Monday, November 28, 2011

The Northern Copperhead, WV Native, Pit Viper.


The northern copperhead or the agkistrodon contortrix mokasen (“Snakes of WV,” 2006), from the kingdom animalia (“Copperhead snakes, 2011), is one of only two venomous snakes in the state of West Virginia (“Snakes of WV,” 2006). This reptilian beauty is rightly named for her large, triangular, copper-colored head. The underbelly of the northern copperhead is a pinkish color, while her back is covered in an hour glass pattern, wider on the sides and narrow through the middle, a reddish brown in color, serving as a camouflage from larger predators (“Snakes of WV,” 2006). Copperheads are classified as pit vipers, named for the indentations which sense heat located between the eye and nostril on both sides of the face (Henricks, 2008).
Young copperheads are recognized by the yellow tip on their tail and are often much shorter in length (“Snakes of WV,” 2006). The average length of this West Virginia predator is around two feet for adults and around eight to ten inches at birth. The record length for the state is four and a half feet (“Some snakes of,”).


As is common among snakes, copperheads have jaws that are not fused together to accommodate for devouring sizable prey whole. It is difficult to sneak up on a copperhead unless they are getting ready to strike, for their sense of hearing is gained through vibrations in the jaw bone through the ground.
Copperheads are not known for a vicious demeanor and are not usually dangerous unless startled or threatened (“Some snakes of,”). Bites from a copperhead are very rarely lethal, though said to be incredibly painful. Venom is made up of a blend of saliva, proteins and enzymes, and that of a copperhead contain hemotoxins, which prevent blood from clotting and damages muscle tissue, as well as neurotoxins which attack the central nervous system (Henricks, 2008). The northern copperhead will strike from birth (“Some snakes of,”).


The mountains of West Virginia are a perfect environment for this predator, as the biome of the agkistrodon contortrix mokasen is that of the deciduous forest however, copperheads are known to wander into domesticated areas, in part, because of their diets (Jathar, 2011).
Juvenile copperheads often live mainly on invertebrates before they reach full strength and speed, although adults are also known to seek out aquatic prey. Amphibians and reptiles, frogs, turtles and other snakes that are indigenous to the area, are also common menu items for both adult and juvenile. However, the older the copperheads become, the more they feast primarily on rodents such as mice and moles (“Copperhead snakes,” 2011).
It is the pursuit of rodents that is most likely the reason for domesticated spotting of the northern copperhead. They have been spotted around barns and buildings, city gardens, wood and sawdust piles, and in haystacks, all places one is likely to catch a mouse (“Some snakes of,”).

Life Cycle:

Adult copperheads generally shed once to thrice a year and will shed to heal infection and injury. Juveniles shed to accommodate growth as well as for healing (“Copperhead snakes,” 2011).
Northern copperhead mating season begins in February and ends in April. The age of sexual maturity is around the 4th year of life for both the male and female. A female will mate with a single male per season and can store the sperm he produces for several months. The act of mating can last for three to eight hours, the end of which involves the male fertilizing the female with one of several reproductive “spikes (“Copperhead snakes,” 2011).”
Gestation is typically three months and spawns between one and fourteen juveniles (“Some snakes of”). Copperheads are viviparous, meaning their births are live rather than hatched from eggs as with some species of snakes (“Copperhead snakes,” 2011).
During the winter copperheads will den with other copperheads as well as several other species of snakes, which could prove fatal to the copperhead as it is not uncommon for snakes to eat other species of snakes (“Copperhead snakes,” 2011).


(2006). Snakes of west virginia. Elkins, WV: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

Copperhead snakes. (2011). Retrieved from

Hendricks, B. (2008, May 25). Watch where you walk, work, play wisdom, caution can help sportsmen avoid venomous bites. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Jathar, R. (2011, September 21). Deciduous forest animals. Retrieved from

(n.d.). Some snakes of west virginia. Charleston, WV: West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Conceiving after the age of 35

I thought this topic to be very fitting after my paper on stem cell research. It can be difficult for women to conceive later in life because ovulation is not always successful as we age. There is a chance of unintended pregnancy if no form of contraceptives are being used, consequently 60% of unintended pregnancies of women over the age of 40 end in abortion ("Getting pregnant during," 2011). For women over the age of 35 pursuing pregnancy in vitro fertilization and other forms of reproductive assistance are available. Here is what you should know if you are part of this demographic or love someone who is:

Risks of late gestation:

The longer a woman waits to conceive the higher risk the pregnancy she seeks. Complications are not just more likely for the woman, but also for the child.

