I recently attended an awards ceremony in which a senior science investigator expressed that her research career was enhanced, all due to her having the privilege of a lifetime working with science trainees. The American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) has made one of its core missions of ensuring that the work of trainees are highlighted during their annual meeting. At this year’s meeting several of ASIP’s trainees were highlighted on Saturday, April 26, 2014 in a session entitled, “Highlights: Graduate Student Research in Pathology”  Today, I was lucky enough to track down two trainees, a Ms. My-Trang T. Dang and Mr. Tyler T. Wood. In addition to them allowing me to take their pictures, both trainees presented their work.

 

My-Trang T. Dang 

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My-Trang’s work focuses on understanding diseases that impact the functioning of our lungs. Some individuals with lung disease exhibit complications called, “low diffusing capacity”; meaning that these individuals have difficulties ensuring that enough oxygen is getting through their lungs to the rest of their body organs. These difficulties are caused by a variety of disease conditions, making diseases associated with low diffusing capacity difficulty to treat and diagnose. However, My-Trang studies a special peptide called angiotensinogen (AGT) that may serve as a marker for diseases associated with the lung. In her experiments, she explores human genetics by examining patterns in DNA from individuals in the United States and Spain. From her studies, she was able to decipher patterns by which individuals with low diffusing capacity had a specific type of DNA pattern. More importantly, she also observed that the DNA pattern within these individuals was associated with the activation of mediators that promote inflammation. My-Trang hopes to use her work as a method for predicting lung dysfunction within patients with lung disease.

 

Tyler T. Wood

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Tyler’s research explores the effects of tobacco smoke on promoting the progression of inflammation in cases of lung disease. Tyler studies a subset of inflammatory products called advanced glycation end-products or AGE. These products can increase inflammation by binding to receptors on the cell surface and activating inflammatory signaling pathways. Individuals who smoke, have a higher propensity for producing these inflammatory products. So to better understand how AGE may influence lung function, Tyler uses a mouse model to mimic the effects of cigarette smoke on lung function and inflammation. His research study highlighted the effects of short-term tobacco smoke exposure compared to identical animals groups exposed to room air only. In summary, Tyler observed that inflammation was induced by tobacco smoke exposure, which also stimulated activation of AGE receptors. He plans to continue his studies, as his data may reveal captivating information that suggests a role for AGE signaling in the induction of inflammation within the lungs of individuals who are exposed to tobacco smoke.

#xbio @ASIPath

http://www.asip.org/index.cfm

 

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“Don’t Do, Because You Will Get Caught”

The American Society for Investigative Pathology hosted a very engaging and informational session on scientific integrity with regards to publishing, intellectual property and conflicts of interest. One might be inclined to think! Well! It’s my work, I should be able to do whatever I want with it Right? WRONG! The need for scientists to be innovative is becoming increasingly challenging! Scientist are now expected to publish more, seek alternative funding mechanisms and all the while discover ways to improve upon their respective research programs. Due to these new strains, it is not surprising to see the incidence of breeches in scientific integrity becoming more of a problem.

It is hard to determine where to draw the line when it comes to issues in scientific integrity. For example, if a principle investigator receives funding from a private institution, he/she may not be able to publish their data. Moreover, there are issues surrounding “Conflicts of Interest” or COI’s. Various questions can arise….Did you skew that data? Did you omit those results on purpose? Are the techniques you used proprietary, the list goes on and on. When you think about it, we all have our own conflicts of interest, but when it comes to the research setting, you better well make sure that you are handling things properly.

This lunch and learn session was engaging and also included the audience acting as a make shift jury, judging if the constituents and their actions were GUILTY or INNOCENT or ??, which means that topic is a tricky one . A case in scientific integrity was presented and covered various aspects listed below. Let’s just say there were very simple take home messages from each topic discussed and they are also included below.

Publishing

  1. Citation Bias and Reference Accuracy – “Actually read the citations you put in your paper. If something is inaccurate, you risk the chance of increasing that inaccuracy”
  2. Omitting negative results – “Everyone wants a beautiful research story, however if the data solidifies your results, please do not omit. Negative data can be IMPORTANT too geez”
  3. Redundant Data – “Okay people! Don’t try to change the title of your study and resubmit it to another journal or as a research grant, like it is new data”
  4. Plagiarism – “Plagiarism is plagiarism is plagiarism…point PERIOD!

Image Manipulation

  1. Image Scaling – “Add a scale to fluorescent and microscopy images of biological specimens; a good rule of thumb is to add the scale before enlarging the image.
  2. Microscope – “Imaging is NOT the microscope, it is the sample prep. Be sure control for the processing of your sample during its preparation.
  3. Pixilation – Anything that alters the pixels…..JUST STAY AWAY!

Conflicts of Interest

Ultimate take home message is, if you think you have a conflict of interest, it is most likely that you do. To avoid potential issues, you should contact your university’s conflict of interest office to minimize risk and substantiate yourself as a scientist who has integrity!

Remember to DO THE RIGHT THING! Remember that what you do now, does matter. In the process of understanding this complex world around us, make sure you do your due diligence to make those understandings easier. Try not to input your own personal biases and do your best to write with integrity!

“There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity” ― Tom Peters

April 27th, 2014 (11:45 AM – 1:45 PM ) – Experimental Biology 2014
XIVth Annual ASIP/AAA Career Development & Mentoring Program and Lunch: GUILTY Until Proven INNOCENT: Scientific Integrity and Getting Published!
 
San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, Presidio 
Chaired by Jayne Reuben , Titus Reaves , Jacqueline Jones-Triche 

@ASIPath, #xbio