July 23, 2015

Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research: 15th Annual Symposium. July 31, 2015

The Summer Undergraduate Program in Eye Research: 15th Annual Symposium is coming up on July 31, 2015. Another seven OU undergraduate bioscience students will be presenting talks on their summer research experiences here in the Eye Research Institute of Oakland University. While this is year 15 for the formal SUPER program, OU and other Michigan college and high school students have been training in the ERI ever since our institute was founded by Dr Kinsey over 40 years ago. SUPER program alumni achieve an extremely high participation rate in entering professional and graduate schools.

Recent SUPER students from past years continue to move along in their training and careers in graduate school, medical school, dental school and optometry school. For example, SUPER alum Mary Cha (US Army active reserve) has served as a medic in Afganistan and is starting medical school at MSU this fall. Trung Tran has obtained a Masters degree in public health from Washington University and is starting medical school at Wayne State this fall.
SUPER scholars work on real research projects in ERI laboratories and most will obtain co-authorships at some point on research publications from our labs. Scholars have applied for the program in the past winter term, maintain a minimum GPA, write an application essay, and go through interview with ERI faculty. The seven SUPER students this summer also had a $3,500 paid scholarship for the 12 week program. Students also received a basic science or clinical ophthalmology lecture from ERI and Beaumont Ophthalmology faculty each week.
We thank all those who support the program with funding, including the ERI itself, OU’s Provost Office (Dr Lentini), OU’s Center for Biomedical Research (Dr Brad Roth), the Vision Research ROPARD Foundation and Richard Skipper, President and CEO of SKIHI Enterprises in Fort Worth, Texas. Together we are all training future leaders, scientists, engineers and medical professionals.
IThis year’s program in, 302 Pawley Hall:
9:15 a.m. – Welcome and Introduction
Dr. Frank J. Giblin, Director ERI
9:30 a.m. – Caroline Cencer (Dr. Giblin)
UVB induced cataractogenesis: the story of DNA repair in the human lens
9:45 a.m. – Jonathan Cheon (Dr. Giblin)
Understanding cataracts: a biochemical exploration of crystallin protein aggregation in the lens
10:00 a.m. – Natalie Wardia (Dr. Drenser)
Maintaining and restoring adherens and tight junction connections between retinal vascular endothelial cells
10:15 a.m. – Nicole Roussey (Dr. Goldberg)
Does Peripherin-2/rds (P/rds) shape membranes using disulfide bonds?
10:30 a.m. – Quentin Thompkins (Dr.Mitton)
Mechanisms of retina stress: the effects of exercise in type-1 diabetic rats
10:45 a.m. – Naveena Daram (Dr. Chintala)
Tissue and urokinase plasminogen activators instigate the Degeneration of Retinal Ganglion Cells in a Mouse Model of Glaucoma
11:00 a.m. – Joshua Hohlbein (Dr. Zhang)
Cholinergic Amacrine Cell Survival Contrasts the Loss of AII Amacrine Cells in a Mouse Model of Oxygen-induced Retinopathy
11:15 a.m. – Presentation of Certificates
Dr. Kenneth P. Mitton, S.U.P.E.R. Coordinator
Lunch at Noon, 316 Pawley Hall
1 p.m. Guests’ tour of the ERI (Dodge Hall)
Student Photos with Mentors (403 DHE)
(also posted in Dr Mitton's professional blog at 

July 8, 2015

Michigan Cuts State's Share of University Student's Education Costs, then some Politicians Blame Universities for Tuition Increases.

So far, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University and now Oakland University are the first of Michigan's public universities to dare to increase tuition above the Michigan State Government's tuition cap. Breaking this cap results in a penalty through the loss of a portion of the State's funding support. However, these universities gain more funding through the tuition increases. Of course, sure enough, I hear sound-bites on the radio from State appropriation committee members suggesting that they add more teeth to penalize these universities further for raising tuition far more than the rate of inflation. Universities, in this State and around the country are accused of gouging students and wasting money. However, what these same politicians fail to mention is that they have also spent the last 20 years dramatically decreasing the State's percentage contribution to our student's education costs. As a matter of fact, in 2015, Michigan contributes a tiny 16% of an Oakland University student's education cost, compared to the early 1980s when Michigan contributed around 70% of a student's education cost. Your kid's and my kid's college tuition has increased more than the US inflation rate since 1980, but that is not a correct comparison. The education costs of a student at Oakland University has only increased the same as inflation since 1980. So why has the tuition component grown faster than inflation? Because, our State has dramatically decreased its contribution the education costs pie. If you want to see the numbers, and you like facts more than ideology, read on.

June 13, 2015

Zipline Science versus Zipline Law: sign the waiver and you're screwed.

Zip-lines. They are being installed in private recreation parks and even public parks all over the world. The physics is pretty simple. The cable is essentially a ramp on an decline. Gravity down force helps to translate your potential energy into kinetic energy. Frictional resistance on the cable and some air resistance on your body will limit your speed. Down you go. Fun huh? What happens if the zip-line goes down too, while you are on the line? What happens if the zip-line operator's equipment fails? If they are found to have failed to test and repair then you can sue for your medical bills, right? Wrong! You're screwed. Here is why.

