Formulation Science: Continued

 

In a recent blog post, I discussed the essentials of the Formulation Science discipline, using a long explanation involving cake. I am not a Formulation Chemist, but I quite liked writing this post. For my own enjoyment, and to be more technical, here’s a follow up!

The Role of Formulation Science

So, Formulation is an essential discipline, but specifically why? As a synthetic chemist, I deal with chemicals in their purest forms. And the majority of organic chemicals manifest themselves as unassuming white powders. These are not acceptable as consumer products for several reasons. Namely:

  • Regulation
  • Marketing
  • Storage
  • Consumption
  • Delivery

I’d like to explore all these functions in more detail below.

Regulation

Before a product can go to market, it is regulated by its relevant industry agency – be it the FDA, MHRA or EC. These agencies exist such that consumers know what they are buying is what it says it is, and that it is safe. It’s as simple as that.

Pure chemicals are not good consumer products because they are unlikely to be efficacious. Therefore formulations are necessary to dilute them down to consumable levels. These formulations must be uniform so that the consumer knows exactly what they are getting.

Marketing

If you know of or remember the Herbal Essences marketing campaigns, you will be aware that scent is an attractive attribute for a shampoo formulation to have. You can mount your entire marketing strategy based on it, it seems.

Marketing can also use appearance or texture to sell their food products. Though whether either is actually central to the marketing in my examples is disputable, what is indisputable is that these are desirable qualities.

Storage

Substances, whether they be shampoo, food or medicine, must be storable until they are consumed. The product can smell delicious and have the perfect gooey texture of the perfect shampoo, but if it smells of mould and separates into a liquid and solid after a week it is not acceptable.

hair-care-3-1507938

You also want the formulation to afford the stability to maintain those desirable qualities that have been instilled in the property. Loss of flavour or texture is not something we want in foodstuffs. Ice cream, for example, contains anti-freeze molecules to ensure it does not turn into a solid block of ice: instead it maintains a soft, scoop-able texture.

Desiccants are substances that absorb moisture. These are often included in packets to avoid the product absorbing the moisture in transit to the consumer, but they are also included in formulations to ensure, for example, that a laundry powder doesn’t clump up. In solid formulations, products are often spheronised (to form sphere) and coated to aid longer storage and slower release.

Finally, medicines. Indisputably, we want these to maintain their medicinal properties even after we have opened the container. Essential reactive ingredients need to be formulated such that they don’t break down when exposed to heat or moisture. Otherwise, medicines would be far more expensive and equally far less useful.

Consumption

This ties into the marketing section somewhat, as many of the formulated products we buy are for consumption. It is important to instil pleasant scents, textures and flavours into foods and soaps, but also into medicines to enhance patient compliance.

However, it is important that products must be safe to consume as well. Reactive ingredients are included in products simply because they react with the body in some way. But it is undesirable to expose the body to too high a concentration, as they can be irritant or even toxic. Formulations both dilute these chemicals and structure the mixture so that they are released more slowly.

Delivery

This section I have included predominantly to discuss medicine formulations. And this is the area in which drug companies expend most of their research, so I am unlikely to do more than touch upon it here.

drugs-1328529

Drugs cannot contain chemicals that are toxic to the body. Unless they need to, for therapeutic purposes.

This is the paradox that drug companies encounter with their products. Any effective drug will alter the activity of a cell, protein or receptor within the body. And therefore we want the drug to do this only where it will help us.

Drug molecules must therefore be formulated to be released only where we need them, and to release at the correct rate so as to be effective. Many tablets are broken down by the acid in the stomach, thereby releasing their drug loads. These drugs are therefore formulated such that they will have a high enough dose to hopefully reach the area of interest even when delivered to everywhere else in the body simultaneously. But equally, they must be formulated such that they will not cause damage when they are non-specifically delivered to areas outside that of interest.

For this, drugs must not have toxic break-down products that will damage the body when they encounter the rest of the gastro-intestinal system or are broken down in the liver. Chemists that know their drug will be broken down in a particular organ can alter them chemically such that only their breakdown product will be reactive (enhancing the slower release profile).

Much of the specificity drug delivery process is covered by the actual structure of the drug lead compound – this is why we have hybrid protein or polymer conjugates on the market. But the role of the Formulation Scientist must not be underestimated.

 

 

References:

(1) An excellent online resource on cosmetic chemistry, which is a form of formulation science.

