Wednesday, July 21, 2010
On a happier note, the exciting intern project is almost finished – for real this time! We are still waiting on permission for one photo and need to edit the credits and such, but all the info is there and it looks good. We’ve been looking through the teratology collection at HDAC and found some great images to put up as well. I’m glad I won’t have to leave Sarah with tons of clean-up work to get the website working.
Today Liz is having a lunchtime class on medical drawing, which I plan to grace with my terrible artistic skills. She showed me some of the specimens we will be sketching and it looks like it will be interesting. Maybe Sarah and I can post some of our sketches after the class. We will probably also have to explain what the sketches are supposed to depict, since my drawing of a gangrenous foot will likely be confused with the skull with an arrow through its eye.
So goodbye to everyone at the museum and whomever may be reading this blog (I suspect just Mike and my parents)! I hope to read about more exciting things to come from the museum in the future.
Sarah and I completed the sketching class and came back with two masterpieces. Sarah drew a 1959 Army medical model of a broken femur that could be strapped to a leg in a mock trauma situation. In her defense, the model itself was very amorphous and if you saw it in person the sketch would make sense. Maybe. I drew a gangrenous, frostbitten plastinated foot. I am thinking about framing it and giving it to my parents as an anniversary gift. I will judge where it is placed in the house as how much they love me.
Overall, the class was very successful and informative. Some of the students left with incredible (but extremely disgusting) drawings. Others, like myself, left with indistinguishable sketches, but this was certainly no fault of the instructor. Liz gave all the help she possibly could to salvage our sketches, but they were doomed like the Titanic the second Sarah and I held pencils.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Last semester I studied abroad in Prague. One of the trips I went on was to a tiny town in Bohemia called Kutna Hora. There was absolutely nothing of interest in this town except for a single tourist attraction: the bone church!
This small, unassuming church had a huge graveyard in front and a giant skull ice sculpture outside. My friends, already familiar with my tendency to freak out in the face of anything anthropological, had to constantly remind me to not look so excited in a church full of human bones, but I couldn’t help it - it was amazing! As the story goes, an old half-blind monk was in charge of the church and when the cemetery reached capacity during the time of the bubonic plague, he simply dug up the old bodies in 1511 and put their bones on display in the church. This cemetery was a hoppin’ resting place as it had been sprinkled some years earlier with earth from Golgotha. During the plague, 30,000 bodies were to be interred here.
He turned their bones into works of art, carefully sorting and arranging all the different body parts around the church. There are strings of vertebrae running like garland from the eaves and great shields made of femora hanging on the walls. The focal point of the church interior is definitely the chandelier, a massive, intricate structure of many different types of bones in front of the altar. Sure, it’s all a little macabre but I think this church lends reverence to the dead in a way no other church could.
The chandelier in the center of the church made with innominates, femora, vertebrae and skulls, among other bones
The authors that we contacted last week have been very helpful, offering further papers to look into and advice on the challenges in confronting publishing companies for permission. We would recommend checking out “Self-recognition in an Asian Elephant” PNAS 2006; one of the authors J. Plotnik has been exceedingly helpful and encouraging. If our schedules permit we may even meet with him in person to talk about his research. We also found a great site, brainmuseum.org, which has a large database of brain specimens that we were able to compare and use in our project. We are hoping that our luck with compliant authors continues, since we sent out a few more request for image permission.
This is an image of our projects proposed title page, with images taken from Moore, Persaud and Shiota Color Atlas of Clinical Embryology
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
This is an example of one of the flashcards I made.
Hi, my name is John Kim and I go to Magruder High School. I’ve been working as an intern at the Human Developmental Anatomy Center tying packages, working on projects and at the same time learning about embryology. During this week I have been able to work on creating flashcards accompanied with pictures that test one’s knowledge on general embryology and more specifically the nervous system. In total I made 15 flashcards. This was interesting to do because I learned a new thing for almost every flashcard I made. Besides making flashcards, I have also made a couple jigsaw puzzles from pictures related to embryology that can be both fun and stimulate thinking on the subject at the same time.
The image on this flashcard was taken from: http://www.proprofs.com
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Liz suggested possible topics for the comparative section of our project, including dolphin and whale brain composition and self-recognition in birds. The bird experiments involved putting a colored sticker on a bird without it noticing (how on earth they do this, we don't know...) and seeing if it tried to scratch off the sticker when looking in a mirror, thus confirming that it knew it was seeing itself. She also mentioned studies on a parrot that could form entire coherent sentences, so if you're into talking birds, get excited. Emily also told us about "theory of mind," regarding experiments done with chimps on awareness of others' knowledge. Basically this entails one chimp taking advantage of another if the first chimp knows his competitor doesn't know the location of a banana. Or something. We promise we will understand this in our project. Once we fix the eyesore of a PowerPoint presentation we hope to have better luck accessing resources for the second half of our project.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
My name is Sarah, I am an Intern here at HDAC. I am currently a senior at the University of Maryland studying biological anthropology. Within biological anthropology I am most interested in studying the molecular and genetic applications of Anthropology. I am excited to learn about developmental embryology this summer here at HDAC.
