The virtue lies in the struggle, not in the prize

May 24, 2013 § 2 Comments

Quote by Richard Monckton Milnes

Things are getting a little tense in my little study cave! As the date approaches I am getting more and more stir-crazy. I still have “a lot of time” but the more I learn, the less I feel I know.

This is where I live now…


It’s a mess…


and I’m finding weird ways to keep myself entertained…like baiting birds with bread on the windowsill. No takers yet…but I’m still hopeful.


In more exciting news, I left the apartment yesterday! And for several hours! Jannie had her anatomy exam (which went well) so I walked with her to school and quized her along the way. While she was doing her exam, I went up to the anatomy consultation. I was one of the first ones there, so I was lucky enough to get a whole cadaver to myself for an hour. I spent a little bit of time reviewing the urogenital system and then refreshed a bit of my gastrointestinal knowledge. After a while, some other students from my faculty arrived and we spent maybe an hour or so testing each other on various structures. Christian (from my group, not my younger brother) and I made plans to test each other on Monday at both the histology and anatomy consultations. We’ve sort of paired off in anatomy already and I’ve learned so much when we’ve tested each other during the practicals.

After Jannie was done with her exam we started the walk home and then decided to grab some lunch…and a celebratory glass of wine! It was really, really nice to check out of my cave for a little bit. I felt like I got a little refresh in the midst of all this study chaos. Once we were finished, I headed back home to my study spot and studied until a little past midnight.

Alright, enough of a break! Back to the papers sprawled out in front of me…

No computer + no internet = no blog posts

April 11, 2013 § 3 Comments

Right now I am hooked up to the internet using Skjalg’s phone – and my time is limited. These busy med students forgot to pay their internet bill (-_-) and as a consequence they shut off our internet and cancelled our subscription. A bit harsh of a reaction, considering we have never been late before and have a contract with them…but what can you do? Rather than simply turning our internet back on, we have been told that they “no longer offer that service” and we have to install their new system and pay a higher fee. So, we are without internet for another week or so.

We took my computer in to get fixed and found out it will be around 100,000 HUF (about 2700 nok or $500). I freaked out a little bit when I found out, but Skjalg reassured me that that is much cheaper than we would have had to pay in Norway (about 6 times cheaper) and that it is cheaper than buying a new computer. I’m hoping I will get it back soon!

Other than that it has been study, study, study! We had our histology midterm this past Monday. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I trust my knowledge. We have 40 seconds to look at a slide and either identify what organ it is from or what structure the pointer is pointing at. There were only 20 slides, so it didn’t leave a lot of room for error. My mistakes were silly, for example, “white pulp” instead of “PALS” (a structure of white pulp in the spleen) and interlobular duct instead of striated duct (a sort of intralobular duct). Almost everyone else got that last one wrong, which seemed a little unfair because the duct was surrounded by a great deal of connective tissue, thereby making it a tricky guess for only 40 seconds. It looked almost the same as the interlobular duct marked in the photo below.

ducthisto spleenhisto

I’ve taken some not-so-very-exciting pictures over the week that I will post when I get the chance. Now it’s off to bed! Tomorrow morning we have back to back lectures on the trachea, lung and development of the respiratory system. After that it is Hungarian and then anatomy lab, followed by (hopefully) a wonderful Friday afternoon and night in the library.

Photo Redemption

March 24, 2013 § 3 Comments

This morning, Charlotte confirmed something that I have been trying to ignore – the fact that I have been blagging (blog-lagging). I’ve taken a bunch of pictures over the past two weeks in hopes that I would have time to write a new post at one point, but the time never came. Now it is Easter break, which means we have an entire week off from school – amazing!

Since my last post, we have had 3 midterms, a snowstorm, a visit from Christian and from friends from Norway, toured the pediatrics department of the university, discovered that our cadaver in anatomy had lung cancer, and attended a first aid course.

Now, to catch up the past two weeks in photos…

Grabbing lunch at a popular soup place before our Medical Profession lecture. This place is packed everyday! For only 800 forint (about $4 or 20 NOK) you can get a cup of homemade soup and half of a sandwich. Felt a little bit like a local grabbing lunch there.


