To ‘think outside the box,’ think outside the box

Dear Michael,

I finally gave my talk about my MSc project today at an institutes seminar. The title “Genetic factors associated with radio-iodine uptake in mice” attracted a few peoples interest, and after I finished my talk they started a discussion about the link between radioiodine uptake in the fetal thyroid gland and the risk to develop thyroid cancer later in life.

I had to tell them that at least in the mouse model that we studied together in your lab, there was not such a simple link. Radioiodine uptake and pharmacokinetic are determined by genetic factors, but the long term cancer risk is obviously governed by other genes. And the subtle differences between different mouse strains in their isotope retention in thyroid seems to be only a minor determinant in cancer risk. Other genes or their variants are obviously more important, but we have not found them yet.

Most colleagues assumed that there must be a direct linear connection between isotope uptake or thyroid dose and cancer risk. Only a professor from human genetics department told people they should start to “think outside their box”. I did not knew this phrase before, therefore I checked it in Google. And I came across an interesting research paper in a psychological journal. The authors of the new paper were inspired by metaphors about creativity found in boardrooms to movie studios to scientific laboratories around the world and previous linkages established between mind and body.

Want to think outside the box? Try actually thinking outside of a box. In a study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers had students think up solutions to problems while acting out various metaphors about creative thinking and found that the instructions actually worked.

Enjoy your day, and remember there are not only cages that restrict our physical freedom, but also boxes which keep our inspiration and phantasy down.

Take Care



Ghazal my Dear,

Thanks for the nice thoughts. I printed out this last sentence from you and sticked it on my memory board. It is there together now with a sentence by Oscar Wilde: “We all live in a cage, but there are only a few of us whocan see the stars”. Of course you are one of those few.

Take Care, my Dear


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