Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hina Chaudhry: Interesting Science from a Lab-Worn Doctor-Lady

Over on my Biology in Science Fiction blog I recently posted about an article by Tom Junod in men's magazine Esquire profiling UW scientist Mark Roth. The article was bad, in part because it painted a picture of Roth as an genius maverick who couldn't get a grants because his ideas were too brilliant, unlike the plodding never-had-a-fresh-idea scientists actually funded by the NIH. But it wasn't just that. It was the writing, which read like a transcribed conversation with a valley dude who was completely unfamiliar with science and the way it's practiced.

Now Carl Zimmer points out another article in the latest Esquire - this one by Lisa Taddeo - that's equally bad. There's the flip conversational tone and use of odd analogies*, and, as a bonus, "who'd believe this normal-looking woman is a scientist."

But now look here, a woman. She is a pretty lady of Pakistani heritage who highlights her soccer-mom layers, which you don't expect from a lab-worn doctor-lady. And she's got ideas. Wild ones. Hina Chaudhry believes she can do what the body can't: fix the dead parts.
Highlighted layers and ideas? Amazing! And is the "soccer-mom" description a dig at her style?

It's a shame the writing is so bad, since Chaudhry's research sounds quite interesting. She's been studying the role of the cell-cycle regulating protein cyclin A2 in heart development.

From the Esquire article:
Chaudhry says it was women's intuition. The holy-shit solution. It came to her during a seminar at UPenn when she was twenty-nine. They were discussing fruit-fly genes. How the head segment knows it's going to form a head and how the tail segment knows it's going to be a tail. "I just had this sudden realization that heart cells don't divide after birth in any mammal. They divide in the embryo, but they stop after birth," she says. "So I thought, That's it! We have to go back and study the basics of why and when heart cells stop dividing." If they could do that -- figure out what causes heart-cell division to turn off -- then perhaps they could find a way to turn it back on.
She's devised a method of introducing an expressed version of cyclin A2 into adult heart cells, which appears to allow the heart to recover from a heart attack. It's been successfully tested in rats and ultimately she hopes that the method can be used in humans.
Her idea was laughed at, at first. In part because she was young and a woman, she says. But now the medical world is sitting up, taking notes.

Chaudhry was recruited to Mount Sinai's Cardiovascular Institute by the director of Mount Sinai Heart, Dr. Valentin Fuster, and the medical center's Cardiovascular Research Center director, Dr. Roger Hajjar. She calls them the two greatest visionaries in the cardiac world. Along with their chosen one, this bright many-schooled angel, they are going to make Mount Sinai the leading thinker in the heart world. "We've had no therapies to reverse heart failure, to make a diseased heart normal again," says Hajjar. "This therapy may finally do that."

An angel and "chosen one" - that's a lot to live up to. Heart attacks are a top killer here in the United States, so anything that improves the survival rate would be a significant achievement. I suspect, though, that Chaudhry's methodology is further from being a clinical reality than the article might lead you to believe.
---

* From the description of what happens during a heart attack.
"Suddenly, soldier, this part of your heart is dead, only it's still in your body, attached to the good section -- the 90210 ventricle -- and the good part is smirking, it's saying, "Come on, rebuild yourself, man!"
Science articles rarely
juxtapose a reference to a teen drama and a quote from an anthropomorphized internal organ in the same sentence (not to mention the gratuitous "soldier" reference), so this is very special.

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6 comments:

Gia's Spot said...

I really enjoy your blog! I stole some of your info and blogged about the article you mentioned from Esquire! Sorry but it was just such a great subject but unfortunatly, the writer was a bit jealous maybe? keep keeping us women informed! From a very non science woman!(did that make any sense? )

Peggy said...

It does make sense :) I'm glad you enjoy the blog, and it's great you are blogging about it too.

Apple notebook batteries said...

Wow.. All I have to say isssss bravvvvoooo! Honestly, most people look @ life and really see that there is just sooo much to accomplish that they don't even know where to begin. And then, years down the line they end up regretting not taking the first steps to help them excel in their career. But you, you are the definition of true efforts and really, I think you got to where you want to be by 'planning'
Planning is something that sounds so simple, but while in Oxford, we learned that if you want to make it big in life just like those wealthy people, you have to A) Start Young (and) B) Plan ahead
And literally planning ahead got me to where I want to be in life with a six figure income and I bless every day that I live, really. All I have to say is kudos to another individual that lives his life successfully like I do :)

Sardar Saeed Malik said...

Dr. Hina chaudhry looks great, speaks great, and stride well in life with all the charm, and grandeur of her superb education. A lab worn Lady Doctor shall make great many milestones in the field of medicine, to even surprise the other 'visionaries'.

I am writing this note with the utmost remembrance of Al Mighty the God in my heart, from whom all the Blessing flow for all!. Dr. Hina chaudhry shall be bestowed this Blessing expressly ,because she is helping to excel the lives of 'Mankind'. My compliments and heartfelt prayers goes to her.
Yours Truly,
Sardar Saeed Malik
Washington
August 28, 2009

Sardar Saeed Malik said...

Dr. Hina chaudhry looks great, speaks great, and stride well in life with all the charm, and grandeur of her superb education. A lab worn Lady Doctor shall make great many milestones in the field of medicine, to even surprise the other 'visionaries'.

I am writing this note with the utmost remembrance of Al Mighty the God in my heart, from whom all the Blessing flow for all!. Dr. Hina chaudhry shall be bestowed this Blessing expressly ,because she is helping to excel the lives of 'Mankind'. My compliments and heartfelt prayers goes to her.
Yours Truly,
Sardar Saeed Malik
Washington
August 28, 2009

David Granovsky said...

I had the same feeling when I read the article. I was researching the fetus' ability to migrate stem cells back through the umbilical cord to heal the damaged heart of the mother and mentally tripped over the 1950s-esque treatment of her and her work. This occurred somewhere between her work with maurine models and her article on "Fetal Cells Traffic to Injured Maternal Myocardium and Undergo Cardiac Differentiation" http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/110/1/82

I appreciate your blog and hope you will check mine out as well.