Archive by date | January 2009

What were they thinking?

What were they thinking?

There were lots of ways to make it to the inauguration festivities. You could brave the crowds on the metro. You could take one of the eerily empty buses heading downtown. It took ten minutes to drive across town, since cars were scared from the roads. Entire families bundled up to cycle on the trails to the national mall.  Read more

Day of service—for Science

President Kennedy once famously declared Washington, DC a city of “Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” Something happened the last few days. Despite the crowds, people have not only been amazingly civil, but outright friendly—strangers strike up conversations, locals take the time to point out-of-towners in the right direction. I’d be happy if this relaxed courtesy courteous lingered but I suspect it might be due to the influx of people from more polite locations—not to mention what I’ve observed to be the euphoria-inducing effects of Obama-mania.  Read more

Providing information or promoting drugs?

Providing information or promoting drugs?

On 12 January, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials released finalized recommendations for drug makers that wish to provide medical literature to doctors about unapproved uses of their products. It’s no small matter, since over 20% of US prescriptions are written for ‘off-label uses’.  Read more

Missing hope

The New York Times, which has the kind of web tools that some of us can only dream about, published a couple of days ago an interactive feature called “”http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/01/15/us/politics/20090115_HOPE.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink”>I hope so, too”. The newspaper asked 200 people to state their greatest hopes for what Barack Obama might accomplish during his presidency, and then invited readers to choose the hopes they agree with.  Read more

Defrosting Cold War restrictions

Defrosting Cold War restrictions

Now that the US is no longer the undisputed world technology leader, rules devised during the Cold War to prohibit the export of certain technologies and restrict foreign scientists from immigrating to the US are outdated and harmful to economic competitiveness, the US National Research Council (NRC) reported last Thursday.  Read more

Using antibiotics as a bandage

Using antibiotics as a bandage

A recently released Dutch study involving nearly 6,000 adult subjects found that giving antibiotics to patients in intensive care units (ICUs) to prevent infections increases the chance these patients will survive. The article reports that after four weeks, patients who received oral antibiotic had an absolute reduction of mortality of 2.9% compared to those who did not receive this preventative treatment. Moreover, those who received both oral and intravenous antibiotics had an absolute reduction of mortality of 2.9% compared with the control group.  Read more