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UF psychologist offers tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolution

16 Jan
Rachael Holt is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. Her interest in sleep medicine comes from her father who is the director of a sleep clinic in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. Rachael is passionate about writing and hopes to use her communication skills to  become a teacher one day.

Rachael Holt is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. Her interest in sleep medicine comes from her father who is the director of a sleep clinic in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla. Rachael is passionate about writing and hopes to use her communication skills to become a teacher one day.

Don’t be one of the 92 percent of Americans who give up, it only takes 3 weeks to make something a habit!

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By:Rachael Holt

GAINESVILLE—Each new year, 45 percent of Americans resolve to break old habits and establish new ones, according to research by the University of Scranton. Creating a routine is never easy, whether it’s honing study skills or losing weight, yet only 8 percent of Americans call their New Year’s resolutions a success.

University of Florida students and Alvin Lawrence Jr., psychologist and clinical assistant professor of the UF Counseling and Wellness Center, offer tips to those who may be struggling.

When forming a new pattern, make the change in increments, Lawrence said. Some people do better with drastic changes, but not everyone can quit cold turkey. Think of what has worked for you in the past.

“I’m a big believer in some is better than none,” Lawrence said.

Stacy Fistel, communication sciences and disorders junior, favors a drastic change for her New Year’s resolution. Fistel is determined to do yoga every day of 2014 after she took her first class on vacation during winter break.

Fistel is partial to the Vinyasa classes at the UF Southwest Recreation Center and said if she can’t make it to the gym, she finds time to stretch in her apartment.

Adam Fox, fitness supervisor at the UF Southwest Recreation Center, said that making a schedule is what keeps him motivated. That, and the three alarms he sets to get up and work out at 6 a.m.

“Creating a new habit is hard because you’re breaking an old habit,” Fox said.

Students that skip a day of working out tend to overexert themselves to make up for lost time, Fox said. It is better to cut the workout short and make your focus getting back on schedule.

Losing weight was ranked the top resolution for 2014 in the US study.

For those trying to drop those extra pounds, skipping desert may not be so easy. Go for a walk during the extra minutes after dinner when chocolate seems most seductive.

“When you’re trying to break a habit, I always encourage people to think about what you’re going to do instead,” Lawrence said.

It is important to fill the empty space with constructive action.

Lawrence estimates the average time to form a habit is three weeks.

If you find yourself struggling with a new resolution, remember: don’t sweat the small stuff. Find what motivates you, make a schedule and stick to it.

“Just get out of bed and do it anyways,” Fox said.

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Skin cancer doesn’t go away in the winter

27 Dec
Felicity Dryer is a health enthusiast living in Southern California and encourages everyone to protect their skin all year round. She loves writing about personal health and fitness, nutrition and skin care, and you can find more of her writing samples here: https://felicitydryer.jux.com/

Felicity Dryer is a health enthusiast living in Southern California and encourages everyone to protect their skin all year round. She loves writing about personal health and fitness, nutrition and skin care, and you can find more of her writing samples here: https://felicitydryer.jux.com/

By Felicity Dryer

While the summer months tend to make us worry more about developing skin cancer than any other time of the year, the fact of the matter is that UV rays from the sun can easily reach us on cloudy and hazy days as well. These rays reflect off surfaces of the water, cement, sand and snow, which is why you might often see a friend come back from their ski trip with a red face!

But burned skin should be no laughing matter. In fact, the more we spend our days in the sun unprotected, the more we are putting ourselves at risk to developing skin cancer– the most common type of cancer in the United States. By reducing your exposure, protecting your skin with sunscreen and proper clothing and even avoiding those tanning salons during the colder months, you will certainly be helping your skin out.

Let’s take a closer look at this infographic to find out what else you can do to avoid skin cancer:

Click to Enlarge Image
Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer On The Rise
Skin Cancer on the rise in U.S. Your skin matters, get educated. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, of all cancers in the U.S. 50% are skin cancer.
Brought To You By NorthWestPharmacy.com

Editor’s picks for 2013

2 Dec

banner_final2.jpgI know we still have a month left in 2013.