Risks for mothers:

Women who become pregnant later in life are at risk for several health issues depending on how healthy they are at the time. Over the age of 35, particularly women who are overweight or practice poor eating habits, gestational diabetes is more common than in younger mothers-to-be, as well as preeclampsia (high blood pressure) and osteoporosis, a painful disorder of the bones (“Getting pregnant during,” 2011). According to, a website run by the National Cancer Institute, women having their first child after age 30 are at the highest risk of getting breast cancer. Breast cancer is attributed two hormones produced in the ovaries; progesterone and endogenous estrogen. Pregnancy in peak years of reproduction, as well as breast feeding, combat breast cancer by limiting the body’s levels of these hormones (“National cancer institute,” 2011).

Risks for babies:

Babies born to mothers over the age of 35 are at risk for still birth and miscarriage, and are also more likely to be born with low birth weight, in breech position or via a cesarean section(“Getting pregnant during,” 2011). Chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome and open neural tube defects such as spina-bifida are also a higher risk for older mommies (LPCH, 2011).

Implemental advances in medical technology:

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):
ART is comprised of 3 main methods of fertilization; in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT). Success rates are listed individually per clinic and can be found on the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but on average, depending on age, the success rate is 6-25% for a woman over the age of 30 (“In vitro fertilization, 2007).


IVF is a very involved process that requires fertility medications and monitoring of egg release via ultrasound. Once eggs are produced, they are extracted and fertilized before an incubation period in which the ultimate goal is the procurement of usually several embryos. If expectations of egg fertility are low, sperm may be directly injected into eggs before incubation. This process is called an intractoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI.
Less than a week after the gametes have begun dividing, multiple embryos are injected transvaginally with the help of an ultrasound machine for monitoring. Couples or single women seeking IVF may use their own gametes or those supplied by a donor (“In vitro fertilization, 2007).


GIFT & ZIFT offer alternatives to IVF but only make up for a combined total of less than 3.5% of ART in the US for aspiring mothers with fertility complications. GIFT is an injection of gametes into the fallopian tube of the mother with the idea of fertilization taking place there rather than in a lab. ZIFT is the injection of a zygote (created in the lab) into the fallopian tube via a laparoscopic surgery (“In vitro fertilization, 2007).

Screenings during pregnancy:

There are many screenings available to monitor the health of the mother and child during pregnancy and modern medicine currently offers several that benefit the 35+ mom.
The triple screen test is a blood screening that tests for hormones indicative of chromosomal abnormalities and open neural tube defects (ONTD), but amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are more accurate (“Genetic testing during,” 2011). Amniocentesis is 99.4% accurate and is the testing of the amniotic fluid during the 15th to 20th week of pregnancy via a very fine needle through the abdomen, monitored by an ultrasound machine (LPCH, 2011). A CVS is every bit as accurate but is not capable of testing for ONTD. This procedure involves transvaginal or transabdominal procurement of a placenta sample at the 12th to 16th week of gestation, also monitored by ultrasound (LPCH, 2011).

Personal Opinion:

I had both of my children early but plan to conceive again later in life. How much later, I am uncertain. I think I am at less of a risk for most complications due to the fact that it will not be my first and because genetics are on our side.
For others, I support the right of anyone to pursue what makes them happy, risk or not. Pregnancy has risks for everyone, even when the odds are in our favor. I also support adoption and surrogacy. I feel the decision is with the mother once she is educated of the risks, but educated she should be before she makes any decisions.


Genetic testing during pregnancy. (2011). Retrieved from
Getting pregnant during the menopausal years. (2011). Retrieved from
In virto fertilization: Ifv. (2007, May 01). Retrieved from
Lucile packard children's hospital. (2011). Retrieved from
National cancer institute. (2011, May 10). Retrieved from

Monday, November 21, 2011

The History & Future of Stem Cell Research

What are stem cells?

