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comment by Devac
Devac  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Biologists identify pathways that extend C. elegans lifespan by 500%

Semi-related question: could I request some recommendations/guidance to get from my current level of understanding (mostly what's covered on AP biology in high school) to get to a point where the article you linked becomes meaningful? I know it's a lot to cover, but I'm interested and willing to work toward it at my own pace. If it'll have to take a decade, that's cool with me. Biochem-wise, if it matters, I was mostly able to follow Harper's, though rarely without external sources.

ecib  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not good at it, but I've gotten better at it the more I've done it.

My method is this:

1. Start with a scientific paper, not a news article summarizing the paper. Scientific papers are laid out really nice, with an abstract that gives a simple overview, an introduction, conclusion, etc. The way they are structured and written, they provide a ton of context for terms that you don't understand, where an article will strip out the context providing insight to the term you don't understand, while overcompensating by explaining things at the "overview" or abstract level, which is not the problem you're really trying to solve.

2. Start with a paper on a subject you are super geeked and profoundly curious about. Like you are just climbing out of your skin to learn more. Not something you need to know more about for work or for school. Something that turns you on.

3. Read it on a computer, and literally do this: Each term you do not understand (this will likely occur in the first sentence, and there maybe several of these in the fist sentence and almost every sentence thereafter. Yup) you should highlight, right-click, and select "define" or "Search google" from the context menu. And....just read about that term. It will send you off on a tangent. You will spend a ton of time nowhere near the paper you are on, and each time you return to the next word, you'll not have made it past the sentence you're on, but 20 minutes will have past.

4. Rinse and repeat. Just keep knocking words down, one at a time. Oh also you won't fully grok each term before moving to the next one, but you'll start becoming familiar.

How I do it anyway.

Quatrarius  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

this works for language learning as well - i do this on japanese wikipedia articles a lot when i'm questing for new vocab

nil  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is good advice. You may also find terms that are only defined in other papers. Sometimes with researchers battling over who earned the right to name said effect after themselves.

mk  ·  140 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I mostly got there with undergrad biology, biochem, physiology, and then just reading these papers until they started making sense. My undergraduate was physics; my PhD in medical physics is when I took biochem and physiology. Still, I couldn’t make sense of literature until a couple of months of brute force reading. IMO much of the difficulty comes from crazy protein/gene naming and terms of art. Also, this paper has a particularly passive voice.

Here’s the meat:

    The synergistic lifespan extension of the daf-2 rsks-1 mutant can be suppressed by inhibiting GLD-1 or key transcriptional regulators of UPRmt. Therefore, the insulin-like signaling and TOR pathway-mediated tissue-specific translational repression of cytochrome c induce a cell non-autonomous mitochondrial stress response to promote longevity.

They messed up two genes which stresses the mitochondria just enough. There’s probably more too it, but the specific mitochondrial stress response seems to be a critical component to the life extension effect.