These Old Bones Tell a Story

People always ask me what I’m going back to school for and I answer, “pathology.” “Pathology? What’s that?” I always knew I didn’t want to work with live people. I was way too afraid of that, of making any mistakes or causing anyone pain or losing someone, say if I was a surgeon or a physician. But, I thought I could certainly study the dead and diseases in the dead to learn as much about them and help identify cures or ways to treat them.

I just read a very cool article about studying old bones to identify how tuberculosis has evolved overtime to see if it will help improve treatments and vaccines for it. This is right up my alley! The technology allowed them to compare ground up bone samples placed in a solution with every gene sequence which allowed them to search for all TB types and not just one like in the past. They were then also able to compare the results with a more traditional method, polymerase chain reactions, to identify what results were most accurate. This technology should help them save a lot of time to identify TB strains in people over time and cultures.

It is amazing how technology is advancing so that these things become easier to solve. Last year I learned about a company that was working on software that could be trained to identify certain diseases in organs based on tissue images and complex algorithms. I designed software like this somewhere else, but it was for categorizing blog posts for sentiment, positive, negative or neutral. This was a much more rewarding use of this concept. Scientists spend hours every day analyzing tissues and to be able to train software to help you do this can make a daunting task a lot easier. That what would have taken you months or even years to do, can take you hours or days. So I am fascinated by how technology and my true passion can be brought together.

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