The Challenge Of Doing The Job – Adelyne T.


            The lack of care for a humane body part that has been removed from its sustaining body is appalling. If the tissue/organ will endure testing, the data will be bogus, because there is no concern from anyone to care for it. “It could take days. ‘I can tell you that there was no urgency’ to get a colon from the operating room to the pathologist who would diagnose the disease.” (Pg. 197) Says Carolyn Compton, a working pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. The book Rigor Mortis by Richard Harris shares the crisis of poor experimental designs to sloppy data intake, and how all in all, it is holding back human advancement in science. In chapter Nine, “The Challenges Of Precision Medicine”. Scientists and researchers are trying to learn from snippets of DNA, proteins, and other molecules “Many of these molecules are quite fragile.”- “These molecules can change more when surgeons cut off the blood supply to the tissue to be removed. And once the organ is out of the body, the stability of those critical biological molecules will vary depending on the room temperature and- significantly- on the amount of time the tissue sits around before it’s preserved.” (Pg. 198) These biological molecules can change without it’s needed environment. Granted the molecules of a colon won’t change into a lasagna, but with all these ignored factors of temperature and time. Who knows? This could change the data we know of today.

HER2 posative

            Take for example David Hicks at the University of Rochester. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved a test to help diagnose a variant of breast cancer called HER-2 positive. There is HER-2 positive and HER-2 negative, “HER-2 positive has been found to be more aggressive out of both.” Says the University of Rochester. (Picture to the right: sample of HER-2 positive) I’ve found, that it is called the Dual ISH test (Insituhybridization), this test is initially supposed to reveal the HER-2 status and lead to the appropriate treatment plan. In 2006, Hicks decided to run it himself, the data showed the test detected there was cancer in the tissue, when there wasn’t. When there was HER-2 present in the tissue it could not be “found” by the test. So what’s the problem here? Could it be the carelessness of not paying attention to data? Or perhaps the test is not reliable. Possibly. But it was Hicks peers who solved a fraction on the mystery. “They let breast tissue from biopsies sit out for an hour or two before testing it. And that was enough to degrade the sample and turn a positive result into a negative one.” (Pg. 199) My first thoughts were ‘Why would scientists and investigators be careless by leaving around body parts that are initially influential to their careers? Why the risk?’ Then I read this quote from Compton: “You can have the best test in the world and still get the wrong answer if you bugger up what you are testing,” (Pg. 199) and that’s when I realized, they don’t know any better. These scientists, researchers, investigators and doctors, don’t know any better because they weren’t taught to. Compton stresses (On page 200) breast cancer is the only tissue that doctors have to pay attention to the clock after removing from the body.

            Before any assumptions are made, I think the care for an tissue/organ after an extraction procedure could be better. Not only to care for the tissue with caution, but with urgency. In my opinion the scientists of today need to make sure they prep their variables appropriately to what shall be tested. After all, (Besides research) preparation is one of the first steps for a successful completion of a test.



“Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Clinical Laboratory Services.” University of Rochester Medical Center, ©2017 U of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, NY, 2017,


BookHarris, Richard. Rigor Mortis. New York, Basic Books.


Hicks, David. “HER2 FISH Testing for Breast Cancer.” University of Rochester   Medical Center, U of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, NY, 1 Nov. 2013, her2-fish.aspx.

3 thoughts on “The Challenge Of Doing The Job – Adelyne T.

Add yours

  1. First I would like to say well done on your post you made everything flow in a nice way and it all sounded well put together. I was very interested in the way you went into detail about the HER-2 breast cancer test. With the information, you found you explained it very well. Now I have a question If you were on of the scientist quoted in the chapter, would you have reacted differently? If so how so? Again loved you post great work. -Jenaya P.

  2. Addy,
    I think that your post was really good. You stated your point very clearly then you were able to use information and evidence from the book to help justify your point. I completely agree with your point about how scientists should be more careful about the samples they extract from a body and when or how they test. Your example about the HER-2 breast cancer diagnosis test and your quotes from the book really helped drive your point home and show how important it is to care about your samples. If you could help educate scientists on the importance of caring for your work, would you? How? I really liked your post and I thought it was really good!
    -Ellie L

  3. Very good work on this post Addy. I love how you begin with getting directly to your point and sharing quotes from the book. The quotes that you chose were excellent for the points that you made in your writing. Very good job. -Amelia B

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