But with finals and holiday break coming up, I felt it would be appropriate to make a “Best of” post highlighting some of my favorite posts. Since a majority of the blog is written by me, I feel this aggregation serves as a reflection on the type of science writing I have done and the posts I enjoyed the most. But, I’ve also had some amazing guest bloggers this year and will also be including some of their posts as well. So check out the stories below in case you missed them! Thank you to all my loyal followers.

P.S. Once my thesis is over, expect big things!

Best of Layman’s Terms Media, 2013 (no particular order)

Breast cancer vaccines are nothing new: By Dorothy Hagmajer   “Am I going to die?”  That was Susan Foster’s first question when her doctor told her she had breast cancer.Continue reading

Science in the city: In the basement of the emergency medicine corridor of UF Health Jacksonville, Robert Wears, M.D., a professor in the department of emergency medicine, scans engineering books and medical journals, taking notes on his cluttered desk. He is carefully piecing together the historical puzzle of hospital safety.—> Continue reading

Eat, love and die. The short, but meaningful lives of love “bugs: Miss Plecia is all dolled up. She has been stuffing herself full of organic material and nectar in her swampy-syle pad for the past 20 days with hopes of finding her lifelong mate.—> Continue reading

What exactly is pus? Find out in 15 seconds.Wendy Corrales joins us this week to explain the gross, gooey liquid that plagues teenagers–pus!—-> Continue reading

What’s the deal with Dengue Fever? If you live in Florida, don’t ignore.As a Floridian I have somewhat become immune to the feel of a mosquito bite. The annoying quick itch sensation is quickly thwarted by the thoughtless reflex of my hand slapping the affected area and then quickly scratching up and down for a few seconds. After that, I pretty much forget about the bite.—> Continue reading

Scientist uses Instagram videos to explain anatomy concepts in 15 secondsI am always looking for people who share a passion for science and genuinely want to get others excited about it too, which is one of the main reasons I’m studying science communication. While I was in D.C. for the Science Online Climate Conference, I stayed with my friend Steph who introduced me to Wendy Corrales via Facebook. She showed me her videos and I was cracking up.—> Continue reading

UF researcher says T cells the answer to cancer vaccines: John “Bobby” Goulding, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine at the University of Florida, is in a scramble to help create safe and effective vaccines to prevent and fight human respiratory viruses.—>Continue reading

Rebecca Burton is the founder and editor of Layman's Terms Media. Started in 2011, this blog has been used to exercise Rebecca's love of science writing. These posts were selected based on how much was learned throughout the writing process, or the stories that were simply the most fun.

Rebecca Burton is the founder and editor of Layman’s Terms Media. Started in 2011, this blog has been used to exercise Rebecca’s love of science writing. These posts were selected based on how much was learned throughout the writing process, or the stories that were simply the most fun.

What’s for dinner? Island fish, brah: Study shows Hawaiian restaurant menus hold clues to reef healthMost of us look at menus simply to make a quick decision about what we are going to consume in the near future and at what price. We then give it back to our server and the menu is most likely forgotten. –> Continue reading

Abusive mothers’ DNA and the economy could share the blame with Florida DCF for recent child deaths: The Florida Department of Children and Families has been under fire for the past couple of years for failing to stop child abuse and neglect, resulting in thedeaths of seven childrenwho the department said were in “no immediate danger.” —> Continue reading

Wearing goggles to surf: Kook status or Florida Red Tide?: I took a deep breath in. Smelling the saltwater has always been my ritual before starting the process of unloading my surfboard. But, this time I did not feel refreshed or enlightened by the beach breeze. My eyes started to water.—> Continue reading

Native Florida wildlife caught on camera: By Michael Stone Wildlife photographer Michael Stone, a graduate student in science/health communications at the University of Florida, posts the different species and subspecies he sees in his online catalog.—> Continue reading

