Tuesday, 28 September 2010

First lecture

Currently listening to: Have You Seen Her Face - The Byrds

There's a first time for everything...including a first time for actually turning up to a 9 AM lecture. Not the nicest way to be eased into final year, but those carefree days of midday starts seem to be a thing of the past. All things considered I really didn't have an excuse for not turning up this morning, so grumpily I hauled myself in, picked my usual seat three quarters of the way up in the lecture theatre (far back enough to look uninvolved, but not too close to the noisy tools who sit on the last row), and tried my best not to fall asleep.

I was pleasantly surprised though since the lecturer has improved a lot since last year, such that I was actually very interested in what he had to say. The lecture was about flavin containing monooxygenase deficiencies, focusing on Fish Odour Syndrome (oh alright, scientific name: trimethylaminuria) which is caused by defects in an enzyme called FM03. FM03 normally breaks down a compound called trimethylamine which is found in choline rich foods by N-Oxygenating it. In FOS patients however, the enzyme is defective so TMA isn't metabolised, and is released in that unfortunate person's sweat, breath and urine...basically giving off some pretty unpleasant fishy BO.

Anyway, my lecturer was in the research team that discovered the mutation that causes FOS, indeed part of our reading for the lecture is the journal article he co-authored in Nature detailing the research (for the uninitiated, in the science world getting published in Nature is a very big deal, so I was suitably impressed). I suppose this was really the first time I realised (as naive as it sounds) that my lecturers and all this stuff we study actually does have a real life application, and a pretty important one at that.

Anyway, the main difference this year seems to be the lack of textbooks. Apparently setting us journal articles to read instead of textbooks is par for the course and is just part of life in third year. The only problem is that scientific journals are not very friendly. They're usually written as blocks of texts with no paragraphs, in small print, and to top it all off they're written by seasoned scientists for seasoned scientists, not lowly undergrads. In short, it's a learning curve I'm going to have to surmount. But all in all it was a good first day, let's hope Thursday's Endocrine Physiology lecture is just as interesting.

It's good to be back.


  1. who are you?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  2. Well as the blog would suggest, I am a bored and jaded biomedical sciences student who has a penchant for grumbling and Britpop.