(2) The RSC subgroups pages on formulation.

Five shorter (political) stories: 2

 

The UK is a worrying place to live at the moment, with soothsayers preaching about economic, social and environmental collapse at every street corner (or posting about it on Facebook, at least). This makes it a perfect time to post a few stories about factors leading to political persuasion! In science we trust.

Research by various political scientists has suggested that around half of the variation in political preference is heritable (that is, determined by our genetic makeup). In this post, I’ll be talking about non-heritable (that is, social and lifestyle) factors that affect political persuasion.

Birth order

It may well affect political persuasion. There have been various studies suggesting the impact of birth order, including one in which parents’ social persuasion was not linked. Though it is difficult to ascertain why, it has been suggested that this is due to the “dominance hierarchy in the sibling relationship”. It is suggested that being the first born fosters a sense of privilege that leads the offspring to swing towards favouring the “political status quo”.

Siblings and stereotypes

Men raised with sisters tended to be more conservative according to a recent study. This has been proposed to be related to the attitudes related to gender roles instilled from a young age. Boys with sisters will see their sisters encouraged to engage in household chores and more “girly” pastimes (toys are still very gender segregated to this present day, though attitudes seem to be changing gradually). This early gender stereotyping may translate into more stereotyped roles, again maintaining the status quo, in later life.

Conversely, growing up with a sister had no effect on young girls. In addition, the study has suggested that the effect decreases as the young men grow up. Unfortunately (though not related to this story), the data did show the persistence of gender stereotypes for longer.

Personality profiling

A study has suggested that political persuasion can be predicted as a function of 5 personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Extraversion and Agreeableness.

Openness and Conscientiousness were found to be the best predictors, with more of the former correlating to conservatism and more of the latter correlating with more liberal attitudes. The other traits varied more, though Emotional Stability and Extraversion had moderate links to social conservatism but more effect on economic persuasion. Agreeableness, conversely, was related to social conservatism by economic liberalism.

These data in particular suggested that politicians with certain values could have predictable views on an array of policy domains, which is supported by the relative cohesion within a political party relative to beyond.

Oxytocin: the “moral molecule”?

Oxytocin plays a role in social interaction, particularly during sexual reproduction and during and after childbirth. It has been shown to be related to the formation of monogamous pair bonds in humans and other species.

Research undertaken in the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies (CNS) in the US investigated the role of oxytocin in political persuasion. Synthetic oxytocin (or placebo) was administered to volunteers (not females due to its affect on the menstrual cycle) and they were asked about their feelings towards various political figures.

Those of a Democratic persuasion showed more warmth towards their opponents with than without oxytocin, whilst it had no effect on Republicans. This data suggested that those who lean more to the left are less fixed in their views and are more affected by their emotional response.

Voting participation and stress

Though not related to political persuasion, another hormone may have an affect on voter turnout.

A small study explored how cortisol (often dubbed “the stress hormone”) may have an effect on voting activity. Lower cortisol levels in the afternoon were associated with increased voting frequency, but not with non-voting political activity (such as campaining). Baseline cortisol levels predicted behaviour that was not affected by demographics.

Cortisol is a hormone that can also predict participating in social interactions. The paper’s authors note that, as political activity is a stressful undertaking, it makes sense that those with lower stress thresholds might avoid engaging.

The other factor most highly affecting voting turnout was age, with older people voting more often. This study suggested that hormone levels, as well as demographics, should be taken into consideration, however.

 

One thing to note is that much of this research is that it is based primarily on surveys conducted where participants self-report. Although participants have no reason to lie in such studies, there is always the chance. But data on these larger scales is likely to be fairly indicative, and statistics do not lie (most of the time).

 

A note from the author: As I sometimes write on emotive subjects, comments are disabled after 14 days. This is because ongoing discussions tend to stagnate.

Four shorter stories: 1

 

This blog exists as a canvas on which I paint my various musings on science and medicine (and some other things). Years of training does more than just make you able to interpret scientific findings – it makes you acutely aware of how much else there is out there to learn! But sometimes I don’t have enough to say on a particular subject to fill a full article, and that’s okay. This new feature (if it becomes a feature) is where I introduce some short stories that captured my interest, but I haven’t immediately found myself internally linking them to a wider context.

I present to you: the Amazon molly

Let’s start off this serious of short stories in the way we mean to go on, with a story about peculiar mating habits! I believe I read about this phenomenon a while ago in The Scientist magazine, and it stuck with me.

