The End of the Road

It felt like just yesterday that I was writing my first reflection. I thought about this very day and just said to myself ‘eh, that’s so far away’. But it has finally come. The debates are over and I think that absolutely everyone involved did very well. They were all really, really enjoyable. A lot of nerves, a lot of laughter and a lot of fun. That’s what it’s all about. Anyway, let’s get into the final post.

In terms of learning something, I know it sounds cliche, but i really did gain some valuable skills and this was unlike any other group or team experience ever. The one thing that sticks out to me is the amount of times I actually met up in person with my group. I’m not sure if It’s because I had really enthusiastic and positive teammates (especially Eileen) or just because of the fact that our Thursday lab meant that we go to meet up a lot. Either way it really helped, because there’s something about face to face contact that just makes everything seem so much easier. When you’re right next to someone you can just say whatever it is you need to say instantly and there’s no burden of typing or texting etc. So i truly believe that when you are only a meter or so away from someone you say way more (because you don’t need time to type) and thus you just tend to pitch more ideas. It’s also easier for people to make suggestions on how to adjust those ideas and so editing and refining are also far more simple. So I really learnt the value of meeting up with people in your team (as ridiculous and silly as that sounds). I think most people (when it comes to teamwork) just think ‘eh, we don’t need to meet up, we cant just do it over Facebook or Skype’.

In saying that, I also learnt the power of technology. Stuff like Facebook and Skype chat meant that all members of my team were able to contact any other member at any time of the day. This led to an array of impromptu meanings and as I mentioned earlier, this would have led to an even greater influx of suggestions and ideas. Finally, I discovered that cooperation is key. What i mean is, at times I feel like I try to take control in a group project. I dont mean to, however, I’m loud and boisterous and I tend to get exicted and this could lead to me trying to organise everything. However, the three girls in my group were really level-headed and so whenever I started to get in that kind of mood, they made sure that I didn’t get overly ambitious and tried to split up the work as much as possible. So I really know now that being in a team ACTUALLY MEANS that you are part of a group. It’s very easy to just want to do anything, but one really has to understand that there are other people ready to help you.

In terms of my role, I was a speaker, an enthusiast and I also delegated. Those of you who saw my teams debate would have noticed that I tend not to shut up and I had obviously known of this trait. So I decided that since it was one of my individualities, I would make the most of it and turn it into a role for my team. The other three girls in my team were also pretty quiet and softly spoken girls and so each member of the team complemented the other nicely. I was also involved with the writing of the script and the rebuttals. I have a really ‘over the top’ kind of writing AND speaking style and so i thought it was best that I wrote the script to that it would match my style of speaking. Therefore, I guess you could say I was the ‘actor’ of the team, with my remaining three team mates being the director, producer and editor; all critical roles.

I also feel as if I was somewhat of a delegator. As I said I’m a very loud and boisterous person so again I put that to good use and got enthusiastic as often as I could to promote working/research deadlines, group chats, group meetings and overall excitement for the debate. Thus, I really felt like if anyone in my team had a problem they could ask me for some advice and I was willing to help them. For example, when Eileen finished the power point presentation she asked me what I thought about specific slides just so we could match the script as best as possible. In this way I felt like a valuable team member and I think we all worked together quite well. I also hope that I brought a lot of charisma to the time (in terms of the actual debate). I tried to be funny, I tried to be emotional and I tried to be as vivacious and crazy as I could without crossing the line (I hope I didn’t do that either). I made people laugh a few times and hopefully tat enjoyment resonated with the markers (even though I dont think that was part of the criteria). I really hope that I represented my team well and did a great job for them, because they all put a large amount of work in behind the scenes.

Finally, in terms of problems there weren’t many. There were some minor problems, but there are always are (just like any drug will have a side effect regardless of it’s therapeutic value). For example, we had a problem with what was going to be our third and final argument. For most of the weeks leading up to the debate we were going to speak on ethics. However, one quick chat with Nicole and we realised that the ethical ideas presented by stem cell therapies were really weak ones. This was one week before the debate and so we had the issue of replacing this argument. However, we solved this very quickly because of our great ability to put together group meetings in an instant. Yizhou, Eileen and I met up at Wallace Wurth on a Thursday and within minutes we had determined a third argument that had already been brewing as I was writing my speech.

