Friday, December 30, 2005

Vioxx: missing data?

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an editorial to express its concern about the apparent loss of data from a trial of Vioxx. There were myocardial infarctions in the group taking Vioxx, which were not reported in the trial. If they are taken into account, the statistics become rather different and the difference in risk of myocardial infarction between the two groups in the trial is understated. The editorial, which asks for a correction from the trial's authors, is available free at

The Leicester-Gondar Link

The link, between hospitals and Universities in Gondar, Ethiopia, and Leicester, features in the University of Leicester eBulletin.

Science breakthroughs of the year

Science has this online feature looking at the big science stories of the last 12 months, with articles showcasing the biggest stories, in the 23rd December issue. There is also a look forward to possible big stories in 2006. The feature is at

Today's Guardian has a similar feature, with its top ten breakthroughs of the year. These include cloning a human embryo, but at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the recreation of the 1918 flu virus, and the Space Shuttle. Read more in the Guardian.

Review article on avian influenza A H5N1

A search of PubMed or Medline will of course find all the latest papers on H5N1, and you can set up search alerts in either database to do this automatically for you.

But this review, in the Journal of Clinical Virology, by researchers from Vietnam, looks especially useful.

de Jong MD, Hien TT. Avian influenza A (H5N1). Journal of Clinical Virology 2006 Jan 35(1); 2-13.

This is available to the University through Science Direct. You will need to use Athens authentication if you are off campus.

Resistance to tamiflu (oseltamivir)

The New England Journal of Medicine for 22nd December carries the report of resistance to tamiflu in patients with the H5N1 influenza virus, and has made this paper and a related commentary available free of charge online. The contents page of the issue is at

Flu: modelling software

Scroll down the page of CDC publications at until you find the National Center for Infectious Diseases, and find links to two pieces of software. One, FluAid, models the impact of a pandemic on a community. The other, FluSurge, is a spreadsheet based model for estimating the surge in demand on hospital services in the event of a pandemic. I have added links to both to my Avian and pandemic influenza page at

Hurricane Mental Health Awareness

The National Mental Health Information Center of the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a webpage about disaster mental health, particularly looking at this campaign to help people affected by the hurricanes. There is information in English and Spanish about the impact of hurricanes on children. The page is at

Christmas CMAJ and BMJ

Both these journals publish rather off beat articles in their Christmas issues.

CMAJ this Christmas considers "refrigerator blindness", where sufferers cannot see items of food that are in the fridge, and need to have help, and also a novel way of removing earwax with a water pistol. There is also a systematic review of nodding and napping in lectures, which builds on a paper published last year, and which has some rather pointed things to say about medical publishing and citation. The contents list for this issue of CMAJ is at

The UK press seemed to pick up on several things in the Christmas BMJ, although I wonder if they realise the nature of the Christmas BMJ. Anyhow, the Christmas BMJ considers disappearing teaspoons, the impact of Harry Potter books on traumatic injuries in children, interventions for hangover, and depictions of substance abuse in reality television. Contents page at

Happy holidays!

Developing practice for thrombosis prevention

The Foundation of Nursing Studies has set up this "microsite" to share good practice on preventing venous thromboembolism. The site is at

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Clostridium difficile

The Healthcare Commission/Health Protection Agency's enquiry into how NHS trusts are dealing with this is detailed at, and there is guidance about C. diff. on the HPA website at

The bug got onto the front page of the Guardian yesterday, and perhaps other places also.

Monday, December 19, 2005


WISER is a National Library of Medicine database of information for first responders in incidents involving hazardous materials.

It is now available on the web, and has been available for PDAs for some time. There is key information, and links to further information in other NLM resources, if you know what the substance is. There is also information on protective clothing, protective distance, and treatment, among other things.

Or you can search WISER using information about state, colour, taste, and various chemical properties, in order to identify what it is, if you don't. Results are refined as you add properties to your search and you can view results at any time.

Lowestoft the cradle of human activity in Europe

I was initially a bit miffed at one national newspaper that talked about the Costa del Cromer, since Cromer and Lowestoft are a few miles apart, but reading the original scientific paper (always a good move, as, of course, would have been reading that newspaper properly!) made me realise that it was indeed the Cromer Forest, which extends into north Suffolk, even if it wasn't Cromer itself.