Great whites use stored liver oil to power through ocean “road trips”Bears, sea lions and whales rely on their external blubber to power through hibernations and migrations. For them, a little extra flab is crucial to their survival.—> Continue reading

 Sea turtles are Gulf travelers, scientists sayGulf Loggerheads were always thought to be homebodies. After the females nested, they would make a home at their local beach. They would never travel too far from familiarity.—> Continue reading

AAV: from ‘Almost A Virus’ to ‘An Awesome Virus’: In 1965, adeno-associated virus (AAV) was discovered while hitching a ride into the cell with adenovirus, which is a virus that causes the fretted pink eye, cold sores and sore throats.—> Continue reading

The Skinny on Good Fats and Bad Fats: How both will affect your health: By Megan Khan Karen Diet trends come in waves. One decade we see the rejection of carbohydrates, and we shun animal products the next. Some of you reading this right now may remember the low fat craze of the 90’s–it was then that fat got a bad rep. The reputation has stuck so much that “fat” is now considered an insult.—> Continue reading

Will tiny drones cure Floridians’ cynicism toward hurricanes? Most residents of Florida–a state constantly pummeled by tropical storms and hurricanes—have become overly cynical of the often hyped-up weather news warning that the latest tropical action in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean could be deadly. —> Continue reading

Croaking Cuban frogs Create Competition in South Florida: Southern Florida, particularly the more metropolitan areas such as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are definitely not known for being quiet areas. The constant honking of horns, people yelling in multiple languages and bold headlines of bizarre news events make South Florida a melting pot of noise. —>Continue reading

Why Nemo would face an inevitable mid-life crisis: A finding Nemo 2 would not be Disney friendlyIf you’ve seen the movie Finding Nemo, and didn’t like it–shame on you! Pixar movies always have the right amount of humor, recognizable voices and great graphics that make them appealing to both children and adults. Their sequels are almost always just as profitable as the originals, and they’re ability to make animation seem like reality is superb! But, although I love this movie, there are serious factual flaws.—>Continue reading

Monkeys in Florida? iPhonatography from a jungle in Central FloridaAs I pondered ideas on what to do on Memorial Day Monday, I decided I needed to explore the land-locked area of Florida I often complain about, being a spoiled coastal girl who is accustomed to living near a beach. A friend mentioned a trip he took where he saw wild monkeys on an island in the middle of Silver River, near Silver Springs, Fla. After doing some preliminary research (mainly hear-say from Gainesville locals) I found out that  Silver River was the filming site the early Tarzan movies. Some of the monkeys escaped, bred and hence that is why there are wild monkeys in Florida.—> Continue reading

When did eating become so confusing? Tips to simplify your diet: By Megan Khan Karen There are hundreds of diets that are said to make you healthier than you have ever been, rejuvenate your body, avoid certain cancers, help you fit in your high school jeans and the list goes on. From the Atkins diet to the current “juicing” craze, we are fed heaps of “truths” about certain diets that are usually based on a tiny kernel of truth and a whole lot of anecdotal “evidence.”—> Continue reading

Warning: Smoothies can cause sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgiaIt’s that time of year again. Summer. Hot. Humid.The urge to swap that hot coffee for a refreshing smoothie may overcome you. But beware, drinking cold drinks can cause a condition called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.—> Continue reading

What do hula-hoopers, big-wave surfers and composers have in common? A state of “flow”For those of you who do follow my blog, you may have realized I’m a pretty big hoop enthusiast, who also enjoys an everyday runner’s high. Although the physical benefits of running and spinning a circle on various parts of my body may seem obvious, it’s the mental state I’m in when I go on a 5-mile run, or do a freestyle hoop-dance to a 10-track playlist that brings me back after a long workday.—> Continue reading

Be swamp-conscious: Pet owners should be aware of deadly pathogen in Gainesville: By Jackson Presser Pythium insidiosum is common in stagnant, swampy water (lakes/ponds with water temperatures ranging from 68F-95F) worldwide, and the very type of water that is a staple of Gainesville and surrounding areas.  Pythiosis affects its host depending on how it is introduced. Dogs, horses, cattle and other mammals can be infected simply by wading or drinking water that has been tainted with the infection. —> Continue reading

Movember coming to an end, Dollar Shave Club asking for donations

24 Nov

moEditor’s note: I received an email from the Dollar Shave Club asking me to help promote their cause on Layman’s Terms Media. Because this is a science and health blog, their cause seemed fitting. Check out the press release below to see how you can help fight prostate and testicular cancer while receiving discounts on razors!