The name of the fish is a reference to the all-female Amazon warriors from Greek mythology for a reason: they reproduce by gynogenesis. This means that only the genetic material from the females of the species is incorporated into their offspring. The Amazon molly mates with a male of a fish from the same genus as itself (Poecilia), but the sperm is required only to initiate embryogenesis (the division of the egg to form a viable embryo).

Though it is interesting, this method of reproduction does limit the ability of the population to be genetically diverse. Two key sources of genetic variability in humans, for example, are from the crossing of chromosomes from two species in sexual reproduction and genetic mutations. The Amazon molly benefits only from the latter, but is able to reproduce faster. A smaller gene pool means that the Amazon molly is less able to adapt to changes in its environment such as disease or climate change.

 

Put Solar on it 

This is a project encouraging people to put solar panels on their homes, commercial building and lands to produce more renewable energy, and it had a national day in the US as a call to action.

Climate change has long been an issue for experts, scientists and politicians, but it’s time to change that. If we want to preserve out own earth we should consider making changes ourselves. Solar panels are now cheaper than ever before, and renewable energy has been proven to be a viable source for all our needs.

 

Wind farms and hurricanes

Another story from the US, and one I heard on Inquiring Minds podcast many moons ago.

Our power industry relies on the conversion of one type of energy being converted to another. Batteries are chemical energy converted to electrical energy, coal/gas are heat energy being converted to electrical energy and wind farms are kinetic energy being converted to electrical energy.

Energy is not just created, it is converted.

It therefore stands that, when we use wind power, we reduce the amount of wind evergy in the atmosphere. A study was carried out wherein it was stipulated that 78,000 turbines could have knocked down Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. That’s a lot of free energy, and these turbines could actually save lives.

Does this change what we know about wind power? Well, no, but it might make people listen.

Is it feasible? There is no reason why not.

 

Project Steve

Finally, this is something I heard about on one of my many super fun Science Podcasts. Project Steve is a parody of the tendency of creationist organisations to list those who naysay evolution, amongst many things.

Quite simply, it is a sort of petition wherein scientists called Steve put their name down to support evolution. At the time of writing, 1389 Steves had signed – the website notes that ‘”Steves” are only about 1% of scientists’ to remind us all just how wrong the tradition is to frame certain scientific doctrines as “disputed”.

 

A note from the author: As I sometimes write on emotive subjects, comments are disabled after 14 days. This is because ongoing discussions tend to stagnate.

How anyone can be a Scientist

 

What is Citizen Science and why should I care?

Citizen science is a brand new area of scientific research that has only received proper acknowledgement in the last few decades, and it is an area in which everyone can get involved.

In particular, areas such as bird-watching (ornithology) or astronomy lend themselves to this form of work. This is both because the number of interested non-scientists far outweigh the number of scientists in these fields, and because the scientific method can be simple. The value of such research to generate big data is undeniable!

In a world where even academic research is often directed at only those projects that industry is willing to fund, it is essential that we still support the less economically viable work.

How can I be involved?

What a good question!

There are a massive amount of projects you can get involved in, and many of them are on the website Scistarter in the US, Countryside JobsCitizen Science or even on Wikipedia.

I have been involved with Sea Hero Quest, a game that aids Dementia research through assessing the spatial memory of players. This sort of data is valuable to determine a baseline for what goes wrong in Dementia. This is important because our scientific community is currently struggling to find an effective cure or even a treatment for Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and that is partially due to difficulties in early diagnosis.

If you happened to read my post from last week, you may be interested to know that there are also projects involving taking samples from volunteers. uBiome is a company that sequences Microbiome data from paying volunteers. This data could have a massive impact on our understanding of the Microbiome and its connections to human diseases.

Other projects can involve surveys, such as OPAL surveys to assess the state of our environment, bug surveys by Buglife to keep an eye on our insect populations, BirdTrack to give our airbourne friends some help, Treezilla, which is a project to record all of the country’s trees and the list goes on… I’ve just documented some of the nature-related surveys and projects in which I’ve taken part – there are hundreds of projects relating to pretty much any area of science!

 

A note from the author: As I sometimes write on emotive subjects, comments are disabled after 14 days. This is because ongoing discussions tend to stagnate.