Anyway, as someone with ancestral roots in the area, I was very interested to see that old human tools, dating from far before any previously discovered, were found near Lowestoft in Suffolk. If you are a University of Leicester member and on campus, you can read the Nature paper at I have also found the Eastern Daily Press's report (a paper based in Norwich, but it was the one my grandparents read).


MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee have accused, according to the BMJ, the MRC of panicking about bird flu. Read more at . The Lancet's take on this meeting is that the Committee showed a lack of knowledge of the workings of the MRC, and asked questions about things that are outside the remit of the MRC. Read an editorial (you will need a password which is on the Library webpages, and also available from me).

The Guardian has reported concerns over food shortages in the event of a pandemic, if delivery drivers are struck down en masse, and also reports the foundation of a new cabinet committee to be chaired by Patricia Hewitt. Read more at,11381,1668729,00.html

IgA nephropathy Biobank

This is a database of genetic information relating to IgA nephropathy, or Berger's Disease, described in a paper in BMC Nephrology, available at

PDA Resources

This is a new Room, part of our Rooms web portal. It brings together information about PDAs (personal digital assistants, or handheld computers) for those new to the field, and also information on resources that you can put onto a PDA.

Comments and suggestions are welcome, to me, as the builder of the Room - khn5 at

Lab Tests Online

Copyrighted by the Association of Clinical Biochemists, this site gives information on laboratory tests, and is designed to give patients information about the tests that they are undergoing.

I tried it out on a couple of tests. It was a bit picky about "c-reactive protein", needing the hyphen, but it did suggest that I meant that, so there was no problem. I saw information on the test sample, what the test was for, what might happen afterwards, and links to information on this same site and elsewhere about the disease or condition in question.

On the home page you can go directly to a test, or a condition, and also look at information on screening for particular age groups.


Medapteq is a database of information about appropriate medical technology for the developing world, that is, technology that takes into account low resourcing, unreliable infrastructure. It includes information on who can recycle equipment and send it to where it is needed, as well as information on suppliers of appropriate or improvised equipment. The members of Medapteq are all currently based in Sydney, Australia.

Interview with Sir Iain Chalmers

This appeared a few weeks ago in BMJ Careers Focus. Sir Iain was the director of the first Cochrane Centre and is now editor of the James Lind Library.

James Lind was the physician who found that vitamin C prevented scurvy, and the Library is a collection of material showing the development of fair tests of medical treatment. The Library is at

SciDev.Net dossier: malaria

News, policy briefings, opinions and features from the Science and Development Network.

Marine Microbiology: Microbial Sequencing Project

Gene sequences for marine microbes, searchable using maps of where the organism is found, or by using the complete list of strains. There are links to the lab where the sequence was worked out.

Crystallography Open Database

A database of publically available crystallography data. Anything uploaded into the database is put into the public domain.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hemel Hempstead oil depot explosion

The Health Protection Agency has a webpage of advice. It includes advice for those living nearby, and more general advice on the health effects of explosions and of smoke inhalation. The page is at

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Open Access

Here are some things I have noticed recently:

SciDev.Net have published an article on the benefits of open access archiving to developing countries.

The Royal Society of London are not happy with developments in open access journals and argue that it will lead to the demise of some learned journals.
SciDev.Net report this, and provide a link to the Royal Society's statement.

Meanwhile Oxford University Press continue to experiment with their Oxford Open initiative, where certain of their journals offer the opportunity to pay author fees and publish your article as open access. OUP are extending the list of journals that are involved in this experiment, and there are details of the experiment and the journals on their website.

Stem cell information

This is the National Institutes of Health's official stem cell resource.

The Information Center includes basic information, information on ethics, stem cells and diseases, and links to all sorts of other resources. There is also research information - research protocols, research being undertaken at universities and at NIH itself, and citations and abstracts of literature (full text is available to NIH members but don't forget that we may have access as well through our usual University channels). There is also a mouse stem cell literature database and information on NIH stem cell libraries. And there are links to news.

Disasters information in MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus is an excellent resource, maintained by the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

MedlinePlus has recently added pages on Man made disasters (terrorism, radiation or chemical emergencies, power outages...) and Natural disasters (extreme weather, volcanoes, mudslides...). Both are available in Spanish by clicking the Espanol link at the top of the page.

