UMBC Biology Council of Majors

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Applying For Medical School in a Gap Year?

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on September 12, 2016 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (50)

Hear from Kaplan Brand Ambassador, Danielle, on what she’s done, what she’s doing and what’s next for her in her journey to medical school.

Frozen rabbit kidneys could solve organ shortage for transplants

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on April 17, 2016 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Is this the coolest solution to our donor-organ shortage? Researchers have discovered a way of freezing embryonic animal kidneys so that they can later be warmed up and grown into full-size organs without the risk of rejection by their recipient.


The results suggest we may one day be able to create a long-term biobank of animal kidneys that provides an unlimited source of organs for transplanting in people. There are three major hurdles for human organ transplantation: the number of organs available, rejection of the organ by the host’s immune system, and timing, because human kidneys can only be kept alive for 30 hours or less outside the body.

One obvious limitation, he says, is that these experiments were conducted in rabbits, and further studies would be necessary to evaluate the relevance of this technique for humans. However, “if the way to go in the future to address the shortage of kidneys for transplants is xenotransplantation [from other animals], then this is an important step in that direction”.

"Frozen Rabbit Kidneys Could Solve Organ Shortage for Transplants." New Scientist. N.p., 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 17 Apr. 2016.


SciShow Compilation

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on January 30, 2016 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Hey BioCOMer’s,

Welcome back to the spring semester! I wanted to start off with this compilation of fun winter-related SciShow videos. Some of the segments include: How to Make Snow (If You're Not Elsa), Why Is My Tongue Stuck to This Flagpole? and Why Can We See Our Breath In The Cold? Enjoy!" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

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Bioethics Debate

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on December 1, 2015 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

“We know what we are, but not what we could have been” -Shakespeare.

BioEthics presents “Editing the Human Genome.” Come hear our very own Dr. Miller and Dr. Picciuto debate the ethics of genetic engineering, specifically CRISPR/Cas 9.

December 7, 7:30-9 in Physics 101. PIZZA will be provided.:)

If you have any questions e-mail [email protected]


Functional lab-grown vocal cord tissue

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on November 24, 2015 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been able to grow a functional vocal cord tissue in the laboratory. This is a very exciting step forward that may help people who have vocal cord injuries.

After isolating cells from the vocal cords of a cadaver and the larynxes of several people who do not have cancer, the cells grew to become strong connective tissue. This system resembles how we grow artificial skin in the laboratory.

The scientists then tested if the artificial vocal cord could transmit sound. They verified this by attaching the tissue to the larynges of cadaver dogs, which were attached to artificial windpipes and had air blown in them.

Although there are many more years of research to be done before clinical applications can begin, this bioengineered vocal cord will help guide many future advancements in the field of voice impairments.

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Functional vocal cord tissue grown in lab." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2015.


Basnet fills in for Koita

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on January 27, 2015 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

In an unforeseen move, President Omar Koita announced to the executive board Saturday afternoon that he will not return to UMBC this spring and that Vice President Neha Basnet will fill in his post for the remainder of his term.

Basnet called for an emergency executive meeting Monday, where she appointed Marina Mizell as Acting Vice President. Mizelle already served on the executive board as Chair of the Food Committee. She will serve both roles until an official election can be held at the end of the semester.

Both Basnet and Mizell have already shown great dedication to BioCOM in the past, and the executive board has full confidence in their future leadership. Please join us in congratulating our officers on their new positions.

List of credible science news sites!

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on September 21, 2014 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Since I haven’t been able to post article summaries for you guys because of a busy schedule, I gathered a list of credible news sources. Thanks and credit goes to Joe Hanson of It’s Okay to Be Smart on YouTube for compiling the list. All of the sites I use for news were already on the list besides one. Hopefully, this will give everyone a way to keep up with the latest science whether I can post or not. If you know of a good site you like that I didn’t mention here let us know! Enjoy!

My favorite go-to-sites:

New Scientist:


Science Daily:


Joe’s List:

Joe’s public Twitter lists are full of science goodness:

National Geographic’s Phenomena blogs:

New York Times Science:

LA Times Science:

The Atlantic:

Wired Science:

NPR Science:


Nature News:

The Scientist:

Southern Fried Science:

Scientific American:

Scientific American blog network:

Discover magazine:

Discover magazine blogs:


The Guardian:

BBC: and

Why Evolution Is True:


Forbes’ Emily Willingham: and

Matthew Herper:


Blood test with potential to detect all cancers

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on August 16, 2014 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Scientists from the University of Bradford claim to have developed a blood test that can detect any type of cancer. The technique involves damaging the DNA of white blood cells with ultraviolet light.

The DNA in the blood of patients with melanoma, colon, lung cancer, etc. is more easily damaged than healthy patients. Therefore, the test looks to see if there is a pre-cancerous intermediate level of damage to compare; thereby, alluding to cancer. If it works, it could be a way to test for cancers without being as costly and invasive as colonoscopies and biopsies.

However, Prof. Diana Anderson, who led the research, said that the study has very significant limitations. So far they have only tested it with the three cancers mentioned above, but the results have been enough to cause excitement. Further experiments need to be done in order to see if this test can work for other types of cancer.

Hughes, Dominic. "Cancer Blood Test Moves Step Closer." BBC News. BBC, 26 July 2014. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.

Anderson, Diana. "Sensitivity and Specificity of the Empirical Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) Assay: Implications for Improving Cancer Diagnostics." Sensitivity and Specificity of the Empirical Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) Assay: Implications for Improving Cancer Diagnostics. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 30 June 2014. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.


Crayfish found to turn blood into nuerons

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on August 13, 2014 at 11:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Not too long ago, it was found that humans can in fact make new neurons within the hippocampus. However, we can only do this with specialized stem cells, while recent studies have found that crayfish can turn blood straight into neurons for use! They use these new cells to resupply their eyestalks and smell circuits which are often exposed to damage.

Crayfish accomplish this feat by utilizing a “nursery” for baby neurons called a niche at the base of the brain. Blood cells move throughout this region on a regular basis and can become “attracted” to the niche where they will then split into two daughter cells. These two cells act as precursors for new neurons as a result.

Once they are precursors, the cells migrate to the area in need of repair. Once there, they finish conversion to new neurons. The niche’s stash of precursor neurons was thought to gradually dry up without being resupplied. However, the opposite happens, suggesting the existence of an unknown source of them.

Crayfish are a long way from humans says Anthony Windebank of the Mayo Clinic’s Regenerative Neurobiology Laboratory. However, he explains that we have learned much from model systems such as the C. elegans, Drosophila, and zebrafish. Therefore, crayfish should be no different.

Scientists have been studying transdifferentiation, turning one cell type into another, in vertebrates but with not too much luck. This is mostly because vertebrates don’t appear to do it naturally. Perhaps the answer lies in invertebrates, like the crayfish, that actually can do it naturally. If we can figure out how, it can have huge implications for regenerative medicine.

Brahic, Catherine. "Brain Regeneration: Crayfish Turn Blood into Neurons." New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.

Heaven, Douglas. "Nuclear Bomb Tests Reveal Brain Regeneration in Humans." New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 10 June 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.


Video: What You Need to Know About Ebola

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on August 11, 2014 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Sorry for the lack of news lately; I was on vacation. I'm going to try to stick to a every other day posting basis now that the semester is right around the corner.

Todays video is important info for any biologist to know, especially with the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Hank Green of SciShow gives you the facts about one of the world's deadlist diseases. 

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