Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Issue of Spin in the Communication of Scientific Research

Ada Ao, a cancer and stem cell biologist, and aspiring science communicator writing for Nature Education's SciTable blog, has an interesting post put up today. She cautions that it is a tirade (according to her, of course; pffft!) against a recently-published PLoS Medicine article by Amélie Yavchitz and associates, titled "Misrepresentation of randomized controlled trials in press releases and news coverage: a cohort study" (Yavchitz et al., PLoS Med., 9(9):e1001308, 2012).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Opposition to Animal Research: Who Benefits, Really?

A recent edition of Nature News brought some terribly worrisome news: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the anti-science, anti-knowledge, anti-animal experimentation pressure campaign group based in Norfolk, Virginia, has apparently secured -
... written assurances from the world’s two largest air-cargo carriers, FedEx and UPS, that they will not transport mammals for laboratory use. UPS says that it is also planning to further “restrict” an exemption that allows the transport of amphibians, fish, insects and other non-mammals (Nature, 489: 344–5, 20 September 2012).
As this Nature News report, as well as the Editorial highlighting this issue (Nature, 489: 336, 20 September 2012), indicates, this particular move is not likely to have too serious an impact on the availability of animals for laboratory research, because FedEx and UPS are ordinarily not involved in the movement of too many animals in any case. However, the significance of this incident is in that it portends a rather disturbing trend.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Language of Empowerment - 'abortion' vs 'choice'

I support and receive monthly newsletters from the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization that tirelessly works to advance and promote reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments across the world would be legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfil. This morning's newsletter had a section that made think.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Diabetes and Chronic Inflammation - connecting the dots, Part Deux

In the first post of this two part series, I laid out some facts about Type 2 diabetes which results from insulin resistance, and indicated how non-esterified ('Free') Fatty Acids (FFAs) induce chronic inflammation via engagement of TLR4 and the NF-κB pathway, eventually leading to Insulin resistance - and yet, since FFA doesn't bind TLR4, it's not known how the twain meets. The elegant set of studies described in the Pal at al. paper in the July 29, 2012 issue of Nature Medicine [1] provides evidence for a mechanism hypothesized to be active in lipid-induced insulin resistance, i.e., one that can connect the dots.

Diabetes and Chronic Inflammation - connecting the dots, Part Un

Nature Medicine has recently featured studies dealing with obesity-related insulin resistance which leads to a type of diabetes, called Type 2 diabetes. Of these papers, one by Pal et al. (Nature Medicine, 18(8):1284, August 2012) highlights some specific aspects of the disease, including prospects for future therapeutics. I found it interesting - for various reasons* - enough to spur me to write about diabetes in the context of their observations. I shall make it a 2-part series; in the first post, I would talk a bit about diabetes in general, and follow it up with a review of the main findings of their elegant studies. (Full disclosure: I have parents and grandparents who are/were diabetic.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Indian Immigrants' apparent fondness for US GOP

I was born and brought up in India, and I love that country dearly. But for the past 10 odd years, my home has been the United States, where I live my life, work and pay taxes, as well as engage in social processes and participate in communities. One process I cannot - although I personally feel entitled to - participate in, yet, is the political process, because I am not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident. But that hasn't stopped me from taking wholehearted interest in the local and Federal politics and government, because politics and policy affect lives, my life and those of my near and dear ones, and of millions of other people, seen and unseen.