Emerging infections: MRC statement

The Nursing Times alerted me to this MRC Highlight Notice which talks about the MRC's approach to research on emerging infections with pandemic or epidemic potential. The full Notice is on the MRC website. It includes details of how to apply for funding.

Cardiovascular Sciences/Infection, Immunity and Inflammation research making the news

Two pieces of research done within departments that I support, that have gained some press coverage:

Research looking at genes linked with high blood pressure. This involved local families in Leicestershire.
Read the press release. Read the PubMed abstract. The research is published in the November 29th issue of Circulation.

Research which analyses the time series of peak expiratory flow in asthma, to predict the likelihood of an airway obstruction given the current condition of the airway. The study uses mathematical models usually found in engineering, and found that one particular inhaler actually increased the risk of airway obstruction.
Read the press release. Read the Nature letter.

MMR again

Some of the most recent newspaper coverage of this is discussed in a piece called "Why can't the Daily Mail eat humble pie over MMR", by Michael Fitzpatrick, in the BMJ on 12th November. It would be inappropriate for me to reveal my usual daily newspaper by commenting on the title (although you might get a hint from what is covered in this blog!)... but this article discusses the reaction of certain elements of the press to the publication of the recent Cochrane review on possible links between MMR and autism or bowel disease.

Bird flu in Ethiopia?

Health officials in Ethiopia are investigating the deaths of hundreds of pigeons, near Addis Ababa and in the eastern Somali region, according to a report on the BBC News Africa site. A lot of birds migrate to the region, so the possibility is being taken seriously, even though there have been no reported cases of bird flu yet in Africa.

I get an RSS feed from the BBC News Africa site, which I view using
Bloglines, which is how I knew about this story.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Perioperative fasting in adults and children

The RCN has produced this new guideline, available in PDF format from its website. There is a poster as well.

Genomes Online Database (GOLD)

Found this in Netwatch in Science.

GOLD contains details of nearly 1700 genome projects, both complete and ongoing, around the world. You can search it, or browse the list of complete, eukaryotic or prokaryotic genomes. There are links to information in NCBI databases, and details of institutions and contacts for each project.

GMC suspends doctor for false research claims

A doctor in Llantrisant, Mid Glamorgan, was suspended for 3 months after he passed off someone else's research as his own. He even forged the signatures of his other two co-authors (neither of whom knew about the paper that their names appeared on) on the licence to publish. There is more in today's BMJ (3rd December).

Human and animal health

The BMJ for last week (26th November) was a themed issue on human and animal health, published also as an issue of the Veterinary Record. Zoonoses, the benefits to health of owning a pet, animal therapy as a treatment for depression (using dolphins), and snake bites, are among the topics covered.

Controlling TB in the United States

My 400th posting.

This is the title of a report from the American Thoracic Society, CDC and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. It includes recommendations to improve the control and prevention of TB in the USA (which has decreased 44 percent from 1993-2003) and on working towards its elimination.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Orleans

The 25th November issue of Science carries the news that the Society for Neuroscience has decided to move its 2009 annual meeting from New Orleans, as it thinks the city's infrastructure will not be sufficiently rebuilt. The same issue has a piece on moves to restore Louisiana's wetlands, and about how labs in the city are restarting their work.

No online access to Science (but we will have online access in 2006), but Main and Clinical Sciences Libraries have the journal in good old fashioned print.

Sharing data

This is the subject of an editorial in today's Nature (438(7068), 531, 1 December 2005). The editorial talks about the possibilities of sharing data through web services like Google Base, and stipulating what can be done with the data by others by licensing it with Creative Commons licenses.

Read more (on campus only) at

The same issue of Nature also has an extended news feature on related subjects, covering wikis, blogs, digitisation and Google Scholar. Some reading for the train home, I think.

Somewhat to my surprise, Nature last week published a letter I sent (correspondence, that is, rather than a "letter" in the Nature sense). It was about how librarians can support academic colleagues who are teaching referencing - I feel able to blow my own trumpet about this one week later!

World AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

Friday, November 25, 2005

To the Library and beyond!

This was the title of my research seminar to 3Is, given last Wednesday. I talked about what resources the library has that can support research (databases, journals, reference management software), and how I can support research as the department's information librarian.

