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 …
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 …
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, …
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 …
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 …
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 …
According to Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general, strategist and author of Art of War, the key to winning a battle, is 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 …
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 …
In just a month’s time from now, Mozilla will be hosting their annual Mozilla Festival (“MozFest” for short), which for the 2nd year will feature a Science Track, which this year we will be contributing to through a 3-hour sprint on author contributorship, the journal article, and the Open Badges Infrastructure. We’re organising this with our friends at PLoS, the Wellcome Trust, ORCiD, Digital Science, and Digital Me. Look out for our blog in the next few days where we’ll go into more detail about this session.
MozFest is where communities working in technology, design, education, journalism, and research come together to innovate in the space of the Web. It’s for coders and non-coders alike. Bring everything …
The horrible crisis that is unfolding in Africa, with ebolavirus infection now threatening to become endemic, has its roots in many causes, of which the current state of understanding of the virus and the means of its control must be the least.
It’s not that we don’t know what to do
Ebolavirus outbreaks can be brought under control within weeks by established containment measures. But in this case, it was three months before the virus was recognized as the cause of the outbreak and another five before WHO declared a public health emergency, with the humanitarian response following only some weeks after that.
Meanwhile densely populated towns, and not just rural areas, are affected; the populations of the affected areas are …