Category: iBench

Bridging the gap between science and the public.

Maybe you’re not a scientist by trade, but you’re still really interested and want to know more? Then this is the page for you! At iBench, we are geared at making science more relatable and engaging to the public, focusing on how science relates to everyday life and how it affects you!

The Rise of the Resistance: How Antibiotics Work

In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic discovered by mankind. He would eventually go on to win the Nobel Prize for this achievement, a well-deserved honor undoubtedly. The discovery itself is a bit of a humorous story, one of those moments in science that manifested as less of a “Eureka!” and more of “Hmmm, that’s interesting…” Regardless, the discovery would ultimately revolutionize the medical field and help usher us into the modern age of medicine. Although science history is fun to know, this post is not about where we’ve been; it’s about where we are now. We are...

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I’ve got a (scientific) crush on Immunotherapy

Do you have a “scientific crush”? sci·en·tif·ic crush noun An area of research that you are not actively science-ing but are constantly reading about and fascinated by A scientific phenomenon you want to discuss over a beer or two with your colleagues, or really anyone willing to listen An area of research that always gets your brain juices flowing and ends in a typical nerd-gasm (aka “it’s just SO cool!!!”)   The presenter at a recent journal club used this term to explain why he chose to present a particular article that wasn’t directly related to his own research. I...

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Cancer Stem Cells – Targeting the Mothership of a Tumor

There are moments while reflecting on my research that I imagine I’m in the movie Independence Day, gliding through outer space in a hijacked attack ship with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, locked in the alien mothership’s tractor beam. Little does the mothership know that inside this seemingly normal alien vessel sits a manmade nuclear bomb, primed for detonation. We creep up to the entrance of the great ship; its massive doors slowly open. Once inside, we see its vast inner workings. It is clear that they are mounting a new assault and we finally understand that this is the...

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Buzzwords in Science: Mutations – The crazy world of mutants and deadly mutations!

A buzzword that is commonly heard in science news across the medical spectrum is “mutations”. If you’ve read any sort of medical news report in the last decade,  you’ve likely heard the word “mutation” more times than you can count. But for such a prolific word that has undoubtedly made its way into the public sphere, very few people truly know what this means. So let’s take some time to understand mutations. First off, let’s dispel some myths that probably don’t need any dispelling. Most people have undoubtedly heard of X-men before and their version of mutants and mutations. So...

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Navigating the World of Genetic Testing

What can your DNA say about you? Do you get your eye color from your mother, your height from your father, and could you be at risk of a certain type of cancer? If you want to find out, one way is to have your DNA analyzed through a genetic test. Traditionally, a genetic test is deployed by a healthcare professional when they suspect a genetic cause of a person’s disease or ailment, and usually these tests will look at either a single gene (a part of your DNA that is used to make a protein with some function in...

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Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases: The Straw Man Fallacy

The Straw Man Fallacy is a common technique that opponents of science use to attack scientific theories or claims. That is not to say that such people have ill intentions, as often times people aren’t even aware that they are employing this fallacy. However, unlike some other fallacies, this one is not always so easy to identify. So let’s start at the beginning: What is the Straw Man Fallacy? The Straw Man Fallacy is a ideological misconception in which someone misrepresents their opponent’s argument, making it more simplistic and therefore an easier target. That is to say: when you alter...

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Mendeling in your affairs: understanding the term “Mendelian Disease”

It is a simple fact of life that each of us is impacted by genetic disease in one form or another, whether we know it or not. Most of us have probably heard a lot about diseases that develop due to both genetic susceptibilities and environmental exposures, such as type II diabetes and different forms of cancer. We in the genetics field like to call these “complex” diseases, because we just don’t fully get what causes them yet. On the other hand, there are some diseases that are 100% dictated by the alleles (variants of a single gene) you are...

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Let your kids play in the dirt, or don’t – they might be screwed either way.

The hygiene hypothesis has been a sexy but controversial topic in all the health sciences since its conception in the late 1980’s. The hypothesis being that developed countries have higher incidences of allergy because they are generally cleaner. Sounds simple but 20+ years later, it’s one of the most debated theories in the field. It started with an observation by David Strachan that, in a longitudinal study of individuals from birth to age 23, the incidence of hay fever was inversely correlated with the number of children in the household. In other words, the kids that got hay fever, which...

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Correlation does not imply causation! But then what does it mean?

“Correlation does not imply causation.” If you’ve ever taken a science course, you’ve likely heard this phrase before. And doubtless, if you’ve ever worked in research, this statement probably made you roll your eyes a bit, huffing out a scoff with the obligatory “No duh.” But if you’ve never heard of this phrase before, what does it actually mean? It’s actually less specifically related to science and more of a discipline in logical thinking. “Correlation” just means that two things are related or associated with one another. And “causation” just means that one event caused another event to occur. So...

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