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 😀