Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Comparative Physiology

Environmental impact on physiology

Several of the comparative physiology posters and talks presented at the Experimental Biology conference today focused on the impact of environmental changes on the physiology of animals. Here are some highlights: Rachel Heuer, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami working with Dr. Martin Grosell, examined the effects of crude oil on heart function in mahi-mahi. As the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred when these fish were spawning, it is […]

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Hagfish 101: How to eat a whale from the inside out

The Dr. Dolittle award is given to outstanding graduate students or postdoctoral fellows who are conducting comparative physiology research that they are presenting at the annual Experimental Biology conference. Applicants for the award are asked to submit guest blog posts describing their research. I am very pleased to share this guest blog post from this year’s Dr. Dolittle travel award recipient, Alyssa Weinrauch. Alyssa presented her research today the Experimental […]

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Comparative Physiology @ Experimental Biology

I am printing my posters and planning my schedule for the 2018 Experimental Biology conference, which starts this weekend. This is no doubt the highlight of my year! I am looking forward to the comparative physiology sessions. Judging from the program, I think this is going to be a really exciting conference! This year’s August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship will be given by Dr. Stanley Hillman from Portland State University who […]

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Elephants provide clues to cancer resistance

Cancer risk is associated with how often cells divide because each time DNA replicates, potential errors may occur. Unlike most mammals, elephants are remarkably resistant to cancer given their size. In a new study published in Cell Reports, researchers explored genes that evolved more quickly in elephants than other mammals to try to identify genes responsible for this protection. They identified several accelerated gene pathways in elephants that are important for DNA repair […]

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Understanding stress-induced miscarriage and premature delivery

  Stress during late pregnancy may result in premature delivery or stillbirth. A new study of pregnant Rambouillet cross ewes, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, was designed to understand why lambs succumb to stress late in pregnancy. They found that while arterial blood pressure and heart rates were normal during late gestation (final 2 weeks before birth) in fetuses from pregnant ewes with elevated stress hormones, fetal heart rate and aortic blood pressure declined on the day […]

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Caffeine and memory…wait what was I saying?

Personally, I would have a hard time functioning in the morning without coffee. I think many people might agree as caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive stimulant worldwide.  The stimulant effects of caffeine are attributed to its ability to bind to and inhibit adenosine receptors in the body, resulting in increased excitation of neurons: Long term potentiation (LTP) refers to an increase in the strength of connections formed between […]

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Making antibodies faster

Camelids (think llamas, alpacas and of course, camels) produce rather special antibodies that are highly sought after for research and biomedical applications. Nanobodies are small fragments of camelid antibodies that retain the ability to identify specific proteins. Because they are so small, they can bind to segments of proteins that intact or larger antibodies are unable to contact. This is what makes them attractive candidates in the search for new […]

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