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Don't Attack Yourself

This parody (written by Greg Crowther) is sung to the tune of "Express Yourself" (written by Madonna and Stephen Bray and performed by Madonna).


Here is Madonna's little-known advisory on the dangers of autoimmunity, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks components of a person's own body. An antigen is any molecule that can trigger an immune response; self-antigens are molecules within oneself that trigger such a response.

I wrote this for a 2016 seminar with the UW Medicine Teaching Scholars.


Come on, students...
Do you believe in autoimmunity?
'Cause I got something to say about it,
And it goes something like this....

Don't attack self-antigens, baby!
Practice self-tolerance.
You know you know you've got to
Curb your B- and T-cell zeal,
Except for when you know the threat is real!

You don't need multiple sclerosis
To slow your neurons down.
You don't need myasthenia gravis,
When acetylcholine can't be bound.
What you need is ... NOT type 1 diabetes;
Keep your pancreas just like new.
And if you're happy with your thyroid gland,
Then Graves' Disease is not for you.


Don't attack yourself!

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using the audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, or (B) designing kinesthetic movements ("dance moves") to embody it. The latter activity should begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Study Questions

(1) Provide a bit more detail on how multiple sclerosis "slows your neurons down."

(2) Provide a bit more detail on how myasthenia gravis affects acetylcholine.

(3) Provide a bit more detail on how type 1 diabetes mellitus affects the pancreas.

(4) Provide a bit more detail on how Graves' disease affects the thyroid gland.

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)