Looking backwards, I started my blog at a bad time. My research project was reaching its final stage, and that meant having to write a lot. If I think about it, maybe me starting the blog was a way to try to avoid starting writing, but I really though with all that was happening with Twitter (and later Reddit), I wanted to have my space to share stuff with people on my terms. It was the perfect time to start, but it also meant that it has been very quiet here for the past three months.
My original plan was to write at least twice a week here, hopefully a longer post every week. It then turned into an impossible task. I know micro.blog, with its short post format, encourages you to quickly share stuff and thus fight against this “long blog post block”, but even sharing what happened that week was feeling like a chore. If you spend all day looking at a screen, reading, summarizing, writing and going through multiple manuscript iterations, honestly, it’s hard to get in the mood to even spill 300 characters without being negative about your day. And even thinking that I had no energy to just do that short post was making me feel like I was kind of a failure.
So at some point I decided not to think about it, distance a bit from the blog, and focus on writing my manuscript. If I had tried to share something with the world, it would have turned into a whining post. There’s a lot of negativity in the internet already to turn my online space in a complaining platform. I chose to first finish my work, and then enjoy blogging. So here I am!
First, I want to share that my main research work is on the way to the final form, a published article in a respectable journal. It will still take a few months, as publishing science has a bit of back and forth between authors, editors and peer reviewers, but I know at some point in the not so far future, everyone will be able to finally read about what I’ve been doing for 4 years. In summary, for those interested, the preprint is here, on BioRxiv, a public preprint repository to share still unpublished research. Once it’s out as a final article I’ll share it again. And for those that just want to know a little bit about it without having to read a whole manuscript, we just found that a protein that takes care of aligning your cells (think about how all hairs on your arm point towards the same direction) not only works on aligning cells, but also participates in removing nasty cells that don’t behave as they should, such as sick and weak cells that could compromise your skin, or pre-tumoral cells. This cell elimination process is called Cell competition, and it’s as fierce as it sounds. Any loser (I’m not being nasty to cells, in the field we just called them like that) that can’t keep up with its neighbors is usually eliminated. Killed. And then eaten by the stronger cells. Same with cells that have the potential to become tumors. But then, aggressive tumors take advantage of it and kill normal cells using the same mechanism. So this protein, Flamingo (awesome name, I know. It wasn’t me who named it, it was already called like that), is required by the winners (those that eliminate losers) to be able to “win”. Cell biology is so cool…
Second, in a kind of related and totally unrelated note, I wanted to let everyone reading this that your mental health is more important than any hobby, friendship, work and anything else. Take care of yourself, and if that means you have to forego a few things (such as blogging) until you’re in a better headspace, do it. Make sure to be close to those that appreciate you, share your feelings with them and let them help you navigate harder times with you. Don’t put extra pressure on you, as this will just worsen everything.