Our friends Else-Lill and Emilie (mother and daughter) came to visit us from Norway. Christian was set to come up on Thursday (his birthday) but Hungary was hit with a huge snowstorm and the trains ended up being shut down. When he arrived the following day, he was met with a little b-day surprise.

snowstormchristian's b-day

We started off the visit with lunch at For Sale:forsale

Else-lill and Emilie brought us some goodies from Norway (thank you, again!): peanut butter, instant rice pudding mix, brunost, makerel i tomat (mackerel fish in tomato sauce), kaviar (Norwegian creamed smoked cod roe paste – Skjalg eats it with hard boiled eggs on toast), and assorted Norwegian chocolate.

goodies from norway

On Day 2, we splurged on a guided tour of the city. We chose River Ride and it was well worth it! The first part of the tour was of some of the major tourist attractions on the Pest side and the second was a ride down the Danube, past the parliament.

boat bus tour

christian c and else-lillbuilding budapest
basilicaopera houseszechenyi bathsheros squares and b

Skjalg won a prize for knowing how many exits were on the bus ūüėČ

skjalg prizeparliamentchain bridge and palacebudapest bank 4budapest bank 3

The following photo is view from the river of the Shoes on the Danube Promenade. Here is an except from wikipedia:

The Shoes on the Danube Promenade is a memorial created by Gyula Pauer and Can Togay on the bank of the Danube River in Budapest. It honors the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

bronze shoes danube

Café Gerbaud for coffee and cake:


Dinner at Cactus Juice on the last night:cactusjuice

On Wednesday, we had our first Medical Profession practical. For this course, the semester is divided into two parts. For the first 6 weeks of the semester, we had lectures in which we were introduced to various specialties within medicine, for example: neurology, surgery and psychiatry. During the second part of the course, we will visit each of the departments that were introduced to us during lectures. My group and Skjalg’s group have been paired for the visits, so we will be touring the same departments each week. This week’s department was pediatrics. It was honestly one of the first times that I felt like I looked like a med student, like the ones in movies.

We were first led up to a large lecture hall where we were told to leave our things and handed sheer, green scrub covers. We were then led through some of the hospital’s different wards: rheumatology, pulmonary and oncology. In the rheumatology department we met a teenage boy suffering from coxitis (inflammation of the hip joint). We looked on as the doctor spoke with the patient, examined him, and relayed his symptoms to us in English. In the pulmonary department we met a baby girl, maybe about 5 or 6 months old, with di George syndrome. She was so beautiful and sweet and looked so healthy, yet… she wasn’t. She had a scar on her chest from heart surgery and was quite pale in her face. The doctor showing us around the hospital explained how to examine a baby and how to involve the mother in the process. The oncology department was more difficult than the first two. The doctor took time to prepare us and reminded us to smile at the patients , to remember that they are still children. When we entered the ward it was so surreal that I felt like I was in a movie. All the children had shaved heads and pale skin. They were hooked up to IVs and laying in bed watching cartoons. But they were still children. We met a beautiful young girl who, though shy, showed no sign of insecurity as she lifted her shirt to show us her central line. She was nibbling on candies from a pez dispenser and was more concerned with the single candy stuck at the bottom of the dispenser than the 15 foreign medical students standing at the foot of her bed. It is such a surreal and amazing experience to meet real patients and get a taste of what lies ahead.

Here is a picture of us putting our scrub covers on in the lecture hall. The second photo is of Jannie and Martha after the tour.

jannieandmarthe1 jannieandmarthe2

So many people showed up for this past Thursday’s biochem lecture….Easter break fever hit early!


Friday was our last day before our week break. We started out the day with back to back anatomy lectures and then headed over to Hungarian. Our Hungarian teacher didn’t want to hold class (she used the excuse that many of us had gone home for the holiday – even though we were all there). We got our midterms back and I was happy to see that my studying had paid off. After our tour of the pediatrics department, I am more aware than ever of how much I want (and need) to learn Hungarian. After looking over our midterms, we were free to go.

I spent my free period in the library and then headed over to the anatomy building for my 12:00 lab. Our teacher began the lab period by continuing to open the thoracic cage of the cadaver. Normally he gives us a sort of lecture as he dissects, asking a couple questions every now and then. This time was a little different – possibly because we had some visitors (Jannie’s two sisters from Sweden and Christian’s – groupmate and not my brother – girlfriend, Ingrid, a first year vet student at Szent Istvan). Our professor began asking us a series of detailed questions about the digestive tract. I don’t know if we were all just tired from a long week or if it was pre-break laziness settling in, but none of us were able to answer the questions. He looked around at us over the top of his glasses, searching our faces several times before resting his eyes on me.

