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cAMP Spotlight

For the past issue or two, the camp spotlight has gone unwritten. It was 100% due to laziness, and for that, I apologize. Therefore, I felt driven to pen the most compelling article in this collection. But, what to write the article on? I mulled it over, considering everything from beauty pageants to animatronics, drag queens to more anime. As I was watching the 1993 classic film Addams Family Values, the answer came to me. The plot of the movie sends Wednesday and Pugsly Addams to a summer camp, so I decided I should merely google the term “camp” and see where life takes me. I expected summer camps in the Birmingham area to pop up, or something not article-worthy that would send me back to the drawing board. That was only the third hyperlink on the page. “An aesthetic style and sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value” was number two. Number one? Cyclic adenosine monophosphate.

What is cyclic adenosine monophosphate, or cAMP for short? The Wikipedia page, while accurate, was a bottomless pit of medical and scientific jargon. The only thing I could decipher was that “Earl Sutherland of Vanderbilt University won a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1971,” presumably for discoveries related to cAMP. Then it says something about hormones, especially epinephrine, and second messengers. . . . To get this into layman’s terms, I need to contact someone who knows what all of this means, an interpreter, a witness, an expert. It was time to call . . . my father.

The first thing you should know is that my dad is a doctor. If anyone could decipher these science-y terms (which I also have on speed-dial), it would be him. And what do you know? He helped me figure out what cAMP is. In more exact terms, it is “a second messenger, used for intracellular signal transduction.” What that means is that cAMP is essentially a password to the cell. When a cell receives a hormone--for example, glucagon--cAMP will transfer into the cells the effect of that glucagon. Wherever the glucagon goes, the cAMP will go with it and let the cell know that this is indeed glucagon.

Anyways, thanks for reading the crazed ramblings of a madwoman. It’s been a real trip, but here we are at the end. I hope someone picks up writing the camp spotlight next year! While difficult, this has been an interesting and rewarding venture for me, and hopefully for my poor editor, too! I hope everyone has a great summer.

-- Anna Lisa Goodman '18