This post will hearken back to the early days of traditional blogging which I never participated in: snatches of colorful life experience scrawled hurriedly with a chunk of blackened stick, in between chaws of campfire-warmed mutton thigh. How simple we were then! How uncorrupted!
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On Shabbos, I heard a representative from Ukraine talk about Project Kesher, a group of Jewish women in the former Soviet Union furthering Jewish education, promoting women's health, and fighting anti-Semitism and domestic abuse. (A propos of nothing, one of the testimonials on the home page makes reference to Birobidzhan: "My grandfather was a revolutionary sent to Siberia . . . I see the need to organize the Jewish community. I hope to be a revolutionary of another kind." I would bet the speaker's grandfather was sent to Birobidzhan against his will.)
At kiddush, I suggested to one of the speakers that some women's health researchers (e.g. breast-cancer epidemiologists) might enthusiastically welcome access to an Eastern European cohort of mostly Ashkenazic Jewish women. Although there are an awful lot of studies of breast cancer among American Ashkenazim (see here for a review of BRCA1 -- the "breast cancer gene" -- and its influence on public health [I hope the link works; you might have to be part of the Medical Library Cabal]), in an admittedly cursory search, I only found one such study among Russian Ashkenazi women. As you can see from the abstract, it was more a small-scale genetic typing project than a large-scale epidemiologic study. (Warning: Jargon-heavy excerpt follows.)
We have screened index cases from 25 Russian breast/ovarian cancer families for germ-line mutations in all coding exons of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In addition we tested 22 patients with breast cancer diagnosed before age 40 without family history and 6 patients with bilateral breast cancer. The frequency of families with germline mutations in BRCA was 16% (4/25). One BRCA1 mutation, 5382insC, was found in three families. The results of present study, and those of a separate study of 19 breast-ovarian cancer families, suggest that BRCA1 5382insC is a founder mutation in the Russian population. Three BRCA2 mutations were found in patients with breast cancer without family history: two in young patients and one in patients with bilateral breast cancer. Four novel BRCA2 mutations were identified. (Tereschenko IV et al. Human Mutation 2002;19(2):184.)
Anyway, if any breast-cancer epidemiologists are reading this, first: hi! Second, maybe you'd like to take a look at this cohort.
Postscript: I know, it's not a cohort, just a group of Russian Jewish women. But someone could make a cohort out of it.
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On Saturday night we (me, my wife, and a blogger friend visiting from out of town) made the acquaintance of a fresh-faced idiot, a veteran of the Great War. Our new friend, appearing on stage at the Theater for the New Audience, is no other than the hero of Jaroslav Hašek's unfinished comic novel Good Soldier Švejk (1923). (Since the novel itself was never finished, I don't feel bad admitting that I picked it up and never finished it. Not because it wasn't entertaining; my attention span is just undergrown.) Though the first act sags a little, the play is by turns witty, funny, stupid, profound, moving, and whimsical. You should go see it.
Would you like to see the little hat on the "s" again? Šure thing!
Postscript: Of course, Švejk (or one of his translators) has a blog.
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I have to go keep finishing my thesis. Back later.
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How do you like the sound of this merry little tune? Psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, neurology, surgery, medicine, pediatrics, advanced medicine, ambulatory care, critical care medicine. Those are the rotations I will be starting, God willing, in January, assuming I successfully defend my thesis next month.
Perhaps I might blog in the future about the spicy & engaging elements of medical education. Or perhaps not.
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I should mention in passing two more reviews of mine, in the on-line version of Verse magazine, of a couple of poetry journals: Skanky Possum #10 and Fence 7.1.