Another minor problem reflected some of the meeting times. Since many of the labs were not to account for group meetings, team members often utilised this free time for other things (work mainly) and that was totally okay ( i think we all had issues with timing at least once). So there was the issue (especially early on) of when/where to meet or when to organise a meeting on Skype. However and again, we were all really friendly with one another and within minutes we quickly figured out a time in which we would all be free. Furthermore, another issue I can think of was our team line. This was very early on and we were on Skype trying to figure out what out team line was going to be. We went through some pretty clever (but not perfect) suggestions. Finally, we all decided to just keep it simple and we made a nice, honest and direct line that related straight back to the question.

All in all, it was a really fantastic experience. I’d like to thank Nicole’s for putting this together. In medical science you really get to debating like this and I really love debating so this was perfect for me. It wasn’t a typical written assignment, it was not a research paper on something ridiculously specific and it really was quite fun. I think the fact that it was so original was probably the most fantastic aspect. Again, congratulations to absolutely everyone involved. You all did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed each and everyone of the debated. Also, a big thanks to my team πŸ˜€ So long word press! It has been a pleasure πŸ˜€

Good luck to everyone for the remainder of the course, their other subjects, exams and the year in general. See ya πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 7

Hello again all,

I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to write a wordpress blog this week so I thought I’d just do one in case. It was a pretty short and slow week simply because we had pretty much finished everything and the merely the finishing touches were being applied. Our script was finished by last weekend and the power point presentation was finished shortly thereafter. The remainder of the week was fixing some formatting issues here and there (in terms of the power point) and just trying to guess what our opposition was going to argue.

Since I was speaking for my team I also spent some of the week practicing. After completing my initial script, my speech was something like 13 minutes. So I had to do some editing and got it down to 11, then 10 and then finally a consistent 8. So by Wednesday we were all ready to go.

As you all may now the debates are now complete. Congratulations to everybody because they were all fantastic presentations. Really great job everyone :D. But the specifics of our debate will be discussed in the final wordpress blog and that will be heading your way some time next week. Until then, well done everybody, good luck for the remainder of the course. I’ll see you at the final wordpress blog next week πŸ˜€

Have a great weekend πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 6

Hello everyone. I must admit that this week seemed as if it was a little bit slow or stagnant in terms of the neuropharmacology debate. This however, was mainly attributed to the fact that the midsem was this week (not to mention the other one million midsems we had for other subjects this week).

However, on closer inspection my team and I really observed that we’re closer to the end of the assignment than we’ve ever been. We met up on Thursday this week (since there was no lab) and we literally went over our arguments and what we were going to be saying in the debate. It seems that we have reached the point where we have all of our information and now its just down to putting all together and finely tuning everything. We’ve got a huge amount of information for all of our arguments and like I just said it’s just a matter of fine tuning everything and placing it together nicely. I’m going to continue our script (since I’m the one speaking) and my team is still doing some great research work, throwing facts at me every now and then so I can implement them into my speech. Also, I am just about to send my team our script so far so that they can start working on a power point presentation to accompany the speech.

I’m progressing quite nicely on our speech and I am pretty certain that I’ll have it completed by the weekend. This means that the remainder of my team (because so far they all work extremely efficiently) should have a nice, honest and simple power point presentation completed shortly thereafter (since they are working on the presentation as I work on our script). Then i guess all that’s left to do is… debate. And I am still so excited to debate I actually can’t wait. At the meeting yesterday I was quite hyperactive and I think my team realised just how excited I was.

Finally, I think we’re still working great as a team and this can be seen via a decision we made at our meeting this week. My team told me that they had spoken to Nicole and she suggested that ethical considerations were quite a weak point (because only embryonic stem cells have these concerns). Because of this we made the decision to scrap the ethical considerations (which I was for because I didn’t like the idea) and I suggested a new argument (involving the development of other drugs rather than the development of stem cells). To be honest, this was something I was thinking about for a couple weeks (especially after the neurotrophin lecture) and so my team and I have already gathered great information. In other words, it won’t take too much time at all. So yes, that has been my team’s week. We are all getting pretty excited and it’s sad to say that this will probably be the last formal week update. It was a lot of fun and I’m really excited that we’re almost finished. I can’t wait for the debates and best of luck to absolutely everyone that is involved. Good luck guys πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 5

