"Imagine a job where about half of all the work is being done by people who are in training. That is, in fact, what happens in the world of biological and medical research." --- NPR reports [audio] on postdocs & the scientific workforce as part of a series on the funding crisis in biomedical research. The series also includes When Scientists Give Up [audio], and U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding [audio].
Robot scientists! A Pretty cool video about research automation from the Wall Street Journal. [slyt]
President Obama recently announced a big new effort to map and understand the human brain. [more inside]
"If the history of public health has until now been embodied by the map—as in British physician John Snow’s famous map, which allowed him to curb the London cholera outbreak of 1854 and to found, in doing so, the modern field of epidemiology—Snitkin was embarking on a new kind of epidemiology: one founded on the phylogenetic tree." Writing for Wired, Carl Zimmer describes how Evan Snitkin and Julie Segre used genome sequencing to halt a bacterial outbreak at the National Institute of Health's Clinical Center. (via The Feature)
The Open Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health mandates that NIH funded research is published to PubMed Central. This provides free online full text access to the resulting research. This policy has been very popular. As a result journal publishers have seen their business models threatened. As other government agencies consider similar policies, publishing industry lobbyists have worked to put an end to the practice.. (previously) [more inside]
The US National Insitutes of Health recently filed notice of a prospective grant to give an exclusive license to New York based Kannalife for Development of Cannabinoid(s) and Cannabidiol(s) (i.e. marijuana) Based Therapeutics To Treat Hepatic Encephalopathy in Humans. Toke of The Town covers the issue, including an interview with Kannalife CEO Dean Pethanas.
The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has asked the journals Nature and Science to publish redacted versions of the studies by two research groups that reportedly created forms of the H5N1 avian flu that could easily jump between ferrets - animals whose response to influenza is similar to humans. [more inside]
"...we still can’t tell whether we are all about to die or whether we are being sold a bill of goods."
'The stories about epidemics that are told in the American press—their plots and tropes—date to the 1920's, when modern research science, science journalism, and science fiction were born.' This is the story of how the media back then (January, 1930) helped fuel fears about a parrot-fever pandemic, and the subsequent public backlash. (Via) [more inside]
With the passing of Executive Order 13505, Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells, in 2009 President Obama expanded federal funding and rescinded George W. Bush's policies that eliminated most federal funding and restricted human embryonic stem cell research to the use of existing, contaminated cell lines. On Monday, federal judge Royce C. Lamberth blocked this new order after protestations from James L. Sherley, a former scientist with the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, who operates the Ave Maria Biotechnology Company, which aims to do "pro-life" therapeutic research without the "taint of embryonic or electively aborted fetal materials". [more inside]
Having taken on the biggest job in biomedicine — leading the US National Institutes of Health — Francis Collins must now help his agency over a funding cliff.
What warfighters eat. What's healthier. Video is from an all-day seminar at NIH. Start around minute 58 through 1:13 to hear the marine presenting in detail what warfighters currently get to eat -- first hand from the guy who handles supplying them, in detail. Start earlier around minute 12 for what would be better 'nutritional armor' for warfighters (Dr. Bill Land). Many more parts to the presentation. All worthwhile. [more inside]
A single nutrient may have turned early humans into civilized man. Has stripping it from our diet given rise to cancer, diabetes, and other civilized diseases? "There has been a thousandfold increase in the consumption of soybean oil over the past hundred years. The result is an unplanned experiment in brain and heart chemistry, one whose subject is the entire population of the developed world." A series of epidemiological studies showed that populations that consume high levels of omega-3s in the form of seafood are the least afflicted by the major diseases associated with the Western diet. (via) [more inside]
What's wrong with Summer Stiers? "She has suffered retinal bleeding, seizures, bone death and kidney failure. But no one knows what’s really wrong. Now a team of medical experts is trying a new way to diagnose what ails her — and others who are suffering from mysterious diseases." New York Times Magazine article about The Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the National Institue of Health.
An unprecedented five consecutive years of stagnant funding for the National Institutes of Health is putting America at risk - a few prominent research institutions get together to voice their concern over flat funding of the National Institutes of Health over the past 5 years, in their report The Broken Pipeline (pdf). Bloggers comment [1, 2, 3].
In their own words... Researchers at the National Institutes of Health recall the early years of AIDS, from diagnosis of the then-unknown disease, to discovering the viral cause, and from there to the search for treatments. The site features interviews (including several with virologist Robert Gallo), early publications, and a collection of archived image materials.
My post-mortem to-do checklist, so far: 1. Study marine biology. 2. Accessorize my hot, wealthy widow. 3. Relay a few spooky telegrams to my spooky new friends. 4. Try to look as suspicious as possible. And that's even before rigor mortis sets in!
"Do not bind the mouths of the kine that treadeth out the grain." "Do not eat the seed corn." Ancient warnings ignored in Bush Administration science policy
The NIH is abandoning phase III trials of a possible hiv vaccine due to "technical reasons" the trial will continue in thailand. On a happier note there are currently more than 90 other hiv vaccines in other stages of trials. What do people think are the chances the pharmaceuticals will decide chronic disease management is more profitable, and actually do something to make this a more likely outcome?
New Contraceptive to Block 'Sperm and Germs.' Scientists working in conjunction with Johns Hopkins have spent the better part of the past 2 decades working on BufferGel. Now it's in clinical trials with the NIH. Put simply, BufferGel appears to kill sperm and most STDs by raising vaginal pH. Unlike its predecessors, however, it doesn't contain any detergent, which means (they hope) no irritation. (Of course, trials may not end until 2005. Don't have to throw out the Dr. Bronner's just yet.)