Archive: April 2021

Social Initiatives

The snow and bitter cold have mostly subsided, the trees have begun to show signs of budding, and the birds seem to be chirping at an earlier hour each morning. Spring has officially begun, and our characters, Cara, Max, Marie, and Advik are all making the best of their current situation. Each of our students, coping with the cabin fever differently, as the pandemic has added an extra tier of isolation onto the last stretch of school.

The Kyambura Gorge, located in the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, is a forest of incredible value to its diversity of animal species that inhabit it. The Lost Chimpanzees, a group of approximately 22 chimpanzees living in this area, have unfortunately been isolated from the rest of the forest due to deforestation. This has prevented them from mating, resulting in the possibility of their extinction. Though this issue cannot be easily resolved, there are many organizations, including Volcanoes Safaris, and World WildLife, that aim to safeguard the ecosystem of the Kyambura Gorge, and to which we can donate!

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified pre-existing inequalities and barriers in our society. Yet, it has also inspired individuals of all ages to come together and make a difference in their local and global communities. Introducing Vidya Pandiaraju, Kismet Reuss, and Nicole Fan from Our Code Red, a campaign with a motto of “servicing displaced menstruators, one shelter at a time.” The Our Code Red campaign strives to provide relief to houseless individuals directly through the shelter system by providing them with menstrual products, resources and workshops.

The third wave rolling though the nation has many citizens feeling a variety of emotions. While this is a shared experience, the pandemic impacts people differently in terms of personal strife  and differing situations. Our characters Cara, Max, Marie, and Avrik are all coping with the situation in different manners. Life seems to be moving on whether or not most people would like it to, and this brings an onslaught of new challenges, experiences, and opportunities for growth.

 

Scientific News

As cases rise, in some areas higher than they have ever been, it's becoming evident that we are entering the third wave of COVID-19. While vaccines are being administered to older citizens, we now face new challenges of rising variant incidences amongst younger populations. With this being said, it’s crucial to maintain our physical and mental health. Though this may be difficult, we’ve curated a few tips, including taking advantage of the warmer weather, maintaining social interaction in a safe way, and more!

Behavioural economics is a relatively new field which combines insight from psychology, judgement, and economics to generate more accurate understanding of human behaviour. In an ideal world, people would always make decisions that would provide them with the greatest benefit and satisfaction. This is why traditional economics uses this theory to predict behaviour: give people numerous options, and they will choose the one best for them.

In recent years, social media has become not only a huge part of our lives, but also a huge part of who we are. What we see online can significantly affect how we think and feel about ourselves as well as of others. The media benefits us in many ways, but it also has a dark side. Because we consume so much content on the daily, it’s important to carefully monitor what we allow ourselves to see. Sometimes it’s good to take a break too!

Fetal surgery is a branch of maternal-fetal medicine that covers many surgical techniques used to treat unborn babies with birth defects while still in the Uterus. The three main types of fetal surgery are fetoscopic surgery, open fetal surgery and surgery that happens after a cesarean section before the umbilical chord is cut. Different methods of fetal surgery are used to treat different defects and they depend on the circumstances. There are also different procedures and techniques for different defects such as Spina Bifida and Congenital diaphragmatic hernia and Twin to twin transfusion syndrome, which will be explained in this article.

The Stanford Prison Experiment is a famous psychology study conducted in 1971. Hosted by Professor Philip Zimbardo and conducted on 24 volunteer male university students, the experiment simulated a prison in which students were split into two groups: prisoners and prison guards. With outfits tailored to their positions and role-play that simulated a real prison environment, individuals soon conformed into their roles, exhibiting how quickly people adapt when placed in positions of power or oppression. This famous psychological experiment is also very controversial as many replications have failed to produce the same results.

Neglected diseases are prevalent in developing countries and often overlooked by government officials, public health programs, and the media. With an estimated 1 billion people in 149 countries suffering from a neglected disease, they create a systemic cycle of poverty and can have major social impacts. Currently, there are 20 neglected tropical diseases. Examples include: Dengue fever, chagas disease, cysticercosis, echinococcosis, buruli ulcer, fascioliasis, and African sleeping sickness. Work that aims to tackle neglected diseases includes mass drug administration campaigns, enhancing water supply and sanitation,  delivering veterinary public health and vector-control interventions, and increasing access to vaccines.

