Monday, February 13, 2006

KOOKY series: Parasites are cool

I was reading this article yesterday. It's about a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, and they suspect that this little critter may be a link to schizophrenia in humans.

I love this sort of stuff as I was a science major myself in undergrad. I love the sense of discovery, of mind getting together to try out something new and uncertain. There is so much of our own world that we don't even know and have yet to discover.

I had taken a couple of parasitology courses in my undergrad years, and from that, gained a healthy respect for God's minute creations. In vain do humans try to rule the world from a perch, scorning those who crawl under our feet as if they are mere nothingness, only to humbly find that something not even visible to the naked eye can knock us on to our butts without effort. Very cool.

Now you may ask, what this has anything to do with work. I work for the Faculty of Medicine. Many times, people think that the faculty's existence is to run a medical school. Well, that's only a part of why they exist.

Out of all the research monies that come through the university, 44% of it goes to the Faculty of Medicine. The next faculty who has the most amount of research money is the Faculty of Science, with 23% of the pie. Needless to say, a lot of medical research happens within, or in partnership with the faculty.

Now what does this have to do with me? Toxoplasma gondii actually rang a bell in my head. I helped the Division of Infectious Diseases do up their website, and lo and behold, T. gondii is on their front page (bottom right). I've stared those pictures for more time than I care to admit as I had a hard time getting to lay out properly.

Every once in a while , I get to glimpse at what the researcher are doing and marvel at how far we have come over the last few decades medically. I suppose it's my way of living vicariously through them, even if it's only a little sliver that I get to see. But it's this golden thread that makes it worth coming to work in the morning, to allow me to be a part of the greater world of medical research, if only in some obscure, tenuous way.

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