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Living by the Clock: How DNA Methylation Affects Lifespan

Have you ever wondered why skin cells and liver cells that contain the exact same DNA are so different? The answer is in gene expression. Although skin and liver cells do have the same DNA, different parts of the DNA are expressed in each type of cell. This cell type-specific expression results from different genes being “read” or transcribed by …

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match: How DNA Testing Changed Orthodox Jewish Matchmaking

Orthodox Jewish communities, shrouded in mystery and preserved by tradition, remain a small but easily recognized fixture in America’s Jewish population. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center Survey of US Jews, Orthodox Jews make up roughly 10% of the adult Jewish population in the United States [1]. Within the Jewish community, the Orthodox are identified by their strict adherence to …

Optogenetics: Illuminating the Inner Workings of the Brain

Optogenetics meets “Three Blind Mice” and the mice become blind no more. Researchers from various institutions, including the University of Southern California (USC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have worked together and succeeded in restoring vision to blind mice [1]. In April of 2011, a paper channeling their breakthrough was published in the journal Molecular Therapy [2]. It …

Cancer Treatment and Personalized Medicine: Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Basket Studies

On January 30th 2015, President Barack Obama gave the State of the Union Address. He took this opportunity to announce the Precision Medicine Initiative. This revolutionary approach to medical treatment is based on the principle of human individuality – people have different genes, environments, and lifestyles. It only makes sense that people respond to disease differently as well. In order …

The Complications Facing Precision Medicine

Earlier this year, President Obama announced the $215 million Precision Medicine Initiative which will “provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients” [1]. Taking into account individual genetic, environmental, and lifestyle differences, precision medicine aims to create personalized solutions to diseases afflicting patients in the 21st century. The initiative funds …

Evolution of the Primate Brain: What Makes Us Human?

Darwin’s famous voyage to the Galapagos Islands in 1831 formed the foundation of the theory of evolution [1]. Since then, scientists have applied this theory to investigate the diversity and relationship between species. Although Darwin’s theory of evolution states that humans evolved from primates, the definition of cognitive function and consciousness was not explained clearly. According to the Cambridge Declaration …