There are significant anatomical and physiological similarities between humans and certain animals, especially mammals. These animals are commonly used in animal models, which allows scientists to conduct medical research and experiment with biomedical technologies. From a legal ethical perspective, animals can be divided into the small and large animal groups, and the law requests for more ethical attention from the large animal group than the small. The small animal group consists of rats, mice, guinea pigs, and rabbits while the large animal group includes dogs, goats, and primates.  This article summarizes a few commonly used animals in animal modelling: the mouse, rat, rabbit, and zebrafish.

Plastic is convenient because it's lightweight and cheap to manufacture. However, the plastic waste generated by the biomedical industry poses a major problem when it comes to climate change. Equipment such as petri dishes, gloves, pipette tips, and pipettes are all made out of plastic, and many of these are disposed of after a single use. Just like with any other waste problem, the 3 R’s strategy can be used to combat this: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Whether it’s buying in bulk to reduce overall packaging or replacing plastic equipment with their reusable glass counterparts, being conscious of the choices made in the biomedical industry will help to minimize plastic pollution in the long run.

The relatively new antiviral drug named Remdesivir has been widely accepted as a treatment for COVID-19 across countries such as India and Singapore, and has even been approved for emergency use in Canada. Developed in the United States by the company Gilead Sciences, it was initially proven to help reduce COVID-19 mortality rates in cases with severe symptoms, and is currently allowed to be manufactured and distributed in 127 countries. However, recently, the WHO has recommended against its use due to a lack of efficacy, thus its true effects on COVID-19 patients remains uncertain. 

Researchers have used human cells as a base to structurally mimic the early stages of development. They have done this by using embryonic stem cells, and through reprogramming skin cells respectively. By creating ‘iBlastoids’, an artificial version of blastocysts, which form after fertilization but before fully attaching to the uterus. These structures were created for research, as the scientists working on them have explicitly stated that they are not intended for artificial reproduction. In terms of ethical concern, the researchers have also stated that the structures were not planted into any “uterus-like structure”, nor is there any plan for it. An embryologist at Oregon Health and Science University has raised the concern of whether or not they should be treated as human embryos. This research does not seem to impede on any current ethics-based laws that prohibit work on human embryos, however it does raise some questions as to how exactly these structures will be used for further research.

Three-dimensional printing or additive manufacturing is a process that converts a digital file into a 3D object. While 3D printing is typically used for prototypes, it is transforming into a manufacturing process that shows potential—particularly in health science.  Applications of 3D printing in healthcare include bioprinting (using biocompatible materials to imitate a biological functioning substance), custom prosthetics, custom medication and dosage, and assisting in the COVID-19 response by efficiently creating inexpensive PPE. 3D printing has many benefits, including customizing medical equipment to the subject, a cheaper manufacturing cost, and higher efficiency than typical processes. However, 3D printing also presents drawbacks, including a limit on efficiency to certain products due to the product's customization.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) are surprisingly common across the world, and their effects can be extremely severe, yet not many know their causes, symptoms, or treatments. Technology, in particular,  plays a crucial role in the identification of TBIs. These technologies consist, for the majority, of medical diagnostic imaging, which include Computed Tomography (CT) scanning, X-rays,  and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Each is used for its unique purposes, and is tailored to different situations, so that as many TBIs can be successfully diagnosed as possible, preventing serious impairment, and even death.

Movement is a necessary function for survival and different species move in different ways. There are two main types of movement: bipedal (i.e. humans)—walking on two legs or quadrupedal—walking on all four (like a cat). The Sauteur D'Alfort Rabbit is a particular strain of rabbit that does not jump to walk around, rather, it lifts its hindlimbs to create handstands and walk on front legs. Sauteur D'Alfort Rabbits are also blind. The Sauter D'Alfort Rabbits differ from other rabbits due to the autosomal recessive allele. Researchers have investigated this rabbit and found interesting conclusions.

