Why Alzheimer Mad Lab?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 07, 2018

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Submitted: June 07, 2018

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Why Alzheimer Mad Lab?

To begin with, I would like to tell you a short personal story.

My professional background as a scientist started 10 years ago when I applied for studies in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Frankfurt after having learned German language for a little less than a year. At that time nobody could associate Frankfurt to science and research. When I enrolled for classes, at first I did not know what to expect. I still remember the welcoming speech. I was sitting in the lecture room while the professor spoke passionately about the world of pharmaceutical science, research and drug discovery. This gave me some first insights into the world of research and practical application of science and was also the beginning of my path towards inventing and discovering new therapies and drugs. I never regretted my choice of subject at the university, even if it was not always an easy time. Parallel to studying, I had to work various part-time jobs. All jobs helped me gain some valuable experience and offered me a different view in comparison to the academic one. During that time I met a lot of different people, many of whom I became good friends with. In the third semester, I took a part-time job as a private tutor in organic chemistry for a student in the semester below me. I also worked part-time in an executive research company. One day, I was called in for a meeting. The company did not need me for the following semesters so they had to let me go. I then started working only during the semester breaks as a working student in a pharmaceutical company near Frankfurt. After passing the second state exam, I began the next chapter of my life. I finished my practical year in order to take and pass the third state exam and become a pharmacist.

The scientific knowledge which I had accumulated until then could be applied to my PhD studies. I then stared working on a project which took 3.5 years of research and was about the development of a veterinary injection suspension. I learned to never underestimate a project just because it appears to be simple on the surface. During the years I learned that research work and results are not always as expected but this only means that you have to start looking somewhere else and never give up.

I then started looking for a new challenge. That led to creating the “Friday project”. It began as a joke between me and my supervisor. I was allowed to work on the project only Fridays. The rest of the week I had to devote my time and focus to the main project. I performed a couple of experiments out of curiosity.

I am not sure how exactly did I get to Alzheimer’s research and I for sure cannot tell you the exact time point. I guess it was always in the back of my head because I personally experienced the course of the disease with my grandmother and saw how seriously it affects the patients and their families and how helpless one can be. I did not manage to change the life course for my grandmother but hope to be able to do it for other people and families.

The scientific experiments we performed are trying to turn the focus of Alzheimer’s research to causes and research fields which are not pursued yet in order to be able to push the research efforts to discover treatment faster.

I am not interested in doing any kind of research just for the sake of publication, journal numbers and names. The reason why I decided on creating the platform is the same reason why I chose my PhD studies. I have never planned my life so far as to know whether I would want to do a PhD, but somehow my path led me here, where I am currently at. What is important for me is that I am always looking for new challenges and looking up to people who were able to leave something to the world besides their own existence. I believe in thinking differently from the others and in the fact that future and progress comes from ideas that are put into action, from people that are driving us forward, from people that think out of the box. If you ask me what my wish for the future is, I would say that I want to find a way to develop my next idea into something that can be used and implemented from people around the world, to find the next cure for a disease or at least to be able to lead the way to it.

 

What is your personal coffee shop illusion?

I went the other day looking for a coffee shop and it appeared that the shop was missing. How funny our brain can project a scene of something, which has not happened yet and most probably is only an illusion, leading us to anxiety and imagining a moment in the future sitting with a book in hand drinking a sweet cup of coffee. Instead you find an African bar. I was watching the Olympic Games the other day, sitting in a coffee shop and eating cheese cake. The happiness of the bronze and silver medallists was far greater than the one of the gold medallist. The gold medal gives you the pleasure of thinking that you are there now and you have achieved it. However, this is the same illusion as the one of the coffee shop. Because the pyramid does not exist, there is no gold, no bronze and no silver medal. There is one, though at this moment and then the next moment comes and you are not the medallist. So you have to train yourself and be present in the moment. The moment when you are a medallist, accept it with grace and happiness. Then the moment passes and the next one comes. Accept it with grace and happiness, but do not compare between them both because this is just in your mind. It is the illusion of a coffee shop when you have an African bar standing in front of you.

