so is there a genetic reason you’re a smarty pants?

Image courtesy ENIGMA Network

Growing up, when you brought home an A on a test, did your parents ever argue over who’s side of the family “the smarts” came from?  I can recall complete reconstructions of the family tree based on what subjects my sister and I were excelling in.

In reality, the grades probably had more to do with good study habits and a certain pride in my work, but new research indicates that there may be more of a genetic component than previously realized.  In addition to diet, as we learned in my last post, recent work from Dr. Paul Thompson’s team reveals that genetic variations can have measurable impacts on learning and intelligence.  I came across his work thanks to a great piece written by Moheb Costandi at ScienceNOW.

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google: not just for writing your term paper anymore

Oh, Google.  I remember the days before your name became a verb associated with mild stalking.  The days long ago when you were just the weird alternative to Yahoo! for email and internet queries. How far you’ve come – pervasive in every part of my life.

Maybe it’s about time you get used a little more for the science world.  Above and beyond searching for job openings for graduate students, that is.  A group of researchers from Dresden University of Technology in Germany have tailored the Google PageRank algorithm to better be able to predict clinical prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients.  Their work is published in the May issue of PLoS Computational Biology.

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working out accomplishes more than you ever imagined

A good friend of mine pointed me to what’s turned out to be a very successful strength training program about a year back.  However, when I first checked out the website, this image was the first thing I saw.  I kid you not.  I don’t want to work for the circus, maybe just get in better shape.  Luckily, those results apparently aren’t typical.  Or I’m not doing it right.  Who knows.

In any case, building up muscles or endurance isn’t the only thing that comes from exercise.  As we learn from an article published recently in Cell Metabolism, it stimulates changes all the way down to our DNA. Continue reading

gene identified for increased risk of prostate cancer

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”  That phrase has followed me my entire life.  It is my mother’s favorite movie.  It is my wife’s favorite movie.  I transferred ownership from one woman to another, and Dirty Dancing followed me.

I can’t complain much, as my wife has to watch Jurassic Park at least annually.  Still, I do not look forward to the inevitable night of boredom when she wants to again subject me to the ultimate chick flick.

Nobody argues with baby when she wants to watch Swayze.

Sadly, as you’re all aware, he’s no longer with us, claimed by the horrifying menace that is pancreatic cancer.  Luckily, we may have a new tool towards prevention.  In a recent issue of the AACR Journal Cancer Discovery, Dr. Alison Klein’s group at Johns Hopkins University reports the discovery of mutations in a gene that may lead to increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer.

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