What is Anaphylaxis? Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction, to the point of life threatening. It happens when someone is put in contact with something they are allergic to.  Anaphylaxis is life threatening, death due to an Anaphylactic reaction usually occurs because of airway compromise (Inability to breathe) or cardiovascular collapse. The cause of these life threatening reactions comes from the immune system, who's main purpose is to defend against foreign substances. In certain cases, the human body isn't able to identify whether a substance is harmful or harmless, and may overreact.

 

Advice/Tips

Spring is officially here! Of course, the warm weather is not a permission slip to break public health regulations, but there are tons of things you can do with your family to keep yourself occupied. From board games to bike rides, the possibilities for spring fun are truly endless. Maybe even try something you’ve never done before! It’s time to embrace the sunshine and make some memories.

Have you ever thought that your schedule had to be tightly packed to feel productive? Have you ever thought that you would never have enough time if you took a 5-minute break? No matter if you are at work or at school, you may feel overwhelmed by the heavy workload and constant deadlines. Over time, you will find yourselves in a state of restlessness. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and take a rest.

Starting your own business is an exciting way to share your creativity and pursue something you are passionate about. While it may seem daunting to do, starting a business does not have to be complicated. In fact, no experience is required at all! This article outlines key steps to starting and growing your own business. Learn how to evaluate the rise of your product, choose a business name, seek online marketplaces, establish product pricing, and more.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Mothers do so much for their children each and every day. They are always your #1 biggest fan, friend, and supporter, and they stay strong for you no matter what. Of course, appreciation for mothers is welcome any day of the year, but Mother’s Day is a chance to go that extra mile and show her you truly care. Make her breakfast in bed, or buy her a personalized gift. Even better, get to know your mom and buy her something that she’s always wanted but never invested in for herself.

 
 

Other News

This is our second time celebrating Easter during a pandemic. Although social distancing and vaccine distribution are still in progress, the holiday roots remain the same. It’s time to bring cheer and fun despite the ongoing pandemic and the third lockdown. You can make it fun by organizing a virtual easter egg hunt, baking some sweet treats or spending some time with family.

Empathy. A term synonymous with understanding. A practice that involves care. Simply put, empathy is the ability to recognize the feelings, perspectives, and experiences of another, and allow this understanding to guide our thoughts and actions. How often, throughout the past year, have you found yourself walking a mile or two in another’s shoes? You may be surprised to find that the answer is more than you thought.

As our population grows, and as urban centers follow, a wide variety of problems regarding citizens’ health and that of the environment arise. The uncontrolled growth of cities causes increased dependency on cars, leading to traffic jams, harmful effects on human health, as well as pollution of the air, ground, and water. Though this is a well-known issue in many fields, people are often unaware of its severity as well as their own potential ability to help solve it. So, it’s always important to stay informed and aware of issues like these!

Access to justice in Canada means that everyone has the right to equal treatment under the law and equal benefit of the law. Although the system is intended to handle everyone equally, certain people become trapped and spend a considerable amount of time and energy attempting to break free. Others, on the other hand, breeze through the process and get on with their lives. It is important to understand what resources and services are accessible, as well as how to access them, as well as knowing your rights and how the legal system functions.

France has since banned religious symbols such as face coverings, niqabs and burqas in 2004 and 2010, however recently the country had passed an amendment that would restrict muslim women under 18 from wearing the hijab in public, and another from wearing the burquini at public pools and beaches. Both were introduced by France's far right conservative party leader Marine Le Pen. President Macron has also empowered police and closed down mosques, under the excuse that some were receiving “illicit funds”, as well as other organizations considered to be Islamist.

Online interactions have become the norm in the lives of many. For teens especially, it serves as an outlet for anonymous expression, which sparks an unparalleled sense of belonging.  To be considered an online community it must be established through a virtual platform of some variety, and typically revolve around a certain interest or hobby. Today’s teens have grown alongside technological development, and are able to navigate these spaces with extreme ease. These communities can even act as support systems, and provide aid to teens belonging to marginalized groups. The pandemic has inhibited in-person interactions, but online communities have grown more popular than ever. This has led teens into thoughtful discussions and educational endeavours, but it also puts them at risk through easy access to harmful content. As long as viewers are conscious of the content they're consuming, online communities, in all of their forms, are a wonderful way for teens to stay connected during the pandemic.