Wednesday, April 26, 2006
So, does anyone have a feel for good buildings to rent in Atlanta, if my impression of Emory's housing facilities is wrong, how much I should expect to pay, etc.
I'm off to Tokyo for about 10 days, so I'll catch ya'll on the flipside!
Swiss researchers seem to be having some luck in a trial of a vaccine against dust mite allergies. This would make my life so much better, so I wish them much luck.
Sky blue is the best color for setting and maintaining circadian rhythms, and yellow light is counter-productive. This is very interesting and cool.
Researchers have engineered mice with brains full of beta-amyloid plaques and tangles - hallmarks of Alzheimers Disease - that don't suffer memory deficits. I'm not clear on how, or what they think the mechanism may be, but this is striking and possibly huge.
Selenium supplementation does not seem to offer protection against heart disease. Sorry kids, you're just gonna have to eat healthily and exercise!
Smog is bad for you, and for your fetus: Columbia researchers have found that kids whose moms breathe lots of exhaust fumes while pregnant do more poorly on developmental tests. The study does not appear to be very well controlled, but it's an intriguing finding none the less.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Swiss researchers are making good progress on a potential vaccine for Leishmaniasis, which is a nasty little bugger. Yay!
Monday, April 24, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
And despite an IOM report stating the contrary. Because, you know, the arguably most venerable scientific body in the world can't possibly know as much as appointed officials.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The good bit is that I've gotten back more than a couple of really fantastic notes, saying that I'll be missed, and even offering help in the future. This makes me very happy.
So, if I'm a but smug for a day or so, please don't hate me for it. It's rare I get to feel this secure.
Still no cure for cancer.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Standardization has been a big problem for proponents of these 'alternative' therapies, in that lacking them has made it even more difficult than usual to substantiate claims of real benefits.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Prevention is a, and perhaps the, critical public health goal, and it requires a careful balance of do's and don'ts. Today, we see a potential example of each: for preventing breast cancer, and resistant bacterial infections.
Studies have shown that tamoxifen reduces womens' risk of developing certain types of breast cancer. The problem is, tamoxifen has some pretty serious side effects. Another drug, raloxifene, seems to be as effective at preventing breast cancer, but without many of the side effects. The study looks odd to me - I'm not sure how well controlled it was, but the results are interesting.
Food-borne bacterial infections are nasty, but usually easily remedied with antibiotics. The problem, of course, is when the bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, usually due to previous exposure. Previously, it's been presumed that resistance is due to overuse of antibiotics by humans, in humans, but Australian researchers suggest that use of antibiotics in food animals may have a similar effect. Australia banned use of many antibiotics in livestock (good for them!), and found lower rates of resistant-strain infections in humans. Not a shock, but good to see some confirmation of our suspicions.
Monday, April 17, 2006
I went to the freezer and put a scoopfull of my lovely coffee into my mug, add sugar, and took it to the hot water dispenser to fill it.
The water doesn't come out hot enough. The microwave near the coffee room/my office was busy heating someone's lunch. I could not wait for my caffeine. So, I went over to the kitchenette on the other side of the office, and nuked my
The detail I forgot was this: my mug has no handle, so it gets very hot when I do this, and the kitchenette it too far from my office to do my usual oh-I'll-make-it-before-I-burn-my-fingers dash. This is where I got clever: I borrowed someone's "normal" mug - the kind with a handle - and put my cup inside, since pouring it over would lose the
I stirred furiously, nuked it some more (hotter water dissolves more coffee!), and poured the contents into another (third) mug. I now have to wash three mugs.
I know, I know. I'm a genius.
Still probably not as effective as going to the gym every day. But then, I hate the gym.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It's in the April 13 Nature, I think.
AT+T is totally evil and very happy to help BushCo in its illegal wiretapping activities.
Fast food has super-high trans-fat content.
This guy is my hero.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Smith and Pell are right to target the billowing ranks of the RCT Gestapo for a good mocking. The Randomized Controlled Trial is the gold standard for medical interventions (and many other research endeavors) for many good reasons. It is not, as some seem convinced, the only way to do things. Their mocking study is brilliant, up till about two-thirds of the way through, when they seem to give up the pretense and start smirking. It's less funny than when you are still wondering if they're serious.
Redfearn points this out, and begins to chastise the stores for policies that pretty plainly target the poor and minorities, but then backs off, letting the "business argument" against theft carry the day. She also (a bit inexplicably) feels the need to give the abstinence whackos a few lines of space, after which she lamely discredits them (but only if you read carefully).
I understand the businesses position. If they really do see high theft rates in some stores - though I'd be more inclined to believe them if they offered numbers - they have an interest in locking things up. However, there needs to be a better way of unlocking them. Why not put them behind the counter - that way it's between a customer and the check-out clerk, same as if they weren't locked up. It might be a little less intimidating.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The idea is that the melted fat would then be excreted by the body. No word on what anyone thinks about the plausible side effects of adding that much waste to the bloodstream might be.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Once your baby is born and is breathing properly, it will need to watch what it breathes. We all know that smoking is bad for you, but a BMJ study suggests that second-hand smoke increases glucose intolerance, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. I'm not sure if the study controlled for things like lifestyle (people exposed to lots of second-hand smoke may spend more time in bars, thus drinking more and eating more fries, etc.), but this is an interesting result.