Why the beggar is richer and happier than the millionaire?

A situation, which happened to me recently, resolved itself into something that opened my eyes. It all revolved around money. I then saw the real face of a friend, who was willing to throw me under the bus for couple of euros. I was devastated and disappointed since I did not expect this kind of reaction from a person whom I have trusted and invested time and feelings in. Life shows you that the fair-weather friends, the friends of money and power disappear as fast as the money and the power. They are temporary as the ones, who like you for your body, for your profession and for your story but not for the man you truly are right here and right now. Trust is not formed in an instance and not formed in a day. Stepping outside your small box, risking being hurt, gives you more than you will ever pray for. It involves the risk of being laughed at and humiliated but at least you know you have tried and whether or not it turned out successful it does not matter anyway. You don’t need approval, and remember that humiliation and fear has its face in the saying I don’t want them to think whatever they are thinking. The truth is that you cannot control humans and thoughts but you can control your thoughts and decide whether you would like to get involved. Life is not about winning and not about you. It’s about the bigger picture. What you got is done. What you will get is not certain and what you have is now. The situation today showed me that the beggar is a richer man than the millionaire. He has friends and he does not have anything to give them. They are there for him. It showed me that a beggar is a strong person, because he faces the rejection of the society every day in his life and finds the strength to deal with it.

 

What is that you are missing?

Yesterday I went by a tailor shop. The owner of the shop came by, he had one arm. You could see in his eyes that he did not feel inferior to others. A similar thing happened to me when I went bouldering. There are things you can gain and loose as in a marble jar, physical and material things. You put some marbles in and take others out. It is similar to what Brene Brown writes in her book: Daring Greatly. At the end the only thing left is the pure soul of a person.

What will you write on your board?

I was strolling down the street in the centre of the city. I passed by and saw a circle of boards where you could complete a sentence with a chalk. The sentence started with the words: Before I die ………. One had written: Before I die I would like to be happy for another 60 years. I also wrote something in the sense of: Before I die I would like to be able to know how to live. It was the first thought that came to my mind. There is no recipe on how to be happy for another 60 years. Neither there is a plan and scheme for you to follow on how to live. Funnier enough, we try to create them, because it makes life easier, we say. It kind of does, but it makes the life for your Ego easier. If you want to be happy, accept that you will never find the answers, you are so eagerly looking for. Not being happy is alright, not knowing how or what is also alright. Decide how to complete the sentence on your personal board and follow it. It might change during the years and that is also alright.

 

Can you give up your security for your freedom?

The craving for security, either an individual or a collective one, has become stronger than ever before and has a great impact on our life. Nowadays, people are moving and living in a faster pace, they see their life as a project management portfolio, which includes milestones and deadlines to be fulfilled and do not see life as a journey, where an individual grows, develops him or herself into someone who he or she really wants to be. People are afraid to ask themselves what is the life that they desire, because the answer will more often than not mean for them to exit the comfort zone and risk a failure.  Society teaches us limitations and we hold tight to this limitation. People are afraid to open themselves to the world. Taking a ghastly risk is, however, a condition of their being life. For all life is an act of faith and an act of gamble. The moment you take a step, you do so, on an act of faith, because you don’t really know that the floor is not going to give under your feet. Life is a journey, and the only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it and move with it. No human progress can be made from a position of a comfort zone.

“To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.” ? Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

Why is getting lost better than knowing where you are heading to?

