Winners of the BMC Ecology Image Competition

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Editors' Pick - Laetitia Kernaleguen

As well as being an art form, photography is an important tool used by researchers to document their observations. Earlier this year, BMC Ecology launched its second image competition to showcase images of the natural world. Now we have the great pleasure of unveiling the winners.

“The best work often shows that new phenomena – sometimes startling, sometimes beautiful and sometimes both – are always there to be found with the keenest eye, the sharpest act of attention” explains Casper Henderson and his fellow judges.

Images hold scientific value through capturing fascinating interactions and ecological events, whether depicting an intimate encounter between a mother albatross and her chick, or capturing a Phorid fly trying to parasitise a Carpenter ant.

Our image …

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The human resources for health crisis

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Community health worker gives a vaccination in Odisha state, India. Credit: Pippa Ranger, Innovation Advisor, DFID/Flickr

This is a guest post by Esmé Lanktree of the Global Health Research Initiative, and editor of supplements in Human Resources for Health and BMC Health Services Research.

Are we really facing a human resources for health (HRH) crisis? If we take crisis to mean a crucial moment in time, then an argument could be made against, as this is not a new problem. However, if we define crisis as ‘a situation that has reached a critical phase’ or ‘a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention’ (see Merriam-Webster), then the current HRH situation is certainly a crisis.

The 2006 World Health Report: Working together for health estimated a shortage of over four million health workers, and according …

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Reading the new map of breast cancer

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Dr Nick Peel of Cancer Research UK on the classification of breast cancer

Research published today in Genome Biology could improve treatments, and the targeting of treatments, for breast cancer. In this guest post, Cancer Research UK’s Dr Nick Peel describes the history of the findings and what they could mean for future research.

Just over two years ago a landmark study took our knowledge of breast cancer to a new level.

An international team of scientists, led by Professor Carlos Caldas and his team at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, mapped the genetic landscape of breast cancer in unprecedented detail, redefining it as 10 distinct diseases.

But as with many of these vast genetic explorations, the study revealed as much unexplored terrain as it mapped – exposing the complexity …

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Climate-smart agriculture: scientists show agricultural progress in responding to climate change

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Diversified landscapes offer benefits to farmers by providing many cropping options for climate change. And agroforestry and reduced deforestation increase carbon storage and reduce greenhouse emissions. Research helps determine ways to build resilience in different agricultural contexts. Image courtesy of Louise E Jackson

There are over seven billion people living on our planet and this vast population creates an equally vast demand for food and fuel. In this guest post, the authors of an article published today in Agriculture and Food Security tell us how climate-smart agriculture could help us to combat the threat of climate change to these in-demand resources.

Climate change is already putting food security at risk. Rising temperatures and extreme events, such as sudden droughts and floods, mean that it will be even harder to meet the growing demand for food, fiber and fuel, especially for poor countries with high population growth.

Unless immediate action is taken by policy-makers, the impacts on livelihoods will increase over the long-run, especially if agriculture …

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Obesity: exploring the causes, consequences and solutions

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obesity pic

The World Health Organization estimates that global levels of obesity have doubled since 1980. In 2012, more than 40 million children under the age of 5 were estimated to be overweight or obese, which is an issue of serious concern as excess body weight is believed to be the driver of many non-communicable diseases, namely type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

To tackle what is, in most cases, a preventable condition, there is increasing focus on research into understanding the mechanisms behind obesity, including our genetics and the influence of lifestyle and the environment. There is also now increased focus on introducing public health initiatives to aid long-term weight loss, which range from improving public, …

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Large hypomethylated blocks could be a universal cancer ‘signature’

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Figure 1 Many of the methylation changes at single probes between cancer and normal 
are far from CpG islands. Irizarry et al. Genome Medicine

In this guest post, Dr Andrew Teschendorff of University College London and the CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai, examines a new Genome Medicine study.

In an exciting research article published today in Genome Medicine, Rafa Irizzary and colleagues provide evidence for a gradual systems-level deregulation of the epigenome in stages prior to the onset of cancer and which later is seen to progress further in cancer. Thus, these insights could potentially lead to a clinical test with the ability to predict cancer risk in cells that are not yet malignant.

The authors focused on a specific epigenetic mark, known as DNA methylation, a molecular modification of DNA which can regulate the activity of nearby …

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‘Prostate cancers’ not ‘prostate cancer’ – revealing the many faces of ‘one’ disease

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Iain Frame

New research published today in Genome Biology shows that RNA sequencing could lead the way towards more personalized treatments for prostate cancer. In this guest post, Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK discusses what this could mean for patients and health services, and what more is needed to provide effective support and treatment for men with prostate cancer.

We are used to hearing and talking about prostate cancer as a single disease.  Albeit a disease with its tigers and pussycats – the tigers being the aggressive cancers that move out of the prostate gland to other parts of the body, and the pussycats being those cancers that may never cause any harm and won’t go …

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Global health research: managing the burden of mental illnesses, diabetes and HIV

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The past two decades have shown an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), affecting high-income as well as low- and middle-income countries. In fact, 63% of all deaths worldwide were due at least in part to NCDs, and around three quarters of the world’s chronic disease-related deaths that year occurred in low- and middle-income countries. These countries have to contend with a dual burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, which pose not only a health burden, but also an economic burden. Three studies published in BMC Medicine this week explore some of these important issues.

 

Mental health disorders in Ethiopian homeless

Despite being a leading cause of disability and ill health globally, mental health

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Announcing the Great Galaxy GigaScience (G3) Open Science Workshop

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This is a guest post by Dr Nick Wong, a researcher in developmental epigenetics at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Victoria, Australia. Dr Wong is taking part in the G3 workshop. Register for free here.

 

Having been quite versed in the art of research 8 years post PhD, I have been very fortunate to witness a renaissance in publishing in two ways. First, I remember quite well during my PhD training (over 10 years ago), the process of preparing a manuscript for the highest ranked journal—submit, reject, reformat and submit to the next journal, reject, submit . . . you get the story. During that time, Impact Factor was the key metric in which a journal was measured. This evolved quickly …

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The secrets of the ‘little brain’ – what do we really know about the cerebellum?

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Cerebellum_small

The cerebellum is best known for its role in muscle coordination, but what part does it play in cognition and behaviour? Last month, I attended the 6th International Congress of the Society for Cerebellar Research (SRC 2014) where I found there is a lot more to the cerebellum than regulating motor movements…

What is the cerebellum?

The cerebellum (Latin for ‘little brain’) has the appearance of a separate structure to the brain and is located underneath the large mass of the cerebral cortex. Despite being relatively small in size, the cerebellum contains more neurons than any other region of the brain, owing to its unique geometrical structure and large number of tiny granule cells.

The cerebellum and motor control

Traditionally viewed …

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