Stem cells occupy the bodies of mammals of all species, ages and sizes. Stem cells provide every cell, organ and tissue in the body with a foundation. The stem cells that remain in the body after it is formed and fully developed have exceptionally long lives in which they self-replicate and self-sustain to contribute to the normal regeneration needed in the body. In development, they are blank until programmed with a specialized function, such as producing a spleen or a heart, or building a skeletal system (“Questions and answers,” 2011). Embryonic stem cells are those found in the tissues of an embryo and all of the organs produced for healthy gestation. There are three types of “adult” stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells, which form blood, endothelial stem cells, which form the vascular system, and mesenchymal stem cells which form muscle, fibroblasts, bone, cartilage and fat (“Questions and answers,” 2011). Additionally there are pluripotent and multi-potent stem cells, the difference between which, being that pluripotent has a specialized function with regenerative qualities and multi-potent cells have the ability to differentiate, or become one of several tissues or organs (“Questions and answers, 2011).

Embryonic Stem Cells:

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) possess a greater rate of regeneration and replication, they are considered to be more plastic than “adult” stem cells because of their natural effectiveness, considering that these are the cells responsible for composing an entire human body in around nine months. ESCs can be found in the blastocyst that is the product of the first week of conception (“Questions and answers,” 2011). Samples of this type are achieved through left over compositions of in-vitro fertilization (Green, 2001), although ESCs can also be found in amniotic fluid, baby teeth and umbilical cord blood through donors (“Questions and answers, 2011).

Hematopoietic Stem Cells:

Due to the extensive research on hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), we know much more about them than any other “adult,” human stem cell. HSCs are the regenerative tissue of the circulatory and immune system, making them invaluable to modern medicine. HSCs have the capability to become any type of blood cell, based on research. These wonderfully malleable cells thrive for extended periods in bone marrow, and periodically circulate in the blood stream, dividing into progenitor cells, precursors to specialized cells. When all functions of HSC circulation are complete, the HSC regenerate, some complete the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and the rest return to the bone marrow. What separates the cells that preform apoptosis versus those who do not is currently a research unknown (“Hematopoietic Stem Cells,” 2011).

Why study stem cells?

In the scientific community the pursuit to understand the human body is an endless one. Every type of cell serves some purpose. The more the functions of human cells are understood, the more possibilities unfold for preventative and treatment measures for the many things that can go wrong within the body. The short answer is the medical benefits that stem cells can provide those in need.

A brief history of stem cell research:

In 1945 scientists were researching mice that were exposed to lethal doses of radiation. It was suspected that bone marrow possessed that ability to form new blood cells. The proof arose when scientists effectively preserved the poisoned mice by transplanting bone marrow from healthy mice. In 1985, a scientist by the name of Perkins did some research on the embryonic stem cells of mice. It was determined that all progenitor cells could be produced between mouse ESCs and hematopoietic growth factors, which cause hematopoiesis or the formation of all the blood cells within the body (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).
In the 1960’s, scientists Til and McCullough discovered regenerative qualities and plastic capabilities while analyzing bone marrow. In 1992, when the plasticity of HSCs and ESCs was still an uncertainty, the New York Blood Center began storing umbilical cord blood and placenta that would otherwise be discarded to begin research on human ESCs (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011). In 1998 research teams in Johns Hopkins University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison successfully grew human stem cells in culture. Their efforts included the use of telomerase to prevent death of the cell line, easing the burden of time for further research, the result; “an immortal, pluripotent human stem cell culture (Green, 2011).”
Former President Bill Clinton had aspirations to fund stem cell research during his presidency, however, his term ended and with the arrival of George W. Bush in office, research was severely limited. In 2001 Bush limited funding to research on currently established ESC lines only, and vetoed against expansion of research for two years, consecutively (Townsend, 2008), despite Kerry’s campaign for funding new cell lines in the election of 2004 (Sharockman, 2010). In 2005 Korea allowed for the cloning of embryos with the intent of extracting cells for research. Here, began the pursuit of the scientific community in the U.S. and Japan to catch up (Sabin, 2005), followed by Israel, England and Australia (Lu, 2009). President Barack Obama favored the expansion of stem cell research as a senator and opened funding to research on new ESC lines in 2008 upon being appointed president (Lu, 2009).
Current treatments and practices involving HSC and ESC
HSC is currently being stored for some cancer patients, as a finalized treatment, while they undergo chemotherapy and take other cancer treatment drugs. Upon cleansing the body of cancerous cells, HSCs from the patient are reintroduced to promote healthy regeneration, division and apoptosis of the many cells in the blood (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).
Similarly, bone marrow is transplanted from match donors to promote hematopoiesis after chemotherapy in those being treated for leukemia and lymphoma. An alternative treatment to bone marrow transplant, Gleevec, was introduced in 2001 as a means to encourage apoptosis in infected white blood cells. Results of clinical trials for Gleevec are currently an unknown (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).
Bone marrow transplants can have a positive impact in many inherited blood disorders, such as sickle-cell anemia, osteoporosis, and Hunter’s syndrome. Treatments for muscular dystrophy are also currently in clinical trials (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).

