Friday, November 15, 2013

Upcoming Events

I like to use this blog to remind readers of the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology about upcoming events they might enjoy. Here are a few:

1. Each December, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute webcasts its Holiday Lectures on Science. This year, the topic is Medicine in the Genomic Era.
“Sixty years after James Watson and Francis Crick revealed the structure of the DNA double helix and only a decade after scientists published the first complete read-through of all three billion DNA bases in the human genome, the ability to routinely sequence and analyze individual genomes is revolutionizing the practice of medicine—from how diseases are first diagnosed to how they are treated and managed. In the 2013 Holiday Lectures on Science, Charles L. Sawyers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Christopher A. Walsh of Boston Children’s Hospital will reveal the breathtaking pace of discoveries into the genetic causes of various types of cancers and diseases of the nervous system, and discuss the impact of those discoveries on our understanding of normal human development and disease.” 
Although there may not be a lot of physics in these lectures, the analysis of genomic data is a fine example of how mathematics and medicine are intertwined. The webcast schedule is
“December 5th, 2013
Live webcast
10:00 a.m. ET "Sizing up the Brain, Gene by Gene," by Christopher A. Walsh
11:30 a.m. ET "Cancer as a Genetic Disease," by Charles L. Sawyers
10:00 a.m. PT "Sizing up the Brain, Gene by Gene," by Christopher A. Walsh
11:30 a.m. PT "Cancer as a Genetic Disease," by Charles L. Sawyers 
December 6th, 2013
Live webcast
10:00 a.m. ET "Decoding the Autism Puzzle," by Christopher A. Walsh
11:30 a.m. ET "From Cancer Genomics to Cancer Drugs," by Charles L. Sawyers
10:00 a.m. PT "Decoding the Autism Puzzle," by Christopher A. Walsh
11:30 a.m. PT "From Cancer Genomics to Cancer Drugs," by Charles L. Sawyers”
I have seen these HHMI lectures in the past, and they are excellent. Aimed at the layman, the audience consists primarily of young scientists (high school students interested in science, if I recall correctly). They say you should register for the lectures, but I don’t think it costs anything. Enjoy.

2. During the Christmas season, the Royal Institution (home to one of my heroes, Michael Faraday) presents its Christmas Lectures. This year, they are about developmental biology.
“The 2013 CHRISTMAS LECTURES® presented by Dr Alison Woollard from the University of Oxford, will explore the frontiers of developmental biology and uncover the remarkable transformation of a single cell into a complex organism. What do these mechanisms tell us about the relationships between all creatures on Earth? And can we harness this knowledge to improve or even extend our own lives? - See more at:
These lectures will take place December 14, 17, and 19, in front of a live audience (again, mainly of students) at the Royal Institution in London. We Yanks who can’t afford to cross the pond will have to wait until January to view the recordings at the Royal Institution website.

If you think there is no physics in developmental biology, then you haven’t read Biological Physics of the Developing Embryo. (Honestly, I haven’t read the whole thing either, but I have skimmed through it and there is a lot of physics there.)

3. This time of year is when students should start thinking about research opportunities for summer 2014. One way to find such opportunities is by looking at the Pathways-to-Science website. I recommend the National Institutes of Health Internship Program in Biomedical Research. Having worked at NIH, I know that it is the best place in the world to do biomedical research. For an undergraduate student (or even high school student), working at NIH is the chance of a lifetime. Apply!

Oakland University, where I work, has a website listing many other summer research programs, such as the many Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs funded by the National Science Foundation. Some of them are for OU students, but we also list many programs that anyone can apply to. Set some time aside over the holiday break to review these programs.

4. I am the Oakland University representative for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which is the most prestigious honor available for undergraduate science, math, and engineering majors. I suspect many readers of IPMB are top students at their university. If you are currently a sophomore or junior at a United States university, you should ask around and find your Goldwater representative. Hurry, because the deadline is approaching fast! (Sorry, my friends from other countries, but only US citizens and permanent residents can apply.)

5. I just learned about the Science News for Students website. It is interesting, and worth a look. How did we survive without sites like these when I was growing up?

6. This week, Oakland University sent five of our top undergraduate researchers to the Sigma Xi 2013 Student Research Conference. This is a great meeting for young scholars, and undergraduates should explore the possibility of attending with their research mentor. This year’s meeting was November 8 and 9 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. I realize I was tardy in announcing this meeting…you just missed this year’s conference. But students should keep the meeting in mind for next year. Plan ahead! I am a big fan of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

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