Hello again it’s that time of the week again. So quite a bit of work done this week. Since last week my team and I gathered some solid information regarding our first point (basically all of our information). I’ve started writing our speech and am currently writing our first argument so that is also going quite well. Hopefully I’ll have a large chunk of my speech done very soon. Meanwhile my team is already gathering information in regards to our second argument for the debate and have already started uploading a bunch of articles and written word documents on our google drive. So once I have completed writing my first argument for my speech I’m just going to start (and hopefully complete) my second argument. This should occur within the next week. So I have more or less been collecting my groups information (as well as mine) and have been basing my speech off that (as well as some debating lingo and some verbal styles I have as an orator). I’m really hoping I don’t disappoint my team with my speech. I’ve offered to debate the entire 8 minutes because I love to debate and I just really want to do a great job for my team because they’ve done such a great job with collecting research and helping me out. So hopefully I’m at least okay when I speak and I don’t make an idiot out of myself.

Also, after the lab on Thursday one of my team members (Eileen) and I had a miniature meeting but we extended that to an online meeting on Thursday night. The meeting went very well we just all finished off our information regarding topic one and then started discussing the information regarding topic 2. I know that my fellow team members within the next week will also be looking for information regarding our third and final point this week whilst I simultaneously write my script and research my second argument. I’m aiming to have my entire script done a week before the debate itself (just after the midsem) and all my team and I will have to do after is fine tune. But things are coming together really well and we’re heading for the goal line.

One final thing we need to organise is a power point presentation. We have a good research under control, script and debate writing is currently being focused on and the last thing we really need to do is just put together a simple, honest power point presentation to go with our debate. We’re going to have a couple meetings this week (especially on Thursday since there is no formal lab) and I’m sure we’ll get started on that very soon. I’m still very excited about this debate and I seem to be practicing in my head (and sometimes embarrassingly out load) especially when I’m driving or by myself. Really can’t wait to debate it’s going to be good fun. Also, so far my team has been great and I think we’re working together quite nicely especially considering the many commitments we all have. One week closer and I’m sure we’re all hoping it goes well πŸ™‚

See ya next week πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 4

Yes, Yes. Things are starting to get very interested. I am really starting to look forward to the debate. I am really, really in the mood to debate. This has been such an exciting assignment so far. It was a pretty good work in terms of team work and progress. My team and I literally just had an online group meeting and we sorted some things out. We delegated some roles to one another and each member was given a certain research task in regards to our first and MAIN argument. I would love to say what that is exactly, however I am a wee bit concerned that an opponent of ours may be following this blog.

Anyway, we’ve been delegated some researching roles and I’ve also delegated myself to start writing my speech (the script that is), since I am going to be the speaker for our team. I feel as if our team is finally uniting and becoming an actual team rather than an assortment of random individuals who study science and don’t really know each other. We’ve also made the decision to have some written work completed by the end of the week. That way we can gather all of our resources and learn from one another. It’s also going to be really important because I will use the information found by each member to continue writing and elongating my speech.

There are still a couple things we need to do however. Firstly (and most obviously) we need to continue our research to cover our second and third point (we have determined that we will probably have three main arguments). However, if we plan a team meeting rationally (similar to the way in which we did this week), we should have no problem organising our second and third arguments. Furthermore, I should soon send my speech script to the team so we can collectively construct a power point presentation to accompany the speech. This will add to and enhance our side of the debate as it will create a more professional feel (although I am sure that our opposition will also be doing this).

Finally, I am very excited to announce that we have developed our team line for the debate. Again I would love to share this, but the aforementioned eavesdropping on account of our opposition is making me nervous. So I guess we’ll have to wait until the debate to hear. Also, there was a little bit of an issue in regards to organising a team meeting this week as everyone was free at different times. However, we all managed to quickly and efficiently come up with an time to meet online and this problem quickly evaporated (which is great). Hopefully, if this problem arises again we can surely solve it the way we did this week (that is, we can all say a time that we are free and compromise for one another).