“Bianca, please draw the celiac trunk and its branches.”

I had drawn it earlier that week, but I hadn’t committed it to memory – and now the pressure was on. As I approached the board with 20 sets of eyes on me, I asked if I could use my notes as reference. He said no, told me I could only use Martha and Christian for help, and then relayed this experiment to us.

celiac trunk

I was able to complete maybe 30-40% on my own. My groupmates were nice enough to help me while our professor continued his dissection. At one point, I had to step aside so that my professor could plug in the bone saw. “Are you going to cut open my head?” I joked, as it passed by me. He smiled and joked in return, “no, but I’ll cut off a finger for each wrong answer.” Gulp.

When I was finished with the drawing, I presented it to the group. My professor made it tougher by asking me which organ each branch supplied. I tried to mask my insecurity with false confidence and I think it worked because I got a “good” and a nod from my professor. I’ll be ready for him next time!

After lab, Skjalg and I attended the histology consultation from 14:00-17:00. It felt good to stay after school on the day before a break. It’s so easy to check out when you know you have 9 whole days off ahead of you.


To close out the week, I attended a first aid course on Saturday. The course was normally scheduled for Thursdays, but we were given the option of taking the entire course in one day. It lasted about 8 hours and we learned how to identify and treat asthma attacks, burns, bleeding, strokes and heart attacks, as well as how to perform CPR and place a casualty in the recovery position. As a first responder, there really isn’t much you can do in terms of treatment, but we at least learned how to keep the casualty alive long enough for the proper help to arrive.


Now it’s off to bed for a couple of hours before getting up bright and early to snag a spot at the histology consultation. We have our histology midterm the week after we get back from break – and it is going to be a tough one! We will be there from 8-12 and then it’s back home to tidy up. Skjalg’s Mom and sister are visiting this week and his sister, Kaya, will be staying with us. I am so thankful that we have a place with a guest room!

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). ‚ÄėNative stain‚Äô = 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 –¬† ‚ÄėICS (GS)‚Äô¬† 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.

It’s a beautiful day for a histology midterm

November 16, 2012 § 4 Comments

I’ve just completed my histology exam and my body is buzzing with adrenaline. It went by so quickly that I have almost no recollection of the last hour. I know it will come back in pieces, but I think the adrenaline level will need to subside before that happens.

This morning began like all other Friday mornings: with the groups waiting for their histology labs crowding the histology corridor in the anatomy building. People were chattering nervously and flying through their notes, trying to cram in as much last minute information as possible. Skjalg and I woke at 5 and spent an hour or so reviewing our weak points before heading out. We both brought our histology atlases (with pictures of the slides) with us on the tram in hopes of reinforcing our knowledge. After a few minutes we realized that nothing was going in and that the time would be better spent taking some deep breaths and talking about something unrelated to anatomy – at both macroscopic and microscopic levels.

Our professor appeared on the steps leading in to the lab area and called the members of our group forward. The room was set up with two long tables of ten microscopes each, five on each side. With nothing but a pen in hand, we spread out around the room, placing ourselves at different microscopes. I became momentarily superstitious and hopped over microscope #13, deciding that I needed all the luck I could get. I took a spot at #18 and awaited further instructions.

The exam was set up as follows:

– 5 tissue identifications

– 5 tissue identifications with staining identification

– 10 specific identifications (structure, organelle, etc)

– 5 cell biology questions (identifying structures of the cell from electron microscope images)

Example of tissue identification question (transitional epithelium)

Example of specific feature identification (neutrophil)

We were given 40 seconds per slide. This time included moving to the next microscope and writing down your answer, so the total time given to identify each slide was most likely around 20-25 seconds. The first twenty slides were set up on the light microscopes and the cell biology slides were projected onto the screen after we completed the first portion.

They definitely made things more difficult than I expected. Some of the slides that we’d seen in lab were presented at a much lower resolution than what we had previously studied and some where with a different stain. The cell biology slides were easier, but only because they were the same slides that the head of the anatomy department had sent out earlier this week.

