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judith

I’ve spent my pipetting days working on trinucleotide repeat disorders, and diving into the fascinating field of epigenetics. Long before I could write, I remember making write-like movements, convinced this was valuable exercise… I now combine these activities by writing about science.

Articles by judith:

Book Review: Bad Pharma – Ben Goldacre

With a subtitle that says ‘How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients’ you’re hardly expecting a comedy. Shockingly: on page 5 Ben Goldacre already dissolves all hopes that it might not be as bad as the title suggests, by saying: ‘… it is so deep-rooted that even if we fixed it today – right…

28 Aug 2013 Science Communication & Ethics

Book review: D.T. Max: The family that couldn’t sleep: a medical mystery

Imagine: you are an average middle-aged relatively healthy person. One day you start sweating. When you look at yourself in the mirror you see that your pupils have shrunk to pinpricks. You have noticed some constipation and the impotence is new to you as well (if you are a man, that is. If you are…

05 Aug 2013 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

Scientists: Can any of us REALLY multi-task?

Unlike Nick Oswald I think I can multitask in the lab. If I organize my day efficiently and perform lots of experiments and other tasks in parallel, I get more done. But there is a school of thought – the one described in Nick’s article – that says no-one can really multitask, that our brains…

25 Mar 2013 Personal Development

Why do relatively few women rise to the top in academia?

Fact: The vast majority of professors are male. By the time you reach the top of the ladder, only roughly 20% of professors are female In most European countries and in quite a few countries the figure lingers around a depressing 15%. Biosciences are no exception. The balance is being redressed but only very slowly.…

08 Feb 2013 Career Development & Networking

How to Screen for CpG Methylation by Methylation Specific PCR

In a recent article, I gave some tips about how to obtain good results with sequencing DNA after bisulfite conversion (it contains some tips that apply to the approach described in this article, too). Bisulfite sequencing is a very useful technique if you want to know the methylation status of every CpG in your genomic…

30 Jan 2013 PCR, qPCR and qRT-PCR

7 Tips for Preparing Chromatin for ChIP from Tissues (Rather than Cells)

A commonly used technique in epigenetics is Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, or ChIP for short. This technique can show you whether a certain protein (e.g. transcription factor or histone modification) binds to DNA, when in its native conformation, namely chromatin. Insightful, but difficult This information can be very insightful, but difficult to obtain. Most protocols and suggestions…

24 Jan 2013 Genomics & Epigenetics

10 Ways to Improve Your Bisulfite Sequencing Results

The importance of epigenetics in biology is increasingly acknowledged (if you’re not convinced yet, read my crash course). One commonly studied epigenetic mark is CpG methylation: cytosines that are directly followed by a guanine nucleotide (indicated by CpG), can be methylated, unlike non-CpG Cs. Since attachment of a methyl group to a cytosine can affect…

18 Jan 2013 Genomics & Epigenetics

The Pressure to Publish and Scientific Misconduct

Every once in a while a big case of scientific fraud reaches public attention. Does that mean these well-known cases are exceptions, a few rotten apples…or might the rest of the fruit bowl also be affected? A major part of a scientist’s work is to secure funding for future research. Obtaining funding is strongly connected…

03 Dec 2012 Writing, Publishing & Presenting

Book Review: “In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind”, by Eric R. Kandel

We tend to take textbook knowledge for granted, but once upon a time these ‘facts’ were still to be discovered. Eric R. Kandel (1929) witnessed and importantly contributed to this small-step-by-small-step process in the field of neuroscience. His work culminated in being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000, for unraveling the physiological basis of memory…

23 Nov 2012 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

Research is Stressful: What Can We Learn From Science?

Everybody seems busy nowadays, and for many of us, this results in stress. Scientific research in particular is a highly stressful occupation. Perhaps in reaction to this phenomenon, more and more scientists are starting to explore the biological aspects of stress. Since there’s a good chance that you will run into stressful situations in your…

05 Nov 2012 Personal Development

Could Crowd-Funding Work In Science?

In times of financial crisis, as we are currently experiencing, some governments think that it’s OK, or even wise, to cut down on funding for scientific research. Even though we know better, we are still faced with a situation in which it is much harder to get our science financed. Similar funding cuts have been…

24 Oct 2012 Getting Funded

Telling Time On Your Biological Clock

It is not uncommon for scientists to work irregular hours: starting very early in the morning to have all lab equipment for yourself, and/or continuing until late at night. Next to increased productivity (at least that’s what we think … read on!), what are the other consequences of screwing up your biological clock? Body rhythms…

03 Sep 2012 Of Interest

The Power of Simple Thought: a Book Review of “Proust Was a Neuroscientist”, by Jonah Lehrer

The back cover of this book says: ‘Science is not the only path to knowledge. When it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.’The book was written by Jonah Lehrer, who used to work in the lab of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. He enjoyed reading books during incubations. What was meant as…

13 Aug 2012 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

Molecular Cooking: How to Apply Science in the Kitchen

Rumour has it that many people who work in a lab enjoy cooking. And, when asked by a non-biologist family member how they spend their days in the laboratory, molecular biologists might answer that doing experiments is similar to cooking. Apart from the organisational parallels that can be drawn between following a protocol and a…

03 Aug 2012 Fun Stuff

Book Review: Time, by Eva Hoffman

If there is one certainty in life, it is that time has always been there, and will always remain. But although it is a basic fact of our existence, most people don’t tend to reflect much on the characteristics and implications of time. Neither do I, as I realised when I read Eva Hoffman’s book…

06 Jul 2012 Inspiring & Thought Provoking

Statistics: A Good P-value is Not Enough

Like many scientists, I don’t consider myself a statistics expert. But I am determined to do things right in my science, and that includes statistics. In my experience, a lot of scientists who are “scared” of statistics fall into the trap of ignoring the existence of anything beyond a t-test. But using the right method…

20 Jun 2012 Lab Statistics & Math

A Crash Course in Epigenetics Part 4: Disease mechanisms and therapeutic targets

After having discussed what epigenetic mechanisms are and how we’ve learnt about what they do, it is now time to look into how epigenetics affect our lives if things do not go the way they are supposed to go. I hope I have convinced you that epigenetic processes are vital for an organism, in development…

07 Jun 2012 Genomics & Epigenetics

A Crash Course in Epigenetics Part 3: Regulated regulation

Epigenetics is the most rapidly expanding field in biology. In the second article in this series, I discussed which experimental techniques have been crucial in gaining insight into epigenetic processes. I will now shed light on what those and other methods have taught us. As described in the first article, it has been long understood…

06 Jun 2012 Genomics & Epigenetics

A Crash Course in Epigenetics Part 2: The toolbox of the epigeneticist

In the past decade, important advances have been made in the field of epigenetics. Obviously, unraveling epigenetic mechanisms has been greatly facilitated by technological developments. I’ll try to give you an impression of the types of experiments that have helped fuel those new and exciting insights. Yevgeniy Grigoryev has recently written an article on DNA…

05 Jun 2012 Genomics & Epigenetics

A Crash Course in Epigenetics Part 1: An intro to epigenetics

These days, epigenetics is a fast moving field. I don’t remember having learnt about it during my biomedical studies, some 10 years ago. Nowadays, there seems to be no way around it when studying health and disease. Increasing interest combined with recent technological breakthroughs have led to quickly expanding knowledge of its abundant and important…

04 Jun 2012 Genomics & Epigenetics