Recent posts from our blogs

From: Open Access in the Developing World

The meaning of ‘impact’: prestige or relevance for developing world research?

Alanna Orpen on July 29, 2014 at 12:04 - 0 Comments

This is a guest post by Eve Gray. Once an academic publisher in Cape Town, she went on to be a publishing strategy consultant before becoming a researcher on open access scholarly communications at the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning and the IP Law Unit at UCT. To mark the release of the 2014 Impact Factor Report she debates the value impact factors serve for the developing world.  

The impact factor under fire

The release of the 2014 Impact Factor Report was being awaited, as usual, with some anticipation by journal publishers and researchers to see who is in and who is out in this particular

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From: BMC series blog

The new Impact Factors are coming….

Diana Marshall on July 28, 2014 at 15:53 - 1 Comment

Image by James Balm

Now is the time of year when journal editors all over the world sit repeatedly clicking ‘refresh’ on their browsers. Up? Down? Staying the same? What will happen to their journal’s Impact Factor when the Journal Citation Report is published? I will be as guilty as everyone else, scouring the lists for my journals; celebrating those whose impact factors have increased, looking into the why for those who have gone down. Truth be told though, here on the subject-specific journals of the BMC series, our attitude to our Impact Factors might be a little different than other journals.

Although there is increasing discussion about the best way to measure the impact of journals and

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From: BioMed Central blog

From Shell shock to PTSD - a century of military psychology

Anna Perman on July 28, 2014 at 15:52 - 1 Comment

Soldiers at an Australian Advanced Dressing Station near Ypres in 1917

In the history of medicine, it’s a rather morbid fact that war often leads to great medical breakthroughs – as the weapons of war change, doctors must innovate in order to meet these new challenges.

When the First World War started 100 years ago today, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) setting out for France envisaged an entirely different war to the one with which they were faced. Trench warfare was a new concept, the use of gas was almost unknown, and this war would involve mechanized weaponry on a scale never before seen.

A new condition

Within months, some of  the highly-trained BEF soldiers started to experience  intense panic and fear accompanied

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From: Open Access in the Developing World

Hepatitis E-A virus with two faces

Alanna Orpen on July 28, 2014 at 09:41 - 0 Comments

The fierce heat of the sun was burning. Aba wiped the sweat from her brow as she trudged through the farm entrance and emptied the cocoa beans into the designated crate. Hot and parched from carrying the heavy load. She knelt by a small cloudy pond. Not fussed by its murky appearance she cradled her hands together and slurped unceremoniously.

In the weeks that followed, Aba’s health slowly deteriorated. She was tired, her body ached and her abdomen was tender. As she hacked at the cocoa pods, she had to double over intermittently, trying to ease the storm that was brewing in her stomach. It was releasing one anguishing blow after the other. The pain would eventually subside; it was

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From: Bugbitten

Clash of the pathogens - human pathogen protects its sand fly host from an insect pathogen

guest post on July 25, 2014 at 17:29 - 0 Comments
Guest post by Dr Rod J Dillon (@sandflyman) Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, UK.

Sand flies survive better with Leishmania parasites in their gut when fed with a bacterial pathogen. Artwork by Dr Hector Diaz-Albiter

As part of collaborative study between teams working at Lancaster University in the UK, IOC-FIOCRUZ and UFPI in Brazil, we have shown that sand flies carrying Leishmania are able to survive attack by a bacterial pathogen that would have otherwise killed the insect. This suggests that Leishmania benefits its insect host whilst increasing the chances for its own transmission.

Leishmaniasis is a Neglected Tropical Disease caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus and transmitted from mammal to mammal through...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Mood disorders: Exploring the placebo effect, improving treatment and the promise of pharmacogenetics

Ursula D'Souza on July 25, 2014 at 13:00 - 0 Comments

Antidepressant drugs which alleviate symptoms of depression have received much attention in the news recently, showing that the UK is the 7th highest country in the West to prescribe the drugs. The astounding rise in NHS spending on these pharmacological agents is suggested to be due to “medicalization” of normal sadness. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants are commonly used to treat moderate to severe depression with new evidence showing one of these drugs, citalopram could slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, on the other hand another recent study cautions the use of SSRIs during pregnancy as they are found to be linked to a higher incidence of autism spectrum...

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From: BioMed Central blog

How do we manage the health impact of the economic crisis in Europe?

Guest on July 25, 2014 at 13:00 - 0 Comments

Dr Miguel San Sebastian

An unprecedented economic crisis is affecting Europe, focusing mainly on the southern countries. Improving health and reducing health inequalities in this macro-economic environment is going to be a great challenge, which the new thematic series in International Journal for Equity in Health discusses. In this guest blog, Dr Miguel San Sebastián, one of the series editors, looks at what the first papers can tell us about the challenges faced.

The economic and social crisis that the European population has experienced since 2008 has fuelled interest in the study of its potential health impacts.

With regard to public health, and particularly social epidemiology, the need to deal with the problem of the economic crisis encourages natural experiments. From these

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From: BioMed Central blog

Microbial monitoring: health forensics for the modern age

Guest on July 25, 2014 at 10:00 - 0 Comments

Jack Gilbert on monitoring microbes in the smartphone era

A new paper published in Genome Biology today uses smartphone tracking and additional observations to piece together a staggering amount of information about the research subjects and their individual microbiomes. In this guest post, Jack A Gilbert, Associate Professor at the University of Chicago and Group Leader at Argonne National Laboratory, delves into this promising new avenue of research and data collection.

