04 May, 2009

5.4 #2: In Which Toaster Is Mostly Incoherent and Unintelligible

1) I think I've found a new favorite word: "der Unfug". Short, simple, sweet, and too the point. It's a synonym of "der Blödsinn" meaning 'nonsense' or 'mischief'. I mean, you can't invent such a great word out of the air, and even better that the opposite of Unfug exists only as an idiosyncronism "mit Fug und Recht" meaning 'with order and justice'. Sometimes I really do wish English were as silly as German, it'd make speaking a lot more fun.

2) An diesem Punkt soll ich es verkünden, dass jetzt meine lieber, aber unheilvolle und finstere Schwester Verhängnis, und ich einander mit "Zum Unfug!" grüssen soellen. Wenn ihr alle es woellt, koennen wir auch diese Begrüssung als verborgene Meldung nützen, um zu zeigen, dass wir (verrückte) Wissenschaftlern und Wissenschaftlerinnen sind. Manche von euch schriebt, dass ihr die Lust zu einem Ehrfurchtgebietenden Wissenschaftlersverein schaffen haben. Veilleicht koennen wir hier anfangen. [Für einer geheime Grund arbeitet meine "oe" Täste nicht...]

3) Presentation went OK today. I presented, for really real journal-club kung-fu style, the paper that I research bloggered here. I included about a dozen slides of immunology run-down for the people in my lab group meeting that don't know much about it, and then ran through the paper itself for another 15 slides. I was told that I'd done a very good job breaking down a very large and complex paper, and best of all neither my boss nor TechnoGrad, who've been drinking the Immunology Champagne for far longer than I, disputed my immunology run-down! This must mean I am finally getting somewhere with that whole learning thing, which is somewhat relieving. Getting into immunology is awesome, but it's so deep and complex and chaotic and, most of all, dependent upon very finely detailed contexts that at first I felt like I was drowning in a slurry of cytokines, cellular determinants, and maturation dynamics.

But it was due to my inexperience with immunology that I didn't catch the many problems with the paper that TechnoGrad and my boss did in just their cursory examination. For example, the Ohnmacht et al 2009 paper had a flow cytometry figure showing increased CD4+ T-cell infiltration into different tissues (axes were stained for CD4 and CD8) that showed massive increase (21%) CD4+ T-cells in kidneys of mice without dendritic cells and they explained this as autoreactive T-cells surviving without tolerogenic dendritic cells. But the control kidney had 5% CD4+ T-cells, which apparently is really really unusually high. Materials and methods said that these were obtained by collagenase digestion of whole tissues into single cell suspensions, but then they didn't mention whether the 21% and 5% were of total cells isolated or just total lymphocytes isolated and didn't even mention or show their side- or forward-scatter gating. I had no idea that 5% CD4+ T-cells in the kidney was unusual as the papers I've been reading about lymphocyte dynamics in peripheral tissues make it sound like we're crawling with lymphocytes all the time. So it didn't set off a flag and I'm kind of left feeling like I should have caught it.

But I guess that's what journal club stuff is for, to teach us all how to read papers more critically and extract useful information.

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