Life after the Millennium Development Goals: Raising the voices of marginalized communities

Eight goals for 2015

Whilst not perfect, the Millennium Development Goals have helped to focus the work of the global health community. But what happens post 2015? Guest blogger Ana Lorena Ruano, Managing Editor of International Journal for Equity in Health tells us about new research into giving a voice to marginalized communities.

The Millennium Declaration of 2000 presented the world with eight Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to improve social and economic development and to eradicate poverty.

Despite the goals’ shortcomings, the last decade and a half has shown the global health community how useful they can be when it comes to focusing attention and funding into specific areas. Today, the global consensus is to renew these goals through the embracement of …

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Schizophrenia: quality of life and drug treatment

Brain Activity

To recognize World Mental Health day and its focus on living with schizophrenia we‘ve taken a look at some recent research emphasizing quality of life and treatment for those affected by this chronic mental condition.

Seven adults out of every 1,000 have schizophrenia, with half of affected individuals not receiving appropriate care. Over 90% of untreated people are from low- and middle- income countries. The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims to scale up services for mental disorders in these countries by ensuring proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication.

Quality of life

Living with schizophrenia affects daily life. A recent study from the UK, highlighted in the news, showed that delusion prone schizophrenic patients are less likely …

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How the Nobel Prize helps us find out where we are, in every sense

Hippocampus_small (1)

The Nobel Prizes were announced this week, and the people and findings that are given the most significant award in science can tell us a lot about where science is, and what pressing questions researchers are answering.

For one thing, it tells us where the academy thinks we’ve achieved the most. This year’s nobel prize for physiology or medicine went to John O’Keefe and the Mosers – May-Britt and Edvard, “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.

O’Keefe used neurophysiological methods to show that certain hippocampus nerve cells were activated when mice were in a particular spot, and that these built an inner map of the environment. The Mosers then found …

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How safe is the air we breathe?


Research in the field of particle and fiber toxicology doesn’t often hit in the headlines, but these researchers have been vital in uncovering human health ‘black holes’ – illness-causing issues on a grand scale. We take a look into the field, some of its history and what’s still left to uncover.

There’s a material that humans have been using for perhaps as long as 5,000 years. It absorbs sound effectively, is resistant to heat and fire, as well as electrical and chemical damage, and it’s affordable too. By the mid-20th century we were using it in everything from concrete, bricks and pipe insulation, to lawn furniture and flooring. In Japan it was even used in the process of rice …

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Why we need badges in science


In the world of research, as with most vocational settings, there’s a lot that gets done that goes unrecognized. That unrecognized work can not only be crucial for getting to the actual research outcome put forward in the form of publications, but also for reflecting important skills gained.

Yet, outside of the traditional means of credit—such as degrees, publications, role titles—there is no real way of recognizing this skill with the same issuing authority as with which one receives a degree or publication. The idea that these skills deserve recognition is gaining ground.

Recently, the Wellcome Trust, MIT, Digital Science, and others have come together to create a taxonomy of contributorship. It recognizes roles like data curation, development of design methodology, …

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Hepatitis in Europe – the hidden epidemic

Jeffrey V. Lazarus

As the HepHIV 2014 Conference in Barcelona continues, guest blogger Professor Jeffrey Lazarus, Secretariat Director of Health Systems Global, and a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Health and Infectious Diseases Research, tells us about the challenges we face to combat hepatitis in Europe.

When is it important to gather more evidence to inform the response to a major public health problem, and when must we act on the limited available evidence in order to save as many lives as possible? As I worked with my colleague Kevin Fenton to prepare a supplement published by BMC Infectious Diseases on viral hepatitis and drug use in Europe, I found myself reflecting often on this question.

It weighed on my …

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tRFs and the Argonautes: gene silencing from antiquity


In Greek mythology, the Argonauts are a band of heroes who accompany Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece, a garment whose origins likely lie in the use of sheep fleeces as sieves to collect gold flakes from running water.

In a new paper published in BMC Biology, Anindya Dutta and colleagues mine Argonaute (sic) datasets for biology's very own hidden gold: previously neglected fragments of tRNA molecules, known as tRFs.

Here's seven awesome things you need to know about tRFs:

1) tRNA molecules are routinely degraded by the cell into tRNA halves and smaller fragments (tRFs), which can be created from both the 5' and 3' ends of each tRNA. Some studies have argued that these degradation products …

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September blogs digest: gene patenting, Jack the Ripper, Angelina Jolie, and more


If you missed out on any of our blogs in September, never fear! We’ve got all the top content for you right here.

‘You might as well patent oxygen’ 

In the wake of the decision by the Australian Federal Court to uphold gene patenting, BMC Biology’s Naomi Attar took to the blogs to write an ‘unashamedly unbalanced’ take on their decision. You may have gathered from the title that she wasn’t too impressed. In her post she takes us through the ins and outs of why that is.

Was it really the barber? A look at Jack the Ripper’s DNA test

Jack the Ripper hit the headlines in September, as his supposed ‘true’ identity was revealed. It was said to be none …

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BugBitten and the art of war

Image credit: Philip Dyer

According to Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general, strategist and author of Art of War,  the key to winning a battleis knowing your enemy. And clearly, for those who are trying to eliminate some of the most devastating parasitic diseases known to humans and animals, understanding what makes parasites and their vectors tick [pun intended] AND disseminating this knowledge is crucial in the ‘war’.

In October 2013, a group of parasitologists set out on a quest to create a forum where the latest research, news and events concerning parasites (and of course their vectors) can be brought to our attention fast and that is how BugBitten was born… and today we are celebrating its first birthday.

Right from …

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Which system of peer review for you?


It’s two years now since the journals BMC Pharmacology and BMC Clinical Pharmacology merged to create BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology. Chris Morrey, the Executive Editor for the journal marks the occasion with a birthday post over on the BMC series blog.

In merging a biology journal that has ‘traditional’ anonymous peer review (BMC Pharmacology) with a medical journal that has fully open peer review (BMC Clinical Pharmacology) what should the peer review process be? In the end, openness prevailed (in keeping with all the other medical titles in the BMC series) where the identity of the reviewers is known to all parties – editors, authors and readers.

To see what the Editorial Board – with their variety of …

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