Challenges for stem cell research:
Challenges for the researcher:

There is one hematopoietic stem cell to every ten to fifteen thousand (1/10,000-15,000) bone marrow cells and to every hundred thousand blood cells in circulation of the circulatory system (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011). There is no current efficient method of distinguishing between “adult” hematopoietic stem cells and other blood cells, therefore identifying them can be incredibly difficult. To add an element of challenge, without host, cells do not continue to regenerate and divide for long. Proliferation, or continuing the life of a cell outside of a host, can more easily be achieved, however, if a method of identification became available (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).
Challenges for the research:
As previously mentioned, funding has not always been readily available in the U.S. for all forms of stem cell research necessary to advance the way the scientific community aspires to in medicine. Embryonic stem cells are best extracted from destroying an embryo, which raises moral and ethical question, particularly among religious groups and those affiliated. That affiliation is likely the reason for Bush’s 2001 bill as well as his multiple vetoes against opening funds for new embryonic stem cell lines.
In matters involving conception, gestation and early development, the public is often divided. While a zygote and embryo are not a person, they are the precursor to a person and to many religious institutions, the destruction of them is wrong. Incidentally, the embryos and other tissues currently being used for ESC research are tissues that would otherwise be discarded in waste; such is the case with in vitro fertilization “left-overs” and umbilical cord blood and placenta (Green, 2011).
Federal funding is no longer a concern under the Obama administration, although, due to economic decline, much funding, outside of what is provided by the federal government is in jeopardy (Lu, 2009). In addition, the fifteen years of debate surrounding the funding of stem cell research may have cost the U.S. an entire generation of scientists who may have dedicated their career to studying stem cells, according to the co-director and co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, David Scadden, whose research involves mainly hematopoietic stem cells (Calborn, 2011).

Challenges in “cell-therapy:”

“Cell therapy” is the term for the use of stem cells to replace damaged cells with healthy cells. Identification of HSCs also presents a problem with treatment, as well as the availability of enough HSCs at a time to be effective (“Questions and answers,” 2011). Researchers have been able to extract HSCs from bone marrow in a donor using Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factors (GCSF). The blood is filtered through a machine that catches CD34+ cells, or cobblestone area-forming cells, and then returns red blood cells. This yields a five to 20% concentration of “true hematopoietic stem cells (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).”
ESCs also present problems that cannot be ignored within the realm of “cell therapy” treatment. First, as with conception, the conditions of integration must be immaculate for the therapy to be successful (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011). White blood cells fight off foreign cells, for they are designed to determine the difference between self and non-self. This is the cause when the body rejects transplanted tissue (Alters & Alters, 2008). T lymphocytes, a specialized white blood cell that has the capability to differentiate as well, are great for integrating EBCs and fighting off infection, however, they are also the cause for graft-versus-host disease. In order to properly integrate, immune-suppression therapy need take place, which is a dangerous endeavor (“Hematopoietic stem cells,” 2011).

The future of stem cell research:

[Extracting stem cells from a patient]. . . That can become the ultimate, personalized medicine tool kit: a stem cell-based tool kit to study what goes wrong, determine what drug candidates might affect it, and possibly even supply the cells to replenish those lost in the disease.
– David Scadden (Clalborn, 2010)
Stem cell research, as it progresses over the next decade or more, will be exploring the plasticity of stem cells and the possibility of using them to grow whole organs, tissues and cure degenerative diseases such as muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease (“Questions and answers,” 2011).
Stem cells found in the brain are almost completely inactive, they barely respond to injury or disease. The use of ESCs to treat mental illness or brain injuries is a real possibility in the future, due to the current support from the federal government (“Questions and answers,” 2011).

