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Glossary

Note:  Glossed words are also in bold in the interviews. The definitions are embedded in the text, and can be seen when the cursor is hovered over the word in question.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | W | X | Y | Z

 

A

Angiography
A special form of X-ray examination that shows the blood flow in  arteries and veins.

Antibody
A protein produced by the body's immune system that recognises and attacks foreign substances.

Antigen
Any foreign substance or organism that stimulates the body's immune system to produce antibodies and cells that react specifically with it.

Autoimmune disease
A condition in which the body mistakes its own tissues as foreign and directs an immune response against them.

 

C

Carcinoma
A type of cancer that starts in epithelia, the tissues that line or cover most body organs.  At least 80% of cancers are carcinomas (see also sarcoma, leukaemia, lymphoma).

Carcinoma in situ
Literally, "cancer in place", which means the tumour is non-invasive, and has not spread.

Chromosome translocation
A type of chromosomal abnormality in which a piece of a chromosome has broken off and attached to another chromosome.

Clinicopathological
Pertaining to both the signs and symptoms of a disease (the clinical picture), and the nature, causes and consequences of the disease (the  pathology).

 

D

Differentiation
The process whereby an unspecialized early embryonic cell acquires the features of a specialized cell such as a heart, liver, or muscle cell.  

DNA
Stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.  This is the material inside the nucleus of the cells of living organisms that carries genetic information (see also RNA).  

 

 

E

Electrophoresis
A laboratory technique that is used to separate molecules such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) or proteins on the basis of size, electric charge, and other physical properties.

Embolism
The obstruction of a blood vessel by a foreign substance or a blood clot.

Endothelium
The thin layer of cells that line the internal walls of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.

Epithelium
The layer of cells covering most of the body's structures and organs, internal and external.  It includes the skin.

 

 

F

Flow cytometry
Analysis of biological material by detection of the light-absorbing or fluorescing properties of cells, or subcellular fractions such as chromosomes, passing through a laser beam.

 

 

G

Gastroenterology
The branch of medicine that deals with the digestive system and its disorders.

Genome
The complete package of genetic material for a living thing, organised in chromosomes. A copy of the genome is found in every cell.

 

 

H

Haematology
The branch of medical science concerned with the blood and blood-forming tissues;  haematopathology is concerned with diseases of.

H and E
This is a standard tissue stain that all pathologists and labs use.  They stand for the chemicals hematoxylin (H), and eosin (E).   

Histology
The study of cells and tissues, usually carried out with the aid of a microscope.

 

 

I

Immunohistochemistry
A technique that uses antibodies labelled with fluorescent or pigmented dyes to identify, or indicate the presence of, specific proteins in tissues when looked at under the microscope.

In situ hybridisation
A technique allowing scientists to identify particular DNA or RNA sequences while these sequences remain in their original location in the cell.

 

 

L

Leukaemia
Cancer of the white blood cells, which are a vital component of the immune system (see also lymphoma).

Lymphoma
Cancer originating in lymphoid tissue, a key component of the body’s immune system.  Cancers of lymphocytes (lymphomas) and other white cells in the blood (leukaemia) together account for about 6.5% of all cancers.

 

 

M

Medical examiner
The term for coroner in the US.  To qualify as a medical examiner, a person must have an MD and be licensed as a pathologist.  A coroner needs to be qualified in either law or medicine.

Mesenchymal cells
Embryonic cells that give rise to various connective tissues such as cartilage, bone, muscle, and lymphatic and blood vessels.

Monoclonal antibody
An antibody produced in the laboratory from a single clone of cells, which is therefore a single, pure, homogeneous type of antibody that recognises only a single, specific antigen, or protein.   

Morphology
(1) The form and structure of an organism or part of an organism. 
(2) The study of the form and structure of organisms.

 

 

P

Pathogenesis
The origin of a disease, and the chain of events leading to that disease.

Perinatal
Pertaining to the period shortly before and shortly after birth, variously defined as beginning between the 20th and 28th week of gestation and ending the 7th to 28th day after birth.

Perinate
The term applied to a baby in the period shortly before and shortly after birth, variously defined as beginning between the 20th and 28th week of gestation and ending the 7th to 28th day after birth.

Peristalsis
The rippling motion of muscles in the digestive tract.  (Hence peristaltic)

Pluripotent
Pluripotent means ‘with many powers’.  In cell biology it refers to a cell that is able to differentiate in many directions and develop into any of the major tissue types.

 

 

R

RNA
Stands for ribonucleic acid.  RNA, like DNA, is found in every cell of every living thing on earth.  The relationship between the two, in summary, is that DNA makes RNA, and RNA makes proteins.  In other words, DNA is the director of the process of protein synthesis and RNA carries out the instructions.

 

 

S

Sarcoma
A type of cancer that forms in the connective or supportive tissues of the body such as muscle, bone and fatty tissue. Sarcomas account for less than 1% of cancers.

Sequencing
The process by which the exact arrangement of the units of information on a specific stretch of DNA, or a gene, are determined.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage
Bleeding between the brain and one of the covering membranes, often due to a ruptured aneurysm, a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel.

Subdural haemorrhage:  Occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and blood builds up between the brain and the brain's tough outer lining, the dura.

 
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