Sunday, April 19, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Of late, I am reading articles relating religion or faith to health. Growing up in an oriental country where people believe so much in religion and have so much faith in God, I always wonder whether such beliefs have any curative effect on health, let alone there effect on many other countless wishes the devotees pray God for. It was a revelation to find that people in the western world also believe in religion and God. They may not seem to be as extravagant to show off their devotion as the Orientals, but they equally believe that their faith in religion and God saves them from various illness and misfortunes and helps them live a healthy life. A recent article pubnlished in TIME mentions that different forms of prayer like meditation, yoga etc. do help develop the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain; such development not only increases the ability of the brain to think and analyze it also helps living better life by rationally removing all the faulty predispositions coming to one’s mind. Equally important is another religious practice of fasting. It is now well known that the followers or at least devotees of all major religions practice fasting in some way or the other. Short term fasting is beneficial biologically as well. People eating little less than that required by the body were found to live longer than those eating plenty or in excess. A less stress to the digestive system means better functioning of the system itself and of the whole body. Fasting is believed to have purgative effect on the digestive system helping body get rid of any undigested, faulty materials and tune itself for better performance. Yes, pushing oneself to the limit in the name of religion and faith may have dangerous consequences; yet, little faith and little spirituality could actually do good to our health. So what do you think, go for the little ???
Saturday, April 4, 2009
For the last couple of weeks weather has not been so kind here in the Salt Lake. It was snowing intermittently, pretty cold--windy as usual--compared to the average temp. in March-April. In contrast, the same weeks have been very intense, warm and informative academically. I attended three great talks this week: first from Mitch Lazar, UPenn Medicine, who talked about nuclear receptor mediated transcriptional regulation of genes involved in metabolic programs. Mitch is a big stuff in transcription biology and so was his talk. I, together with one of my lab's post-docs, had the rare opportunity to present our work on transcriptional regulation of some metabolic genes we had been working on and got some invaluable inputs from Mitch. Thanks Mitch for attending our talk and for your own great presentation; second from Daniel J Klionsky, U Michigan Ann Harbor, on "Autophagy". Klionsky is a pioneer in autophagy. His lab identified cytosol to vacuole (CTV) pathway of autophagy. Klionsky's talk was very absorbing and he really kept all the audience entertained yet focused during his entire talk. Since I am also working on autophagy, it was a great opportunity for me to attend the talk; third from Zolt Arany, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard. Arany has pushed PGC1 (a family of key transcriptional co-activators of many nuclear-receptor regulated genes) to a new avenue of angiogenesis. His work defies the conventional view of HIF mediated transcriptional regulation of key angiogenic factors (genes). What I learned from Arany's talk is that you really have to think outside the narrow window of conventional and comfortable believes and have to constantly challenge them to emerge as a great scientist as Arany is.
I hope in coming weeks both weather and science will be entertaining alike.