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Episode 164 of 168

The Dangers of Heating our Food in Microwave Ovens Using Plastic Containers, Episode #164, Dr. Francoise Sidime

Duration: 35:23
Dr. Francoise Sidime is a neuroscientist and assistant professor at the College of Staten Island, Helene Fuld School of Nursing and Wagner College. She obtained her PhD in neuroscience at the Graduate Center CUNY in New York. Francoise currently lectures and teaches extensive skills employed in the
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Dr. Francoise Sidime is a neuroscientist and assistant professor at the College of Staten Island, Helene Fuld School of Nursing and Wagner College. She obtained her PhD in neuroscience at the Graduate Center CUNY in New York. Francoise currently lectures and teaches extensive skills employed in the field of biology and neuroscience. Francoise is also the founder and president of Ekarus Global Science, a program dedicated to providing academic advancements, mentorship, and research opportunities to high school students in the STEM discipline. Dr. Sidime is also the co-founder of a sister company called PreMedPro, a program that offers pre-med high school students training skills in the field of medicine. Vince Ferguson: Before we get started discussing your research into autism, tell my listeners what inspired you to go into the medical field and become a neuroscientist. Dr. Francoise Sidime: So, there were several reasons, but the one that actually sticks out was my mentor. At the time, when I was trying to pursue a medical career, we were all required to basically do research in labs because that's part of the requirement in order to get into medical school. So, when I went and I worked with my mentor, he did a lot of work in neuroscience and he had extensive knowledge and just really, really well-versed in the subjects. As a result, I admired everything that he was doing and the work he was working on. As a result, I felt that that's where I should be. Of course, when I started to operate on brains, opening them up and seeing all these intricate structures, I knew there was no turning back at that point. Vince Ferguson: At that point you were hooked? Dr. Francoise Sidime: Oh, I was hooked after that. Yes, that was it. That was it. Vince Ferguson: Wow. So, how did you get involved with autism? Dr. Francoise Sidime: So my mentor, that was a field that he was actually working on. So, his mentor prior to that worked with him when he was a PhD and a post-doctoral student. So they worked on different areas, Fragile X. And so he continued working on autism as well. When I came into the lab as his student... This particular mentor, by the way, has a name. His name is Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi. So, when I started working in his laboratory, I found that he was working a lot on autism cases. As a result, I ended up jumping on those topics as well and I realized I liked them a lot, and that's how I got involved in the research as well. Vince Ferguson: Okay. Well, did you get involved in any particular area of autism? Dr. Francoise Sidime: Yes. So, the particular area that we actually focus on is called the Fragile X. So, because autism has a vast spectrum, as most people know, they particularly worked on a single area, which is on the Fragile X. It's called the Fragile X syndrome. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Fragile X? Vince Ferguson: No. Dr. Francoise Sidime: No. Okay. So, they worked on the Fragile X syndrome and the thing about the Fragile X is that, because autism is very vast and there's so many areas that could be contributing to that particular disorder of autism, one of the things about the Fragile X is that you can actually pinpoint exactly where the issue is, and that issue usually is on the X-chromosome. So, there's an area there that's very fragile and it looks like an arm that's basically broken, and that area has this gene, which is called the FMR1 gene. That gene is basically silent. As a result, when this gene is silent, it means that whatever that gene is responsible for, it will not do. So, that area is going to have issues, of course. So, some of the symptoms you see when this gene is silent, that patients have anxiety, hyperactivity, depression. They have increased sensitivity to epileptic type of seizures. Dr. Francoise Sidime: As a result, you can really pinpoint that, "Okay, this part is silent so it's missing. This is what we see." So, it made it very easy to pinpoint where the issues are basically happening when you focus on this one particular niche, and that's what we actually did, so we focused on the Fragile X. Vince Ferguson: Sounds very interesting to me, as a layman. Wow. It really does. Now, your research has looked at phthalates or plasticizers and how it can cause neural behavioral abnormalities, similar to what is seen in individuals on the autism spectrum. Can you tell my listeners what phthalates are and why are they of concern? Dr. Francoise Sidime: Sure, absolutely. Right now phthalates, they're actually a huge hot topic, especially in the news. So, phthalates are plasticizers, and they're used to basically soften plastics. So, an example of a common phthalate that most people are aware of is bisphenol A, which is normally abbreviated as BPA, and this is the plasticizer that's sometime
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