This installment of my blog is its final chapter. For almost six years I have had the privilege of being able to write about the world of bone and mineral research in these pages. I hope that you, the readers, have been happy with the results. It has been a great honor for me to write these blogs. I very much thank the ASBMR, its officers and its administrators for being so generous in allowing me essentially free reign to choose and expound about topics that I feel are important to ASBMR members.
Since 2010, I have written about 75 blogs. When I first started, I tried to be somewhat chatty, probably because I was not quite sure what I was doing. However, as time progressed, I began to focus the blog on issues in our field that were important or had wide-ranging implications for scientific discovery. A number of blogs centered on scientific technology.
When I began my scientific career (sometimes, it seems like when dinosaurs walked the earth), bone and mineral research was dominated by in vitro studies. However, we are in the middle of a revolution in the development of animal models for scientific research. Tools such as global knock out mice have progressed to targeted gene manipulation models, which delete or alter specific DNA sequences either from birth or after activation of recombinases post-natally in a limited number of tissues. These allow researchers to analyze the role that the expression or mutation of individual genes in specific cells have on bone development and bone function. Most recently, CRISPR/Cas9 technology (which is very likely a Nobel Prize winning discovery) has made the production of these models more efficient and less expensive.
In human bone and mineral research genetic variations as a cause of human disease has emerged as the great frontier of scientific research. We have known for a long time through ethnic and family studies that skeletal diseases have major elements of their pathogenesis in multi-gene variabilities. We are now on the threshold of being able to identify those variabilities and, in turn, better define the origins of human skeletal disease. I wrote a number of blogs about this topic. High-speed genetic sequencing has decreased in price to the point where it is almost certain that the specific genetic variabilities that underlie human skeletal diseases will be identified in the near future. This will provide insights, which when explored in animal models, should identify new ways to treat human skeletal diseases.
I also explored controversies in our field, including how much calcium and vitamin D are necessary for bone health, whether we are adequately measuring vitamin D levels in all ethnic groups, what are the dangers of administering vitamin D and calcium supplements and what are the adverse events associated with our therapies for bone disease.
There were a number of blogs about funding, which is the mother’s milk of scientific research. Most recently, my last provided hope that at least in the US, funding at the Federal Government level is increasing.
Perhaps the most difficult blogs to write were those that memorialized members who had a tremendous influence on our field and had passed away. These were people who I knew personally and admired. I hope that I was able to do justice to their memory.
The end of this blog will give me more time to work on my own research, which, fortunately, is going well. I look forward to continuing to interact with the bone and mineral research community in a more conventional role as a scientist who is simply trying to understand the origins of skeletal disease and identify ways to treat it.
Farmington, CT, USA
Goodbye: A Look Back at Six Years of Blog Posts on Issues Facing the Field
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