In these very unusual times we’re currently living in, the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic) has been in everyone’s conversation at some point. We have come to understand how the process of developing and testing a vaccine works and become a bit impatient about the results. Although there are many differences between a vaccine used to prevent an infection, and a drug to treat a condition, I believe it is a good moment to review the various necessary steps it takes to get a drug from being an idea to having it bottled in your nightstand.
When we talk about research, we are referring to the act of investigating and the main objective of the research of expanding knowledge.
When you think about a research project, you think about how to carry it out, the materials you need, and the time it requires.
Although there are many types of research, and iPLACENTA is made up of many different kinds of research projects, today I want to tell you about clinical research, in which the patient is the protagonist, and talk about: how we recruit patients.
It is important to note that not everyone knows what the research is about and how much work it requires.
Being able to shelter a baby inside the womb for 9 months is something I have always found fascinating. Not only is it a beautiful result of natural adaptation, but pregnancy is also a risky situation during which an efficient compromise needs to be reached between the baby, who needs the mother’s resources, and the mother who needs to cope with the huge challenge of transforming her own body for the benefit of her baby. Maintaining this equilibrium would be impossible without the placenta, which performs an impressive number of tasks to keep both the baby and the mother safe from fecundation to birth. And yet, the placenta has never really received the attention it deserves. Not only by the general public, which often only has vague ideas about what a placenta does, but even more sadly, by the scientific community. The placenta is the least studied organ of the human body and still holds many mysteries. I wasn’t too sure myself about what a placenta did exactly before starting my PhD. I have to say that since then, I have never stopped being amazed at its multi-faceted capacities. With this article, I would like to put the placenta under the spotlight for a moment by sharing with you some of what I found are its most astonishing powers.
Veronica Giorgione is studying the long-term effects of preeclampsia on the cardiovascular system. In her job, she meets and counsels mothers who have just had preeclampsia. Here is a summary of the advice she usually gives:
How we use gene expression to understand disease
This issue of our Science Untangled will focus on how we can use molecular biology to understand more about disease. In iPLACENTA we are interested in the causes of pregnancy pathologies; the juice of the matter is really to understand what's different between a healthy placenta and an unhealthy placenta that will cause the mother to develop a disease, putting both mother and baby in danger.
In this blog we will go through what systems biology means and how we use it in research. Starting with the definition of the terms system, model, followed by an example of network analysis as a systems biology method and the nuanced difference between complex vs complicated. Please ask questions in the comments section if there is anything that you would like explained in more depth!
Systems can be considered on different levels. From organ networks to molecular networks, the individual, or even social networks. The image above was adapted from lectures provided by the Systems Biology and Bioinformatics Department Rostock, Germany and a graph from the Institute of Systems Biology Seattle, USA.
Work Institution: Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Research Interest: Sequencing Techniques, Programming, Systemsbiology, Bioinformatics, Epigenetics
Favourite Animal: Dogs & Tigers
This blog post is about me and my personal experience on my way to uncover the black box called ‘bioinformatics’ or‘computational biology’. Many molecular biology researchers retreat upon hearing these words, because it is out of their expertise and also follows other rules than traditional lab work. I experienced that myself and I was one of them, until I took the risk to explore the ‘black box’.
The Miracle © Sidney Harris
From attending lectures on extracellular vesicle (EV) research in dust to consuming smoked fish for breakfast; attending my first congress across the world in Japan was a surprising but amazing experience.
When I received an email with the confirmation of my abstract being accepted for a poster presentation for a congress I wanted to attend since I started working within the field of EV research, I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe I was going to attend a conference in Japan until the moment I stepped out of the plane. It was surreal. So, tons of coffee later to deal with the 9-hour time difference and the worst travel companion (my poster which was at my side the whole 24-hour travel time), let me tell you about me surviving my first congress.
About the blog
Being a PhD student in a European training network is a life-changing adventure. Moving to a new country, carrying out a research project, facing scientific (and cultural) challenges, travelling around Europe and beyond… Those 3 years certainly do bring their part of new - sometimes frightening - but always enriching experiences.