A Scientist Loving the Fetus

知之者不如好之者, 好之者不如樂之者。 - 論語 雍也篇
They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it. - Confucius in Chapter VI, The Analects
The Confucius' quote is one of my mottoes as a scientist. A true scholar is one who does not only know the truth but also love the truth. I have been studying the functional and structural development of the fetal brain and placenta using magnetic resonance imaging, and their pathological abnormalities associated to congenital heart defects (CHD) or intrauterine growth restriction since I started to work in the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC.

I have quickly fallen in love with the attractive mysteries of the fetal brain and placenta. The fetus grows up in the uterus in a fast pace through being supported with nutrients and oxygen from the maternal placenta. The interplay between the placenta and fetal brain is elaborately designed is incredibly marvelous. For example, in the experiment of maternal hyperoxia where 100% oxygen was supplied to the mother through a facial mask for a few minutes, the increase in cerebral oxygen saturation level during hyperoxia was negligible in healthy fetuses while the vessels in the fetal brain were more significantly oxygenated in fetuses with CHD of single ventricle [1]. This might be an indirect evidence such that the fetal brain has its own auto-regulation process to keep its oxygen level responding to the change in external environment.

Who could design such a sophisticated biological system as feto-placental circulation which is adaptive to external environment? In the point of Christian view, it is obvious that this was designed by the Almighty who created all beings. I have been extremely excited in exploring the mysterious world of the fetal development who was designed by the God. As long as I have research opportunities, I wish to dedicate myself to studying the development of fetal brain and placenta, meditating the Jesus word,
"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (27 John 6)

Further readings
  1. W. You, M. Donofrio, D. Wessel, Z. Zun, J. De Asis-Cruz, G. Vezina, D. Bulas, R. Jonas, A. du Plessis, and C. Limperopoulos, "Abstract 19532: Maternal Hyperoxia Increases Cerebral Oxygenation in Fetuses With Complex Congenital Heart Disease: A Functional MRI Study," Circulation, vol. 132, no. Suppl 3, pp. A19532–A19532, Nov. 2015.
Post a Comment