All posts by Marisa Sanchez

Data Reproducibility: The Chink in Science’s Armor

By Christopher Fiscus, Biotechnology, 2015

Science is an additive discipline in which each novel contribution builds upon the breadth of existing scientific knowledge and acts as a launch pad from which to pursue further study.  The scientific community is currently in the midst of a crisis: many studies are not reproducible, meaning that results cannot be adequately verified by other scientists.  According to estimates, approximately 75-90% of preclinical studies published in high-impact journals, such as Science and Nature, cannot be replicated (Begley and Ioannidis 2015).  This lack of reproducibility undermines science as a vehicle for human progress as it means that new research avenues are being pursued based on presumptive hypotheses and unverifiable findings.  The result is a widespread waste of resources, a loss of public trust in the scientific establishment, and a reduced applicability of science as a tool to better the quality of human life.  Potential solutions to this crisis include improving researcher training, employing more rigorous peer review, and increasing the transparency of scientific literature.      Continue reading Data Reproducibility: The Chink in Science’s Armor

SV2A is a Galactose Transporter

By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology ’15

SV2A is a synaptic vesicle protein, which participates in the regulation of neurotransmitter release in humans. SV2A is expressed in neurons and endocrine cells. The exact function of SV2A is still unknown, but it has been identified that SV2A is the binding site for the antiepileptic drug, levetiracetam. Levetiracetam reduces presynaptic glutamate release, especially in neurons with high frequency firing. Abnormally enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission with high frequency neural firing is found in epilepsy and several neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Continue reading SV2A is a Galactose Transporter

Learning from Drought in California: Past and Present

By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology, ’15

The most current drought in California is considered to be one of the worst droughts in the past century, and many wonder if this severity is due to climate change. However, California has had a long history of unpredictable weather fluctuations, and is familiar with severe droughts. Many droughts can have devastating effects, particularly in the agricultural industry and the hydropower industry. Most Californians have also experienced the effects of a drought first-hand, such as having enforced water rationing. Even though, California’s history has shown that most droughts have devastating effects, droughts can also great learning experiences.

Continue reading Learning from Drought in California: Past and Present

When the Last Frog Croaks

By Renata Vidovic, Evolution and Ecology ’15

To some, the phrase climate change evokes images of dry lakes, melting icebergs, and rising oceans. However, the effects of global warming are not simply cataclysmic geological changes. There are links between all biotic and abiotic features of an ecosystem. Unsurprisingly, climate change has an immense impact on frog populations around the world. Home range, abundance, breeding cycles, pathogen epidemics, and physical degradation in frogs are all affected by the changing climate.

Continue reading When the Last Frog Croaks

Evolution of Tooth Enamel

By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology, ‘15

One feature that sets humans apart from other primates is the thickness of tooth enamel. Scientists at Duke University have recently discovered evidence on how evolution has resulted in thickened enamel for human teeth. By comparing the human genome to five other primate species, geneticists and evolutionary anthropologists were able to identify two segments of DNA where natural selection may have played a role in giving rise to thick enamel. Differences in enamel thickness have been linked to the difference in diet among primates. Humans consume foods that are tougher to chew relative to the food eaten by other primates, which is why humans have developed thicker enamel through natural selection. Continue reading Evolution of Tooth Enamel

Origin of the Y Chromosome

By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology ‘15

The genomes of male and female mammals differ by one chromosome. The Y chromosome is only present in males, and is responsible for initiating the physiological and morphological differences between the sexes. This has not always been the case though; at one point, the X and Y were identical, and over time the Y chromosome began to differentiate from the X chromosome and shrink in size. The Y chromosome today only has 20 genes, whereas the X chromosome has over 1,000 genes. Continue reading Origin of the Y Chromosome

Green Tea Can Improve Your Memory

By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology ’15

Green tea has been said to have several health benefits including helping prevent certain types of cancer and inflammation. In a new study done by Dr. Beglinger and Dr. Borgwardt at the University of Basel in Switzerland, they have found that green tea extract enhances cognitive functions, particularly the working memory because green tea extract increases the brain’s effective connectivity, the causal influence that one part of the brain exerts on another part. Continue reading Green Tea Can Improve Your Memory

Prenatal Exposures and Risk for Chronic Diseases Later in Life

By Marisa Sanchez, Genetics ’15

Most people know that poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking as an adult can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Type II diabetes. However, research over the past couple of decades has shown that risk for CVD and type II diabetes could begin as early as prenatally through adverse exposures, such as overnutrition and placental insufficiency. Some mechanisms involved in determining risk for CVD and Type II diabetes are oxidative stress, inflammation, lipotoxicity, and epigenetics. Continue reading Prenatal Exposures and Risk for Chronic Diseases Later in Life