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Stem Cell Scientist

Bhaskar Chanda: Stem Cell Scientist, Leader, Bio-Engineer from Bhaskar Chanda on Vimeo.

Bhaskar Chanda is a Project Manager and Associate Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine of the University Health Network (UHN). Take a peak at this short video to learn a little more about Bhaskar, his education, his work, and his approach to the work he does. He has studied in multiple countries such as India and Canada. Chanda’s work has been published in many top-tier scientific journals. Bhaskar Chanda is very passionate about his occupation.

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Gone Girl the movie was a very different experience from Gone Girl the novel

Bhaskar Chanda Gone Girl Movie ReviewGillian Flynn’s novel dives deep down into the fears — both rational and irrational — that come with a significant romantic relationship. The primary fear, in short, is that the person on the other side of the bed could be someone entirely different from who you’ve come to love and know. Or, just as scary, that your significant other could turn into someone entirely different than he or she is today.

It’s a frightening thought, and it’s what drives the novel forward as the we parse character-revealing entries from Amy’s diary and keep tabs on Nick’s investigation. It is only through Flynn’s intricate weaving of the Amy-Nick relationship that we are lulled into a bubble of belief. We come to trust the Nick’s narration and Amy’s diary so much that their big reveals (spoiler: Amy’s faked death and Nick’s affair) are so surprising that they pop our belief bubble suddenly and viciously.

It is this moment of discovery, of figuring out that the narrators are not to be trusted, that makes the novel a complete thrill and makes Gone Girl the movie a letdown by comparison. Sure, the film still delivers most of the plot intact. It even gives us much of the novel’s dialogue quote for quote. But the impact of these quotes is so different because we aren’t given the same backstory that Flynn provides in her novel.

Bhaskar Chanda Gone GirlAmy’s fake diary reveal is a real “wow” moment in the novel but David Fincher’s film treats it instead as one of many pieces of a puzzle that Amy has devised for her grand plan. It still comes off as impressive in the film, but it doesn’t have nearly the same impact. Even Amy’s famous “cool girl” rant has a different, and somewhat less satisfying appeal in the film than in the novel. Whereas the novel offers that speech as an intriguing and impressive critique against unrealistic relationship expectations, the movie delivers it less as a societal critique and more as a feminist rant against “stupid” women.

Yes, Gone Girl the film still gives a fascinating depiction of the engaging Flynn tale. It still builds the fake storyline and gives gives the same (or similar) plot twists. It still makes us ask how much we know about our partners. But it doesn’t feel real and it certainly doesn’t give us the same satisfaction or jaw-dropping delivery that Flynn’s novel does. If you read the novel, you’ll still enjoy the film, but you’ll be left with an empty hole of disappointment that only Flynn’s writing can fill. 3/5 Stars

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Matthew McConaughey’s Potential Oscar Performance in Interstellar

Bhaskar Chanda Film ReviewThis last month’s movie roundup has been outstanding, and Interstellar might be the one to top them all. With a star-studded cast behind Christopher Nolan, this movie is nothing short of spectacular. One of the most intellectually stimulating movies I’ve seen in a long time.

The cast is made up of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, and Matt Damon; all who brought their A-game with remarkable acting. Matthew McConaughey is expected to win the Oscar with his performance as Cooper, an x-NASA pilot turned farmer. Cooper is living with his son, daughter, and father-in-law. His daughter thinks that a ghost is trying to communicate with her, and Cooper eventually conducts experiments that figures out that aliens from the future are using a wormhole to communicate with his daughter. This sends Cooper and a team of NASA pilots through an interstellar adventure through a wormhole to find a potentially habitable planet for humanity’s sake.

Christopher Nolan might potentially win an Oscar as well. This movie kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time, which is especially impressive since the movie was almost three hours long. Matthew McConaughey is on a role of recent. He was almost the only actor to have won a “best actor” Oscar (for Dallas Buyers Club) and Emmy (for True Detective). He lost his Emmy to the fantastic Bryan Cranston for his role as Walter White in Breaking Bad, debatably one of the better performances of the decade. Anything with Matthew McConaughey these days is a must see, and Interstellar is no different.