In summary:

Should the next president continue funding of ESC research, an assay for identification and/or solution of proliferation become available to scientist and the economy make a full recovery, there will still be challenges ahead for stem cell researchers. For every question answered is bound to inspire even more questions.
As with any research and development of medical treatment, morals and ethics must play a role in regulation and law. People must be protected, donors must be protected and rights must be protected. Conforming to the proper guidelines, the results of stem cell research are seemingly endless. It is with bated breath that the families of fatally ill and mortally wounded patients wait for an answer to their prayers. Stem cell research could quite possibly be that answer.


Alters & Alters (2008) Biology: Understanding Life. Hoboken, NJ.

Clalborn, K. (2011). Federal funding for stem cell research: 15 years of indecision. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 121(7), 2531.

Green, R. (2001). The stem-cell debate. Retrieved from

Hematopoietic stem cells. In Stem cell information [world wide web site]. Bethesda, MD: National
Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011) [cited Wednesday, November 16, 2011] Available at

Lempien, E. (2011, July 28). AAAS welcomes court ruling to allow continued federal funding of
embryonic stem cell research. Retrieved from

Lu, A. (2009, March 04). Budget cuts endanger stem-cell research in NJ. The Philadelphia Inquirer, p. A1.

Questions and answers about stem cells. (2011). Retrieved from

Sabin, B. (2005). Stem cell research-who benefits? who loses?. J@pan Inc, (64), 3.

Sharockman, A. (2010, June 11). Bill mccollum and barack obama see eye-to-eye on stem cell research, rick scott claims. St. Petersburg Times.

Stem cell information [world wide web site]. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health. U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. (2011) [cited Wednesday, November 16, 2011] Available at

Townsend, T. (2008, September 26). Mccain stem cell ad irks conservative christians ad never uses the term 'embryonic,' which is at the heart of dispute about stem cells in missouri. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. C1.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vaccines, Some Statistics And a Balanced Argument

Is it worth the risk?

When comparing statistics, I think that it is very clear which is the bigger risk between immunizing or denying a child vaccines against common ailments. As an example, according to a report from the Pediatric Academics Society in 2003, an estimated 10.5 million instances of illness and 33,000 deaths annually are prevented because of vaccinations (Vaccines, 2010). In the argument against mandated vaccinations, or immunization in general, you will find that 30,000 cases of adverse effect resulting from vaccines have been reported since 1991, 13% of which were considered “serious ,” to define, resulting in hospitalization, life-threatening, fatal , or causing permanent disability (Vaccines, 2010). In comparing those statistics the more serious risk is clearly in declining the treatment.

In argument against vaccines (I chose the most valid and plausible):

Mandates for school admission are a violation of the first amendment when immunization is unacceptable within the religious facility or following to which a family participates (Vaccines, 2010).

Regulation of food, water and wastes coupled with nutrition and hygiene are sufficient in the prevention of common illness (Vaccines, 2010).

Certain vaccines may cause the illness it is seeking to prevent, lymphatic complications due to immune suppression, brain and spinal cord inflammation, and does not protect against all strains of disease and illness (Vaccines, 2010).

The immune system is weakened by immunization and children need to be able to build antibodies naturally (Vaccines, 2010).

In argument for vaccines (by way of counter-arguments):

No one has the right to endanger the public because of philosophical or religious beliefs, especially in public schools that are federally regulated. Those opposed can choose private schools. However, all 50 states of which mandate immunization also have exceptions of some form for such a reason (Vaccines, 2010).

Hygiene, nutrition and the proper regulation of water, food and waste are promoted similarly in Victoria Australia. In 2006, there were 424 reported instances of influenza. In 2007 immunization was reported to have experienced a dip in popularity, incidentally the reported instances of influenza rose to 1,590 reported instances (Medew, 2008)! As an example, what makes society as safe as it can be is still not as effective as vaccinations and therefore declining is much less likely to protect you from illness or, even death.

