MIT Students Using DNA To Treat Endometriosis

MIT Students Using DNA To Treat Endometriosis


This summer, 12 MIT students are working on a project to create a treatment for endometriosis in the form of a genetic circuit. In late October, they will present the completed project to the over 300 teams from around the world participating in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition at the Hynes Convention Center.

In the past, MIT iGEM teams have addressed Alzheimer's disease, cell differentiation and biodiesel production, but this year the team is bringing synthetic biology into the world of women's health. Endometriosis, the topic of the MIT iGEM team's research, is a condition characterized by extreme pelvic and abdominal pain, and it affects one in 10 women in the USA, including public figures like "Star Wars" actress, Daisy Ridley, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others.

Despite being almost commonplace, it's only relatively recently that endometriosis has become a focus of medical research. The pain is caused by cells from the uterine lining, called the endometrium, growing elsewhere in the body. These abnormal growths of endometrial cells can be large or small, and in the past, small growths could not be sensed. Back then, before endometriosis was a possible diagnosis, many women complaining of pain with no obvious or medically diagnosable cause would be carted away to asylums, labeled as "hysterical." Even today, although great strides are being made in understanding endometriosis on the molecular level, the treatment options for women with endometriosis are bleak. Pain medications and hormone therapy may minimize the symptoms of the disease, but they do nothing to get rid of the out-of-place endometrial cells causing the pain, and hormone therapy, in particular, can have noticeable and unpleasant side effects. The only options to actually remove the endometriosis are by undergoing surgery, either conservatively removing only the endometriosis cells (in minor cases) or by getting a hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, cervix and ovaries (in extreme and recurrent cases).

After learning of this disheartening set of options for women with endometriosis, the MIT iGEM team set out to create an alternative. The team is working in the Weiss Lab at MIT, in the university's Synthetic Biology Center. Synthetic biology is a form of biological engineering that characterizes and uses standardized parts to make some product. These parts may be proteins, which are large molecules in a cell that perform some function like sense a hormone or read DNA, or RNA, a single-helix counterpart of DNA that brings messages around the cell, or they may be stretches of DNA code with which RNA or proteins can somehow interact. Once researchers begin putting these pieces together, the possibilities are endless, making synthetic biology a new and exciting field of biological research.

Over the next few months, the MIT iGEM team will create a genetic circuit built from these biological parts. The circuit will be made of DNA and protein components to sense conditions in the cell, while using Boolean logic, a system that relies on binary assumptions that some condition is either "on" or "off," analogous to 1 or 0, to create an output. The MIT iGEM team's goal is to create a circuit that will first recognize when it's in an endometriosis cell and then produce some output, like causing the cell to die, thus removing the endometriosis without requiring surgery. The circuit could also result in the endometriosis cell producing some chemical that can be sensed through a blood or urine test, as a noninvasive and accurate alternative to the only current sure way to diagnose endometriosis: laparoscopy.

On Monday, June 13, the team will meet with experts in the field including Asgi Fazleablas and Linda Griffith to present their circuit design and seek feedback.

Cover Image Credit: Brian Teague

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15 Times College Makes You Feel Like Meredith Grey

The Carousel Never Stops Turning And Neither Does College

Grey's Anatomy is one of those shows that seems to have a moment for every life experience. The viewer gets to watch Meredith Grey go through the motions of life, from heartbreak to happiness and back again. College, of course, is no where near the pressures of a hospital. But let's just imagine college as Grey Sloan Memorial. Like Grey Sloan Season I, fetus intern Meredith, Alex, Christina, George, and Izzie. That's kind of what college is like, you run around not really knowing what you're doing but have to look like you do. If you're a Grey's fan then you know Meredith has had her fair share of life's stressors and struggles. College 100% has to be the origin of "the struggle is real"-- a "carousel that never stops turning." Who better to show you the carousel than Meredith Grey?

