Social science perspectives

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Social science has
an important contribution to make to the understanding of globalization, its
dynamics, and its consequences for health equity and well-being, health systems
and the healthcare economy.

A new thematic series, Health
systems, health economies and globalization: social science perspectives
,
published in Globalization and Health brings together articles that reflect
current developments within a range of social science disciplines contributing
to this area of enquiry. The collection aims to highlight challenges faced
in researching globalization, health systems and health economies and identify innovative approaches to
inform current research, health policy and organization.

New articles will be
added to the series soon; you can sign up to receive article alerts when
they are …

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The Dictyostelium purpureum genome: insights into the evolution of multicellularity

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In this month’s issue of Genome Biology, Igor V. Grigoriev, Adam Kuspa and colleagues present the genome of Dictyostelium purpureum, a close relative (by around 400 million years) of Dictyostelium discoideum, the model Dictyostelid.

Until relatively recently, these interesting organisms were commonly known as slime molds; however they have now been classified as bona fide Amoebozoa. Dictyostelids are studied primarily to understand the evolution of multicellularity, because they exist in both single-celled and multicellular states. When nutrients are lacking, single celled organisms group together, forming multicellular ‘fruiting bodies’ with terminally differentiated spores. How this process works is still under investigation.

Kuspa and colleagues have sequenced the genome of D. purpureum and compared it to that of D. discoideum. They …

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Improving physicians’ understanding of statistical tests

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To correctly interpret claims made in the medical literature, the reader must understand the statistical significance testing that underpins them. There are concerns, however, that many physicians misunderstand the probabilistic logic underlying these tests. As well as having a potentially negative effect on the quality of medical research, this lack of understanding could ultimately have adverse implications for public health.Westover and colleagues highlight and attempt to address this problem in their debate published today in BMC Medicine.

By administration of a simple quiz to 246 physicians, Westover et al. found that a startling 93% answered incorrectly. In light of these results, the authors provide an accessible explanation of the underlying probabilistic concepts that need to be followed if intelligent …

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Open Research Computation – reproducible computational research

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"Scientific computation is emerging as absolutely central to the scientific method, but the prevalence of very relaxed practices is leading to a credibility crisis affecting many scientific fields. It is impossible to verify most of the results that computational scientists present at conferences and in papers today. Reproducible computational research, in which all details of computations — code and data — are made conveniently available to others, is a necessary response to this crisis.”

This was the rationale for a recent symposium on the digitization of science, led by Dr Victoria Stodden, Editorial Board member of Open Research Computation, which is now accepting submissions. At the symposium, fellow Editorial Board member Dr Fernando Perez discussed how scientists …

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Dr DNA may rid the world of the ‘Whodunnit’ dilemma

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Developments in forensic genetics may eventually render the old age question of ‘Whodunnit?’ redundant. Certain phenotypes (a person’s outward traits such as eye colour and hair colour) can now be predicted through DNA samples including blood, sperm and saliva. Professor Manfred Kayser, leader of the forensic molecular biology department at Erasmus University Medical Center and co-Editor-in-Chief of BioMed Central’s open access journal Investigative Genetics, is making headlines around the world through his studies as CSI jumps from our TV screens into the real world.

A recent profile published in Science explains Professor Kayser’s career and how he ended up as an “upcoming star” in forensic DNA phenotyping. 

Amongst Professor Kayser’s achievements, ‘Irisplex’ is a test developed by his …

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Exploiting the advances of multimedia technology in medical publishing

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Articles in medical and scientific journals have long been beset by restrictions on the type of figures that can be incorporated into the main manuscript file. For example, three-dimensional (3D) images are likely to be relegated to supplementary files, hindering the reader’s understanding and analysis of critical information. However, advances in multimedia technology mean that it is now possible to integrate complex multimedia data into a single PDF document, bypassing the need for supplementary files. In a commentary for BMC Medicine, Alexander Ziegler and colleagues describe this advance in electronic publishing, and how these developments can be exploited in medical and scientific reports in particular. The authors give examples to demonstrate how and why embedding interactive 3D …

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Following in Darwin’s footsteps on his 202nd birthday

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In celebration of Charles Darwin’s birthday on the 12th February, BMC Evolutionary Biology shows how his work on natural and sexual selection continues to have relevance in the 21st century. 152 years have passed since ‘On the Origin of the Species’ was published amidst huge controversy and since then his theories have found widespread acceptance worldwide.

However, despite the significant advances made in the field of natural selection some of his key observations regarding the effect of geography on the evolution of  bird populations continue to be reflected in current research.

This month BMC Evolutionary Biology publishes work on this topic by Clementina González and colleagues. Their article focuses on the importance of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the …

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Wrangling in RANKL

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Recent reports have suggested that inhibition of RANK ligand (RANKL) – essential in the development of osteoclasts – may also play a role in the management of proliferative breast disease, and that inactivation of the RANK receptor in the mammary epithelium can result in decreasing cases of medroxyprogesterone acetate mammary cancer. Breast Cancer Research has published two viewpoint articles that explain how and why these results are important in controlling this form of breast cancer.

In separate articles, Dr Russ Hovey, University of California Davis, USA, and Dr Cathrin Brisken, Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, Switzerland, analyse the findings of both reports, and agree that RANK and RANKL may have a key role in …

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Early-onset AD – a call for clinical trial inclusion

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a significant public health
burden and has huge devastating effects at an individual level. For over two
decades, an arbitrary cut-off of age of 65 years has been
used to distinguish between the two phenotypes of early and late-onset AD and since the majority
of Alzheimer’s disease patients develop late-onset AD, most clinical trials address
this population, resulting in many of those with early-onset AD being excluded.

In a review article recently published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy as
part of a new review series on early-onset dementia, Kinga Szigeti and Rachelle
Doody discuss whether early-onset AD patients should be included in clinical
trials. Despite the fact that …

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Hundreds log on for BioMed Central’s sCMOS technology webinar

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BioMed Central hosted the hugely successful “Neo sCMOS – Harnessing the full performance potential of Scientific CMOS Technology” webinar on Thursday 20th January 2011. Hosted in partnership with Andor Technology plc, a world leader in scientific imaging and spectroscopy solutions, 395 attendees from 31 countries logged on to the free event which showcased the new Neo sCMOS camera

The 60-minute interactive webinar was hosted by Dr. Colin Coates, Product Manager at Andor Technology plc. More than 195 questions were submitted by attendees inspiring a lively, fascinating discussion about the revolutionary technology. 

Since the close of the event, a vast number of non-attendees have been logging on to http://insitu.stream57.com/harnessing/ where you can access the full session. 

The webinar introduced the …

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