Saturday, February 9, 2008

Research Symposium and Biology in general

It was pretty cool. I'm not really prepared to deal with a lot of the basic research side of things, but there was some interesting clinical information presented. The first three speakers were Cardiologists. Lame. Not really, the heart is pretty cool for an organ with one lame function. My favorite speaker was Dr. Fen Lei Chang, neurologist with FWN and a dean of the IU Fort Wayne Medical School. He basically spoke about how basic research in neurology, on animals and whatnot, doesn't translate well into clinical trials. He explored some of the neuroprotective studies and their, for the most part, failure. The last presenter was over Hematology-Oncology. It was interesting, but not extremely relevant to my practice at this point. I think being an Oncologist is a losing game. The better they get at treating Cancer, the less Oncologists they're going too need. All hearts and brains will go bad eventually, but Cancer can be prevented and cured.

It's always cool to see people who have pushed the boundaries of human knowledge. What those guys are doing is essentially filling in the blank spaces on a map. They can show with their research what others can only speculate over. It's pretty sweet.

I love looking at molecular biology though. The fact that we are not just one living thing, but actually many, many smaller things is facinating to me. Thinking about the fact that our existence is mediated by atoms trying to get their share of electrons is bizarre. When I'm feeling like my life is mundane or small in the big scheme of things, I like to remember that I am a dazzlingly complex array of Carbon and Calcium and Sodium and Potassium and many other elements bound into molecules that make living cells which cooperate and strive to keep me integrated. You may think that the fact that we are made of dust and water makes us ordinary, but I disagree, I think that it's the opposite. I think it makes us miraculous.

I think that the dichotomy inherent in humanity, animal v. elevated, is facitnating. I think that's why I love the brain so much. It is the embodiment of that conflict. The whole notion of this sort of conflict, rests on a lot of philosophical assumptions, but what meaningful thought doesn't? If we couldn't accept any assumptions, then we couldn't think anything at all because we couldn't trust our senses or our reason. You know, I think that I'm a bit of a rationalist. I have no philosophical education whatsoever, so I'll probably misuse these labels; but, I'm quite sure that I'm not an empiricist. Yes, I believe in the scientific method, but not without some philosophical backing. If I didn't see value in human life then why would I want to help preserve it?

Maybe it's good that I'm in composition class after all. I think I could use some help with paragraph structure, among other things.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I can definitely agree that the brain/mind is an interesting thing. Its kind of ironic to think about though, because you're using your brain, to think about... itself. And that just begs the question (actually it doesn't, I just like to say that phrase), what IS the mind anyway? Ooooooo..... (that's supposed to sound like a ghost or something, and picture me waving my hands around a little bit)

You may have already heard of this, but if not, I'm reading this book of interesting neurology cases called "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", which you should take a look at if you've got time. Its all about aphasias, deja vu, temporal lobes and whatnot. I wouldn't say its life-changing, but it is interesting