Precision Medicine for a 21st Century World

Current trends in healthcare are accounting for the realization that an individual’s disease is inherently personal, affected by the patient’s genetic makeup. As such, medicine is evolving towards medical professionals who are able to use more precise and defined technological tools for each individual patient, ushering in the concept of personalized, or precision, medicine. Personalized medicine involves analyzing an individual’s genetic profile to qualify a presumed diagnosis, to group patients for more tailored therapy, and to develop and translate treatments with greater benefits than risk into a clinical setting.

Disease starts with the cells of the human body. All the cells of the human body (except red blood cells) contain DNA, which is considered the instructions for life. Strikingly, the genetic information contained in all these cells is identical; however, the expression of the genes differs between cells. Expression refers to which genes are used by the cell, and accordingly what proteins are made. Proteins are the main effectors of the cell, doing most of the work within our bodies. Here is where personalized medicine steps in. Based on the genomic and proteomic (protein) aspects of an individual’s profile, person A may be diagnosed with the same disease as person B, but the two may respond differently to their prescribed drugs. Studies have shown that Continue reading

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Week of 3/17/13

AMERICANS UNCERTAIN OF SEQUESTER IMPACTS

If you haven’t heard much about the sequester budget cuts lately, don’t be surprised. A recent Gallup poll reveals that most Americans still don’t know enough about the sequester to determine if the cuts are a good or bad thing for the country. In fact, no one seems to really knows what’s going on. However, that hasn’t prevented the political jockeying in Congress as potential amendments to the automatic cuts are considered. So far, nearly 100 amendments have been filed by Senators on both sides of the aisle hoping to rearrange the reductions so that their own special interests aren’t affected. Some filings regard shifting funds to keep air traffic control towers open — a public safety concern that would affect airliners and private owners alike — while others appear less prudent in nature, such as diverting funds to keep White House tours open to visitors. These attempts are Continue reading

Digital infrastructure at high risk

The unprecedented development of the internet during the 21st century has resulted in unique security problems for the government. Our digital infrastructure is at risk because the current policies designed to defend against cyber attacks are inadequate for a threat that is constantly advancing. Further, the lack of public knowledge on cyber security issues has also desensitized our awareness to criminal activity, reducing the effectiveness of our preventative measures and jeopardizing our economic and national security interests. President Obama’s recent directive to review the nation’s cyber security policy resulted in a strategy intended to address cyber attacks at large: improving resilience to cyber incidents and reducing the cyber threat. While the effort is marginally better, the strategy is insufficient. The problem is that our lack of preventative measures means that current cyber security policies rely upon cyber attacks to occur, first, before a defense can be mounted. This is because Continue reading

Ready or Not?

Elections are over and now there is no question that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will go into implementation. H.R. 3590 was nothing if not controversial. Introduced on September 17th 2009, signed by President Obama on March 23rd 2010 without bipartisan support, and upheld by a surprising 5:4 majority in the United States Supreme Court two years later on June 28th 2012, the Affordable Care Act has come a long way. Schoolhouse Rock never let on that it took Bill that long to become a law, and while some would have preferred it, not everyone was cheering when Nancy Pelosi came running down the capitol steps spreading the word that Bill passed.

While most Americans would agree that some type of healthcare reform is necessary, it is a drastically different story when it comes to how to reform healthcare, thus strong arguments were expressed for and against PPACA. Yet, polls are still showing the public to be very much torn on the issue of healthcare reform. Consider a Gallup poll taken following the SCOTUS ruling. The poll attempted to gauge the public’s perception of how Continue reading

Reflecting on the GOP

With only a few days remaining until the election is decided on Tuesday next week, I reflect on a long campaign trail that has been among the most divisive elections to date. If President Obama wins, he could face the prospect of a much tougher second term as Republicans struggle to accept yet another loss from the Democratic incumbent. But should this be the case, Republicans have a great deal of internal restructuring to do before the 2016 election comes around. As witnessed throughout these past four years, the GOP has been anything except consistent in their party ranks. From the emergence of the Neocons  at the start of George W. Bush’s first term in office, to the moderates, the extreme right fundamentalists, the libertarians, and recently, the Tea Party activists, Republicans have yet to agree on a common party identity that they can all rally behind. This is problematic because while it might be clear to them that President Obama’s policies are not the way to go, it’s not entirely clear to everyone else what the Republican vision of the next four years in the US ought to be.

We also shouldn’t forget to mention what an utter disaster the Republican primaries turned out to be. Barring aside Continue reading

The first presidential debate hurdle

All eyes were on the Denver University arena last Wednesday for the first presidential debate between President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Pre-debate polling had consistently been showing Obama with a slight advantage. The day of the debate, Rasmussen polling showed Obama two percentage points ahead of Romney with 49 percent compared to 47 percent of likely voter support. How much of a difference the first debate will ultimately have on the election is up for deliberation, however, the Rasmussen poll shows that Romney and Obama’s positions have now flipped with Romney leading 49 percent to 47 percent. Sunday’s poll is the first to Continue reading

Dear Zoe: Is voting a waste of time?

Dear Zoe,

I’ve been considering whether or not to vote in the upcoming presidential election. In all honesty, I don’t like either candidate (Republican or Democrat) and I feel like my vote wouldn’t even matter. I mean, there are so many people in the US, why would one vote actually matter?

Sincerely,

Undecided

Dear Undecided,

A journey of a million miles begins with one step and all the votes that will be cast in this election will be cast by single voters like you, who all probably feel like their vote won’t decide anything. I know it is a cheesy thought that you’ve probably heard several times before, but I’ll repeat it here once again anyways Continue reading

Dear Zoe: Should I pay for college?

Dear Zoe:

A lot of people are starting to question whether or not investing in a college education is worth the cost. My son is quickly approaching his high school graduation. What do I do?

Sincerely,

The Tuition is Too Damn High

Dear Tuition,

I understand your frustration with the rising costs and decreasing returns of a college education. The industry values an undergraduate degree less and less now that so much of the population has one, and colleges can’t seem to Continue reading

Religious barbarism must stop

The Islamic protests that occurred this past month over an offensive anti-Islamic film titled The Innocence of Muslims stand among a myriad of recent global uprisings targeting anyone suspected of being a religious offender. Similarly, in recent months, a 14 year old Christian Pakistani girl who was falsely accused of burning the Quaran was met with a mob confrontation, and continues to undergo charges for blasphemy; while in Bangladesh, Muslims burned down 10 Buddhist temples after a Facebook photo of a burning Quaran was attributed to a local Buddhist boy. The senselessness of these acts leading to the deaths of a diplomat and the ostracism of religious minorities are justifications enough to condemn the situation in the Middle East, but doing so would only undermine the larger and more dangerous issue Continue reading

Muslim fury shakes the world

Over the past week or so, large scale protests by Muslims in various countries have shaken the world. The protests took place over a film produced in the US by a person of Coptic-Egyptian descent, which greatly insulted the prophet Muhammad and depicts him in a very crude manner. Some of the protests have turned violent, notably with the killing of the US ambassador in Libya, when violent protesters attacked the US embassy there. Many of the protests have been aimed at the West, specifically the US, but have failed to recognize the fact that the film was produced without any US government endorsement and the film is protected by free speech Continue reading