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    Lunch with Laura Indolfi

    Last week I met with Laura Indolfi for lunch and it was a dream come true. Not only is she immensely welcoming and big-hearted, Laura is also very experienced in the field of science research entrepreneurship.

    A while back when I attended a Women@Innovation event, Laura was one of the panelists. After hearing her speak and what she accomplished, I told myself I had to meet her.  Laura is a biomedical entrepreneur, CEO, and co-founder of PanTher Therapeutics, an early stage spin-out from MIT and MGH that provides superior technologies for revolutionizing the treatment of locally advanced inoperable solid tumors. Prior to this, she served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the MGH Cancer Center and as a research associate in the Harvard-MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. She was also selected as a TED Fellow in 2016. Check out Laura’s Ted Talk if you haven’t already- the ability to create an effective approach to localized drug delivery (for Pancreatic Cancer) that was once impossible is amazing work.

    After the event, I watched her Ted Talk immediately and felt a sudden hit of reality. I began to question what I wanted to accomplish in life, my career decisions, and my “passion.” Laura’s work and her talk inspired me to thrive further in my career in a different aspect but with all of my uncertainty and how-to-approach questions, I had to meet her. So I did and I was so happy she agreed to meet me as well.

    Our lunch lasted about 1.5 hours and one of the most memorable parts of our conversation was when I asked, “During your entrepreneur-in-residence at MGH, if the doctor you were working with was someone other than a pancreatic surgeon, do you think you would have created something entirely different?” She simply answered, “Yes.” That scene continued to replay in my head as I try to recognize the big picture.  Laura explained to me that when she graduated from college, she never knew she was going to get a PhD in biomedical engineering and she never planned to one day be the CEO of her own company. But what she did know was that at each stage of her career in whatever she participated in- it was something she was interested in or wanted at that specific time. Therefore, it is important to ask ourselves- what exactly are we interested in right now? And then jump for it.

    As I reflect on myself, I realized that I have been (recently) doing the exact opposite. It’s funny because I tell myself to always stay present but when it comes to making the next for my career, I freeze up and I can’t stop but plan and worry about my imaginable fear of loans, limited time with my “future” family, and etc.  In case you are confused, I’m talking about applying to medical schools (haha). I want to be sure that I make a smart career choice, you know?  On the contrary, I won’t know until I try and I definitely don’t want to live life with regret. Moral of the story, “You don’t create life first and then live. You create your life by living it.”

    <3

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    Homemade Vegan Avocado Ice-cream

    I love avocados. I love ice-cream. I also love FoMu’s creamy vegan avocado ice-cream but your girl needs to save money so I decided to make my own homemade vegan avocado ice-cream. It’s such an easy, creamy, and delicious DIY treat!

    All you will need are:

    • 2 ripe AVOCADOS
    • 1 tsp of lemon juice
    • 1 can of unsweetened Organic Coconut Milk (Full Fat)
    • 3 tbsp of Organic Maple Syrup
    • 2 pitted dates (optional)

    Instructions:

    1. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk overnight.
    2. Blend avocados, lemon juice, maple syrup, and dates all together.
    3. Take the can of coconut milk out of the fridge, turn it upside down, and open.
    4. Transfer the hardened milk into the blender.
    5. Blend everything together.
    6. Transfer to a glass container.
    7. Freeze for at least 5 hours.
    8. Scoop, decorate, and enjoy! :)
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    I drizzled my vegan avocado ice-cream with maple syrup! :) YUM

    Avocados are incredibly nutritious. It contains more potassium than bananas- high potassium intake is linked to reduce blood pressure, strokes, and kidney failures.  Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids which is healthy for the heart! Avocado also contains large amount of fiber. Lastly, you probably already know but eating avocados can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Definitely try to incorporate avocados into your diet but remember, balance is key!

     

    XoXo,

    Eat the good kind of fat! <3

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    MIT Microbiome Bacterial Bonanza

    As a microbiology major in college, I was always fascinated by microbes and its mechanism of pathogenicity. Did you know that our gut contains tens of trillions of microbes, including at least 1000 different species of known bacteria with more than 3 million genes (150 times more than human genes), and can weigh up to 2 kg!? When we hear the word microbes or bacteria, we have this immediate notion of a disease causing agent- which in some ways are true. However, did you know that microorganisms present in our gut play a crucial role in digestive health, and also influence the immune system? Immune tissues in the gastrointestinal tract constitute the largest and most complex fraction of the human immune system! So they really aren’t so bad after all!

