I had a great meeting yesterday with Advisor and Collaborator. It was the kind of meeting that can take the same crappy data you’ve been working with since 2008 and turn it into something exciting and new because now you see it from a different angle than you had before. I think the reason why I was feeling stale with my thesis was because the connection between form and function that we had hypothesized didn’t seem to exist, but in reality we had just been using the wrong tools to examine the connection. We found it yesterday, and I had one of those moments where everything snapped together like puzzle pieces. Exhilarating, yes, but I can’t explore it until the weekend because I have to spend the afternoon at my internship today and will probably spend all evening tonight and afternoon tomorrow writing my talk for class tomorrow evening (oops).
Talking to Collaborator always rejuvenates my enthusiasm for my project, though, because he has a way of talking about our science that is so eloquent. He knows this stuff. It actually makes me a little bit jealous, but I guess that’s why he has a PhD and I don’t.
Unrelated to any of the above: How the diabetes-linked ‘thrifty gene’ triumphed with prejudice over proof. I read this yesterday while waiting for Advisor to get to campus. When I TA’ed comparative physiology we spent a whole class period discussing thrifty genes as if they actually existed and weren’t just a theory. I had no idea there was this much debate over the topic, much less that the thrifty gene(s) had never actually been found.
The thrust of the article is that thrifty genes have always been a theory, and a problematic one at that, because it shifts the focus of obesity in first nations populations (the Pima Amerindians have the highest prevalence of type II diabetes in the world) from a socioeconomic one (fast food is cheaper than food that is healthy, and is marketed to poor people) to one that is genetic, which sorta smacks of eugenics.
They do mention at the end of the article that there may be a thrifty genotype, meaning that some people do have a higher risk for type II diabetes based on a host of genetic and epigenetic factors, but that it isn’t as simple of a problem as localizing a single gene. Something to think about.
Image: Pima Woman, source.