References:

  1. BBC article on Citizen science
  2. The UK Environmental Observation Framework’s details on Citizen Science

Microbiomes and Moods

Our Friendly Gut Bacteria

The recent discovery of the importance of our Microbiome (our “friendly” gut bacteria) has served as a critical reminder to medical researchers that the body does not exist as a series of disconnected notes or phrases, but as a wondrous song with many interconnected melodies and harmonies that each play an essential part. Of course, this is what makes the human body so interesting and wonderful, but it’s incredibly difficult to take into account as a researcher. In fact, a lot of good research comes out of being able to tease out the causal relationship between individual factors and their response.

There are few areas where this is more evident than in mental health research. Various studies have linked depression to inheritance, social factors, general health, drugs, alcohol, hormone levels and the list goes on… But unfortunately a physician cannot counter all these different issues. They require complex intervention that amends all aspects of a person’s life, in many cases.

 

Using the Microbiome in Medicine

Sometimes this can be all too overwhelming. How can we treat something that is no more under our personal control than government legislation? And this is before we take into account the diagnosis. Mental health practitioners cluster certain behaviours under the umbrella of a certain disease type so as to be able to try certain treatments that have worked for people with those conditions in the past.

carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoes

The recent research into the Microbiome has suggested that it may serve as a valuable fingerprint, as another way in which we can identify specific areas in which a person’s body deviates from the “healthy norm”. Using this data we could look for critical changes in bacteria levels that may account for nutritional deficiencies or changes in hormone/chemical levels. And this can all be altered by simply altering what we consume.

This gut-fingerprint would simply mean taking a sample of stool from a patient and analysing the different bacteria levels, and then treating their abnormalities with probiotics or even just bacteria. This has been proven to work by several landmark studies into “faecal transplants” wherein unhealthy mice were given healthy stool to successfully fix various disorders.1

What About Mental Health?

So let’s get back to the original premise. Depression in particular is a challenging disorder to treat because patients are idiosyncratic. Unlike in many disorders, it is hard to tell which treatments would be successful. So what if we could find a potential cause of depression by looking at someone’s poop?(1)

black-and-white-person-woman-girl

That’s just what has been done by several research groups.(2) Many neurotransmitters (used by our brain to talk to itself and other tissues in the body) are produced by bacteria. In particular, serotonin is produced almost exclusively by our Microbiome in adults (80-90% of the body’s serotonin can be found in the intestines). This means that changes in the levels of the serotonin-producing bacteria of an adult can seriously alter the levels of serotonin in their brain. This link is key because serotonin is a key mood regulator in our brain. Specifically, low levels of serotonin or less receptors for serotonin has been implicated in depression, as well as anxiety, panic and anger disorders.

Other work has implicated the Microbiome in GABA-signalling. GABA action is related to calming nerves and treating anxiety. Mice that are stressed during their pregnancy pass on less of a GABA-secreting bacteria to their pups: and these pups thus have lower levels of GABA.

It’s hard to measure depression in mice, as unfortunately they do not respond particularly well to counselling and certainly will not tell you in detail how they have been feeling since you last saw them. But there are certainly some factors we can look at, such as behaviour. Researchers can clearly see if mice are acting less sociable with their peers. They can also do experiments to see if mice give up on impossible tasks earlier, such as in a test where they are unable to escape a tank of water. Those who give up earlier display a higher level of “behavioural despair”.

Mice that are not exposed to the normal levels of serotonin- or GABA-producing bacteria show adverse effects in these behavioural tests, which are reversed upon application of probiotics. Other research undertaken elsewhere has shown the effects of the gut bacteria Bacteroides fragilis in autism, and how mice with “autistic traits” such as repetitive behaviour acted more normally with probiotics. These results have implications in the treatment of autism.

Research has thus shown that the gut Microbiota are affected by stress, development and diet. In turn (in just this look at mental health) the Microbiota can have an affect on our hormone and chemical levels, which has widespread effects on signalling in the brain. This research has massive implications in the types of therapies we could use in these disorders in the future. Much of what is currently used affects receptors in the brain – whereas these therapies could, in theory, target chemical level imbalances at the source.

Our little bacterial friends, in only the short time in which we have been focusing our research on them, have already proven to have massive effects. I’m sure we can look forward to even more advances in the future!

A note from the author: As my posts sometimes touch on emotive subjects, comments are disabled after 4 days. This is because, at this stage, I feel that ongoing discussions tend to stagnate.