So that’s about it for this week. I’m feeling very excited and so far all i can say is… I can’t wait for the debate. See ya next week πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 3

Hi Everyone. It has been a little bit of a slow week, only because there have been some other things my group members and I have had to complete. However, we still got through some work and managed to gather some important information and organise some important things. Firstly, my team and I have agreed that our first argument will reflect the overall therapeutic relevance of stem cell use. This means that have spent some time this week looking at different kinds of stem cells and focusing on the negative side effects that would arise (or that have arose) from clinical trials. For example, embryonic stem cells (these are the stem cells that bring a hoard of ethical issues with the) are derived from the wall of the blastocyst and they are capable of differentiating into any type of cell. However, clinical trials have shown that because of this ability to differentiate, the use of embryonic stem cells can encourage he development of tumors (more specifically teratomas and teratocarcinoma).

Furthermore, induced pluripotent stem cells are normal somatic cells that are treated with cellular growth factors in order to reconvert the cells into pluripotent stem cells. Although this type of stem cell may dodge the ethical consideration debate, the process involving the conversion of the somatic cells is very slow and does not produce many stem cells (is inefficient). Furthermore, there is also evidence of the development of tumors with their use. I also learnt about many other type of stem cells such as Neural Stem cells and Mesenchymal stem cells as well as the disadvantages these cells have. So for now I am pretty sure that this will reflect my first and main argument. I will try to show that the stem cells are not viable mainly due to the fact that their disadvantages and side effects are too severe and thus they are not worth replacing current stroke treatment. And thus this brings me to what still needs to be done. I have to take a look and do some research in order to find out about current stroke treatment. I then need to focus on the efficacy of both the regular treatment and stem cell treatment and determine whether or not stem cells could replace contemporary drugs.

Thus my team and I will start to develop and finish off this first argument and we should also simultaneously construct some power point slides to suit this argument. Additionally, a couple members of my group have started looking at arguments that the ‘FOR’ team could use and so this will be quite beneficial. Also, one of our group members (Eileen) has really started to turn the wheels on the team wagon as she started a Google Drive and uploaded 4 different (but relevant) articles involving stem cells as a means of stroke treatment.

So all in all we are progressing, perhaps quite slowly this week but we are moving and that’s the important. I’m aiming to construct and finish my first argument soon and that will push us along even further. All the best, until next week. See ya πŸ˜€

P.S – Nicole and Jonathon have a great time in Cairns πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 2

Well, well, well, here we are again. I would like to begin by first saying that the mouse handling practical today was both extremely informative and adorable. The lab was also a short one and this allowed for a fantastic opportunity for an initial and short group meeting! The first thing my team and I decided to do, involved gaining a brief overview of our topics content (our topic is ‘Are stem cell based strategies a viable option for treating stroke? Against). This involved a rather simple search for ‘stem cells and stroke’ on the UNSW Library website. One of the first articles to appear had some clear, concise and overall (and most importantly) useful information regarding our debate topic.

Thus, after only a few minutes spent searching, some definitions related to the topic and the process of stem cell therapy started to become clear. This week I became aware of the fact that stem cells and their effects are currently being tested as a means of neuroregeneration for stroke patients. Animal models have indeed shown that stem cells (from a variety of sources) are able to migrate to the area of ischemic injury, many are able to survive and differentiate into neurons and finally, evidence of electrical activity from these newly developed neurons has also been detected.

Furthermore, the article also neatly summarised a variety of stem cell types, the derivation of each cell type and the ways in which each type of stem cell is advantageous. At this point I was starting to worry and I had almost completely convinced myself that my team and I were beginning our journey on the more difficult side of the debate (as stem cells seemed beneficial in a multitude of ways). However, after some further skimming I realised that the article also listed a great number of disadvantages involved with stem cell therapy and these disadvantages had been the core reason as to why human trials had so far been seriously limited. It would be this information that my team and I would need to tackle and know inside and out. Most of these include the fact that stem cell therapy takes a great deal of time, the pathological side effects and whether or not the therapy really has any beneficial characteristics when compared to regular (non-stem cell) based treatment.

Today my team and I allocated some roles and made some decisions in regards to the debate and presentation. Firstly, we acknowledged the fact that I was going to be speaking (and i was absolutely more than happy to do this). We also decided that it was probably best to create a power point presentation to accompany the debate, as both graphs and diagrams could clarify the arguments of our team. Finally, Eileen (group member) suggested that it was perhaps a strong idea for one of the group members to focus on the ‘FOR’ arguments related to our stem cell topic in order to gather a sound understanding of any arguments our opponents could possibly bring forward during the debate. The rest of us thought that this was a fantastic idea and it will be an essential move for the group assignment. As far as the first week goes, it’s safe to say that we’ve definitely made some progress and we collaborated well to gather some crucial information. The next few weeks are going to require a lot more though, as our team will need to start writing points down as well as arguments, diagrams for the presentation and even possible ‘FOR’ arguments. I also believe that we’re going to need to decide whether or not to include the ethics involved with stem cell research as the debate topic used the word ‘viable’ and to me this refers to its effectiveness rather than its ethical implications. So how will we do this… It’s quite simple. More group meetings, more research, more chatting online and more sharing of anything and everything that we come across (as long as it’s relevant to the debate topic of course).