The studies that anti-vaccination advocates rely on are often biased, exaggerated and offer false data (Vaccinations, 2010). In 2010 the journal article that sparked the fear of a link between autism and immunization was retracted by the journal that printed it in 1998, The British Medical Journal, and in 2011, released a new article chronicling “elaborate fraud” of the 1998 writer (Vaccinations, 2010). In regards to not protecting against all strains of an illness, HPV was most commonly referenced in the anti-vaccine campaign (Vaccinations, 2010). Every year in the US there are 10,000 diagnoses and 3,700 deaths attributed to cervical cancer. HPV causes two types of cervical cancer, as the second leading cancer killer of women, is it really worth the wager (Vaccines, 2010)?

Vaccines give the natural immune system a boost by introducing the toxin/virus to the body in a safe manner, by deactivating it first. Vaccines seem to be more natural and safer than antibiotics being that antibiotics promote tolerance and build up in the body sometimes having adverse cosmetic effects; allergies are also a possibility of anything meant to cure (Alters & Alters, 2008).

Do I immunize?

I have always and will always immunize. I made the benefits and risks an independent study (as well as other health concerns) through out the duration of my first pregnancy because I was very irrationally afraid I would lose my son. Also, the doctor's office I was frequenting, as well as the hospital I delivered at, provided literature about the different immunizations offered and when. I think the bigger risk is not immunizing. I am comforted by the statistics. I don't think vaccines are 100% safe just as antibiotics are not, but I will not gamble on my children's health. I would rather get every vaccine offered and have them be tired or sore for a day or a week and never have to deal with rubella or polio.


Alters & Alters (2008) Hoboken, NJ. Wiley & Sons. p.526

Injection of good sense. (2010, July 20). The Globe and Mail, p. A14.

Medew, J. (2008, October 27). Don't dodge the needle, doctors say. The Age, p. 3.

Vaccines. (2010, January 07). Retrieved from


I wish.
My attempt at downplaying disappointment.
I was confident I had found the perfect position.
The interview went amazing and I bristled at minimum wage but felt secure in the possibility of a review and possible raise every 90 days..
So I really put my best foot forward, I went in asking questions, did as I was asked, did a little extra and offered to do more.
My boss is/was impressed.
I got a little flustered when my client became hostile. I handled it well despite my anxiety and put it in the paperwork, going directly to my boss for communication since there was no other form.
Today I find out my client is going back to rehab and I am so incredibly disappointed.

So here is what I have to do.
Senior care is not my preferred anyway, I would prefer someone who is developmentally disabled, specifically with down syndrome.
Now I have the availability when that job comes along.
My client was hostile, possibly drama-filled and approaching dementia and that is stressful and brings out my anxiety.
I've had several clients who were a pleasure to work for and now I can find another like that.
The pay was minimum wage and the drive was out of town. Now I can be available if a client becomes available through my company that is close by or I can be available if another company offers me better pay.
The hours were right but there wasn't enough of them, this opens me up for something with at 20-25 hours per week.

At least I found and sitter city and those allow me to browse at my convenience and possibly get hits as I already have- though I have not heard back form anyone yet.
Of course the hope is that I will hear back from someone and it will be THE job for me until I get my bachelor's and can pursue something amazing, significant and high-paying.

I feel better already. ^.^

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's okay that you wronged me. . .

It's okay that you wronged me, for those who harm are never content,
Pockets are tighter for a bit, my trust in others will take a hit,
But the time invested in bettering any individual is well-spent.

As opportunities continue to open up and present me with improvement,
I will soon forget your face, no one else will ever embrace,
Soon you will be completely alone in your constant movement.

Soon you will run out of good hearts to manipulate.

As I progress onward, my family rising slowly, shining bright,
Your conscience will catch up as you are running out of luck,
I will hold on to what you have taught me, knowing I was right.

As you begin to look older and feel the many years of others' hate,
My smile lines the only indicator of times perpetrator,
You will find all of your fears and regrets put you in a sorry state.

But until then, I know, you will never stop to contemplate.

