And the winners are…

res award trophy

Each year the BioMed Central Research Awards recognize the best freely available open access research published within our journals. The awards acknowledge research excellence across all fields of biology and medicine and include an Open Data award, (sponsored by LabArchives) for its contribution to data sharing initiatives, and a Case Report award for the most significant contribution to clinical knowledge in its field.

The best articles, in terms of quality of research, interest and impact, for ten subject-specific category awards, were chosen from all research published by BioMed Central during 2013 by an expert panel of scientists and clinicians.

This year’s winning articles can be found here and cover a range of topics including how …

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Mental capacity may not be a sufficiently robust safeguard in the Assisted Dying Bill

Annabel Price

As the Assisted Dying Bill goes through UK Parliament, a key proposed safeguard is that a patient must have the mental capacity to make the decision to end their life.

Dr Annabel Price works with terminally ill patients and is an author of an analysis of evidence presented to the Commission for Assisted Dying, which was published in BMC Medical Ethics today. She conducted  this research as a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, but has recently moved to Cambridge as a Consultant in Liaison Psychiatry.

In this guest post she tells us about her work on this controversial topic, and how the Bill could be improved.

Mental capacity has been placed …

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Innovations in peer review: join a discussion with our Editors


Join the BioMed Central Editors on Twitter tomorrow to talk about some of the innovations taking place in peer review…

Innovation may not be an adjective often associated with peer review, indeed commentators have claimed that peer review slows innovation and creativity in science. Preconceptions aside, publishers are attempting to shake things up a little, with various innovations in peer review, and these are the focus of a panel discussion at BioMed Central’s Editors’ Conference on Wednesday 23 April in Doha, Qatar. This follows our spirited discussion at the Experimental Biology conference in Boston last year.

The discussion last year focussed on the limitations of the traditional peer review model (you can see a video here). This year we …

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Eggs are for science, not just for Easter


Eggs are a staple part of our diet. But is there more to them than being tasty and full of protein? We take a look at their potential uses, and the recent findings researchers are frying up. No eggs were harmed during the writing of this blog.

Easter approaches, and with Easter we usually find eggs. You won’t be hearing about eggs of the chocolate variety, however. Just regular old shelled eggs. Boring? Not exactly. We crack open our journals and dish out recent egg-based research that bring new insights into the potential uses of eggs.

Cracking down on allergies

Could eggs hold the key to gaining control over allergic reactions? Research findings are suggesting there’s some potential here.


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Genetics link found in search for sweet strawberries

Holding strawberries

This post by Madeleine Martiniello looks at findings from two new papers on strawberries published in BMC Genomics today, and is republished with kind permission from The Conversation.

If you’ve ever bitten into a strawberry and wondered why it doesn’t taste as sweet or as good as others in the punnet, you could blame the fruit’s genetics.

Two studies, published today in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavour of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others.

The gene FaFAD1 controls a key flavour volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as “fruity”, “sweet” or “peachy” and …

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Weapons of low-mass destruction: small ORFs in the uncharted parasite genome

bmc biol

In our genomes, there is a whole host of genes hiding in plain sight. These genes are not included in major genome annotation efforts and are widely ignored in the literature, even though in some cases they have been conserved for as long as 550 million years.

So how have these genes remained hidden? There is a short answer to this. Literally so: the genes are short.

Scientists and computer algorithms that hunt for genes expect their prey to take the form of long sequences of hundreds of nucleotides, and quite simply ignore or discard candidates that do not meet this criterion.

But they are perhaps unwise to do so, suggest a number of recent reports, including an article in BMC

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Knowledge sharing: key to improving dog health

golden retriever

To mark today’s launch of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, we asked the Kennel Club’s Health Information Manager, Aimée Llewellyn, to tell us more about the journal’s background and its potential impact on the wellbeing of dogs:

The Kennel Club had been working to improve their educational resources for many years. In late 2011, it was agreed to investigate developing or potentially linking with a canine-focused scientific journal to make the newly emerging genetic research more accessible to the general public and dog breeders, as well as a more centralized resource for the veterinary community.

The problem was there wasn’t a journal already in place that focused purely, or even mainly, on dog health. So we looked into the …

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Help me: I’m interdisciplinary! – A blog post about interdisciplinary health services research

Different ways of thinking

In this post, new guest blogger Jay Shaw looks at the challenges of working across disciplines in research and what can be done to address them.

I have a dilemma. I am a postdoctoral researcher in health services and policy research at University Health Network in Toronto, Canada. I am trained as a physiotherapist; I did my PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, which was supervised by a physiotherapist, a psychologist, and a nurse; and my postdoctoral advisory committee includes a geographer, a sociologist, and an anthropologist. I guess I’m still sorting through my disciplinary identity crisis.

This might sound a bit like an educational carnival (thanks to Mikhail Bakhtin for that one), but it’s actually just a reflection of …

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Farm animals are more intelligent than they seem

Credit to Brian Squibb (35)

Following on from our post last month about research into the intelligence of goats, we asked one of the authors of the article, Elodie Briefer, to tell us more about why she studies goats and what is was like to carry out the research. Here’s what she had to say…

My main research interests are vocal communication and cognition. I carried out my PhD in the Bioacoustics team of Paris South University, on the song of skylarks. After my PhD, I moved to Queen Mary University of London to work with Alan McElligott on mother-offspring vocal recognition and vocal ontogeny in goats, and later on, on goat personality and emotions.

Expanding the breadth of research on cognition

After a few …

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Tamiflu: A poster child for transparency in clinical trials?


Thursday 10 April saw the publication of the Cochrane systematic review on oseltamivir and zanamivir, or Tamiflu (Roche) and Relenza (GlaxoSmithKline) to give them their better-known trade names. In short, the review found that Tamiflu doesn’t work quite as well as we thought; a finding that is the culmination of a four-and-a-half year battle for access to the raw data from the clinical trials.

The authors – Jefferson, Heneghan and colleagues – uncovered what they characterized as ‘multisystem failure’, with poorly-defined endpoints and confusion as to the authorship and contribution of the clinical trials. They also found that all studies were conducted against placebo, rather than against current best practice. Overall, the reviewers felt that the published studies were …

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