Archive by date | February 2008

Nature Network Journal Club: Crossing the threshold to consciousness

The next installment of the Nature Network Neuroscience group journal club is now live. The paper is attempting to understand the neural mechanisms that distinguish between conscious and unconscious processing, and is from a collaborative group in Paris.  Read more

Anti antidepressants

By now, you’ve likely read a shocking headline questioning the effectiveness of the latest generation of antidepressants. Kirsch et al. report that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are only slightly more effective than placebos at reducing depression in a meta-analysis of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data. Are these data really worth all the fuss?  Read more

Pet sematary

A woman in the US has decided that she loved her pit bull (named Booger) so much, that having him all over again is definitely worth the $150,000 price tag. I saw this story in the BBC, reporting how a Korean company, RNL Bio, has taken its initial order for pet dog cloning, the first such venture of commercial scientific canine cloning (a pet cat was first cloned in 2004). The lead scientist at RNL Bio, Dr Lee Byeong-chun, had previously worked with disgraced stem cell scientist Dr Hwang Woo-suk, whose fraudulent publications created quite a stir (we referred to that scandal on Action potential here.)  … Read more

Separate but not equal?

If a disease affects men and women differently, does the disease’s mechanism differ by sex? My guess would be no. However, a recent article has me wondering. Schizophrenia symptoms, age of onset, and disease course differ in men and women, and some researchers report increased risk of schizophrenia in men relative to women. Now Shifman et al. report a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with schizophrenia in women but not men in a recent article in PLoS Genetics.  Read more

Harvard open-access policy – can you please be more specific?

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) at Harvard University voted Tuesday to adopt an open-access policy, providing a free repository for finished papers, according to a recent press release. This move will allow for greater dissemination of scholarly work conducted at Harvard, says Stuart Shieber, a professor at FAS. Shieber states that a combination of a restrictive publishing system and the “astronomical” cost of journals have led the Harvard professors to support such a venture. An official description of the proposal that was actually discussed by the FAS on Tuesday is here.  Read more

What are you doing for Darwin Day?

The Darwin Day celebration was initiated by Dr. Robert Stephens and was held at Stanford University on April 22, 1995 to celebrate the scientific accomplishments of Charles Darwin. In subsequent years, the event was changed to be on or around the birthday of Darwin (February 12, 1809) and has had many illustrious speakers take part, including Richard Dawkins and Donald Johanson. The celebration has become a global one, with museums, academic institutes, private foundations, and others sponsoring some form of a tribute to this famous scientist.  Read more

Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 = Scary Stuff

In mid-January, the Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 was released by the National Science Board. The goal of this report is to provide quantitative information about US science for private and public policymakers, as mandated by law.  Read more