Today Rebecca and I decided on the topic of our Intern project. We wanted to incorporate the neural tube development and pathology with comparative anatomy. To do this we have been looking into the development of the central nervous system (CNS). The two main books we have been looking at are Langman’s Medical Embryology (Eighth Edition) by T.W. Sadler, Ph.D. and Basic Concepts in Embryology: A Student Survival Guide by Lauren J. Sweeney. It was easy to find issues related to CNS development. If the neural tube does not close properly during the first four weeks of gestation entire sections of the brain and/or spinal cord can be exposed. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect (NTD) that occurs when the neuropore does not fuse. Eventually we will also look further into comparative anatomy regarding brain development.
Image from Langman's Medical Embryology by T.W. Sadler. In the Image the gray part is the vertebra that has failed to fuse, the orange is a herniation of the spinal meninges, and the blue is the neural tissue.
Hi, my name is John Kim and I go to
Embryology is the study of the developmental process. Embryogenesis is known as the first 8 weeks of human development, while the fetal period is known as the period after the 8 weeks up until birth. The study of embryological origins, birth defects, and the developmental process in general is essential for creating health care strategies for better reproductive outcomes, and the understanding of diseases in our postnatal health. This is interesting to me because I did not know that embryology played a role in the understanding of postnatal health but rather thought it only played a role in the understanding of prenatal health.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
An Open Letter to Acetate Sheets
I would like to start off by saying that, firstly, I know you were an invaluable medium in the early years of embryology and helped create many models that would preserve early embryological research for years to come and, secondly, you are disgusting. I know one should not speak poorly of one’s elders, and you are quite old, but you really don’t age well.
I just spent two hours of my morning cleaning up oozy, oily chemical sweat from 50 of your slides from the Carnegie Collection. Your job was to preserve those images and instead you nearly destroyed them. Cleaning each one of your slides with Tech-Wipes and Kleenex was a PAIN – in the fingers – and made everything within a three-foot radius smell like vinegar.
I’m sure in your heyday you were glorious to behold, but you should really take better care of yourself. Years in a dark box in the HDAC archives has made you ooze and sweat like a teenager with acne who just ran a marathon or a middle-aged man on an all fast food diet sitting in a steam room.
A few slides in I was berating you in my mind. “I loathe you! You disgust me!” I shouted at you in my head. As I cleaned up more and more of your oily mess (New plan for BP: Throw Tech-Wipes into the Gulf. You’re welcome.), my inner voice took on an Arnold Schwarzeneger accent. “You verbrennst my nose! You are nothing but Dreck!”
You need to understand, Acetate, that the anger just helped me clean you better. In the end, I know we will still be friends because I will always keep coming back to you – at least until the end of July when my internship is over and I will be free from your vinegar-ethanol stench forever.
Yours (until July),
Monday, June 21, 2010
Getting married leads to having kids, and do you know how many things can go wrong with an embryo? Anyone who has seen the “From a Single Cell” exhibit in the museum can attest to the multitude of abnormalities that can emerge during development. Looking through the teratology files – teratology is the study of developmental abnormalities – in HDAC to research pathologies for my project certainly doesn’t help either.
Abnormalities range from the nonfatal or easily-corrected, like polydactyly, to the always fatal or severely malformed, like “acardiac monsters,” in which at least one monozygotic twin is missing entire organ systems and body parts. I can’t imagine the devastation of a mother who is told she is carrying a “monster.”
Many congenital defects are brought on by environmental stimuli, like fetal alcohol syndrome or limb deformities caused by drugs such as thalomide. Many more, however, are hereditary. I’ve seen many pictures of genetically inherited anomalies, such as icthyosis, the excessive keratinization of the skin, causing scaly or cracked skin, and anencephaly, the improper closing of the neural tube or absence of the skull, causing brain exposure to amniotic fluid. This picture is an X-ray of a baby with sirenomelia from the early 20th century; there is also a fetal sirenomelia specimen on the museum floor. The legs are fused together because abnormal umbilical cord vessels deprive the lower body of blood during development.
Any parents concerned that their daughters aren’t ready to have children should just point them in the direction of a teratology collection. If I hadn’t been telling my mother for years now that she would have to wait a long time for grandchildren, she would probably receive the news after my internship here. Better yet, I’ll probably just adopt.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
As a new intern at the
Well, it seems like I have been glued to this chair next to the scanner for a while now. I scan old crinkly acetate models from sun up to sun down (I hyperbolize as well). Usually, it’s not so bad because most of the stuff is really interesting and it’s incredible to handle original models from the 1920s.
Take this scan, for example; it was in a small box labeled only “Tadpole Ears, Streeter, 1920.” Tadpole ears?! At first I thought George Streeter had just pulled a fast one on me, mixing tadpole ears in with collections of human embryos and research on rhesus monkeys, but then I realized it did make sense after all to include tadpoles in a study on development. I continued to scan, appreciative of the great lengths to which scientists went so many years ago in order to understand human development.
As I continued to scan, however, my attention drifted elsewhere and I began to see angry clowns in every slide. This tadpole looks horrifyingly similar to the killer clown in the movie “It,” don’t you think?