 

Postscript: Going Forward with Mental Health Research

The evidence for trying probiotic treatments for mental disorders in humans looks good! It could be argued that the evidence for this has existed for a long time, and it has. A lot of the chemicals we use in our bodies originate in our gut, and from food we eat. Approximately 50% of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (a condition that requires sufferers to restrict their diet) have anxiety and depression, and this makes sense.

So why have we not considered this before now? Really, interest in research into mapping the human Microbiome only fully began since the Human Microbiome Project plans began in 2007. Why did we not consider before looking into something that weighs about as much as our brain? It’s hard to imagine, but we have only very recently (within the last century) begun to understand a lot about our bodies, particularly the brain. Medical research has come on leaps and bounds since the 19th century, and it is accelerating.

The problem with mental health research is that, in some ways, it has lost its way. In many disorders we have psychopharmaceuticals and psychiatric therapy, and these two unrelated things are combined. The value of both of these two avenues is indisputable, but they are diverging. Alas, the nature of cross-discipline research does not necessarily end itself to cross-discipline therapy. Practitioners trained in one or the other find it difficult to cross over, or may not even want to. It’s the same as asking a heart surgeon to treat an infectious disease, effectively. But it shouldn’t be. Modern medicine is moving ever onwards towards personalised therapy, where every aspect of a patient should be considered in every aspect of their treatment.

In this way, I see this probiotic research as being a bridge that reminds us of what we already know: that considering the patient as a whole rather than a sum of parts is essential to medical practice.

As a special note for this postscript, I would like to point out that I am a chemistry lab researcher with some experience working in clinical science laboratories and with medics. This article is written from my own knowledge, my own experience, and therefore any alternative views are very welcome!

 

 

References:

Independent Article

NY Times Article

(1) Michaelides, M., and Hurd, Y. L. (2015) More than a Gut Feeling : the Microbiota Regulates Neurodevelopment and Behavior The realization of the importance of the. Neuropsychopharmacology 40, 241–242.

(2) Kelly, J. R., Clarke, G., Cryan, J. F., and Dinan, T. G. (2016) Brain-gut-microbiota axis : challenges for translation in psychiatry. Ann. Epidemiol. 26, 366–372.

If you’re interested in more information, please have a look at the work of the researchers at University College Cork and McMaster University, there is some fantastic stuff :D.

 

Problems in Pharmacology: Clinical Trials and Molecular Markers

This week’s post follows on from something I touched on last week: the issues in the drug design process.

Drug design tends to be stem either from mimicry of molecules the chemist knows that the drug target already interacts with (such as a substrate that binds to an enzyme) or from knowledge of the potential’s drug target’s structure (where computer modelling, for example, can suggest which would be the best structure for a potential drug).Resized

These drugs are synthesized, and then undergo preclinical testing. This involves assessment of their stability and their interaction with an isolated drug target (called in vitro testing), and then testing inside animal models. After these stages, totalling up to 6 years, the drug will go to clinical trials in patients.

Clinical trials are in three stages, with the amount of patients in each stage increasing as confidence in the drug’s capabilities develops. The final stages are then approval by the authorities and marketing. This drug discovery process takes in total anything between 10 and 16 years and will cost the company up to a billion dollars. And yet, there are still issues with drug safety that slip through the net: think of thalidomide as the most popular example! Why is this?

There are a multitude of reasons of course. Once a drug has reached later trials, a company can become invested in it and wish to push it through. There may also be signs that the drug is unsafe missed, which may come from the design of the clinical trial itself.

In clinical pharmacology, a biomarker is a characteristic the patient has that can be measured during clinical trials, and is used as an indicator of their biological state. For example, a biomarker such as glucose or hormone levels can indicate the likelihood that a patient will get better or relapse.

A key issue with clinical trials is that they do not measure all relevant biomarkers. A different drug for the same medical condition will have a different action (mechanism) in the body and therefore will have a different effect on biomarkers. They may effect biomarkers that were unaffected by other drugs.

Therefore, in order to fully understand the effect of the drug in the body and truly assess its safety, trials should be randomised with controls (patients taking “placebo” pills with no drug in them to show how biomarkers might change with no drug present). The system currently unfortunately relies on the validation of biomarkers to display patient health, which is both a lengthy and difficult process.

