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Feb. 10, 2016

Fighting through the cold

Feb. 10, 2016

Ugh. I avoided it for a long time. Then it hit me – the turtle flu. What’s the turtle flu you ask? It’s what a bunch of my colleagues call the crud that’s going around the office, otherwise known as the common cold. It’s not a real affliction by any means, just a nickname that stuck. Last year, when a colleague came down with a nasty cold, somehow she said something about liking turtles and somehow that morphed into catching her cold from a turtle, and that morphed into the turtle flu and it stuck. I blame the fact that most of us were on cold medicine at the time. 

Whatever the case, the turtle flu came calling at my office again this year. First it hit one person, then three, and then six. It’s like we’re a kindergarten class all touching the same toys. Our toys just aren’t as much fun and we don’t get naptime. We’re all careful. We wash our hands, we stay home when we’re really feeling poorly, but somehow, there’s no escaping it. The turtle flu is back with a vengeance. We’re using up twice the Kleenex, our voices are an octave lower, sneezes echo in the halls and the smell of cough drops wafts through the air. Hey, at least we’re in it together.

But I’m not complaining (well, not too much). The common cold, while never pleasant, usually leaves after a week or so and then I’ll be back to feeling fine. It’s a minor inconvenience, but certainly not a major health crisis.

Unfortunately, for millions of people, neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s present a very major health crisis. That’s where Spartan Jack Lipton comes in. Lipton, a professor of translational science and molecular medicine, is relentlessly searching for solutions for these devastating diseases. At the heart of his work are the people he could help.

“When you meet people with the disease and they tell you what their problems are on a daily basis, you're a little bit less concerned about your status in the world as a scientist,” Lipton says. “You're a little bit less worried about whether you're going to get that next grant, and more concerned with solving the problem that people have.”

Read the MSUToday story Research leader embodies Spartan spirit and watch the video to learn more about this dedicated researcher.

Chiadika Nwanze was only 16 years old when she left her home in Lagos, Nigeria to study at MSU. Now a senior majoring in neuroscience and French, she shares Lipton’s compassion and commitment to helping people.

She says, “In Nigeria, I was very much aware of the luxury of seeing a doctor, and did not want to lose sight of the person behind the disease in my career. This was the passion that drove me to take neuroscience, obtaining this mix of psychology and biology. “ Read her STUDENT VIEW: From Nigeria to East Lansing and Beyond, to learn more about this inspiring young woman.

I have no doubt Nwanze is well on her way to being an important scientist who will make her mark on the world, not just in a laboratory, but in people’s lives.

MSU’s Lyman Briggs College is committed to bridging the gap between sciences and humanities. Founded as a an undergraduate, residential college in 1967, the college has become known as the institution students go to for an excellent foundation in science and mathematics with additional focus on history, philosophy and sociology of science. Robert Pennock is a professor in Lyman Briggs. This week, he’s hanging out with other scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington, D.C. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Defending Scientific Integrity, to learn about the topic he’ll be presenting at the conference.

While people in my office fight their way through colds, there are Spartan scientists all over this campus (and the world, for that matter) who are unrelenting in their pursuits to make lives better for people. They might be established professors or they might be undergraduate students. They might be experts in their field, or just starting out. They’ll have successes, and they’ll have setbacks. But they’re Spartans. Spartans approach each day with a never-give-up attitude and a true calling to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Even if they have a cold.

Spartans Will.


Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo of the Red Cedar River by G.L. Kohuth


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