Karina Kak



Karina Kak is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC San Diego. She's majoring in Physiology and Neuroscience with a minor in Cognitive Science.

Karina has written 50 post(s)

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways in our lungs. In people with asthma, these airways constrict due to irritation caused by inflammation and airway remodeling–structural changes that cause the thickening of airway walls and subsequent narrowing of the airways. According to the CDC, 1 in every 13 people in the United States has asthma. The prevalence … Read More

Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurological disorder that causes memory loss and destroys important cognitive functions. It’s highly prevalent among seniors, affecting one in every nine people over the age of 65, and is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Although much of Alzheimer’s remains a mystery, we do know that … Read More

While much of genetic research focuses on differences in our DNA sequences, the field of epigenetics concentrates on the variability in how those sequences are expressed, or converted into proteins which regulate our biological characteristics. This variability is mostly due to environmental factors, but certain epigenetic changes can be inherited as well. Embed from Getty Images  Genetic material is converted into proteins … Read More

When we get sick, we want our bodies to mount the best possible defense against invading pathogens. The immune system is responsible for fighting infections. Researchers at Boston’s Children’s Hospital have discovered that oxPAPC, a chemical that naturally occurs in damaged tissues, triggers a strengthened immune response that could have useful implications for developing more effective vaccines. … Read More

The term “epigenetics” was first coined in 1942 by embryologist Dr. Waddington. It refers to the study of external or environmental factors and their ability to alter gene expression without changing a person’s DNA sequence itself. However, only recently have scientists begun to make strides in understanding the true impact that epigenetics can have on our biology. Researchers at the … Read More

Amniotic fluid is what surrounds a baby in the womb. It plays an important role in keeping the baby alive and healthy by performing a number of functions. These include cushioning the baby, maintaining a steady temperature, and helping the baby’s lungs, digestive system, muscles, and bones develop. It also protects the umbilical cord from being squeezed. … Read More

Antiangiogenic drugs are used to battle some types of cancer. These drugs work by inhibiting angiogenesis, the development of blood vessels. Cancer cells can release signals that promote angiogenesis and cause nearby healthy cells to release those signals. The formation of new blood vessels is very important for tumor growth; cutting off this blood supply with antiangiogenics … Read More

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 913,000 people in America were classified with cocaine dependence or as cocaine abusers in 2014. The Drug Abuse Warning Network found that in 2011, cocaine was involved in 505,224 of emergency department visits for drug misuse and abuse. Cocaine is a powerful drug that can have … Read More

Burn-related complications result in approximately five thousand deaths each year in the United States. Sepsis from a burn wound infection, other infection complications, and inhalation injury are responsible for 75% of deaths in patients with burns covering more than 40% of their body. Due to both thermal injuries inducing immunosuppression and the loss of skin … Read More

Obesity is a major health problem in the United States, and more than one-third of US adults are considered obese. Obesity is linked to conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer, which are many of the leading causes of death in the United States. Understanding the mechanisms behind fat gain and loss can … Read More

Genes, the pieces of DNA that control the traits we inherit from our parents, also have an effect on the likelihood that we develop certain diseases. Changes in genes, called mutations, can greatly impact the development of certain diseases, including cancer. For example, some mutations cause cells to grow without stopping, which can result in cancerous tumors. However, … Read More

If you’ve ever used pencil lead, you know what graphite looks like. Graphene is essentially a single layer (one atom thick) of graphite, or a single layer of carbon atoms, bonded in a repeating hexagonal pattern. It’s considered the strongest material in the world, which might be hard to imagine when it seems like your pencil breaks … Read More

Injuries are hard to avoid among child athletes. Even with precautions in place, the possibility of injury often cannot be completely eliminated. The number of sports-related injuries (including concussions) in those aged 19 or younger was 250,000 in 2009. Children who have had a concussion have an increased chance of having another one. Even more dangerous … Read More

A major function of nerve cells is to transmit and receive signals in the form of electrical impulses. These impulses allow nerve cells to communicate with each other and with other cells to control muscle movement, receive sensory information, and regulate functions like thinking, learning, and memory. These functions are impaired by damage to cells caused … Read More

A strange new virus affecting your brain sounds like something out of science fiction. However, a research team led by Dr. Robert Yolken from Johns Hopkins University found exactly that while studying the relationship between viral infections and brain development. They examined viruses present in the throats of 33 healthy adults, and surprisingly, they detected Acanthocystis turfacea Chlorella … Read More

Someone is diagnosed with blood cancer about every three minutes in the United States. Blood cancers refer to cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. Well-known blood cancers include leukemia, which affects the white blood cells, and lymphoma, which affects the lymphatic system. Common treatments for blood cancers include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and, occasionally, … Read More

Alzheimer’s disease is a genetic brain disorder that eventually leads to the destruction of brain cells. In the early stages of the disease, the brain’s synapses, or connections between brain cells, are destroyed. The current notion is that the elimination of these connections is what leads to memory loss in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. … Read More

Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that affects plasma cells, a type of white blood cell commonly found in bone marrow. The cancerous plasma cells can create a tumor called a plasmacytoma. Multiple myeloma has many harmful symptoms. Patients with the cancer can have low blood counts, caused by the overgrowth of plasma cells crowding out healthy blood-forming … Read More

When you make facial expressions, use gestures, or simply write, you are using something known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). AAC refers to forms of communication other than oral speech that allow people to express themselves. This type of communication is especially important for people with disabilities that prevent or limit oral communication. Augmentative … Read More

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to form new connections throughout life. Learning new things can lead to the formation of new neural pathways, while weakening skills can indicate the degradation of previously existing pathways. Neurological disorders can be greatly affected by neuroplasticity, and increased neuroplasticity can lead to improvements in the conditions of people with … Read More

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