Hosted by Mehdi Jorfi and Shen Ning, Science Rehashed aims to make science and its value accessible to the public and scientists from all over the world.
A Fireside Chat with Anesthesiologist Emery Brown
In 1846, Dr. John Collins Warren and William T. G. Morton performed the first public demonstration of surgery under an anesthetic. Today, anesthesiologist and statistician Emery Brown combines his fields of expertise and applies a computational approach to answer questions about neuroscience and to research how anesthetics interact with the central nervous system. Brown is a faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, and MIT, and in this episode, he highlights that, while anesthesia practices in the operating room have evolved over the 175 years since Warren and Morton’s first anesthesia demonstration, medical understanding of how anesthetics work is still limited. His work pioneers a new approach to administering anesthetics to patients—by reading and using electrical activity in the brain to determine the appropriate dose of anesthetic. Brown’s curiosity is inspiring, as his exploration of diverse interests expands beyond biomedicine to foreign languages—in this episode, he also speaks on his approach to language learning and how he utilizes language learning in a clinical context. Music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Bullying in Academia
Have you ever felt demeaned, harassed, or humiliated at work? During their training, our future doctors and scientists may often encounter hostile work environments upheld by their supervisors. The academic culture emboldens the bullies and discourages students from speaking up when they experience harmful treatment. Why do bullies continue to thrive in academia, and how can the scientific community take action? In this episode, we discuss abusive supervision in academia with Dr. Sherry Moss, Professor of Organizational Studies at Wake Forest University, and Dr. Morteza Mahmoudi, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Precision Health Program at Michigan State University. We consult Dr. Bob Sutton, an organizational psychologist and author of “The No A*****e Rule,” and Dr. Steve Anderson, former Director of the Driskill Graduate Program at Northwestern University, to render a multi-layered perspective on the state of bullying in academia.
The shrinking scanner: MRI becomes portable
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is considered one of the major innovations in the world of diagnostic radiology. By virtue of its flexible and noninvasive nature, MRI is one of the best tools we have to image the human body. However, conventional MRI scanners are gigantic machines that cost millions of dollars and weigh up to three tons - they are therefore limited in their distribution and point-of-care applicability. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could shrink conventional MRI scanners into portable machines that could be plugged in almost everywhere and provide imaging diagnostics in situations where it would otherwise be impossible? Does this sound like science fiction to you? Listen to this episode to learn how Dr. Clarissa Cooley and her collaborators at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging are working on transforming room-size scanners into TV-size machines that can be transported by cart.
A machine learning-enabled shortcut to engineer human liver organoids
How wonderful would it be if you could deposit your skin cells at a medical facility and get an organ you need within weeks, ready to be transplanted? For decades, scientists have relentlessly worked to recapitulate functionally and physiologically relevant human organs in the lab. Some approaches rely on engineering an unfeasible number of genes in cells or on external cues like growth factors and mechanical signals. But these organs are far from overcoming the barriers of complexity, reproducibility, and time sensitivity, and are thus not ready to be applied in the real world. In today's episode, Dr. Mo Ebrahimkhani, a scientist at Pittsburgh Liver Research Center, discusses how his team used a machine-learning algorithm (called CellNet) to engineer genetic nodes in the stem cells, resulting in the generation of human liver organoids in less than three weeks. Importantly, these organoids were able to capture the complexity of a mature liver. Also learn here how the body map of organs can contribute to the rapid advancement of the field of regenerative medicine. Inspired by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Cracking the code: the neural basis of computer code comprehension
Have you ever wondered whether the brains of computer programmers are wired differently? Are there specific parts of the brain that are dedicated to computer coding? Scientists have outlined other networks in the brain, like those involved in language, but the neural basis of computer code comprehension has remained a mystery. We might call Python, Java, and C++ programming “languages,” but are they represented in the brain in the same way as natural languages? Anna Ivanova, a scientist at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, chats with us to uncover the answer. Her research uses functional MRI to find the areas in the brain most activated by reading computer code and whether they overlap with those activated by reading natural language. We also discuss the history of coding and the possibility that humans could evolve a brain network solely responsible for computer programming. Music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under CC BY 4.0
A peek inside the liver: Reimagining diagnostics
Every day devices like the thermometer and stethoscope have become mainstays of modern medicine, but recent advances have significantly improved the ways in which doctors can confidently make diagnoses. While some procedures can be complicated, invasive, and expensive, we are getting closer to overcoming these barriers with the use of technology. In this episode, we discuss the interface between engineering and medicine with Dr. Michael Cima, a leading expert in the field of materials science and engineering. He discusses the development of a medical device that can identify excess fat and scar tissue in the liver – and the best part is that it’s non-invasive and portable. The device will allow doctors to easily screen at-risk patients for liver damage, helping them make treatment decisions to prevent the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Dr. Cima also tells us about the many hats he wears as an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, and mentor. Music by Kevin MacLeod licensed under CC BY 4.0.