Labs Need Some Rockin' Pop Culture
We get so much of our "common knowledge" from pop culture. But having done a quick Google search to see where labs show up in movies, TV, videos, etc., I can tell you they don't fare so well. The only filmdom labs I could find were those malevolent research "lab-boor-a-tories" belonging to the likes of Drs. Jekyll and Frankenstein. And we all know nothing good ever lurched from their smoking test tubes.
On TV there was a lab scene in a Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine put Kramers' fat-free yogurt to a diagnostic test. Even in that depiction, the lab comes out smelling sour - Kramer and a technician cavort lustily around the lab, knocking over specimens and fouling test results.
Most recently a laboratory shows up on "Breaking Bad," a somewhat spectacular AMS TV series in which a high school teacher diagnosed with cancer launches an ill-conceived plan to employ his love of chemistry to earn pre-mortem money for the family he will leave behind. He sets up a mobile laboratory-in-a-Winnebego to make crystal meth ... another black-and-blue shiner on the face of laboratories.
That said, I saw a bit of pop culture information that possibly could help the world to appreciate the diagnostic work of the lab as it opertains to pinpointing autoimmune diseases.
In a piece titled "Beyond the Velvet Rope," the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) talked about the impact of star power in helping to raise public awareness. Here's an excerpt of their release, circulated by Newswise:
"Hollywood's velvet rope is notorious for keeping outsiders at bay but it has proven to be no match for autoimmune disease. Just recently, Jack Osbourne, son of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, announced his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. This comes on the heels of tennis phenom Venus Williams, singers Toni Braxton and Lady Gaga and entertainers Nick Cannon and Missy Elliott all announcing a tie to autoimmune disease.
"‘These recent declarations prove that anyone can get an autoimmune disease diagnosis. Autoimmunity cuts across class and culture lines. Everyone is vulnerable,' says Virginia T. Ladd, AARDA president. "It is no surprise that we are seeing an increasing number of celebrities diagnosed with autoimmune disease as it is a reflection of what is transpiring in the general public.'"
Ladd went on to explain that approximately 50 million Americans, one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases, and 75 percent are women. Furthermore, she noted that there is often a genetic component. "If one family member has an autoimmune disease, other family members are genetically predisposed. Such is the case for Jack Osbourne. His sister, Kelly, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, an autoimmune condition that can be deadly if left untreated.," said Ladd.
If celebrity power has clout, Ladd wants them to use it in the autoimmune arena. "Public figures can have a major influence on this disease category that is often overlooked yet is one of the top 10 causes of death in women under the age of 65 and a leading cause of disability in those under the age of 45," says Ladd. "Autoimmune diseases are an epidemic and research is woefully underfunded. A mega-concert or some type of national awareness event to raise funds would be an awesome gesture."
Do you hear that Ozzy Osbourne? It's time for Black Sabbath to get back in the saddle and ride...