June 3, 2015

Update: Grapefruit Juice Dangers if you take Lipitor or many other medicines.

Twenty years ago, around the time I was a graduate student in London Ontario at Western University (formerly called the University of Western Ontario), a clinical pharmacologist (David Bailey) at the Lawson Research Institute in London discovered that chemicals in grapefruit can cause normal doses of several drugs to become overdoses. This results from grapefruit causing the drug to become adsorbed much more efficiently than it would normally.

May 31, 2015

Nanjing to Japan via Sun Power: Solar Impulse Gives Japan a Surprise Visit

Solar Impulse, a solar powered electric driven aircraft, is on its way to Oahu Hawaii from Nanjing China. This is its 7th leg of an around-the-world flight and the longest leg. Over 5000 kilometers and 5 days of flight time. 

During the day, its 17,000 wing-mounted solar cells must charge up the lithium batteries to continue operation of the aircrafts electric engines over night until sunrise.

The flight passes just east of Japan and then over the Pacific, just south of Midway island, all the way to the island of Oahu in the Hawaii chain. 

A cold front developed that was too dangerous to cross, and the flight team decided to make a stop in Japan to await the next weather window to attempt the rest of the run to Hawaii. 

May 30, 2015

Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology Meeting. Denver May 2015

View some images from the ARVO 2015 meeting in a Google+ photo storyboard. See link below. You can learn more about ARVO at their ARVO.org website.

About 10,000 "eye" scientists and clinicians (professors, PhDs, graduate students, undergraduate students, post-docs, MDs) attend this five-day meeting each year.

Traditionally for many years held in Sarasota FL, then for over ten years in Ft. Lauderdale, the meeting outgrew those centers and requires conference centers with accommodations close to the actual meeting. Seattle has been the best so far, Orlando was good, and Denver was up their with Seattle in my opinion. This month May (3-7) we met and talked and presented in Denver CO, one of the nicest pedestrian and bike friendly cities in North America. 

Vision scientists, while studying eyes, have tended to discover many things that are applied now in all areas of medicine and biology. The development of the "candidate gene approach" to guide the discovery of specific genetic mutations that cause inherited diseases, and most recently the first successful treatments of specific blinding retinal disease with gene therapy. Replacement of damaged retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE cells) in elderly AMD patients using RPE cells made from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs, from skin) are in their first human clinical demonstration trials in the US and Japan. 

Frankly, its fun doing eye science, even though its a little work every day to hold down a professor/scientist job. If you like to explore the unknown and think and write and read alot, and repeat experiments until they work well, then its a good place to be. International meetings like ARVO are a way to recharge and become inspired to do on yet another year, sharing information with other researchers from all over the globe. 

Much Starbuck's was drunk in the downtown Denver area in early May, to keep brains alert.


Ken Mitton (ARVO Fellow, Silver)

May 24, 2015

Heritage days. Rochester Michigan

Cars and other technology heritage in Rochester municipal park today. Also quilting and yarn spinning demonstrations.

Arts and crafts for sale and outdoor dining. Civil war and 1812 enacting camps with canon demonstration at 3 pm.

Ken Mitton

May 9, 2015

No Pesticides Lawns and Edible Dandelions

We don't kill dandelions at our house. We like all kinds of flowers and I still like to blow those dandelion fluff-seeds and watch them float on the wind. I like a new high spring growth of grass and broad-leaves before the first cutting with a Scott's push mower. These manual mowers are no harder to push than a gas engine mower because the later are so heavy. The gas mowers also rip grass violently while the push manual mower cuts grass blades like scissors. More gently, more clean cut.
We cut our grass leaving it taller than most lawns around us and thus more drought resistant. So no need to install and maintain a watering system. The mix of grasses and natural broad-leaves are more resistant to root grubs who chow down-under on manicured lawns of bluegrass.

I want clover and I like the mosses on the shady lawn at the side of our home too. Birds chirp in our heavily flowered crab apple tree and honey bees go about their business. The blossoms are dropping petals like a snow on the lawn and my Yaris (car), which fly off my car as drive away like they are spread at some wedding.

Who needs chemicals for their yard? Who wants to look at a flat, monotonous, golf green that is not actually used for golf or lawn bowling?
Not us.

From downtown Rochester Michigan ....yes Downtown...

Ken Mitton

March 14, 2015


HAPPY SUPER PIE day. 3/14/15 or the first five digits of Pi = 3.1415

But is there more to super pi than just those five numbers. At The Science Rant, we think so, and have a far more revealing discovery to present on SUPER PIE. Yes, revealed here for the first time, the real reason behind what makes Pi into Super Pi. Enjoy.

Yes, its true. Any day can be Super Pie day with the correct addition to Pie.

Sincerely and scientifically yours,

Dr Mitton

March 13, 2015

Still free. World Sports Navigator for Android

Check out World Sports Navigator on Google Play!

To promote sports in general and especially amateur sports and special olympic events too. Also for following  sports networks and a variety of sports around the world. Ever follow netball? Alpine events, all ages. Free from Dr Mitton.


