2012 in review

December 31, 2012 § 2 Comments

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


December 28, 2012 § 2 Comments


Happy Friday night from the coffee shop! Skjalg is knee-deep in embryology and I’m toe-deep, excuse me, metatarsal-deep in chemistry. So many other places I would rather be!

Anatomy: Check!

December 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m exhausted, so this won’t be long. I passed my anatomy final!

I had the following topics:

  • Histology – placenta
  • Locomotor 1 – the knee joint
  • Locomotor 2 – the diaphragm
  • Embryology – neurulation
  • Cell biology – cilia and microvilli

Afterwards I visited Skjalg at the café he was studying at to let him know how it went. Rather than head straight home to start studying for chemistry, I decided to give myself the night off. So, I headed to IKEA to buy a bunch of candles.

Now I am settled in bed watching an episode of Downton Abbey. Tomorrow it all starts again!

Candles 2New Candles

Layout of the Anatomy Semi-Final

December 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. I will be taking my semi-final in anatomy. The class is worth 9 credits and covers gross anatomy of the locomotor system, embryology, histology and cell biology.

The exam is divided into two main parts: dissection room and office. Each professor will examine 4-5 students at a time and will exam the students for both parts.

Dissection Room

For the dissection room part, there will be dissected specimens laid out and students will need to identify and describe any structures. Here is the topic list for this section:

  • Skull
    •    Anterior cranial fossa (composition, boundaries, connections)
    •    Middle cranial fossa (composition, boundaries, connections)
    •    Posterior cranial fossa (composition, boundaries, connections)
    •    Walls and connections of the orbit
    •    Walls and connections of the nasal cavity
    •     Inferior surface and connections of the base of the skull
    •    Bony walls of the oral cavity, the temporal and infratemporal fossa
    •    Walls and connections of the pterygopalatine fossa
  • Joints of the extremities
  • Muscles, vessels and nerves of the extremities (without the cutaneous nerves)

If a student fails this portion of the exam, he/she is not allowed to continue onto the office part. I won’t be taking this section because I am exempted from the practical part (for having an average of 4 on the first 3 midterms), however, I may be tested on the same structures in the office part.


This part takes place in the office of the professor examining the students. The ones who passed the dissection part are shown into the office and asked to choose one topic within each of the following sections:

  • LOCOMOTOR SYSTEM 1 – description of a joint (surfaces, capsule, ligaments, type, axes, movements) and the muscles acting upon the joint
  • LOCOMOTOR SYSTEM 2 – a topic unrelated to joints
  • HISTOLOGY – Description of a histological specimen with the help of a microscope;  w/ cell biology

Each student will then be given 30-40 minutes to prepare a presentation on each of the topics. If a student fails one of the theoretical parts, they are typically fail the exam.

Here are the topics that can be asked within each section:

Locomotor System 1

  • Fibrous and cartilaginous joints
  • Components of the synovial joints
  • Classification of synovial joints; movements and mechanisms
  • Structure of the vertebral column, the gross anatomy of the muscles acting upon it
  • Movements and muscles of the head (atlantooccipital and atlantoaxial joints)
  • Joints of the shoulder girdle, the gross anatomy of the muscles acting upon them
  • The shoulder joint, the gross anatomy of the muscles acting upon it
  • The elbow joint, the gross anatomy of the muscles acting upon it
  • Structure and movements of the wrist (radiocarpal) joint, the gross anatomy of the muscles acting upon it
  • Metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints, the gross anatomy of the muscles concerned with the movements
  • Carpometacarpal, metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints of the thumb, the gross anatomy of  the muscles concerned with the movements
  • The hip joint and the gross anatomy of the muscles concerned with the movements
  • The knee joint and the gross anatomy of the muscles concerned with the movements
  • The ankle joint together with the gross anatomy of the muscles acting upon it
  • The subtalar and talocalcaneonavicular joints, the muscles acting upon them
  • The temporomandibular joint and the gross anatomy of the muscles acting on it