I went to Granada, Spain recently. On a sunny day, I set my mind and decided to go and visit the science centre. I was walking down the street, heading for the science center. When I reached the main street I turned to the left and decided in the last minute that I am going to change and head down a completely unknown street. After a couple of minutes’ walk, I passed by a perfumery shop. It looked nothing like an ordinary one. It had a museum on the ground floor and one very specific, gentle odour of what I later found out to be roses gathered from the heart of the valley of roses in Morocco. I continued my tour of exploration and passed by a coffee shop. Funny enough you had to knock on the door, so that they can let you inside. Otherwise you could not enter. I guess it was nice to experience for a change a place where the door opens only from the inside. The coffee shop had this nice relaxing atmosphere to it. I wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee and I was asked for my name. At first I was surprised and could not figure out why they needed my name, but I gave it anyway. The coffee came and I found my name written in it, with a drawing of Alhambra. I think I could not be happier than in that very moment. This was the best coffee and not because of the drawing but because of the gesture. It was the sort of kindness that can open a lot of doors, even the ones that open only from the inside.

My tour continued and I found myself going up the hills and inside La Casa del Chapiz. I then continued further down a road, on the side of the hills. I could hear children laughing in the distance. Just below the road there was a garden. So I guess my tour route that day was somebody’s daily routine. I then continued walking up the hill and was curious what lied high above the road. I reached the gypsy museum in the form of caves, carved into the cacti-studded countryside high above Granada also known as the neighbourhood of Sacromonte. This is known to be the home to many of Granada’s gypsies, as well as artists, intellectuals and misfits from all over the world. I went inside one of the caves. When I entered the room there was an older gentleman, sitting in his chair. He looked very much like the godfather, smoking a cigarette and working on his Lenovo laptop. He made an impression of a person soaked mentally into a very important project, which required his whole attention. I took a look around and suddenly a younger boy appeared, asking me whether I would like to take a closer look. I paid the entrance fee and the lights were switched on. There was a main room and one bedroom. Hanging from the walls and ceiling, there were paintings of Flamenco dancers and copper plates.

After that I headed back down the road and I have already forgotten about the science center. I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter where you go and what kind of people you meet, it can always be an adventure and an enriching experience. You only have to allow yourself to get lost and you will find out that it is not so important where you were heading to. I did not plan anything that day and I enjoyed every second of it, discovering a little bit more about Granada, the people I met and about myself as well.

What do I want?

I recently went for a walk. On the way back I bought a magazine Geowissen with the title: What do I want? There was one particular article about our second brain, the gut and its connection to the brain. Funny enough, while visiting a conference two weeks ago, there was one very interesting talk from Prof. Abdul Basit. The group he is working with has developed a crapsule in the form of fecal microbiota transplant that manages to help reduce the initial symptoms of Parkinson’s patients in a recent study, which included the mother of Prof. Basit. This talk inspired me for a new idea, which might be able to help Alzheimer’s patients faster. I thought that similar to the crapsule, you can develop a cocktail from probiotic bacteria to potentially influence the inflammatory processes, happening in the gut. I researched a bit and found a talk of Prof. Sam Sisodia from the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, where he speaks about the connection between the gut flora and the brain. What if we are to combine different strains of probiotics, which can be isolated from plants, put them in a capsule and see what their effect is when used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients? There are two plants which are currently on my radar: the snowdrop and the water lily. The snowdrop has already been used in a product called ProViotic. The water lily has been researched in the last couple of years and its extracts showed some promising results in pharmacological studies on learning and memory in CD-1 mice. Imagine if we are to combine those two and see what the results are. It sounds crazy but this is what I want to do right now.

How to break down the thinking loop?

I am sure that most of you know the lyrics of the song: The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. The wheels on the bus go round and round, all day long!

A couple of days ago, while working in the pharmacy I was so consumed with millions of thoughts that I was not present in the moment. A funny thing happened though. One person came in the pharmacy and asked me a question: Do you prefer writing with your left or with your right hand? For a moment there the wheels on the bus of thoughts was interrupted, since my prefrontal cortex switched itself on and silenced the amygdala. I seriously had to think whether I prefer writing with the left or the right hand. I was back in the present moment thinking about the question and interacting with this person. If you want to help someone out of the thinking loop, change the lyrics of yours and theirs song: No, wheels on busses don’t go round and round all day long. If they did, the busses wouldn’t be making stops.