Dollar Shave Club is raising money for the Movember Foundation to fight prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. We are running a campaign that results in a $10 donation for every single Movember referral.

Here’s what you do to start earning that Movember MOola:

1. Register your Movember page at dollarshaveclub.com/movember
2. We’ll send you a unique proMO code.
3. Share your proMO code on your blog and tell your readers to use it when they sign up at dollarshaveclub.com.
4. Your readers get great razors for a few bucks a month, you raise money for Movember without begging for donations. Everyone wins.

Now get growing!

 

 

UF research group played role in discovery of Higgs boson

15 Nov
Brooke Baitinger is a junior studying journalism at the University of Florida. Writing is her passion, but she has always appreciated science, so she was excited to combine the two interests for Layman's Terms Media. In her spare time, she likes to ride horses and explore what the world around her has to offer.

Brooke Baitinger is a junior studying journalism at the University of Florida. Writing is her passion, but she has always appreciated science, so she was excited to combine the two interests for Layman’s Terms Media. In her spare time, she likes to ride horses and explore what the world around her has to offer.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

 By: Brooke Baitinger

If you have ever taken a science class, you were probably frustrated with the concept of mass when your professor told you that particles have it, but could not tell you why.

The same question puzzled scientists everywhere until physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert proved the existence of the Higgs boson particle, a particle that gives mass to other particles when they pass through its field.

Without the mysterious Higgs field spreading across the universe, particles would simply wander about in space, instead of joining together to make atoms, which are the building blocks of life. Because of this, the news media gave it the controversial name of “The God particle.” Although Higgs was not the first scientist to theorize about the field, he was the first to suggest the mechanism to detect it: the Higgs boson particle.

Higgs and Englert first theorized the existence of the Higgs boson nearly 50 years ago, and began conducting experiments to prove it shortly after. In October, they received official recognition for their work in the form of this year’s 2013 Nobel science prize win.

But Higgs and Englert were not the only scientists who celebrated their win.

A team of UF researchers called the High-Energy Experimental group played a significant role in the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, or CMS, an international experiment conducted to discover the elusive Higgs boson particle.

It was one of the largest American teams on the experiment, consisting of about 40 people, including professors, post docs, research scientists and graduate students.

The CMS experiment was conducted at the Large Hadron Collider facility in Geneva, Switzerland, and involved accelerating particles to near light speeds, essentially recreating the Big Bang, in which the Universe began expanding rapidly and energy was converted into various subatomic particles such as protons, neutrons and electrons that would eventually form our galaxy, our solar system and our planet.

By recreating the Big Bang, scientists were able to produce different particles, one of which was the Higgs boson.

“It is very rare to produce a Higgs Boson. Much less than one in one trillion collisions gives you a Higgs particle,” said Darin Acosta, the deputy physics coordinator of the collaboration and a UF physics professor.

Guenakh Mitselmakher, another UF physics professor, led the international group. He said that they are pleased about the discovery because it justifies what the team has been working on for the last 20 years.

“This is one of the biggest scientific events of the last 50 years,” he said. “The theory not only tells us which particles exist but also how they interact. The universe would not exist as it is now without the Higgs boson,” he said.

Acosta said that the discovery provides insight into something the scientific community was previously unable to explain.

“We had theories for how the forces in particles work but we couldn’t calculate the mass. The Higgs field explains why particles have mass, so it means we understand something new about the universe,” he said.