We both deserve all that is coming to us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Henrietta Lacks And Bioethics

Henrietta Lacks is arguably the most important woman to the advancement of biology to ever have lived. Mrs. Lacks was diagnosed at 29 in 1951 with Stage 1 invasive cervical cancer. Married mother of 5, Lacks turned to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland when she began spotting well prior to her menstruation cycle and discovered a lump on her cervix (“The miracle woman,” 2010). Her first treatment was given right after a biopsy that neither she nor her husband consented to. Three months later, she died (“The miracle woman,” 2010). Mrs. Lacks cells produced the first immortal cell, dividing at such a rate that an entire generation was born in just 24 hours (“The story of,” 2010). Coined “HeLa” cells, Henrietta’s cells have been used to test the effect of chemotherapy, develop methods for cloning, gene mapping and in-vitro fertilization (“Five reasons henrietta,” 2010). They helped produce treatments for polio (“Five reasons henrietta,” 2010), influenza, herpes, Parkinson’s, hemophilia, leukemia and lactose intolerance(Skloot, 2010). Because of her biopsy scientists have come to understand the intricacies of DNA and the effects of zero-gravity on human cells and can be attributed to the clinical trials currently in place for a cancer treatment (Skloot, 2010). In a short period of time after discovering the immortality of “HeLa” cells, they became the standard for research sold to labs all over the world (“The story of,” 2010). And even though the pathologist and doctor taking the biopsy has profited millions of dollars by selling her tissues all over the world (NPR, 2010), her family knew nothing of her contribution until 25 years later when scientists sought to test their cells for similar properties (Skloot, 2010). In fact, early publications briefly mentioned Henrietta in journals and text books as “Helen Lane (Skloot, 2010),” referencing no more than her condition perhaps to protect the lack of authorization of the pathologist who biopsied her.
The outrage of Henrietta’s family, a group of people who could not afford health insurance despite the immense fortune Henrietta’s cells was responsible for, was well documented in special interest magazines, such as Ebony, despite Henrietta’s absence from medical journals, and laid the foundation for an establishment of bioethics, at least the matter that handles the importance of consent and credit where it is due. Also, as a contribution to epidemiology, this is a perfect example of balancing research of a condition with ways to treat it (Outram, 2011).

I definitely see purpose in bioethics, within reason. In my opinion that doctor and pathologist had absolutely no right to benefit financially from “HeLa” cells. The first manner of business when their properties were identified should have been to notify Mrs. Lacks of their discovery, attempt further treatment with their findings and offer negotiations for the continued use. Perhaps she could have supplied further samples, her family could have been involved earlier and the “HeLa” cells could have been supplied throughout the scientific community free of charge. I would think it is public opinion that making millions of dollars off of “stolen property” is not just unethical, it is also fraud. I understand that had she not consented and her wishes were respected, that we would not be where we are today as far as our understanding of medicine and human processes, but at the very least a profit should not have been made regarding the sale of “HeLa” cells.

In regards to other bioethics issues, I feel this discipline has a responsibility to protect the individual rights of the patient and "donor," as well as the safety and well-being of the public. I do not, however, think that morals and ethics should be based on any religious beliefs. I do not believe that religion has any place in science, in fact, I believe it to be a detriment to the advancement of science. Morals, without religious belief, are perfectly capable of protecting the public as well as individual patient rights.

As an afterthought, I was unable to find even a mention of bioethics or epidemiology in the index of our text book. Curious.


Five reasons henrietta lacks is the most important woman in medical history [Web log message]. (2010, February 05). Retrieved from

‘Henrietta lacks': A donor's immortal legacy [Web series episode]. (2010) In NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Retrieved from

Outram, S. M. (2011). Epidemiology and bioethics: A plea for reconnecting with the public. REVUE CANADIENNE DE SANTÉ PUBLIQUE, 102, 4-6. Retrieved from ProQuest.
Skloot, R. (2010). The immortal life of henrietta lacks. New York, NY: Crown. Epilogue. Retrieved from

The miracle woman. (2010), O : The Oprah Magazine, 11(2), 159. Retrieved from

The story of henrietta lacks & modern medical research, this week on sound medicine - office of public and media relations. (2011, May 24). IU Medicine Communications. Retrieved from

Friday, November 4, 2011

Classic Lame Rant

It is shocking how advocates for opposition of any environmental, education or viable economic movements seem to have a complete disregard for the future. Politicians, I can, perhaps, see (with so many degrees of separation from those of us who would be immediately and monumentally affected) how they can argue with a sufficient vocabulary, skirting the important details with big words and false patriotism. However, I find it repulsive: the "common" people like you and I, the average-American, taking these figure-head's words as gospel, all the while nodding with goofy grins on their faces and a look of adoration in their eye. These people are not patriots. They are bigots. They are oppressors and you & I? The oppressed.