Locomotor System 2

  • Architecture and classification of bones
  • Structure and actions of somatic muscles
  • Osteofibrous structure of the thoracic cage (bones, joints, ligaments, movements)
  • Muscles and movements of the thorax
  • Muscles of the back and nape  (occipital region)
  • The axilla, the quadrangular and triangular spaces
  • The cubital fossa
  • Muscles and cross section of the arm
  • Muscles and cross section of the forearm
  • Osteofibrous spaces and muscle compartments of the hand, tendinous sheaths
  • Composition of the pelvis (bones, ligaments and membranes)
  • Muscles of the buttock, the posterior abdominal wall and the pelvis (external and internal muscles of the hip)
  • Osteofibrous compartments, muscles and cross section of the thigh
  • Popliteal fossa
  • Subinguinal hiatus, vascular and muscular compartments; adductor canal
  • Osteofibrous compartments, muscles and the cross section of the leg
  • Structure of the foot, arches of the foot
  • Osteofibrous compartments of the foot, tendinous sheaths
  • Muscles of mastication
  • Diaphragm
  • Lateral abdominal muscles and fasciae
  • Rectus abdominis muscle and the rectus sheath
  • Femoral canal
  • Superficial muscles of the neck and the muscle triangles
  • Deep muscles of the neck and the laminae of the cervical fascia
  • Muscles of facial expression


  • Spermatogenesis
  • Oogenesis
  • Fertilization, cleavage of the zygote
  • Blastocyst formation; the bilaminar embryonic disc
  • Implantation
  • Formation of the intraembryonic mesoderm; the notochord
  • Neurulation (neural tube and neural crest)
  • Differentiation of the intraembryonic mesoderm; formation and derivatives of the somites
  • Derivatives of the intermediate mesoderm
  • Lateral plate mesoderm and its derivatives
  • Folding of the embryo
  • Development of the primitive cardiovascular system, the fetal circulation
  • The structure and function of the placenta
  • Development of the fetal membranes (chorion and amnion) and the umbilical cord
  • Periods embryonic and fetal life
  • Twin formation
  • Development of the limbs
  • Development of the vertebral column
  • Development of the skull
  • Development of the skeletal muscular system


Student will be assigned one of the 45 slides reviewed this semester and will be asked to describe it and identify all the parts of it. In addition, the student will need to be able to answer any theoretical questions concerning the slide and any cell biology questions

