UAF Hosts Lecture on new Zombie and Cancer Research

Ivan Kvapil/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 5, 2013

On Oct. 30, Dr. Michael Harris and Dr. Andrej Podlutsky gave  a free lecture on zombies and cancer research, which is apart of a lecture series hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity. Harris arrived late saying there had been some trouble at his research lab, and that there were new research positions available for anyone interested in researching with him. In his words as he adjusted the tourniquet on his arm, “I have at least three positions available, I’m still waiting on word about a fourth”

Harris, a UAF professor of Physiology and Neuroscience, started his discussion about zombies by insisting that they are not in fact undead but merely, “animatedly challenged.” His reasoning was that if we want to understand zombies properly, we cannot be doing it with anything supernatural in mind and have to do it from a purely scientific standpoint.

Harris mentioned some interesting things about zombies, such as the fact that they only require 5 percent  of the metabolic requirements of regular humans.This makes them more akin to reptiles than humans, but also helps understand why they can take a bullet to the chest and still function even though they may not have the same metabolic requirements as humans. In short, about 95 percent of a zombie would have to be destroyed before it is permanently killed.

Podlutsky, a professor of Molecular Biology spoke next on cancer, and how it is surprisingly related to zombies, such as how cancer is both zombies and cancer have a degree of biological instability, cancer cells being unstable by themselves and the organs of zombies being unstable due to a lack of tissue regeneration. The most surprising one is that both are incapable of killing themselves. Zombies won’t because they don’t have the mental capacity to, but with cancer, even if the body has sent an order to other parts of the body to start killing the cancer, cancer will not listen.

However, Podlutsky was quick to point out a couple of the differences in zombies and cancer, such as the fact that stem cell research is playing an important role in curing cancer, while zombies are immune to stem cells. He also stressed that zombies can be our friends, and that it is important that we research them and try to foster human-zombie relationships. Podlutsky and Harris said that if anyone ever sees a zombie, please do not attack it, but rather send it to their research lab in the Murie building as UAF is currently the only university accepting zombies for research purposes. However, if it does come down to the unfortunate situation that it has to be killed, Harris’s advice is plainly, “decapitation, or fire, lots of fire.”

Both Podlutsky and Harris said that if anyone wants to become a zombie specialist to please visit them in the Murie building. Harris expressed multiple times that “training is quick and positions are always available as they go through researchers at a rapid pace.”

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