    With my excitement in microbes, I recently attended an event hosted by MIT Microbiome club and MIT museum called Bacterial Bonanza. It was incredible and my friend Tony came with me as well! He was a trooper for coming when it was pouring outside. Anyways- short talks from six Microbiome experts spoke on a range of topics- from the cheese microbiome to the latest clinical microbiome research. I think the most interesting talk was “Do these Bacteria Make Me Look Fat” presented by Dr. Jason Zhang and Dr. Nirav Desai. Their hypothesis in targeting certain microbes in our guts to prevent child obesity was fascinating. The idea behind their reasoning is that they believe certain microbes in our guts are signaling our hypothalamus to excessive eating which causes obesity. The way our stomach hunger cycle works, in a nutshell, begins with a hormone called ghrelin. When our bodies have burned up the food in our stomachs and our blood sugar and insulin levels begin to drop, ghrelin communicates with the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus, housed in the deep center portion of our brain cavity, regulates our basic body functions such as thirst, sleep and sex drive. Once it receives the message, delivered by ghrelin, that we need to eat something to keep our bodies running, the hypothalamus triggers the release of neuropeptide Y, which stimulates our appetites.

    Left: Dr. Jason Zhang and Right: Dr. Nirav Desai

    Another cool talk was “The Gut Microbiome: A Target for Ecobiotic Drugs.” This talk was especially interesting to me because I was able to use my knowledge from work in clinical research to understand the presentation! Seres Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company that is using a microbiome therapeutics platform to develop a new class of medicines to treat diseases resulting from functional deficiencies in the microbiome, a condition known as dysbiosis. These therapeutics are ecological compositions made up of beneficial organisms that are designed to target functional deficiencies and reestablish keystone features of a healthy microbiome. Imagine healthy feces in a pill! So awesome! Definitely looking forward to the next one!

    Presentations:

    The Policy and Politics of Poop

    Carolyn Edelstein – Director of Policy and Global Partnerships, OpenBiome

    What the Microbiomes of Corals and Whales Can Tell us About Animal Health and Ecology

    Dr. Amy Apprill – Assistant Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Delicious Rot: Cheese Microbiomes

    Dr. Benjamin Wolfe – Assistant Professor, Tufts University

    Do These Bacteria Make Me Look Fat?

    Dr. Jason Zhang – Boston Children’s Hospital

    Dr. Nirav Desai – Medical Director, Boston Children’s Hospital, Bariatric Surgery Program

    The Gut Microbiome: A Target for Ecobiotic Drugs

    Julie Button – Seres Therapeutics

    To end my post, I wanted to share one more picture!

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    Xoxo- Stay curious, Keep learning!

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    2016 TEDxBeaconStreet

    I love TEDx talks. As a matter of fact, the first TEDx talk that I had ever watched (Why you will fail to have a great career” by Larry Smith) was a big motivation for me to create my blog.  For those who are not familiar with TEDx, it is a nonprofit devoted to spreading innovative ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks.  I attended my first TedxAmherst talk when I was in college and attended my second one last night in Boston!

    Last night’s TedxBeaconStreet was an incredible experience! The theme of the talk was, “Thriving Over Surviving,”- exploring the intersection of medicine, technology, and personal health transformation. Although I don’t plan to pursue in medicine; however, for someone like me who works in the healthcare field, sometimes I just can’t help but think about how broken the healthcare system really is-especially when I feel I am unconsciously part of that system. However, last night’s speakers gave me hope. Hope that there are individuals who are dedicated and committed to fix and create an innovative system in medicine.  Through storytelling, each speaker conveyed their personal experiences and messages to the audience. It was real. It was focused. It was present. I was deeply inspired.  Whether it was listening to Daniel Krat, founder and curator of Exponential Medicine- a program exploring the impact and potential of rapidly developing technologies to reshape health and biomedicine or Adrianne Haslet’s, a Boston Marathon bombing survivor, open letter to terrorists – it was an emotional ride with each speaker. I am so grateful for such an inspirational night!

    My advice to you is- go out there and attend talks, conferences, events that you are passionate or curious about! Go learn! You will meet so many people who share the same interests and that is what I believe is a start of real friendships.  I started talking to the person who was sitting next to me last night, and turns out he is actually one of the TEDx talk public speaking mentors. How incredible right? One thing that I will forever remember and appreciate is when his second question to me (after we shared a fun fact about each other) was, “so what are you passionate about?” How often do you meet someone for the first time and they ask you about your passion? I answered with enthusiasm and he said, “Your dream is possible,” followed by a fist bump. I couldn’t stop smiling. :)

    xoxo