2019’s Most-read Posts

Credit: iStock The year—and the decade—is drawing to a close, and we’ve had another physiology-ful year on the I Spy Physiology blog. In 2019, we’ve explored how horses power themselves and how groundhogs survive the long winter, and we have highlighted the important breakthrough of a new treatment for cystic fibrosis. We’ve also continued to … Continue reading 2019’s Most-read Posts

Spotlight On: DNA and RNA

Credit: iStock At some point in your life, someone may have told you “You have your mom’s eyes” or “You have good genes.” Well, it all has to do with your DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is made up of two long strands of genetic codes that are connected by four molecules. These molecules—two on each … Continue reading Spotlight On: DNA and RNA

Ground-breaking Cystic Fibrosis Treatment Is a Testament to Basic Research

Credit: iStock Roughly 70,000 people worldwide have cystic fibrosis (CF)—a progressive, degenerative disease characterized by the buildup of unusually thick mucus in the lungs and other tissues. It occurs when a mutation causes a specific protein, called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), to malfunction. In healthy people, CFTR moves electrolytes in and out … Continue reading Ground-breaking Cystic Fibrosis Treatment Is a Testament to Basic Research

23 and We? Mating for Life Could Be Genetic

Spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart might just take on a new meaning ... an evolutionary one. Even though we live in an era in which endless opportunities for a mate are just a swipe left or right, science suggests that maybe we all have that one special someone out there. Social monogamy is the … Continue reading 23 and We? Mating for Life Could Be Genetic

Halloween Musings on Mutations

The word “mutation” may conjure up images of fictional monsters, Marvel X-Men and creatures with non-human characteristics. It’s true that mutations are often associated with disease: something that has gone wrong in the body to produce an oddly shaped body part or sometimes cancer. However, mutations can’t be categorized as “good” or “bad” so easily. … Continue reading Halloween Musings on Mutations

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: 1 Part Genes, 1 Part Experience

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating, psychiatric disorder that can occur following exposure to trauma or extreme stress. While anyone who has experienced trauma can develop PTSD, it is most often associated with military veterans. Not everyone who has experienced trauma will develop PTSD—in fact, the majority of people exposed to trauma do not … Continue reading Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: 1 Part Genes, 1 Part Experience

Can Altitude Affect Blood Flow and Your DNA?

An estimated 400 million people—myself included—live at elevations higher than 1,500 meters above sea level. The beautiful scenery, rugged mountains and clean air are part of the appeal to many of us. But interesting changes in the body seem to occur as a response to living at high altitude. Scientists from all over the world are … Continue reading Can Altitude Affect Blood Flow and Your DNA?

Hypertension: Silent and Unequal

High blood pressure has been coined the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms, which causes many people to go undiagnosed. A blood pressure reading that stays high for long periods of time is called hypertension. It’s one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. In addition to being silent, hypertension is also unequal—rates … Continue reading Hypertension: Silent and Unequal

The Hispanic Paradox: Why Are Some Ethnic Groups Living Longer than Others?

In the U.S., we focus much attention on the health behaviors that can help us live a longer life: the “secrets” of centenarians and long-lived animal species such as the naked mole rat, the optimal amount of exercise to help us maintain muscle tone and independence, and the best eating style—whether it’s eating like we … Continue reading The Hispanic Paradox: Why Are Some Ethnic Groups Living Longer than Others?

Being Left (Handed) Is All Right

"There's something I ought to tell you. I'm not left-handed either." - Westley, The Princess Bride Throughout history, left-handedness has both fascinated and frightened people. Maybe it is because only about 15 percent of the population is left-handed. Or maybe it is because the reasons for left-handedness remain somewhat of a mystery. What makes a person left- … Continue reading Being Left (Handed) Is All Right