UF contributed to the construction of the experiment by building detectors, electronics and overseeing machine operation.

“It’s not something you just order at Walmart and turn on,” Acosta said. “It’s called commissioning. You have to make sure things are working properly.”

Graduate students were heavily involved with commissioning the machine. They produced the electronics for the muon detector and also dealt with data analysis once the detector had been operating long enough to produce results.

Matthew Snowball will be the first of three graduate students to defend his dissertation on the Higgs boson in the spring of next year.

“I was lucky enough to be the first person to see the Higgs mass peak, as well as make several of the plots used in the Higgs discovery paper from CMS, published in July 2012,” he said. “It was extremely gratifying as it was the culmination of several years of little sleep and lots of hard work.”

CMS is the most expensive experiment ever built. The Higgs particle quickly became one of the most significant theories in the physics community when it first emerged on the scientific scene nearly 50 years ago, Mitselmakher said.

“I’m not sure there was a typical day during research,” Acosta said. “It was lots of graduate students submitting computer jobs to thousands of computers, making plots and presenting them at a working meeting. Eventually certain meetings became very exciting when you would start to see a signal coming out of your plots where there wasn’t one before.”

As for the team’s next step, it hopes to find a needle in a haystack.

“We didn’t stop,” Mitselmakher said. “We are upgrading the detector now. This accelerator allows us to produce every particle, but the problem is to find it [a new particle] among zillions of other particles.”

The machine was turned off for refurbishing in February 2013, and is scheduled to turn back on in 2015 so scientists can further their research.

“We found one particle and that is what was predicted by the theory,” Acosta said. “We hope there is more to find because we have many more questions. We need to see if this is the only Higgs boson, or are there others at different masses?”

 

Hypnosis and therapy help school-related stress, experts say

8 Nov
Craig Kissoon is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. He is an avid writer and has blogged for the Independent Florida Alligator. After taking two psychology courses in high school, he became fascinated by physiological psychology and how peoples’ thoughts and attitudes can affect their physical wellbeing. He believes working with the mind and the body is the key to achieving optimal health. He plans to pursue an outside concentration in psychology. He hopes to become a writer or to work in advertising or public relations after graduation. He would like to combine his passions for communications and psychology by writing about mental healthcare and treatments.

Craig Kissoon is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida who has blogged for the Independent Florida Alligator. After taking two psychology courses in high school, he became fascinated by physiological psychology and how peoples’ thoughts and attitudes can affect their physical wellbeing. He believes working with the mind and the body is the key to achieving optimal health. With an outside concentration in psychology, he hopes to combine his passions for communications and psychology by writing about mental healthcare and treatments.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Craig Kissoon

Imagine retreating into a moment of pure relaxation where work and classes were nothing more than distant concerns.

With stress levels and responsibilities rising for college students in Gainesville and across the country, experts are recommending mind-body therapies for students suffering from stress-related problems.

A University of  Florida study, recently published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, found that hypnosis and therapy may benefit patients suffering from functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The lead authors of the study Oliver Grundmann, a clinical assistant professor at the UF College of Pharmacy, and Saunjoo Yoon, an associate professor at the UF College of Nursing, reviewed 19 clinical trials to examine the benefits of yoga, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and biofeedback in treating these disorders.

Functional bowel disorders occur when the stomach and bowels are not working properly and include symptoms such as stomach pain and bloating.

Yoon said the results of the study, while promising are not conclusive. More studies are needed to better show the advantages of this kind of therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy where a therapist challenges their patients’ negative thoughts, helps patients feel more positive about their condition while hypnotherapy aims to reduce pain. The results of the study showed hypnotherapy had an immediate effect on abdominal pain while cognitive behavioral therapy was able to lighten mood and change bowel symptoms.

Amanda Lawson-Ross, a counselor at the UF Counseling and Wellness Center, said she was not surprised by the results of the study.

“The whole premise is there is a mind-body connection,” Lawson-Ross said. “Stress can agitate abdominal problems.”

