Stick out your tongue and say "acquired immune deficiency"

When they’re not headbanging or falling for our anecdote baiting, Columbia faculty enjoy getting dirty in the lab. Bwog takes a moment to look back on this week in science. Headlines were compiled by infectious disease specialist Zach Kagan.

Columbia anesthesiologist and Med school Professor Stephen Shafer took the stand Thursday in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the personal physician of Michael Jackson. Shafer ultimately dismissed Murray’s claim the Jackson woke up and self-administered the lethal dose of propofol, arguing “people don’t just wake up from anesthesia like that.”

As it turns out, genetics is even more complicated than Moshowitz makes it out to be. A team of Columbia researchers have discovered a new mechanism for gene regulation in which mRNA from one gene can influence the expression of completely different genes. The interaction might explain why some cells become cancerous, but let’s face it, if we had to handle this many biological interactions we’d be confused too.

A cream initially developed by Columbia researchers to stem the HIV endemic in Africa proved to be more effective in preventing the transmission of genital herpes. While it’s estimated that twenty percent of sexually active adults have herpes, the cream’s developers are confident they can bring that rate down.

Speaking of HIV, a new mathematical model developed by the Mailman School of Public Health predicts that targeting discordant couples for treatment could dramatically curb the spread of AIDS by up to 96 percent. Columbia researchers weren’t through with AIDS just yet. Another study showed that simultaneously treating HIV and tuberculosis decreased patient mortality rates. This is especially relevant since 70 percent of Africans with TB are also HIV-positive.

Finally a different team of Columbia researchers showed that the chance of having a stroke is significantly greater if you’ve had diabetes for 10 or more years. How Wilford Brimley survives, though, remains a medical mystery.