After the exam we were told to gather our things and wait in the back corner of the room while the next group filed in. We were ordered by the associate histology professor to not mutter a single word, not in any language. ¬†Once they’d settled in, we were allowed to leave – in silence of course. There was still an hour left before I had to be at my statistics lab, so I decided that I would wait outside of the lab area for them to release the results. The expected post-exam chatter ensued and I felt my heart sink a little each time someone mentioned a different answer than what I had put down.

They ran long with the results, so I had to head to statistics and asked another member in my group to check it for me. Half-way through my next lab, I looked down at my phone and saw two texts – one from Skjalg and one from the girl in my group – wishing me congratulations on my 5. I couldn’t hold in my shock and was lucky that my professor didn’t notice my reaction. Afterwards I found out that when they were grading the exam, they accepted several different answers for the same slide. So long as you had an answer that made sense, you got full credit.

Getting a 5 on this exam puts me in a good position for getting an exemption from the practical portion of the final in anatomy. In order to get an exemption, you need to have a total of 12 points from the three midterms. If I get a 2 on the next anatomy exam, then I will only have to do the theory portion of my final. I would still have to study the same amount, but it would be a load off to not have to worry about that part of the exam.

Tonight we will be joining some friends for dinner at Arriba! Taqueria near Oktagon. It’s our friend Rina’s 23rd birthday today and she wanted to celebrate with a casual dinner. It will be a really nice way to close out an otherwise stressful week.

When in Budapest, look up – and watch your step

November 15, 2012 § 4 Comments

The biting cold has returned to Budapest. We had a solid week where it was crucial to don your winter best, but then it headed towards a more “balmy” cold. Skjalg and I are on our fourth day waking up at 5:00. Both of us have alarm¬†apps on our phones that evaluate our sleep rhythm and wake us when we are at the peak of the REM cycle. This is supposed to help us feel as rested as¬†possible¬†when waking up, but it doesn’t always have that effect – especially when the snooze button is so conveniently located next to the dismiss button.

The sleep app for the my phone comes complete with a “CAPTCHA¬†‚ÄstReally Awake?” feature where I can choose between a number of tasks that must be completed in order to shut off the alarm. Monday was my first day using it and I didn’t choose well. For the alarm I chose ocean waves and seagulls and the sleeping sheep option for the CAPTCHA challenge. I woke in a panic that morning with the sound of birds squawking in my ear as I tried desperately to shut it off. Apparently, you are supposed to tap the awake sheep, but the screen changes every couple of seconds to keep it challenging (and to confuse the half-awake person furiously tapping the screen).¬†¬†I’ve since changed it to peaceful music and a math problem.

Today is lecture day, but with our histology midterm awaiting us bright and early tomorrow morning, Skjalg and I have decided to stay in and study all day. We started off our morning with a visit to the gym. As hard as it is to get up early, I wouldn’t trade those extra hours of sleep for the feeling I have after a work out. It clears my head and reminds me that there is a whole world that exists outside of studying. Who knew?

I headed home a bit earlier than Skjalg. I’d forgotten my headphones, so I had to occupy my mind with something else, something like observing my surroundings. I looked up at one building and noticed that there were at least 40-50 holes marking the fa√ßade at the 3rd and 4th floor levels. I’ve been told by several people that there are many buildings still riddled with bullets from WWII and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but haven’t seen them myself. I pondered these markings, wondering first whether they were actually bullet holes and then why they would be mainly on the 3rd and 4th floors. The buildings in Budapest carry so much history and the architecture of some of the buildings is fascinating. The down side? There is dog poop everywhere (at least on the streets we walk on). There is one street especially where I always see at least two people walking little dogs and numerous piles of little dog poops – but I never catch them in the act! It’s a bit of a downer having to constantly navigate the poop minefield, but I guess it’s just a feature of city living. I remember being shocked at the dog poop situation in Nice, France. It was so bad there that they even had professional poop cleaners that drove around on motorcycles with a vacuum pump to suck up the poop piles. In areas where there are not a lot of parks, trees, or nature in general, I assume it’s normal – a dog’s gotta go right? But that doesn’t explain why people can’t just pick up after them. I feel bad for the shop owners who emerge each morning to scrub the sidewalks clean.

Anyways, enough of my tangent about poop, bullet holes and pretty buildings. It’s histology time!

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