Not caused by breathing, but likely to stop it, African Sleeping Sickness affects about 60 million people worldwide, and kills about 40,000 per year. It's a disease that affects mostly poor people in Africa, and thus has a tendency not to get researched as much as it should, so news of a potentially major breakthrough against it are especially welcome. UK researchers have found that the bacteria that causes the sickness, Trypanosoma brucei, cannot live in the blood stream without its flagellum, and have identified a number of unique proteins making up said flagellum. This could lead to better treatments and targeted drugs.
If you manage not to be dead, you probably use battery-powered devices, and are aware of how expensive batteries are, and probably of how environmentally nasty they are to produce. The solution to these problems may turn out to come from viruses. MIT researchers have genetically engineered tube-shaped viruses to harvest cobalt and gold for a metallic coating, and self-assemble themselves into a 10 centimeter battery anode. This is cool for many obvious reasons.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
And I still don't know where I'm going to grad school!
Besides vaccines, a healthy diet can help prevent disease. Yet more research indicates that eating cruciferous veggies may stop prostate cancer growth. The effect seems to stem from isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are produced when the plants are cut or chewed. All the more reason to eat your broccoli!!
Not crunchy at all, but closer to veggie than vaccine, Wayne State scientists managed to restore some visual perception to blinded mice. They replaced the destroyed rods and cones by grafting photoreceptive compounds from green algae on to the surviving retinal cells. This is really cool!
And I still haven't picked a grad school. Ahhhh!
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Those crazy Mass-holes have done it again. A bill passed the State Legislature yesterday that requires all residents to purchase health insurance, the same way that all car owners have to have car insurance. I'm all for universal coverage, but I think this law will be a disaster.
First of all, the reason that people don't have insurance, for the most part, is that they cannot afford it. Why on Earth do you need to penalize them (additionally) for being poor? It seems totally unnecessary: if you're offering subsidized coverage, people will take it. As long as they know about it - that's the rub - why not just auto-enroll everyone?
Second, of course Romney is gonna veto the bit that requires employers to provide coverage - I think it's an unworkable provision as well for a number of reasons, but "protecting businesses" isn't one. This too seems excessive; shouldn't the subsidized plans take care of that anyways?
Finally, this law doesn't strike me as likely to pass court reviews. The mandatory nature will make it a target on many fronts (due process, privacy, etc...some help from the lawyers here?), and I imagine that it'll have to be scrapped and rewritten a few times.
This law seems like every other "bipartisan" health care effort we've seen: overly complicated and too vested in special considerations (aka interests) to be useful. But it's some movement and radical enough to maybe make people start thinking, and so we'll see what happens.
Also noted: the GAO has caught on to a bit of the stupidity of the Bush regime's AIDS plan, and is taking BushCo to task on the abstinence programs requirement. The GAO report focuses on funding diverted to abstinence programs from other things, like condom distribution and mother-child transmission prevention, but, unfortunately, doesn't seem to mention the proven inefficacy of abstinence programs. I'm still waiting for the GAO report on those. But still, every little bit helps, right?
A National Cancer Institute study makes me feel better about my Diet Coke consumption: it seems that aspartame does not cause cancer in humans. The study did not, however, address neurotoxicity or other bad effects.
Lab studies suggest that ginger may help kill ovarian cancer, and that caspaisin may help kill pancreatic cancers. More hot ginger!!
Genetic analysis of Ashkenazi Jews yields a putative 'longevity gene.' A polymorphism in apolipoprotein C3 is linked with long life, lower blood pressure, and increased insulin sensitivity (i.e., the opposite of diabetes). Cool!
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Once you've woken up, you need to worry about your job. But don't worry too much, as research suggests that chronic job insecurity can lead to major health problems. D'oh! But you may soon be able to get a custom-grow replacement for those organs you destroy in the process of coping: Wake Forest doctors have announced successful transplantation of lab-grown bladders into young patients. They grew the bladders from bladder biopsies on a bladder-shaped scaffold. Cool!
The best cure for workplace stress is, of course, a vacation. If you're going somewhere sunny, don't forget your sunscreen. Or maybe you should. Researchers have found that ingredients in sunscreen seem to disrupt thyroid function in rats. It's not clear how or if this translates to humans, but I guess we knew it was coming.
Monday, April 03, 2006
I don't know which school's going to offer better job prospects, or even better internships while I'm there. And then there's the quality of life question.
Is there anything to do on or near Emory's (specifically, the Rollins School of Public Health) campus? I visited, and did not find a pub or coffeeshop in proximity. I was a bit put off by Emory's LGBT group's table at the visit day: the only thing they had was a big "Safe Spaces" brochure. Now, I have a loud mouth and tend to get ... aggressive ... when faced with homophobia, and "dealing with the cops" is not how I want to spend grad school.
Does anyone know Emory? Any chance you went to Rollins SPH? What's it like? Did you get a good job? Were you bored with the location? Do you know Michigan? Did you get a good job? Besides the cold-assed-ness, how'd you like Ann Arbor?
If you're on the Atkins diet, you shouldn't be. If you are pregnant, you really shouldn't be.