March 2, 2015

Science of Sound - 8 Bit Computer Music is Alive and Well

Sound and the science of sound. What is sound exactly? Sound is basically something we can feel literally on our skin or also with hearing if we have that sense. However you perceive sound, its not just for those with official hearing. Sound is the movement of compression waves in a gas (the air) or in a solid, where the molecules are compressed together and push on each other like a domino effect. The result is a compression wave that travels from the source to our ears or skin surface where we can hear or even feel them. That is the basic science of sound.

Sound can be created from a speaker of course, and for computers in the early 80's, good old 8-bit programmable sound generation could be produced using sound chips. The sound chip simply generated a wave form and you could control its frequency and sometimes volume or the amplitude (height) of those waves. You could also control the duration of the tones and with great dedication you could program music. This 8-bit style music has some dedicated musicians making amazing productions that are quite complex. This one below, I highly recommend for your listening pleasure. If you ever liked Metallica, you will like this. I recall seeing the video of Enter Sandman during its premiere on MuchMusic in the 90's (Canada's version of MTV). Enjoy.

February 27, 2015

#TheDress. Dress Mystery Color Depends on ...you

Black or gold dress explained by your friendly neighborhood vision scientist. Why black to some and gold to others? It  has to do with how your eyes work....

February 1, 2015

Dr Mitton's U of Tube Sunday Pick

When CCR first did this song about 69 and 70, the Vietnam war was going strong. The song is not anti soldier at all but expressed feelings on the behalf of young men drafted and sent to war for reasons that no one could describe properly.

While better off families and senator's sons could be moved from state to state each year and kept in university to evade their draft notice, the average lower and middle class sons had no such fortunate situation. (Draft notices were only valid from your State of residence draft board. So you could be moved each year and a new notice would need to be issued from your new state. In the age of paper and carbon copies and regular mail, that could take 1-2 years.)

Bruce Springsteen w. John Fogerty - Fortunate Son - Madison Square Garde...: http://youtu.be/iQqHzPzQsMg

January 31, 2015

Smiling Science: your first impression of a face.

Why do you need to smile and look bit happy to make a likeable first impression?

Hey I have a smile on my Facebook page and here in this Tim Hortons coffee shop even though I am reading about Tyrosine kinase mechanisms.

Find out the answer on Science Friday.

We listened to @SciFri Science Friday this week and do every Friday in the Mitton lab and PRRL. Its mandatory radio education if you want to hang with this gene man and do research.

Ask Austen, OU/WB Med-1 researcher. She set up her TNF alpha gene expression assays of human retinal endothelial cells on our Science Friday lab bench. On its top shelf is my old boombox tuned to NPR. Its older than Austen!

Also they covered: Robot Rules, Future of Money, Athlete Body Clock, Video Pick

Listen to Ira Flato on NPR.


Making laws for drones and robots, a look at next-gen payment systems, how circadian rhythms affect sports performance, and a video about face judgments.

Be your own scientist...

Dr Mitton

January 25, 2015

Was Made in USA. Paul Revere rides again, in Indonesia?

The older cooking pot in this picture (top) was purchased in Blacksburg Virginia. We were just married and I was working in my first post-doc at Virginia Tech, Biochemistry Department. My wife was working in the VTech-Bookstore and our first child would soon be on the way.

These Revere Ware pots and pans are 20 years old and made in USA. At least the bigger one is. One of my Daughters recently cooked the smallest Revere Ware pot to warped status and then discovered why a pot needs to contain some liquid when on a red-hot burner.

My wife and I were reminiscent of buying these for a moment, then she found a new replacement on Amazon from Revere Ware. They are good kitchen ware. Never a broken handle or lid. Served us well in Virginia, Maryland and Michigan. I just noticed this new pot (bottom of picture) is made in Indonesia, and no longer made in Clinton Illinois USA.

To me that is sadder than losing the original pot. Same design, but i can see some poorly ground seams on the edge of the thin cap base-plate, facing up in this pic. Those seams are invisible on the older pot. No doubt heating, use, and liquid exposures will start to separate this new pot's base-plate in a few years at most, and this one will never last 20 years.

Did it really need be made outside of the USA to avoid paying American workers a living wage and benefits? Do you think we are not willing to spend a few more bucks for pots that will last 25 years or more rather than a few?
If you think so, manufacturers of America, then I think you are wrong in your thinking.

Dr Mitton.

January 4, 2015

Xiaomi grows fast as newer Smartphone

Xiaomi Smartphone Sales More Than Triple, as outlined in the Wall Street Journal. See the wsj story at the following link.  http://online.wsj.com/articles/xiaomi-says-it-sold-61-1-million-smartphones-in-2014-1420343590

How is this most valuable startup doing its fast penetration into a competitive market for smartphones? I suspect its main secret is not simply high function at a good price because that exists already. I myself just moved to an Android powered LG Tribute phone that is fast and running the latest version of the Android OS. It was on sale for $39 at Virgin Mobile.
What is Xiaomi also doing?