Why we usually choke up talking when we follow a pattern of how we want to communicate our thoughts?

Have you ever presented in front of a big crowd? I suppose at a certain time point of your life you have to or you already had to. Yesterday I was at a meeting of a rhetoric club, where you get the chance to speak in front of strangers and learn to describe your thoughts in a clear, concise and direct manner. Surely, it is easy when you are standing alone in front of the bathroom mirror or your colleague, who you have known for a long time now. But what happens when you have to present in front of strangers, people who you meet for the first time from a different cultural and professional background? Well, then it becomes a strenuous task. It is not the data, not the information, not your knowledge that will seal the deal. It is your people skills and your experience. What do I mean by that? Being a good story teller is not about learning a speaking pattern by heart. You may try to do so and suddenly the words come out of your mouth so unnaturally that you even start doubting your own liking of the subject, you are talking about. You choke up trying to remember the sequence of how you presented your speech to your fellow friends and then you reach a dead end. The reason is not that you were unprepared. You just forgot your people skills. And these skills are not fed by patterns, correct sentences and lots of data but spontaneity, jokes, weird sentences and misplaced words. However, there is own major hurdle between us and these skills and this is our brain and the fear of failure. At some point of our life, we got fear-conditioned of making a mistake and we took the back seat of the critic rather than the stage of the actor. We tried to override it and thought that data, knowledge and all acquired professional skills will somehow do the trick. We tried so hard to convince ourselves that the seat in the back is somehow good enough, since the lights on the stage are too blending and you don’t really know what will happen next. At some point you have to face the fear of getting on the stage, unprepared and not following a speaking pattern with the commas and the full stops.

How much are your favour, your good deed and your time worth?

Which are the currencies that never changed? How about time, favours and good deeds? The real question is how much is that favour or good deed worth. I will gladly pay you two favours for the favour from yesterday or perhaps five good deeds for the one you did for me. Does our time costs the same, when we are lying in a hospital bed and when we are working our everyday job? Most probably it does not. So how come we are trading them all.

Do you play or do you pretend to be playing?

You probably can remember that when you were a child there were no limitations. For me it was today I was selling balloons I won from the tombola. Tomorrow I was throwing a theatrical performance in the house of my grandmother. And then the days to follow you were trying different things out. Why? Because you were not pretending to play but you were actually in the game making the most of it. Your brain was exploring and not trying to impress. But as the years went by, things reversed. You got into thinking that playing was just for children and you start arranging events that fitted your profile of what you assumed was the right thing. Appear, perform, and repeat. You start believing the myth that trying something else the next day might jeopardize your performance. If an artist delivers the same piece of work every time without changing even the slightest detail, would you be impressed by it?

Do you judge a person by their last receipt?

I was going through my curriculum vitae and asking myself the following question: how many of the things that stay written in there changed somebody else’s life? To be honest, I could see none of the people and events which made me the person who I am now included. Surely you could read the generic names of companies and educational institutions. At the end your curriculum vitae looks the same as the one of the next person. And similar to the receipts which you get when you buy an item in a store, the receipt only gets longer. But answer yourself the question: When you meet a person, do you judge them by their last receipt?

What do you own?

Try the following situation. Ask a person in a play whether he would like to be the employer or the employee. Chances are that he will tell you the employer. Ask him why? And the answer will be authority and freedom. And why not the employee? We tend to associate our value with the ownership of items, the count of people we think might be good to know and of course with the job position. Let’s reverse the situation, how about the employee becoming the employer and vice versa. Suddenly your new position requires you attending courses with the title: how to be a better employer, how to know that the employees want or how to deal with my employer, how to communicate with my employer. The truth is when you don’t learn to own your current position with the freedom and authority which that came with it, you can’t expect to own the next position when it comes.

 

……so vain, probably think this song is about…..