Finally, It has only been a week and so therefore no problems have surfaced. The weeks to come will surely bring complex arguments and the stress of the threat of our opposite ‘FOR’ team. Therefore, when these group based problems do arise, rationality, open-mindedness and calm discussion will prevail. That is, if anyone in the group has a problem, the problem will be solved as quickly and as efficiently as possible if the group members discuss the issue with respect and rationality. Anger and pessimistic frustration will only add to the pile of problems and thus I truly believe that effective and calm conversation, discussion and communication will allow us to achiever our team goals and allow us to avoid or solve problems.

I’m getting pretty excited and I can’t wait to start writing and practicing my arguments. All the best πŸ˜€

Road to the Neuropharmacology Debate: Week 1

Hello all!

My name is Kosta Kotsidis, I am a third year Medical Science student and I am majoring in Neuroscience. I must firstly say that my reasoning for taking up a course like Neuropharmacology is certainly mainly influenced by my love for Neuroscience. As a neuroscience major I personally find the human nervous system to simultaneously be the most complex and fascinating thing in the universe. It has interested me for as long as I can remember and I have wanted to study Neuroscience for just as long. However, I also dream of becoming a Neurosurgeon one day (pray with me) and thus my interest has shifted to treating neurological diseases and to drugs used in the contemporary era. Thus, my decision to study Neuropharmacology was a simple one.

After a couple of glances at the Neuropharm course manual I must admit that I am really, really, really looking forward to the study of various Neurological diseases and their treatments. As I mentioned earlier this really does seem to be the fundamental core of my interests and I am definitely glad to see that a large chunk of the course is dedicated to Neurological diseases and their associated pharmacology. Since I am expecting such a captivating series of lectures and practicals I can hopefully enhance the course via the addition of my knowledge of neuropathology and neuroanatomy. Many of the students in enrolled this course have yet to study any neuroscience and I could hopefully assist this students with some general (and in some cases specific) neuroanatomy as it will help with the understanding of drug mechanisms of action. Analogously, I’m sure that these students would certainly assist me with their pharmacological skills if it is their major. Finally, hopefully and I really do mean HOPEFULLY, after I complete medical science I will make it into a postgraduate medicine and surgery degree. It’s what I’ve wanted to be since I was able to talk and I really can’t think of anything I’d love as much. Neuropharmacology is just one more subject assisting me and pushing me towards my goal.

Now, a recent and successful team experience that comes to mind happens to be the last group assignment I had for another Neuroscience subject last semester. The subject was Muscle and Motor Control and the task was to form a group of 4 and make an educational video about a topic of our choosing. Our group formed immediately (we happened to be four friends doing the course) and we chose to make a video explaining the physiology behind the patellar reflex. I truly believe that we split up our work load perfectly. One member focused on all of the images used in the film (she collected them, drew them and labelled them). Another member created the text and explanations to company the images and a third edited the video. She placed images and videos with text and cut and pasted her way to a clear, concise and overall well-made video. Finally, I was the narrator and presenter and I wrote my own scripts. I’m also very proud of coming up with the idea of editing my face on a knee and having a talking knee explain the patellar reflex. I also spoke in a foreign accent and made the knee Scottish just to try and make it funny. We did amazingly well and our course convenor commented that our video was one of the best ten made. He also embarrassed me by showing our video to all students and thus my face on a knee was seen as I yelled vigorously in a Scottish accent. And to be honest, that is really the role I love to play. I love to brainstorm idea, I love to help anyone with whatever it is they’ve been allocated, but I really, really love to talk and present. I am so excited for the debate and my first task is to convince my group to allow me to talk (because when I do, I don’t shut up). The debate is approximately 6 weeks away and as I said I’m really looking forward to presenting. I shall see you all next week!