April 15, 2012

How to Write a Lab Report

to:1-AP Chemistry I (H), E40

Title Page
Not all lab reports have title pages, but if your instructor wants one, it would be a single page that states:
The title of the experiment.
Your name and the names of any lab partners.
Your instructor's name.
The date the lab was performed or the date the report was submitted.
The title says what you did. It should be brief (aim for ten words or less) and describe the main point of the experiment or investigation. An example of a title would be: "Effects of Ultraviolet Light on Borax Crystal Growth Rate". If you can, begin your title using a keyword rather than an article like 'The' or 'A'.
Introduction / Purpose
Usually the Introduction is one paragraph that explains the objectives or purpose of the lab. In one sentence, state the hypothesis. Sometimes an introduction may contain background information, briefly summarize how the experiment was performed, state the findings of the experiment, and list the conclusions of the investigation. Even if you don't write a whole introduction, you need to state the purpose of the experiment, or why you did it. This would be where you state your hypothesis.
List everything needed to complete your experiment.
Describe the steps you completed during your investigation. This is your procedure. Be sufficiently detailed that anyone could read this section and duplicate your experiment. Write it as if you were giving direction for someone else to do the lab. It may be helpful to provide a Figure to diagram your experimental setup.
Numerical data obtained from your procedure usually is presented as a table. Data encompasses what you recorded when you conducted the experiment. It's just the facts, not any interpretation of what they mean.
Describe in words what the data means. Sometimes the Results section is combined with the Discussion (Results & Discussion).
Discussion or Analysis
The Data section contains numbers. The Analysis section contains any calculations you made based on those numbers. This is where you interpret the data and determine whether or not a hypothesis was accepted. This is also where you would discuss any mistakes you might have made while conducting the investigation. You may wish to describe ways the study might have been improved.
Most of the time the conclusion is a single paragraph that sums up what happened in the experiment, whether your hypothesis was accepted or rejected, and what this means.
Figures & Graphs
Graphs and figures must both be labeled with a descriptive title. Label the axes on a graph, being sure to include units of measurement. The independent variable is on the X-axis. The dependent variable (the one you are measuring) is on the Y-axis. Be sure to refer to figures and graphs in the text of your report. The first figure is Figure 1, the second figure is Figure 2, etc.
If your research was based on someone else's work or if you cited facts that require documentation, then you should list these references.

April 15, 2012

Medicine and the New Genetics

to:4-Human Medicine (H), K12

The Human Genome Project (HGP), sponsored in the United States by the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, has created the field of genomics --understanding genetic material on a large scale. The medical industry is building upon the knowledge, resources, and technologies emanating from the HGP to further understanding of genetic contributions to human health. As a result of this expansion of genomics into human health applications, the field of genomic medicine was born. Genetics is playing an increasingly important role in the diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of diseases.

Diagnosing and Predicting Disease and Disease Susceptibility
All diseases have a genetic component, whether inherited or resulting from the body's response to environmental stresses like viruses or toxins. The successes of the HGP have even enabled researchers to pinpoint errors in genes--the smallest units of heredity--that cause or contribute to disease.

The ultimate goal is to use this information to develop new ways to treat, cure, or even prevent the thousands of diseases that afflict humankind. But the road from gene identification to effective treatments is long and fraught with challenges. In the meantime, biotechnology companies are racing ahead with commercialization by designing diagnostic tests to detect errant genes in people suspected of having particular diseases or of being at risk for developing them.

An increasing number of gene tests are becoming available commercially, although the scientific community continues to debate the best way to deliver them to the public and medical communities that are often unaware of their scientific and social implications. While some of these tests have greatly improved and even saved lives, scientists remain unsure of how to interpret many of them. Also, patients taking the tests face significant risks of jeopardizing their employment or insurance status*. And because genetic information is shared, these risks can extend beyond them to their family members as well.

*Passing of the 2008 Genetic Information Nondescrimination Act should protect against such discrimination. May 2008.

Disease Intervention
Explorations into the function of each human gene--a major challenge extending far into the 21st century --will shed light on how faulty genes play a role in disease causation. With this knowledge, commercial efforts are shifting away from diagnostics and toward developing a new generation of therapeutics based on genes. Drug design is being revolutionized as researchers create new classes of medicines based on a reasoned approach to the use of information on gene sequence and protein structure function rather than the traditional trial-and-error method. Drugs targeted to specific sites in the body promise to have fewer side effects than many of today's medicines.

The potential for using genes themselves to treat disease--gene therapy--is the most exciting application of DNA science. It has captured the imaginations of the public and the biomedical community for good reason. This rapidly developing field holds great potential for treating or even curing genetic and acquired diseases, using normal genes to replace or supplement a defective gene or to bolster immunity to disease (e.g., by adding a gene that suppresses tumor growth).

See an article that speculates about how genetic advances sparked by the Human Genome Project may affect the practice of medicine in the next 20 years.