month means more than buying pink-ribboned products; it’s also a time for spreading information and dispelling rumors. While one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s HealthFinder, early detection is possible. Understanding risk factors such as age and genetics can also help with prevention. Even college students can practice habits, such as performing regular self-exams, that create routines that become vital in later life. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make it a priority to share information and encourage those at potentially higher risk to speak with their doctors. If you choose to donate, use services such as Charity Navigator to find foundations that truly service the needs of breast cancer patients.