This is just the Sci-Fi/Action Adventure film that you want to see when going to a movie along with an added intellectualism that you don’t see with many movies of the sort. This movie did not only keep me entertained on a basic level, but also kept my mind intellectually stimulated at the same time. 4.8/5 stars.

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Nightcrawler is a Must See! Masteful Performance by Jake Gyllenhaal

Bhaskar Chanda Nightcrawler Jake GyllenhaalFilled with suspense and anticipation, Nightcrawler keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the entire movie. A unique plot along with an Oscar warranted performance from Jake Gyllenhaal make this movie a must see in anyone’s book.

Without watching any trailers about the movie, the movie starts off in a relatable fashion with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Louis Bloom, looking for a job. In the first ten minutes, you notice that Louis Bloom is a little socially awkward and his job searching techniques are a little unorthodox. As he is driving home one night, he notices police attempting to rescue a woman from her car, which has caught on fire. Louis Bloom pulls over to the side of the road to watch, and a news van screeches to the scene to film the rescue. This act of freelance recording intrigues, Louis and he decides to jump into the industry. He purchases a video camera, police radar, and GPS. He then sits in his car at night, waits for something newsworthy to come through the police radio, and races to the scene to capture some footage of the situation at hand.

The stars of the movie are Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed in a stellar supporting role. This is a role to remember for both these actors, and one of the best performances I’ve seen from Jake Gyllenhaal. Calling his character anti-social is an understatement. His character has no grasp of social queues or empathy. Every move that he makes is completely logistical according to what he needs to do to make money and grow his business. Riz Ahmed plays a more timid character desperate to impress Louis Bloom in his first “real-job.” These two characters play off of each other spectacularly, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s psychopathic demeanor kept my eyes glues to the movie screen.

With a great plot and extraordinary acting, this movie is a no-brainer. 5/5 Stars

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The Drop

Bhaskar Chanda film reviews the dropThe Drop is a crime drama starting Tom Hardy and late James Gandolfini. Tom Hardy plays a lonely barkeeper, Bob Saginowski, that keeps to himself. James Gandolfini plays the bar owner, Marv, who is Bob’s cousin and powerful figure in the neighborhood.

The premise of the movie is based off of old time Brooklyn, where bars would act as holding areas for all the dirty money in the city. These would called “money drops” and the bars were called “drop spots.” Bob and Marv find themselves in the middle of a robbery that gets federal agents involved. One thing leads to another and the federal agents begin to dig deeper into the local underworld of the Brooklyn bar scene.

It is difficult to watch a gangster related film with James Gandolfini without imagining him as Tony Soprano. James Gandolfini is a great actor, and this was unfortunately his last movie. The role that he was put in was almost like a softer version of Tony Soprano, but he still played the part well and brought chills down my spine.

Tom Hardy played a good awkward introvert. He did not say much, and a lot of his lines seems a bit forced and out of the ordinary. Tom Hardy definitely had the leading role. Because of this, the movie followed the pace of his character: slow and awkward. There were too few pivotal moments and the slow buildups did not seem worth the muster.

Overall, I would suggest that people do not go see this movie. The story seemed a little introverted, as it almost acted like a character development film of a mundane protagonist. I will not give away the entire movie, but if you are deciding weather to see this in theaters or wait until a free version comes out online, I would chose the latter. This movie is not worth paying for. 2/5 Stars

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Stem Cell Research and its Potential Effects

Bhaskar Chanda Stem Cell CanadaStem cell research involves the use of stem cells to treat a diverse range of muscular, developmental, cardiovascular, brain, and other medical problems. Controversial by nature, stem cells are derived from the creation, destruction, and exploitation of human embryos. Though stem cells can be adapted from adult cells as well as taken from human embryos, the two sources provide stem cells that serve separate and unique functions, and both are needed for stem cell research to reach it’s full potential.

Stem cells promise a lot to the medical field because they possess the ability to develop into many different types of cells in the body. Stem cells use cell division to multiply limitlessly, and are distinct from other cells in that they are totally unspecialized. Being unspecialized means that a stem cell’s function can be decided based on need, giving stem cells the potential to replenish cells in the body of nearly any type – red blood cells, muscle cells, organ-specific cells, bone marrow, brain, skin, etc. This opens the door to curing countless diseases, defects, trauma, and ailments as research progresses. With adequate research, stem cells can help us understand how an organism develops from a single cell, how healthy cells replace damaged ones in adults, and what causes birth defects.