These lazy, greedy politicians will feed the public half-truths and when they are not balanced with the right opposition, our creature comforts get the best of us. Who are these opponents? Why have I not heard these names? Press, media, promotion and occasional word of mouth is where you get your political beliefs unless you PURSUE them or are lucky enough to have someone in your life who does. Recognize that those with the most pull have campaigns funded, or, at the very least aided, by the richest corporations and churches in the nation, therefore A MAJOR THEME is occurring in our government... consider this, though.. THE CURRENT METHOD IS NOT WORKING. HENCE economic decline, POINT spreading political activism, public outrage, civil disobedience, etc.

I understand that nature displays, very clearly, the famed survival of the fittest. I get it. I see value in recognition of phenomenal efforts and achievement. However, I don't view deliberately allowing the destruction and compromised quality of what we all require to thrive. Isn't that a form of manslaughter? Why aren't these people held accountable? Perhaps my perspective is a bit extreme. Haha

I began my pursuit in Environmental studies because the more I learned from a scientific perspective, the more the world made sense to me and the more beautiful and exciting the universe became, but people continue to elude me. We're not stupid as a species, but somehow we are just alright with being ignorant sometimes, and that is disturbing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Look @ Biodiversity

I agree that when compared to the efforts going toward preserving endangered species, that the decline versus the recovery is absolutely stifling, however, research from this decade suggests that positive results are on the rise (Jeffery, Kiernan, Martin, Rachlinski, Suckling & Taylor, 2011). In regards to the Endangered Species Act, it was documented throughout the 1990’s that recovery starts to become a realistic goal the longer a species remained on the endangered species list (Jeffery, Kiernan, Martin, Rachlinski, Suckling & Taylor, 2011). What is the price of quality living? What is the price of life? I believe those are questions one need ask oneself when considering opposition of any brand of environmental reform. The fact is, as of 2010, the evidence of a need for further environmental reform is undeniable.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in 2010 12% of all birds, 21% of mammals, 28% of reptiles, 37% of fresh-water fish, 50% of amphibians, and a horrifying 70% of botanical species are in danger of extinction and actual number are on the rise, daily (Godoy, 2010). According to the World Wildlife Fund, (WWF) 27% of known species vanished between the years of 1970 and 2005 (Godoy, 2010). Europe’s TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) suggest loss of 7.2 billion USD between the years of 2000 and 2050, attributed to the decline in biodiversity (Godoy, 2010).

From a biological perspective, biodiversity is essential in maintaining the biosphere and sustaining life on our planet. The decimation of biological diversity, in turn, complicates research and developmental possibilities, including future and present preventative measures (Alters & Alters, 2008). From a personal stand point, not only would my nutrition and that of my children be compromised in a life with limited biodiversity, also, the economy would fail to recover causing further hardship in the lives of my loved ones as well as myself, but as a nature enthusiast, seeing our planet in any worse shape than it is presently would be devastating to say the least (Godoy, 2010). Nutrition will suffer when crops begin to fail because of harsh conditions and a lack of pollenating species, the economy will deteriorate with the crops and when poor nutrition has many people out of work because of a difficulty recovering from illness and injury(Jeffery, Kiernan, Martin, Rachlinski, Suckling & Taylor, 2011). That being said, I certainly would be willing to put economic gains on hold to preserve the environment. Of course, I see that as a temporary but necessary chiseling of the economy.
Preservation to the necessary extent will be a lengthy and involved process that will take man-power on many different levels, and it is, therefore, my belief that these changes will eventually boost the economy (Jeffery, Kiernan, Martin, Rachlinski, Suckling & Taylor, 2011).


Alters. , & Alters, (2008). Biology: Understanding life. (pp. 741-753). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Godoy, J. (2010). Biodiversity: 'pious words won't save endangered species'. United
States, New York: Global Information Network. Retrieved from

Jeffery, J., Kiernan , F., Martin, M., Rachlinski, , Suckling, , & Taylor, (2005). The effectiveness of the endangered species act: a quantitative analysis. Bioscience, 55(4), 360-366.