1. The moment when you realize that you chose college and have to be responsible.

2. When you claim your friends against their will, because life is too hard without your people.

3. When your friend "didn't study" and gets a better grade.

4. When you and your friends complain about all the work you have to do in your

6. When you're scared to answer a question in lectures and have to give yourself a pep-talk.

7. When you miss class and your friend says "I'll send you the notes."

8. When your professor explains something and you have no idea what's going on.

9. When you submit a paper last minute and hope for the best.

10. When you didn't have time to grab your morning coffee before your 8am.

11. When you're trying to save/keep your GPA.

12. When you think about all the work you have to get done by the end of the week.

13. When your professor asks you a question and you answer wrong.

14. When you walk in to class and realize you forgot about the exam.

15. When someone tells you college is the happiest/best time of your life.

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Fostering Creativity in Children’s Education


It is almost impossible to function or contribute to the development of society without education. That is why it is pivotal that the education experience is cultivated so that students can maximize their potential. Too many learners have learning challenges that prevent them from pursuing a course of study that is more suited to their aptitude. As such, teachers have to employ better strategies to motivate the learner through a more creative methodological approach. It would be a mistake to think that creativity can simply be relegated to the pursuits of music and art in education, but should more so be employed to how the lessons are presented to the learner. Students always visit this site to increase their knowledge or find an essay for college.

Definition of Terms

Merriam Webster dictionary states that education is “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction.” It is “the process by which an individual is encouraged and enabled to fully develop his or her potential; it may also serve the purpose of equipping the individual with what is necessary to be a productive member of society. Through teaching and learning the individual acquires and develops knowledge and skills; which are utilized by the individual throughout life-long activities.” Education is preparation for some worthy activity.In terms of creativity, it is a ‘quality of creative’; Merriam Webster dictionary states that being creative means “to have the power to create, rather than to imitate.”

Theorists on Education

Plato should be acknowledged because he developed a standardized approach to education. It was he who visualized the idea of training young children formally. This would allow for all to be on the same level. Plato was also the first to envisage the initiative of ‘lifelong learning’ and understood that “children should enter school at six where they first learn the three Rs (reading, writing and counting) and then engage with music and sports. John Dewey is also thought to be a respecteddidactic realist; he believed that education was a practiceused to advance the human condition. He believed that schools werededicated atmospheres that correspond with the societal environment. Within the educational curriculum a person’s experiences and interest are explored which prepares him for the future and life’s affairs.

Challenges in the Classroom

Teachers are faced with diverse teaching situations every day; some of these are easier to manage, but teachers need added techniques to resolve some scenarios. One of the more challenging instances will arise when you have to persuade a learner to do something that they have no desire, at that moment, to do. This is where motivation techniques will be beneficial.Motivation is something that energizes, directs and sustains behavior; it gets students moving, points them in a particular direction and keeps them going (Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004). For these reasons, teachers must learn how to appropriately stimulate the interests of their pupils. Keep in mind that one creative strategy might work for some students. The key is to diversify. Observe your students and interact with them; in this manner you will learn how to incite a response from your students and how best to motivate them continuously.

Learning Styles

Using a variety of creative teaching strategies ensures that the lesson is geared towards most if not all of the learning styles. To better understand which creative technique to implement in a classroom setting, you have to first understand learning styles; below is a list of learning styles, which every teacher should be aware of and design their lessons to accommodate.

  • Solitary learners that have a preference for self-study.
  • Social learners do not mind working in groups.
  • Physical learners or kinesthetic learners are those who have a preference for engaging the learning process through physical touch.
  • Visual learners engage learning through what they see, so use images.
  • Aural learners or auditory pupils like to learn by the use of sounds or music.
  • Logical learners are highly logical and are always reasoning out problems.
  • Verbal learners like to learn by speaking or writing.

These learning styles should then be complemented by facilitative teaching activities which support student participation and allows them to gain mastery in every subject.

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