Larger Than Life Microbiology

I found an article  on a friend’s site to be quite interesting. She had linked to post about a sculptor named Luke Jerram. Since 2004, this artist has showcased numerous  glass sculptures of various, pathogenic viruses. This artist seems to choose many of the most deadly viruses, to construct at a larger than life size. Several artistic liberties beyond size were taken in designing these microscopic entities. (The glass sculptures are approximately 1 million times the actual size of their subject.)  According to sources Jerram designs the sculptures than sends them off to a professional glass blower. Enjoy, the following example of this artist’s intricately designed work!


T4 bacteriophage


The Alleged Perpetrators

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus

Yesterday out of the blue it seemed, I contracted a nasty eye infection. I will save you all the gory details but I did want to talk about this bacterium that sent me to the doctor. Staphylococcus is its name and in small quantities this bacterium is happily living as apart of your body’s micro-flora. However, like anything else these microbes can get out of hand and may cause trouble, like my eye infection.


This bacteria is characterized as a gram-positive bacteria (meaning it is able to retain the crystal violet stain used during gram staining because of the high amount of peptidoglycan in the cell wall) it is round and they often appear in clusters.

In my case the treatment for my infection meant eliminating all possible bacterial contaminants and taking the prescribed eye-drop medication. I was given  Tobramycin it is a water-soluble aminoglycoside antibiotic active against a wide variety of gram-negative and gram-positive ophthalmic pathogens. This would include  Staphylococcus. Overall, I am feeling better and  am well on the path to recovery! I’m sure it only a matter of days until things are back to normal.

A Beautiful Mind

If you’re looking for a review of the movie starring Russel Crowe, look elsewhere. I’m dedicating this entry to the control center of our bodies – the brain!

The brain is an exceptional organ. Its appearance could be compared to a raisin or cauliflower due to its protruding gyri and indented sulci. Paired with its distinctive exterior are its remarkable functions – regulator of voluntary and involuntary movements and controller of emotion (just to name a few).

The part of the brain I’ve taken particular interest in lately is the limbic system, which controls our emotions. This system, located in the central part of the brain, consists of a set of structures (hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdale, and few other surrounding structures), which have an overall impact on emotion and memory formation.

Many mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, are attributed to malfunctions of structures associated with or a part of the limbic system. These disturbances in brain function are generally associated with hereditary and environmental factors.

I hope you now have a deep respect for the brain and its many functions.Please keep safe your beautiful minds; they are what make you who you are!

Know Thy Self: Anatomy

After taking two different types of human anatomy courses, (one in undergrad and another in graduate school) I have learned the human body is a beautifully, complex and fascinating system. I have also realized there are two main approaches for studying the body; systemically and regionally. There are probably rationales for each, but in studying the body regionally you come to appreciate the closeness of the surrounding tissues relative to one another. I have also learned that the body has been well-labeled by anatomists, which is great for specifically locating and describing where something can be found. However, when trying to study anatomy you quickly become overwhelmed! How many muscles does the human body have? 656-850 (depending upon the source). What?!

This is where having great resources to study from is key. Some of you might have heard of Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy or Clemente’s or even Rohen’s photographic atlas. These are all good resources, and each one has varying views (anterior, posterior, medial, lateral) for depicting a particular organ or region of the body, along with varying rendering styles. I don’t mean that Netter’s illustrations depict the heart as square and Clemente depicts the heart round; rather Netter’s color palette is  more saturated than the illustrations depicted in Clemente’s  atlas.

That being said each person generally has a preference to what resource(s) they like to use. An atlas that I would highly recommend to check out is the Atlas of Anatomy by Gilroy. The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful! Voll and Wesker did an amazing job! Beyond the illustrations I love the layout of the atlas; it is more intuitive than other atlases I have perused.

I hope this information is helpful for those seeking to learn a bit more about themselves and their Homo sapien counterpoints!

Robotic Surgery

Keeping up with technology is an arduous and expensive process. The technology inherent to medicine is no different. However, the nature of this technology is special in that it is often implemented to save a life. One of the latest technologies (as of 1985 with the 1st robot used to assist in a brain biopsy) is robotic surgery. My first introduction to this technology had me a bit skeptical; however after becoming more familiar with its proper use I realized how it can reduce certain risks associated with surgery.

One of the more well-known systems of robotic surgery is the da Vinci surgical system, named after the great Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. This system is controlled by the surgeon and the robot just mimics, filters and translates the hand movements of the surgeon to precisely move the surgical instruments.

The instrumentation of this robot is quite similar in look to many endoscopic surgical apparatuses. Some of the main exceptions that make the da Vinci system different from these apparatuses are in the way that the surgeon controls the instruments, and its overall precision.

Watch the following  video highlighting the precision of this robot, in a very fun way!


If you want to learn more about the da Vinci surgical system click here.