  • Concept of basic tissues
  •  Definition and classification of epithelial tissue
  •  Simple epithelia
  •  Stratified epithelia
  •  Membrane specializations of epithelia
  •  Glandular epithelia
  •  Cells of connective tissue
  •  Ground substance and fibres of connective tissue
  •  Types of connective tissue
  •  Umbilical cord and placenta
  •  Blood and the formed elements of blood
  •  Histology of the bone marrow, maturation of erythrocytes and platelets
  •  Differentiation of granulocytes, lymphocytes and monocytes
  •  Histology of cartilage
  •  Histology of the osteoid tissue
  •  Intramembranous ossification
  •  Endochondral ossification
  •  Growth and remodeling of bone
  •  Smooth muscle and myoepithelial cells
  •  Skeletal muscle tissue
  •  Cardiac muscle tissue
  •  Histology of the peripheral nervous system (sensory and autonomic ganglia)
  •  Supporting cells in the peripheral nervous system
  •  Nerve fibers, myelin sheath
  •  Motor end-plate
  • Light and electron microscopical histotechniques
    • 1. 1. The histotechnical steps of the routine light microscopical preparation. Specimen blocks, flat mounts and whole mounts, smears. Microscopical viewing of living cells. Difficulties of the used technique.
    • 1. 2. Types of staining procedures. Histochemistry, enzymehistochemistry (with examples). ‘Native stain’ = no staining.
    • 1. 3. Electron microscopical histotechnique. Differences and similarities when comparing to light microscopy together with the possible underlying reasons. Special electron microscopical techniques.
  • Immunohistochemistry
    • 2. 1. The steps and significance of the immunohistochemical procedure. Effects of temperature, pH and fixation. Epitopes. Monoclonal and polyclonal immune sera (antibodies). Visualization of the immune complex.
    • 2. 2. Specificity, cross-reactivity, false positive and false negative results, controls. Masking, detection, blocking. Combined labelling using two or more markers. Selecting the most suitable experimental subjects. The significance of confocal microscopy.
    • 2. 3 Immunohistochemical methods for electron microscopy (i.e. post-embedding immunohistochemistry). Main differences when comared to the light microscopical (pre-embedding) procedure.
    • 2. 4.  In situ hybridization. The possible combinations with other methods. Advantages and disadvantages.
    • 2. 5. Autoradiography. The possible combinations with other methods. Advantages and disadvantages.
  • The structure and function of the cell membrane
    • 3. 1. Structure of the whole membrane. The significance of lipid polarity. Main types of the lipid components. Flip-flop, rafts, lateral diffusion. Asymmetry. The specific research methods of the membrane structure. The structure and significance of the gylcocalyx.
    • 3. 2. Protein components of the cell membrane. Integral and peripheral proteins, transmembrane, extra-and intracellular types together with their importance. Function of membrane proteins. Aquaporins, orthogonally arranged particles. ‘Multidrug resistance protein’.
    • 3. 3. Transport mechanisms through membranes. The basic differences between active and passive transports, primary and secondary active transports, channels & carriers (carrier, transporter). What are the differences and similarities between the facilitated diffusion, simple diffusion and active transport? Uniport, cotransport, symport, antiport. Describe Na-K-ATP-ase pump relative to the previous processes.
    • 3. 4. The major means and significance of the exo- and endocytotic transports. Facultative and regulated forms. The significance of the cellular membrane cycles together with the importance of their constant renewal. Why is a balanced exo-and endocytotic process is important?
  • Intracellular membranous organelles
    • 4. 1. Differences between the rough and smooth endoplasmic reticula (structure, function). The significance of ‘Detoxification’. How is a protein produced in the interior of the reticulum, what happens there? Translocators.
    • 4. 2. The significance and possible ways of protein molecule signalling. The role of protein conformation. Chaperones (heat-shock proteins). Proteasomes.
    • 4. 3. The structure, parts and functions of the Golgi apparatus and its relationship with other membranous organelles.
    • 4. 4. The lysosomal system. Relationship with other membranous organelles and the cytosolic proteins. Fate of the endocytosed substances. Autophagocytosis.
    • 4. 5. Vesicular transport. Cooperation and connections between membrane systems. Which cellular organelles produce lipo- and glycoproteins? Cytoplasmic membrane formation. Intracellular membrane formation. The fate of proteins produced within the rER. The fate of proteins produced by the free ribosomes.
  • Further cytoplasmic cellular organelles
    • 5. 1. Protoplasm, cytoplasm, cytosol, nucleoplasm. Cell fractionation, ultracentrifugation, gradients, characterization and use of cell fractions.
    • 5. 2. Structure, main functions and origin of mitochondria. The significance of mitochondrial DNA genealogy. Porins, cardiolipin. Peroxisome, peroxides, peroxidases.
    • 5. 3. Comparison between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Evolutionary advantages of the latter, the theory of their formation. Endosymbiosis.
  • The nucleus
    • 6. 1. Composition of the nuclear membrane, connections to other membranous organelles. Lamins. Structure of the nuclear pores, transport processes. Nucleoporins, importins, exportins.