Details of all the resources, with URLs, are in a handout which you can get from my website.

Internet Resources Newsletter

Published by the Library at Heriot Watt University, this monthly newsletter has been kind enough to mention this blog. Thanks!

I receive IRN by email and there are always websites I have missed - it is a very useful resource. No doubt several sites have ended up in this blog, so a mention is overdue.

PDA Resources Room

We launched our Rooms web portal during the summer. To add to the existing medical/health rooms (Medicine and Health, Respiratory Medicine, Ophthalmology, Basic Sciences, Health Statistics, Operating Department Practice) there is now a PDA Resources Room, with links to downloadable resources for handheld computers. We have included medical and non medical material, and some introductory material to PDAs in general. There are also links to other library sites.

We ought to say (as we say in the Room) that inclusion of a link to a site does not imply approval or endorsement by ourselves or by the University.

The "asthma plague"

This was a major story in the Guardian a few Fridays ago, looking at the rise in incidence of asthma, and at the possible reasons.

National Library of Medicine resources

Two recent items of interest from the NLM Technical Bulletin.

NLM Gateway searches across a range of NLM resources. Five toxicology resources have just been added. Read more in the Technical Bulletin >>>

The NCBI offers a toolbar for quick searching of PubMed, Gene and Nucleotide databases. The toolbar sits within your web browser. Read more in the Technical Bulletin >>>

New things on flu

Here are some articles and other items on influenza. I have added them to my list of avian and pandemic influenza resources if appropriate (I am not really adding individual papers, as they can be found through searches of databases like PubMed or Medline).

A Nature editorial on containing the 1918 influenza virus.

A World Bank report on avian influenza in East Asia.

A BMJ clinical review, by Douglas Fleming, of influenza pandemics and avian flu.

A major database of genetic information on flu viruses has run out of money: report from SciDev.Net

Piece on summit held in Geneva, organised by the WHO, FAO and others, from the Lancet of the 5th November and the Lancet of 12th November. The Lancet site needs a password: read details of where to find it here.


This is the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Its website has links to information on avian and pandemic flu, and bioterrorism resources. News items, and new items added to the site, are flagged up on the home page and it is possible to sign up for email alerts.

I have added this site to my avian influenza webpages.

Updated asthma guideline

This is the British Thoracic Society/SIGN guideline on the management of asthma, updated this month.

I found out about this via the Respiratory Specialist Library of the National Electronic Library for Health. The Library is exhibiting at the BTS winter meeting in London next month, where it will have a stand in the Benjamin Britten Lounge. Go and see them and see what they can do to help you!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

SARS in neonates and children

Two authors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong have written this paper in Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition, describing the current state of understanding of the disease in newborns and children. Athens authentication required off campus.


NetWatch, in Science magazine, has been the source for several things in this blog. The page and its archive appear to be accessible in full on the web even though we do not subscribe to Science online.

Virtual Health Library for Disasters

This is from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) includes documents on a range of topics including preparedness, communicable diseases, nutrition and management of supplies, from a number of sources including UN agencies, the Red Cross and Oxfam.

It is also available on CD ROM.

Medicine in the Americas, 1610-1914

The NLM has created a digital bookshelf of materials on this subject, at, which includes a digitised facsimile of Directions for preserving the health of soldiers, by Benjamin Rush (1808), the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, and a book about the "asylum for the insane" established by the Society of Friends at Frankford, near Philadelphia.

Access to the General Practice Research Database

According to the BMJ, the MRC has paid for a licence to this database to make it available to researchers. The database includes 9 million patient records, but whether anonymised or not the article does not make clear.

Read more in the BMJ of 22nd October.

Media/Materials Clearinghouse

This is a network of professionals involved in developing health communication posters, pamphlets, training material and so on. Interested parties can apply for membership of the M/MC. The project is part funded by USAID, and material is added to the database by a librarian based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

I searched their database (there is a search box on the M/MC home page) for Ethiopia, and found 170 items including posters, pamphlets, keyrings and T shirts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

World COPD Day

Today, 16th November 2005, is World COPD Day. Lots of materials on the World COPD Day website - bit late to plan for this year, perhaps, but the material may be useful at other times, and there are details of the dates for 2006 and 2007 as well!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Cardiovascular Diseases Specialist Library

Another specialist library of the National Electronic Library for Health, this has just (I think) had a redesign. Search by condition or cause, look at material on disease prevention or find guides to help you appraise the literature. There are also links to the NSF, and a "hot off the press" feature with links to recent key articles.

