One of the great things about living near Washington DC is having access to something like Georgetown’s Mini-Medical School. My husband and I attended this a few years ago and have just started a new round. For eight evenings, on consecutive Tuesdays, we will listen to experts in various medical-related fields talk about the latest advancements. It is always exciting to hear people talk about a subject for which they have great passion, and I love opening my mind to something new.
From last time, I particularly remember what I learned about the heart from Dr. Carlos Suarez-Quian, even though his field is spermatogenesis. The text the next Sunday was about the “heart” and I looked at those words in a slightly different way. I sent the sermon to Dr. Suarez-Quian and enjoyed his perspective on it. I usually live entirely in metaphor, so it was grounding to think about the body as an actual body. During that experience we also had the opportunity to visit the cadaver lab. Med students took us on a tour through the human body they were spending the semester dissecting. This is a truly humbling experience.
Last night’s subject was “Stem Cells” by Dr. Ian Gallicano. We started with the basics, such as embryonic cells vs. adult cells and how they can be “totipotent, pluripotent, or multipotent.” What are the uses? The latest: these cells might lead to an actual cure for diabetes. Very cool stuff. We also touched on some of the ethical issues around stem cells. Remember that Georgetown is a Catholic institution, so this was not overlooked. However, it was not the focus of the talk.
Two hours of listening hard! And in the end, discovering how very little of the world around me –make that my own body–I actually understand. It’s always good to be humbled, and to open the door of knowledge.
Also, they have snacks.
Next week: Gastrointestinal Physiology.