Get up off your arses!

Are you comfortable there with your improved health? Not dead because of some penicillin-sensitive bacteria? Good. Now get up and support Australian medical research because less money means fewer medical discoveries that keep you comfortable and alive.

A cut of $400M (absolute peanuts with respect to the size of the Austrlian budget of ~$354600M) over 3 years is being slated for the major federal medical science funding body, NHMRC. To put that in perspective, the NHMRC has an annual budget of ~$700M,  and that’s only after scientists had worked hard for 10 years previously to get up to that competitive rate.

It won’t affect everyone equally. Money gets handed out first to those continuing grants. Those really affected are those young researchers going for new grants; researchers who are more likely to up and change jobs. This would leave a gaping hole in continuing line of researchers and disrupt the entire structure of research. Stop/start funding has huge effects.

Not only that, investment into science is investment into your well-being: pennicilin, cochlear implants, cancer treatments, discovery of the cause of stomach ulcers are all things that have been made possible with Australian research. This is all pretty obvious stuff that has been covered in much better detail by others and still others.

It’s time to do something. Rallies around Australia against these cuts have been planned. Get along to them if 1) you value further medical discoveries that will make your life much more comfortable and 2) are not a jerk. Please visit Discovery need dollars for more details and fliers.

MELBOURNE – State Library – Tuesday 12 April @ 12:45-2PM
SYDNEY – Belmore Park – Tuesday 12 April @ 12:45-2PM
ADELAIDE – Steps of Parliament house, North Terrace – Tuesday 12 April @ 12:30PM (Adelaide time)

Click here to get signs in a printable format





Filed under Thomas' Corner

I actually do some work…

Lookit! I’m in The Advertiser today with my poo transplant article. To celebrate my continuing fame (and to convince people who are visiting because of the paper that this blog isn’t completely dead), I’m actually going to put up a post.

This week, I’m putting up a new banner containing work that I’ve actually done in the lab.


Pretty colours in the liver (Immunofluorescence and photo taken by Thomas Tu)

This is a picture of a slice of liver. It has pretty colours because I’ve stained particular cells with different fluorphores: the blue represents the nucleus of all the cells; the red is the hepatitis B virus-infected cells; and the green are the stem cells and connective tissue. What you can see is that hepatitis B virus only infects the main liver cells and not the stem cells and connective tissue.  And it’s pretty!



Filed under Thomas' Corner

Understanding Anterograde Amnesia

No time to do things. Sorry guys. But here’s a guest post from Allison Gamble of


Anterograde amnesia is an ailment wherein the afflicted individual loses the ability to transfer new information to long-term memory after a brain injury, while long-term memories from before the injury remain intact. This means that a person who sustains a brain injury will likely have the same personality and the same amount of intelligence they did previously, but be unable to recall events from the recent past. Anterograde amnesia is a mysterious condition, as the exact process of storing memories is still largely unknown to scientists. However, to get a good understanding of the disorder, as many on-going studies are constantly producing new information on anterograde amnesia. Continue reading


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Third hand smoking – Can we ban this poison already?

I’m not going to write a post on why smoking is bad, it’s too obvious and if you don’t understand why then your probably never going to find this post anyway. I’m not even going to talk about second hand smoking, ie. blowing your death cloud at me on the street. Again it’s obvious why it’s bad and may even be worse than smoking the cigarette itself as second hand smokers don’t get the benefit of a filter. No, this post is about third hand smoking, a fun new way smokers can harm those around them long after they have butted out. Read more here…

Yeah. That looks healthy.

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Leprosy – How the leper got its spots

Oh crap, I forgot about World Leprosy day (celebrated on January 31st or the closest Sunday). Quick! Read this old article on leprosy that I wrote for On Dit.

Leprosy is a disease wherein the slightest tug to a limb will tear it off like a well-cooked chicken. It is also highly contagious; such that simply touching a person with leprosy will infect you and will certainly and very shortly cause your arms and legs to fall off. *SLAP!* You useless child! *SLAP!* You know nothing about leprosy! Now before I lock you in the basement, I’ll straighten you out…


Ahhh! Is it catching? (Photo by Thomas Tu)

Leprosy is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. (Funky fact: In 1873, M. leprae was the first human-disease-causing bacterium to be identified!) Depending on the strength of immune response incited after infection, one of two types of leprosy may be experienced: tuberculoid, which tends to produce more nerve damage; or lepromatous, which manifests itself in a more skin-oriented way. Don’t be fooled, leprosy is not an insignificant disease, leprosy infected an estimated 410 000 people worldwide in 2004, 75% of whom lived in the poorer countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Continue reading


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Halitosis – Your mouth smells like your arse

Sometimes I’m going to write about rare cancers or blood diseases and sometimes I’m going to write about bad breath. That’s just the way I roll.

Halitosis literally means “condition of the breath” and has many causes and just as many home remedies. Original therapies (and by original I mean 1550 BC) like heavily herb infused wines didn’t remove the bad breath but like mints and other modern treatments they just attempted to cover the bad smell with something more pleasant.

Halitosis can be divided into two distinct problems, transient halitosis (morning breath) and chronic halitosis. While the difference between these conditions is the time frame of affliction both have the same root cause. Sulphur.

For more head to

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The serenity of a lab

On new year’s day, I entered the lab having just been on a holiday at a beach shack. Fully refreshed and in an absolutely silent lab, I felt at peace. I needed to set up an experiment and the exciting potentiality of its results reflected the potentiality of a new year for me (hopefully the one in which I will be submitting my thesis).

Like a tea ceremony, I filled tubes with familiar reagents, each with their own personality in my mind. It didn’t matter if the results were what I wanted or not; the performance of the experiment was the most important thing at that particular time. I took a photo to represent what I was feeling at the time.

Lab-time serenity (Photo by Thomas Tu)

Anyway, happy new year! Hope it’s less crap than the last one.



Filed under Thomas' Corner