At the beginning of September 2013 I weighed about 205lbs (92kg). I decided to do something about my weight, for my health and for the sake of my family and of course I approached this plan as a scientist. For me that meant parameterizing my inputs and outputs

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From: BioMed Central blog

“You like to-may-to, I like to-mah-to”...what’s the problem with studying the Mediterranean diet?

Claire Barnard on July 24, 2014 at 14:05 - 0 Comments

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to many health benefits, from improved longevity to reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression. However, while the positive impact of this dietary pattern is well-documented (see our previous blog), a number of unanswered questions and unresolved controversies remain.

As editors at BMC Medicine, we have encountered differences in opinion during the review and publication process of studies investigating the link between diet and health, with authors and reviewers raising pertinent questions such as:

Should alcohol and dairy products be included in the definition of the Mediterranean diet?

Can the Mediterranean diet be applied to non-Western settings?

How can we measure adherence to this dietary pattern?

To explore these open questions, we invited clinicians and

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From: Clinical Epigenetics blog

Overcoming tumour resistance to treatments with epi-based approaches

Sam Rose on July 24, 2014 at 11:30 - 0 Comments

Written by Professor Lucia Altucci, Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli

 

A main strategy of the drug discovery field is to define novel therapeutic approaches against human disease – including cancer. Clearly, an emerging problem is the potential acquisition of resistance to treatment, even when, a so-called ‘targeted-treatment’ is defined. Very recently, Yujie Tang et al. (Nature Medicine 2014) have suggested a smart, but molecularly well defined, strategy to use epi-based approaches as treatments against a priori treatment-resistant tumours. They indeed discovered that BET bromodomain protein inhibition (see alsoFilippakopoulos P. et al., Nature 2010) might turn out beneficial against Hedgehog (Hh)-driven tumours (such as basal cell carcinoma and medulloblastomas) even when resistance to the targeted SMO antagonist-based treatment has been acquired....

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From: BioMed Central blog

Small microbes, big microbiome

Jennifer Franklin on July 24, 2014 at 10:01 - 0 Comments

Our own bodies are teeming with microorganisms, not to mention those present in the environment we live in. Every time we touch something we transfer microbial life from one place to another. Understanding the genetic make-up of these microbes and how they interact with one another is crucial to increase our knowledge of all life forms and all environments on the planet.

 

Microbiome research involves identifying and characterising the genetic material of microorganisms found in a particular environment. This relatively young field has seen an explosion of research in the last few years, and is rapidly growing as more is discovered about the uses of microbiome data and methods and protocols are developed.

 

Scientists have been studying the microbial life which exists

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From: BioMed Central blog

The global fight against TB: identifying childhood infection and diagnosing complications

Claire Barnard on July 23, 2014 at 10:58 - 0 Comments

Recent estimates suggest that childhood tuberculosis (TB) rates are much higher than previously reported. The predictions, carried out by researchers at the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, took bacterial behavior and adult infection rates into account across 22 countries with the highest incidence of TB, and suggest that more than 650,000 children develop TB each year. This figure is around 25% higher than current World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, suggesting that health officials may be missing a great opportunity to prevent the spread of infection. Leading the research, Peter Dodd highlighted that:

Children are an often ignored but important part of TB control efforts…our findings highlight...

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From: BioMed Central blog

National healthcare: The modern biomedical lab

Amye Kenall on July 23, 2014 at 10:10 - 0 Comments

In 2009 Obama devoted $19 billion to healthcare innovation—innovation that was in its first instance quite rudimentary, the very digitisation of healthcare data. Now as the digitised healthcare data infrastructure grows both in the US and worldwide, what is the next phase of innovation?

The answer, from someone who works with researchers, is clear: a data dialogue between researchers and clinicians. Initiatives like the Global Alliance for Sharing Genomic and Clinical Data led by David Haussler are making strides toward doing this for treatment and research for cancer.

Last week I attended ISMB in Boston, where I saw one quantitative analyst (quant) who had similar ideas about better healthcare treatment through research and more data for research through healthcare. His...

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From: BioMed Central blog

The gatekeepers of the future

Ruth Francis on July 22, 2014 at 15:15 - 0 Comments

The world around us has transformed dramatically in the last 20 years, and the world of science is being shaped by technology. Crowdsourcing and citizen science are made easy by the internet and mobile apps. Article metrics and peer review experiments allow us to challenge processes that have decided science for hundreds of years. Career structures are able to change and diversify thanks to industry’s and technology’s demands. But does this truly affect research and its impacts, and are the gatekeepers for science really changing?

A few weeks ago I attended the EuroScience Open Forum meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. EuroScience Open Forum, or ESOF, is a pan-European meeting that happens every two years in a different city –...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Beyond ENCODE - let’s continue the conversation

Elizabeth Moylan on July 22, 2014 at 12:06 - 0 Comments

As the human genome sequence was completed, so the deep analysis of it began in earnest with the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project – intended to identify all functional elements in the human genome.

The project involved a worldwide consortium of research groups and the data emerging can be accessed through public databases. BioMed Central has published a selection of the early findings.

ENCODE initiatives lead to modENCODE a project aspiring to identify the functional elements in the genomes of the model organisms Caenorhabditis elegans (nematode) and Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly). The extension of the ‘ENCODE approach’ to other model organisms allows further biological validation of the findings coming from the human genome project.

And building on ENCODE doesn’t

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