Friday, November 21, 2014

This Week's Sci-light!

I've often said to students that scientific knowledging is expanding by looking at smaller and smaller scales while at the same time considering larger, more expansive questions.  Last week's blog about the probe landing on a comet was an example of a larger question being investigated through technology off-planet.  Today, we will focus the opposite direction by considering a biochemical process at the cellular level exploited by cancer.

Assistant Professor, Matthew Pratt, USC (USC/Susan Bell)
Dr. Pratt has received funding for studying the process of glycosylation or the modification of proteins by sugars.  This process is linked to glycolysis--how the body breaks down sugars that provide fuel to the cell.

What we know:  Cancer cells have found a way to live under extreme oxidative stress, they can slow down glycosylation, and they can turn off the cellular "self-destruct" switch to extend their life. 

What Dr. Pratt hopes to discover:  How to interrupt this process through biochemical mechanisms and potentially block their success.

Today's blog not only shows the fine scales of scientific investigation, but it also illustrates the process by which new knowledge is generated.  If you'd like to be a part of new knowledge generation, consider participating in a hands-on science course or lab research.  Being a student of science is not simply learning what we already know, but finding ways to participate in the discovery process.

Where should you explore such opportunities?  Try the Institute for Broadening Participation's web site.  Select your appropriate educational cohort and then search by topic, institution or browse by geographic region.  Many of these programs are offered free of charge and provide financial support for you to participate.

Whether studying processes close to home or across the expanse of the universe, 
remember to stay Sci-Curious!

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