Lawson-Ross said when people are stressed, they enter flight-or-fight mode and blood flows from their abdomen to larger muscles. Their bodies release hormones, and their digestion shuts down, she added.

Keeping calm regulates the body when people are stressed, Lawson-Ross said. She said she has helped people with irritable bowel syndrome reduce migraines, muscle tension and nausea.

“Hypnosis is a great way to alleviate stress,” Lawson-Ross said.

During hypnotherapy, patients listen to practitioners who help them focus inwardly on a calm or positive moment or setting. Lawson-Ross compared hypnosis to meditation in its ability to help people achieve deep relaxation.

“Anxiety is the most common concern,” Lawson-Ross said. “You have great, bright students who want to do well.”

Lawson-Ross said she notices a lot of students come to the CWC during exams and drop/add period. People might be dismissive of mind-body therapies and alternative medicines because they do not pay attention to mind-body connections, often for the sake of convenience.

Anxiety is the most common concern, said Amanda Lawson-Ross who is a therapist at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. She said she sees a lot of students, usually around exams and drop/add period. She listed a few of the services the center offers to UF students. An online anxiety program Biofeedback Individual therapy Group therapy Couples therapy Information about these programs and how to join them are available at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center’s website.

Anxiety is the most common concern, said Amanda Lawson-Ross who is a therapist at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. She said she sees a lot of students, usually around exams and drop/add period. She listed a few of the services the center offers to UF students.
An online anxiety program
Biofeedback
Individual therapy
Group therapy
Couples therapy
Information about these programs and how to join them are available at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center’s website.

“People want a quick fix,” she said.

Kathryn Broker, a senior geology major at UF, said she would never use hypnosis as a therapy treatment.

“I’m a very scientifically minded person. If I had any type of physical condition, I would rather use Western medicine,” Broker said.

Broker said she was hypnotized before.

“You become eager to please whoever is giving commands,” she said of her experience.

Kyle Burns, a junior international studies major at UF, said he was surprised by the results of the study but felt it made sense.

“I’m too stubborn,” Burns joked when discussing whether or not he would be receptive to hypnotherapy.

Some students said they are open to the idea of mind-body therapy.

“I don’t find [the study’s results] surprising,” said Sara Ladwig, a junior telecommunication major at UF. “If you feel like something can help you, it can.”

Ladwig added she is a perfectionist who tends to get nervous about a bunch of different things. “I do better if I can relax.”

Freshman Amanda Beauchamp said hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy is worth a try.

“I think it’d be interesting to see if it would work for me. I’d look forward to doing it,” she said.

Breast cancer vaccines are nothing new

4 Nov
Dorothy Hagmajer is a sophomore studying public relations at the University of Florida. This story confirmed her interest in health sciences and sparked an interest in health reporting. Hagmajer considers herself a novice writer, but expert dog-petter.

Dorothy Hagmajer is a sophomore studying public relations at the University of Florida. This story confirmed her interest in health sciences and sparked an interest in health reporting. Hagmajer considers herself a novice writer, but expert dog-petter.

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

 

By Dorothy Hagmajer 

“Am I going to die?”

That was Susan Foster’s first question when her doctor told her she had breast cancer.

Thirty-nine radiation treatments and nine chemotherapy treatments later, Foster had her answer.

In 2013, an estimated 232,000 American women are asking themselves that same question, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, surpassed only by lung cancer.

It’s facts like these that have spurred the search for a breast cancer vaccine.

Recently, a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio set 2015 as a tentative year for the beginning of clinical trials on a vaccine they developed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The vaccine is intended to create an immune response triggered by certain proteins expressed only in breast tumors – specifically, alpha-lactalbumin, according to research published in 2010 in Nature Medicine.

The protein is typically expressed during late pregnancy and lactation, and appears in high amounts in the majority of breast cancer tumors.

Following a series of trials with mice that were genetically predisposed to grow mouse breast tumors, the vaccine appears to be ready for its first steps to becoming a reality.

Sort of. Continue reading