    • 6. 2. The organization and shaping of the chromatin substance, forms of chromatin. Constitutive and facultative heterochromatin. Territorial arrangement. Role of histones (in keywords) , other proteins and nucleosomes. Nucleoplasm, interchromatic substance, matrix, nucleoskeleton. The structure, function and organization of the nucleolus.
  • Cell surface specializations, cell-cell adhesions
    • 7. 1. Cuticle, brush border, kinocilium, stereocilium. Function and EM & LM composition of the basal striations (together with their molecular aspects).
    • 7. 2. Classification of cell adhesion molecules and their connections. Homophilic, heterophilic contacts, direct, indirect, and cis/trans  bindings, etc.. Lectins. The specificity of cell-cell adhesions.
    • 7. 3. Functional classification of cellular adhesion structures detected by the electron microscope. Molecular basis of the  E.M. structure. Role of catenins, plakins, vinculins, etc. Compare desmosomes and zonula (fascia, punctum) adherens. Significance of the interdigitated junctions. Gap junction; structure and function. Connexon, connexins. Heterophil, heteromer types.
  • Intercellular substance (ICS), ground substance (GS) The cell –  ‘ICS (GS)’  relationship
    • 8. 1. Summary of the components and relations/connections of the intercellular substance. Comparison with the glycocalyx. Glycosaminoglycans, their design principles, types and examples. Proteoglycans. Fibronectin and related compounds. Matrix metalloproteidases, significance of the ground substance restructuring.
    • 8. 2. Laminin receptors. Integrins. Describe their features, and the connections formed by them. The dystroglycan-dystrophin complex, their relationship with the cytoskeleton or membrane skeleton. Compare them to cell-cell adhesions. Vinculin, talin, the role of alpha-actinin. The role of molecular RGD component.
    • 8. 3. LM & EM morphology and the molecular composition of the basement membrane and the basal lamina. Laminins. The role and LM & EM morphology of basal striations.
    • 8. 4. The role of intercellular contacts in development and tissue formation. The cell adhesion as a stimulus. Focal adhesion complex. Cell adhesions and cell division. Cell adhesions and migration. Cell adhesions and cell recognitions. Cell adhesions and cell shape. Role of the glycocalyx in the above mentioned procedures.
    • 8. 5. Cell polarity, apical and basolateral membranes, lateral diffusion, the role of tight junctions and the basal lamina.
  • Cellular skeleton, cell motility
    • 9. 1. Summary of the cytoskeletal elements together with their functions. The common (similar) features of their composition. Significance of associated proteins. Plectin. Motor proteins.
    • 9. 2. Microtubules. The structure and function of the centriole. MTOC. MAPs. Dinein, kinesin.
    • 9. 3. Intermediate filaments. Classification. Specificity. IFAPs. Roles and  their relationship to the cell membrane. Plectin.
    • 9. 4. The organisation patterns (placement) of actin. Stress fibers. Associated proteins and their functions (examples). Types of myosin. The membrane skeleton together with its functions.
    • 9. 5. The molecular basis of ameboid movement. Receptors, cell adhesions, role of adherence (anchorage). Lamellipodium, filopodia. The role of the matrix metalloproteases.
    • 9. 6. The general function of the actin-myosin system. Troponin, tropomyosin, desmin, titin, nebulin, actinin, myomesin. Role of dystrophin. Calcium stores and their significance.
  • Cell division
    • 10. 1. The general description and phases of the cell cycle, main types. Control points. Cyclins, Cdk’s. Early changes in the chromatin and nuclear membrane. The structure and formation of chromosomes. Molecular diagnostic of chromosomes, high-resolution banding.
    • 10. 2. The stages of mitosis. The cytocentrum and the mitotic spindle. Cell division defects.
    • 10. 3. The division of the cytoplasm. The recovery (reforming) of the cell nucleus. Amitosis, syncytium, plasmodium (examples). The essence of meiosis.
    • 10. 4. Chromosomal sets, description of the genome, haplo-, diplo-polyploidia. Point, chromosomal and genomic mutations.
    • 10. 5. The regulation of cell division. Telomere, telomerase, transformed cells, immortalized cells, proto-oncogene, oncogene, tumor suppressor gene. External influence upon the dividing cells. Growth factors, adherence, focal adhesion complex, contact inhibition.
  • Developmental biology
    • 11. 1. Stem cell, progenitor cell, precursor cell. Clone, cell line, spare cells. Role of markers. The ability to divide. Postmitotic cells, the ‘birth’ of cells. Toti-, pluri-, (multi, oligo-), bi- and unipotent cells (loss of cell potency). Determination in the absolute or relative terms. Differentiation, de-differentiation, regeneration.
    • 11. 2. Significance of induction. Inducive ‘signals’. Endocrine, paracrine, juxtacrine, matricicrine, autocrine, introacrine effects. Why could the same induction result in different, or no, response in different cells? Induction ‘window’. Primary organization center, secondary organizers, Induction chain. How does this affect the appearance of certain conserved (primordial) structures during embryonic development?
    • 11. 3. Regulatory signals of development, receptors and the cooperation of regulatory genes. Early genes. Homeobox genes: Hox and Pax genes, etc. their influence upon the life of cells. Explain the basis for divergent development of two cells sharing an identical genetic fingerprint. Distribution of cytoplasmic factors, topical differences, lateral inhibition.
    • 11. 4. The role of uneven growth in morphogenesis (examples). Comparison of apoptosis and necrosis. Role of apoptosis in development.