New clinical trial designs are therefore being considered, such as the “I-SPY 2” trial which uses molecular tests to tailor treatment or “BATTLE” which uses biomarkers to tailor the treatment. These new designs are quite new, so unfortunately I am unable to provide more detail than this!

The future of drug discovery seems to be tending towards the more in silico side of research, which uses computational modelling of drug action to suggest how a drug will act in a given system. The future looks bright here, but again that is a discussion for a later post!

I based this post on a talk at the EACPT 2013 conference by Professor Max Parmar (UCL). This post is entirely my own opinion, based on my own experiences – feel free to disagree and share your thoughts in the comments! I’ll be continuing on the “Problems in Pharmacology” theme next week!

 

A note from the author: As my posts sometimes touch on emotive subjects, comments are disabled after 4 days. This is because, at this stage, I feel that ongoing discussions tend to stagnate.

Problems in Pharmacology: Definitions and crossing the Biology/Chemistry Border

I thought a good way to begin this blog was with a series of posts dedicated to defining what exactly pharmacology is, and the inherent difficulties in studying  and practicing it. First of all: definitions!

Chemistry is the study of the composition, properties and behaviour of matter, whilst biology is the study of life and living organisms.Resized

Pharmacology is a boundary science, by which I mean it lies firmly on the border of chemistry and biology, dabbling in both but not really studied by scientists within either of these disciplines. Broadly speaking, pharmacology is the science associated with the study of drug action within a living organism.

And therein lies the problem: in order to truly be a pharmacologist, one must not only understand the structure of a drug, one must also be able to ascertain all interactions with the patient’s cells and biological molecules. This is really, really hard.

As a chemistry student, I have also taken modules in biology. The issue with studying biology as a chemist is that modules designed for chemists differ greatly from those the biologists study – imagine the chemistry student looking through a soundproof viewing window into a biology lecture, unable to hear the words, but being able to see some of the diagrams, and given a description of them by a chemist standing next to them.

It is much the same in biology – having taken modules in the life sciences, chemical subjects are approached as though the subject matter should inherently be treated as alien. Unfortunately, at undergraduate level at least, this is unavoidable.

Students on three or four year courses cannot entirely straddle two departments, where lecture modules later on usually depend on some understanding of several modules taken in earlier years. There is just not enough time to learn every module needed, unless a student decides to specialise in a boundary science at the very onset of their degree. This appears to be a massive commitment, which I personally did not wish to make at the age of 18.

These degrees, such as biochemistry, do not tend to entirely cross the boundary either, they tend to be taught predominantly in one department or the other. Chemistry and biology teaching methods require different learning styles. Having done a variety of these modules myself, I find it awkward to switch between the chemistry style of understanding of process and the biology style of memorising definitions and mechanisms.

As the depth of our understanding in these disciplines increases, such boundaries may only widen. But this is not necessarily a bad thing – it is simply a product of progress, which in science is always good!

Though at undergraduate level it may seem that biology and chemistry are miles apart, upon reaching research level this is not so. More and more research groups contain both biologist and chemist specialists, who may benefit from each other’s knowledge. Many universities recognise chemical biology modules as an essential part of a chemist’s degree, more in silico (computation) research focuses on interaction of proteins and enzymes, and more of the more specific areas of chemistry are opening up to biomedical application.

This is a promising start to widening study of pharmacology and other boundary sciences, but it is not the end. Pharmacology in particular seems to be a specialist science studied mainly in hospitals by clinicians.

Picture1Because the science relies on clinical trials (or in silico research, which I’ll discuss later), it is often overlooked by academic researchers and undergraduates. Although pharmacological research would, ideally, be implemented into the earlier stages of drug design, it is often carried out reactively rather than pre-emptively. I think I’ll leave this discussion for now, though: pharmacology in drug design could fill an entire post by itself!

I feel that a solution to undergraduates being underexposed to the more specific areas of chemistry and biology would be to have lecture series for active researchers just to discuss their specific disciplines. Of course, this sounds very basic, and it is! Different universities tend to churn out scientists specialising in the area the university department itself tends to specialise in. Exposing their students to other areas of research could lead to more well-rounded researchers with a greater understanding of the scientific world as a whole.

This post is entirely my own opinion, based on my own experiences – feel free to disagree and share your thoughts in the comments!

 

A note from the author: As my posts sometimes touch on emotive subjects, comments are disabled after 4 days. This is because, at this stage, I feel that ongoing discussions tend to stagnate.