Life is Chemistry:
Thinking like a physician to explain Life's Molecules
Juman Hijab, MD MPH
About me and Life's Chemistry Press.
How does being a clinician and chemistry fit together? It is similar to other professions that work closely together; for example, architects and engineers. To be a better physician, I had to understand how drugs worked at the molecular level. I also started to question whether things made sense.
What is my bottom line goal?
Sometimes there are more questions than there are answers. For me, it was important to understand ions and molecules at their basic level. This is why I have spent an inordinate time on understanding water. Life is all about water. From there, I branched out to atoms and ions. The overarching goal is for me to explain protein receptors in a simple paradigm; many diseases happen at the level of the protein receptors of the cell membranes.
This is how I have always approached learning. I never like memorizing stuff. I have believed that one can learn concepts from divergent fields in a way that we don’t have to memorize facts.
From clinical work to chemistry
My lifelong interest has been in the chemistry of living cells. By training, I am a physician, and at heart, I remain a clinician. For me, it will be worth all the time and effort that has gone into producing this work, if the ideas create new ways of approaching disease.
Life's Chemistry Press
Making Life's Molecules easy to understand
There are unanswered questions!
I bring together research that explores living and inert molecules.
It all started early in my career, when I was researching the proteins that help glucose go from inside the intestine, across the cells, and into the blood.
The fascinating fact is that those proteins have a concordant orientation. Their carboxyl COOH heads in the apical membrane of the cell face the intestinal lumen (their amine NH2 tails) swim in the cytoplasm.
As if the cells have learned to follow the leader, the proteins in the basement membrane of the cell have the carboxyl COOH heads swimming in the cytoplasm and the amine NH2 tails facing the plasma. It seems that this protein orientation will encourage the glucose molecule to be shuttled from the apical membrane to the cytoplasm, and then from the cytoplasm to the plasma.
A neat system for moving molecules across cells.
But how do cells do this? What determines the orientation of proteins in membranes?
I started looking into cancer cells (which have their own patterns of protein orientations) to living ions (and why only certain elements of the periodic table are integrated in living things) to water (the basis of all living things).