Stem cells have the potential to be particularly effective in treating type 1 diabetes. Most recently, experts have developed human insulin producing beta cells, the cells that diabetes destroys. While they still haven’t figured a way to prevent diabetes from attacking the stem cell generated beta cells, this is a giant leap forward in the cure for type 1 diabetes. This is just a glimpse into the potential that stem cells have to treat medical problems that were previously thought untreatable. With the potential to multiply through cell division and specialize into virtually any function, the possibilities for stem cell research are boundless.

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Traveling in Canada

Picture Perfect Bhaskar Chanda

Oh Canada! Canada is officially bilingual, with wide heritage from both France and England. Canada is extremely ethnically diverse, and continues to be a popular destination for immigrants. Canada’s population is among the most educated in the world, with over half of their citizens holding at least a college degree. Being the second largest nation in the world, there’s a lot of Canada to see, so this post will focus in on a journey along the East Coast. If traversing the Atlantic coast of Canada, a great first destination is Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls straddles the New York/Ontario border. Here, three waterfalls come together to form one of the most reknown waterfall attractions in the world. Also, Niagara Falls has interesting infrastructure for creating massive amounts of hydroelectric power. Channeling water with an extremely high content of dissolved salts and rock particle, erosion occurs at an alarming rate at Niagara Falls, and it’s expected that the falls will cease to exist 50,000 years from now, so see it while you can!

The weather was absolutely delightful.......cloudy yet gorgeous. Bhaskar Chanda
Photograph by Bhaskar Chanda in Canada

Cape Spear is the most easterly portion of the continent, and though a bit of a trek from the mainland, it’s a worthy destination for it’s historical significance and natural beauty. Being close to convoy routes during WW II, Cape Spear served as the site of a gun battery, with historical bunkers and underground passageways. With some of the most massive waves of any place in the continent and common whale sightings, it’s also a great spot to look out at the ocean.       Magnetic Hill Park, New Brunswick is an interesting destination along the way. What’s enigmatic about this mysterious park is that you can seemingly drive uphill…in neutral. It’s a natural optical illusion, a free thrill, and totally freaky. These are just a few of many worthy Canadian sights along the Atlantic Coast. Canada’s a huge country with an extremely diverse population, so there’s no shortage of places to see and things to do. An accessible trip out of the country, Canada offers Americans the opportunity to have an experience out of the States without getting on a boat or plane, with a distinct geography, culture, and way of life.

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A Common Misconception of Stem Cell Research

Bhaskar Chanda Stem CellThere are many misconceptions surrounding stem cell research and procedures in the United States.  Where the endeavor is widely approved of in European countries, the United States continues to remain wary, based in the assumption that embryonic stem cells required for the method of therapy come from aborted fetuses.  This assumption is actually completely incorrect, as the cells come are extracted from fatty tissue in the stomach.

According to an article recently completed by the Chicago Tribune, Julia Szabo, author of the book Medicine Dog: The Miraculous Cure that Healed My Best Friend and Saved My Life, this misconception is causing a lot of people to miss out on the opportunity to heal some of their more challenging afflictions.  In her case, stem cell therapy healed not only her own struggles with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but her dog’s issues with arthritic joints.  In the novel, she details the procedure her dog Sam underwent as a means of definitively declaring that the stem cells do not come from aborted fetuses.  Under anesthesia, Sam underwent liposuction—essentially a basic “tummy tuck,” in which the fatty tissue of the stomach was extracted.  The tissue was then sent to Vet-Stem, a company that provides regenerative stem cell therapy for animals, which Szabo found through a simple search of the Internet.  Vet-Stem then processed the tissue in centrifuge, separating the stem cells from the fat.  The cells are placed in vials and delivered to the veterinarian on dry ice.  From there, the cells are introduced to the animal’s system through two methods—direct injection into pet’s arthritic joints and intravenously into the bloodstream.