Funny enough but today I woke up with this exact song in my head. You probably have heard the song of Carly Simon once or twice. And what if I tell you that 90% of your day is spent listening to this song over and over again, even if you don’t want to hear it anymore. It is the small voice inside your head, that communicates to you untruth and is desperate for approval. And oh man what happens if it does not get it. It’s the voice of a very grim-looking, narrow-minded reality, trying to separate you from the exact thing you want, closeness. You get curled up in your own world of priorities, forgetting about the next person. It is your ego talking. Do you know what the difference is between children and adults looking into a mirror? The first ones are doing it out of curiosity. The second ones are doing it to get validation. I am still learning how to get there.

Follow your heart and not the voice of fear

Life is diverse and your way of living is not quite the one that your friends and colleagues picture for themselves. Not long ago I read a quote while walking down the street on a billboard:” You have to know where you are heading to, otherwise you will get lost”. See, fear makes us think that we are missing on things we already know we don’t want to pursue. We turn into this character of a crazy monkey, jumping from one window to the next one, only because we are told that the view is better over there. We forget enjoying the view we have right now at our own window. Sticking to our window, when there is storm, rain and bad weather requires a great amount of strength and effort. Run your own agenda with the life you want to lead from a place of love. Otherwise fear will find someone else to run it for you.

Why Science is just one part of it and not everything? My letter to Dalai Lama

Your Holiness,

I want to thank you, because even if you do not know you were with me at my worst and my best moments.

I am a student in pharmaceutical science, but I know that the best medicine, no matter what the disease is, is a smile, compassion, understanding and listening to people. The body cannot heal if the soul is hurting. I have met a lot of people and a lot of characters. I am always fulfilled when I am helping, not living for oneself only. I decided to continue my studies and research and my focus has been always on inventing and developing a medicine that can help people with Alzheimer’s. I have never seen a sadder view than the one of a person that has lost himself. The body seems amputated from the soul, you see only the physical presence of the person. I am always afraid of opening up to people, because I have experienced misunderstanding a lot of times. My heart, however, has been set on it. I am struggling with my impatience and my worries if I end up in a situation that I disappoint myself because of my high expectations. My mind never stops speaking to me. I know that there is something more to life than the pure existence and that is the thought that drives me forward.

Yours in Peace,

SoulHumanMind

 

What do you want to find in yourself: an authentic or a copied version?

I went recently to a wedding party of a dear friend of mine, who is for me and in my heart the best Zumba teacher. You will ask me why? The simplest answer is he is the authentic version of himself and he shows it. He is not there to impress or to judge but to have genuine fun with you, be 100 % involved with the people. It seems to you that this is something you should learn to be, but I will tell you right now, you already have it in you and the only things you should let go of are your worries, expectations, fears and judgements. Whenever you want to connect with people, you have to silence down the ego for a while, follow your heart and be involved and present in the moment. My respect goes to all those, who are not afraid to show their true self and the authentic version, because that is what makes life diverse, fun and adventurous.

Yours,

SoulHumanMind

 

Don’t try to chase your thoughts, because they are going nowhere

We all have experienced that circle of thoughts, that go round and round. In your silly little world, everything should happen in a certain way. Otherwise you end up unhappy. That happens 90% of the times and brings only misery. If you start running after your thoughts you end up self-involved and consumed from your own being. How boring is that? You miss places and people. Stop thinking for a moment and just enjoy and interact with the world around you.

 

Yours,

SoulHumanMind

 

Do you lead a life and make your decisions based on a book or on your personal beliefs?

I have to write about my encounter today before it slips through my brain and I have forgotten about it. In my lunch break, I went to grab something to eat. I passed by a store. I must have passed by it 100 times before, but this time I decided to have a look inside. It sold different types of stones for bracelets and necklaces. I remembered that a couple of months ago I found a similar one not far away, where the stones were sold with a little written description. So I decided to ask the owner whether the stones had some kind of meaning. She told me that there are at least 12 books, which say different things and she combines the stones according to her own vision. Right then and there I saw not an ordinary store but a unique one, because “Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning you give it”: Tony Robbins.

Yours,

SoulHumanMind

 


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