Exploring the Cell, by Dr. Danielle Hamilton

Next in our weekly series of articles, Dr. Danielle Hamilton, a Research Scientist with the Centre for Chromosome Biology, writes about her work “Exploring the Cell” and how understanding how a cell repairs damage to its DNA may lead to the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Diagram of the internal structures of the cell. (Image credit: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/science-behind/genetics-overview/)
Diagram of the internal structures of the cell. (Image credit: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/science-behind/genetics-overview/)

Every living creature is made up of one or more cells, and humans are no exception. These microscopic structures are the building blocks of our bodies and each is programmed to perform a specific function. Cells of the same type are often found clustered together and communicate with each other to form the tissues and organs that make up a functioning organism. Continue reading “Exploring the Cell, by Dr. Danielle Hamilton”

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Medicines, by Dr. Enda O’Connell

In the ninth of our weekly series of articles, I have taken off my ReelLIFE SCIENCE hat and put on my Scientist hat.  Or labcoat, gloves and goggles, to be more precise…  As a Senior Technical Officer in NUI Galway, I support a range of research projects across the campus, from Cancer Biology and Stem Cell Research to Chemistry and Biomaterials.  In this article, I write about ‘Medicines’ and how researchers at NUI Galway are looking for new uses for old drugs.

The History of Medicines

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Chinese Emperor Shennong tasting plants to test their qualities on himself (image from Wikipedia)

The word ‘medicine’ originally comes from the Latin phrase ‘ars medicina’, which translates as the ‘art of healing’, while the Oxford English Dictionary defines medicine (n) as ‘a substance or preparation used in the treatment of illness; a drug’. The earliest medicines were plant extracts, animal parts and minerals, and their use in healing rituals overseen by medicine men and shamans, often involved much more art than science.  Continue reading “Medicines, by Dr. Enda O’Connell”

Physics in Real Life, by Dr. Rebekah D’Arcy

In the second in our series of articles by NUI Galway researchers, School of Physics Lecturer Dr. Rebekah D’Arcy, writes about the ever evolving world of Medical Physics.

Physics in Real Life – Medical Physics

Hippocrates (460-377 BC), who is known as the “Father of Western Medicine”, may have been the first medical physicist. Over two thousand years ago, in order to locate where an infection was located, he would smear mud over a patient’s back, knowing that infected tissue is warmer and would therefore dry the mud faster. Technology has improved a lot since then and modern thermography, which looks at heat coming from the body using an infrared camera, is very different from Hippocrates’ methods.

In fact modern medical physics uses techniques which sound like they come straight from a science fiction movie.

Computer model of the Siemens Oncor linear accelerator used in the treatment of cancer patients, generated by simulation on a supercomputer (Image credit: Dr. Mark Foley)
Computer model of the Siemens Oncor linear accelerator (and selection of electron and photon tracks) used in the treatment of cancer patients, generated by simulation on a supercomputer (Image credit: Dr. Mark Foley)

Continue reading “Physics in Real Life, by Dr. Rebekah D’Arcy”