After the procedure, Szabo saw notable improvement in the dog’s ability to travel within hours.  Within weeks the dog was completely healed.  Szabo decided to pursue the procedure herself after a particularly bad event involving her Irritable Bowel Syndrome landed her in the emergency room.  A Vet-Stem authority she had worked with on her dog’s cased suggested the therapy for her ailment as well, referring her to the California Stem Cell Treatment Center in the process.  Now Szabo is able to live an entirely normal life, free of her IBS.

The therapy comes at a hefty price, however.  The pet’s procedure cost Szabo over two thousand five hundred dollars; her own stem cell therapy cost around nine thousand dollars.  The rates are high, as insurances do not cover the procedure—it is FDA compliant, but not FDA approved.


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Special Edition: TV Show Review of “The League”

Bhaskar Chanda Movie ReviewsThe National Football League has finally made its long awaited return and our Sunday schedules are officially booked up. With the return of the NFL regular season inevitably comes Fantasy Football. It is hard to deny Fantasy Football’s powerful presence in American culture right now. Once you have experienced a Fantasy League with close friends, it is easy to see why its popularity has grown to such heights.

The popular TV show The League just began its sixth season, and has garnered a strong following throughout the country. Why? Creators Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus have tapped into America’s newfound obsession, and turned it into an exaggerated depiction of life hijacked by Fantasy Football. The League explores the lives of a group of friends who obsessively compete over fantasy football, all while mercilessly ridiculing each other.

I was drawn to this show by frequent recommendations and finally decided to give it a chance. Looking for strong plot lines and phenomenal acting performances? The League is probably not for you, and you may want to consider Orange is the New Black. Like many, I assumed prior knowledge of NFL players and fantasy football was a necessity, but the show quickly navigates that expectation by rooting the stories in the daily lives of friends to which anyone can relate. Of course, knowing the game and it’s players, who make frequent cameos, will only heighten your experience.

If you want a show that will make you laugh and remind you it is okay to goof around now and then despite living as a responsible adult, then The League just might be for you. Your expectations may dictate whether you find it enjoyable and funny, or just completely tasteless and stupid. Lacking political correctness nor concern for hurting feelings, The League has one goal – to make you laugh. The League draws you in with its charismatic cast and strong onscreen chemistry. Call it crass, mindless, bro humor, but there is no doubt these characters will make you laugh. It may not be your particular tastes, but something is to be said for a comedy that is in its 6th season. 4/5 Stars

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Top Five Best Adventure Activities in India

Bhaskar Chanda India Montain Climbing

As promised the greatest adventure activities in India list continues. Last month, we had numbers 10 through 6 and this month, we have the top five best adventure activities for tourists to experience in India. As long as they are the adventure type. Just to go over what we had on the list for last month, we had heli skiing, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, camel and yak safaris, and the infamous auto rickshaw rampaging.

Continuing from last blog post, at number 5 we have motorcycle touring. India has a vast countryside, and one of the more fun ways to adventure through the countryside is via motorcycle. There is a sense of freedom and adventure that is not accessible through other forms of transportation. These motorbike tours are offered all over the Himalaya region, in south India, and Rajasthan.

In the fourth place spot, we have water sports. The typical water sport activities found in India range from para sailing to jet skiing, to windsurfing, to banana boat rides, to kite surfing. These water sport activities are offered everywhere on Goa’s beaches.

Next on the list is paragliding. The closest activity there is to the sensation of human flight is paragliding. There are many reputable companies in India that offer paragliding adventures. The best places for paragliding in India is in the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Another popular area for paragliding is Kamshet in Maharashtra.

Coming in at number two is white water rafting and kayaking. White water rafting in India combines beautiful scenery with thrills and chills for the outdoorsy type. Rafting down the Ganges and spending the night on pristine beaches is a very popular activity for tourists traveling to India.

Number one on the list of best aventure activities in India is…drumroll please…trekking and mountaineering. Mountain climbing in India’s northern wilderness is a very popular activity for trekkers. Climbs range from the easiest yet spectacularly beautiful walks to more extreme difficult camping expeditions. The Himalayas are the obvious choice for these expeditions.

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