Dr. Dolittle

Thank you Dr. Barb Goodman (Director of SD Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, Fellow of the American Physiological Society, Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota) who sent me information about thirsty koalas. Koalas typically hydrate themselves from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. But recently researchers at the University of Sydney have noticed…

Experimental Biology – Day 4

The August Krogh Distinguished lecture was awarded to Dr. Warren Burggren, who gave a fantastic lecture on epigenetics, or modifications to gene expression. He discussed how epigenetic changes to our genes are reversible. So when a stimulus like hypoxia changes our genes, these epigenetic changes to the genes go away rather quickly when the hypoxic insult…

Highlights from today’s sessions included: Norelia Ordonez-Castillo, undergraduate student from Fort Hays State University, presented her research on channel catfish. According to Norelia, these fish can become obese so her research was geared towards trying to find out how their receptor for LDL cholesterol differs from rodents and humans. But what I want to know is…

Yesterday was a great day for comparative physiology! Highlights from the seminars on comparative physiology: Melissa Reiterer, graduate student from Florida Atlantic University, presented her research on how freshwater turtles (Trachemys scripta) survive for long periods of time without oxygen and do not develop oxidative stress after oxygen is restored. The turtles are able to do this…

Day 1 of the meeting was as inspiring as usual. The Porter Fellow Reunion Reception took place this evening. This 50 year-old program is designed to support trainees as they conduct research projects in physiology and learn to become independent researchers. It was amazing to see so many past and present fellows and to hear about their accomplishments since receiving the award.…

Researchers at George Mason University have created a synthetic version of a peptide found in the blood of Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis). They dubbed the synthetic peptide DRGN-1. Living up to its name, DRGN-1 proved to be pretty tough against microbes (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) as well as biofilms. Bacteria stick together to create biofilms that attach to surfaces and help…

A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) who spontaneously develop obesity with aging are prone to insulin resistance and diabetes, similar to humans. The major goal of insulin is to lower blood sugar after eating a meal. In line with this goal, muscles respond to insulin…

Experimental Biology 2017

The 2017 Experimental Biology conference is almost here! Here are some of this year’s highlights: Dr. Michael Welsh from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Iowa will be presenting the Walter B. Cannon Award Lecture. He will be speaking about Cystic Fibrosis. This year’s Nobel lecture in Physiology or Medicine will be given by…

Dopamine is an important hormone released from neurons involved in reward pathways. Researchers at Cornell University wanted to know if dopamine signaling was involved in how birds learn songs. Their findings, recently published in Science, present evidence that neurons in the brain of zebra finches do in fact decrease dopamine signals when the birds hear an…

Secrets to longevity

A new article published in Physiological Reviews compared some remarkable similarities and differences between naked mole rats and humans. Both are relatively long-lived, highly social and have low natural selection pressures. But, this is about all they have in common. While humans are prone to developing age-related cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementias, naked mole rats…