Monkey Mind

December 25, 2012 § 3 Comments

Panic is starting to settle in and I’m keeping busy trying to fight it away. We tore ourselves away from our books to get some fresh air and witness the streets on Christmas night. I brought the camera along, of course.

Christmas street Red tree DarkMusicalStreet
We have found we are most effective with 1 hour on followed by a 10-15 minute break and I am using this round’s break to share a comment my dear Grandpa left on a previous post about stress during finals. My friend and group-mate Charlotte commented that between him and my mom, I’ve got one wise family – and that I do!

That said, here is what my Grandpa wrote. You can bet I will be repeating these words to myself over the next few days, if not weeks (or years). Love you, Grandpa. Merry Christmas!

Train conductor to passengers: This train is moving to its destination and it will get there in time with or without you. It stops so you can quickly be supplied with the necessaries for the next stage of the journey. You are told your basic needs. You need only reach through an open window to get or buy what you need. If you insist on getting off the train and wander off into the forest to see the how and wherefrom of your supplies, you will sooner or later miss this train. If your compulsion is for certainties, micro-knowledge of everything you see, then you should have taken some other train.

Lead duck to new ducklings: Guys this is a mapping and not a sightseeing journey. I shall show you how to fly from the winter landscape of your birth to the summer ponds of the South. Pay close attention and you will be able to replicate this journey for as many years as the gods give you life. We shall be cruising short of a mile high- this will provide optimal landmarks for mapping. Don’t go diving down for detail that will be of no use to you. Looking for that tree you shall surely miss the entire forest.

Professor to medical students: Every page of any book you study today is being changed daily by thousands of experiments, clinical studies and research papers. The material on the page was already old when it came off the printint press. Much of what you learn in medical school will be amended, debunked or forgotten by time you get to practice medicine. Learn the process – do not get mired in the detritus of short-lived detail. Your goal is to graduate within a set period of months. You need to stay trim and mean, with eyes and mind focussed on that goal – do not allow flights of your monkey mind lead you into dead-end side trips.

Merry Christmas! God Jul! Boldog Karácsonyt!

December 24, 2012 § 3 Comments


This will be another picture heavy post. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? And I have too little time to come up with a thousand words 😉

Christmas at our place is a simple one this year.  Two years ago, we celebrated in Los Angeles and my family got to meet Skjalg for the first time. Last year, my younger brother Christian and I celebrated with coworkers while overlooking the Hong Kong skyline. This year, Skjalg and I are huddled inside our apartment in Budapest cramming for our anatomy finals. Three very different Christmases to demonstrate how much can change in a year.

It snowed all day yesterday – almost a white Christmas after all. It would have been perfect if it hadn’t all melted today…


Earlier today we made our way out to the gym and then stopped in at Spiler for lunch again afterwards. Then it was home to continue studying.

Finals study den

For dinner Skjalg made julegrøt (Norwegian Christmas porridge) and I got the almond. It’s a tradition to hide a blanched almond in the pot full of porridge and award the person who finds the almond with a present of some kind. Usually a game is made of it and the person who discovers they have the almond keeps it a secret as the others continue gorging themselves with porridge in an effort to find the almond.  Skjalg once kept the almond tucked in his cheek for an hour while the rest of us kept on searching for it. With only two people and only a little mini serving made this time around, finding the almond was easy enough.


We didn’t buy a tree this year. It was just too much of a hassle with everything else we have to worry about. It’s hard to get that Christmas feeling when you don’t have a tree. I’ve found myself reminiscing about past Christmases all day. In efforts to fix this a little bit, Skjalg made us one med school style – on the white board!

"christmas tree"

Here’s to wishing I was with all my family and friends tonight. Merry Christmas everyone!! God jul alle mine kjære!

Our Day in Pictures

December 20, 2012 § 3 Comments

We started off our day by getting in a much needed trip to the gym. Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at Spiler before walking through the Christmas market and then heading to a café to study.

The Christmas market was amazing. I hope I can make my way through there a couple more times this year. It is conveniently located right outside of a café that I have been studying at for the past two days. Sitting at my little table I can look up every now and then and witness the excitement of those visiting the market. It helps to feel like I am still a part of the world when studying.

We took a detour while browsing through one part of the Christmas market to visit the river Danube. It has been 3 months since we last saw the water and we live but a 15 minute walk from it. I can’t wait until finals are over!

Below are some shots we snapped throughout the day. We don’t have much (or really any) time to explore the city or enjoy the Christmas season now, so we need to squeeze in what we can when we can.

Spiler Budapest CollageMulled WineMarketBuda Castle Mid DecemberLost coupleChristmas market beerMarket 2

Lunch goersSkatingMulled wine 2Market drinksSONY DSC

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