One more thing about flu

The Respiratory Specialist Library of NeLH has added several things to its collection about this, and you can see all viral infection related guidance, evidence and patient information here.

European Best Practice Guidelines for Peritoneal Dialysis

Are published as Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation, vol. 20, suppl. 9. List of contents is at

Confusion in drug names

The Lancet recently discussed the confusion caused by two different drugs having the same identifying marks. This is a letter in response, describing potential confusion caused by two different drugs having the same name in different parts of the world. The trade name "Cartia" is an aspirin preparation, in some places, and a brand name for diltiazem, a vasodilator (a quick look in the Online Medical Dictionary seems to indicate).

You will need a username to see the full text of this and I have it. Or you can see if it is ScienceDirect yet - Lancet, vol. 366, issue 9496, page 1526.

Treatment of tuberculosis: present status and future prospects

An article in the Bulletin of the WHO for November, which summarises the current state of TB management, particularly with regard to situations where there is a high prevalence of HIV. It also looks at information on drugs for TB. This link is to a PDF file with short summaries in French and Spanish. There is a PDF with short summary in Arabic available at

Avian and pandemic flu - some more resources

Some more avian influenza materials:

An editorial in the BMJ, with links to Department of Health advice.

The Health Protection Agency's weekly reports for the influenza season

An interview in the Bulletin of the WHO with Shigeru Omi, the Regional Director of the WHO's Western Pacific Region.

The meeting proceedings from the John R. La Montagne Memorial Symposium on Pandemic Influenza Research, held by the Institute of Medicine (of the US National Academies of Science in April) are available in full at This has been added to the Library catalogue.

Respiratory Medicine, November 2005, includes an overview of systematic reviews on preventing influenza.

I will add these things to my webpage on avian influenza if appropriate.

As a slight aside, JAMA's cover has recently featured Edvard Munch's painting "Self portrait after the Spanish influenza". The image is at, with the first few words of the article. I have the password (and it is on the Library's intranet page) if you want to read the rest.

BMA survey of attitudes to the RAE

The BMJ (29th October) reports this survey, which found that 40 percent of those who responded to the survey said that the RAE had had an adverse effect on their career. Almost the same percentage said it had not influenced them at all, with only 21 percent saying it had had a positive effect. There is a link to the survey itself.

A haplotype map of the human genome

Nature has published a report of this "public database of common variation in the human genome: more than one million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)". Access will be available on campus only. The report is in the issue dated 27th October.

There is a piece about the report in SciDev.Net, which provides a link to the full paper that will work off campus (I think), as Nature is a SciDev.Net partner.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Summer Science Exhibition 2006

The Royal Society (of London - spot the influence of working in Scotland, which has its own Royal Society...) is looking for participants to take part in this event, which showcases the work of the UK's foremost researchers. The event is attended by scientists, policy makers and the media, among others.

There are details in this University Bulletin Board item.

IgNobel Prizes

I remember discovering the Journal of Irreproducible Results in a library I worked in (a long time ago), and have remained a follower of the Annals of Improbable Research, which is edited by the same team that produced JIR in those days.

The team award the annual IgNobel prizes, which were even mentioned this year on Have I Got News for You. The BMJ covered the awards, for science which "first makes you laugh, then makes you think". I especially like the alarm clock that rings and then runs away, so you have to get out of bed to find it and turn it off, although it is all very good stuff.

Avian influenza update

Many people have arrived in this blog by following a link from my webpage of avian flu resources. Welcome, if this includes you. One person has even followed the link to the Braybrooke Morris Dancers site - thank you!

Recent-ish things I have noticed are:

BMJ news item on the risk to east Asia, and the MRC sponsored visit of UK people.
A BMJ report on the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, which has heard evidence that surveillance needed to identify the transmission of the virus from poultry to humans is not in place.

My page at is there still and I have added to it since first publishing it. Things added in the most recent edit are flagged. If the page is useful to you, please use it and let others know too.

Cochrane review of MMR

We use the example of MMR in classes with first year medical students, as a topic for a literature search. So we all noticed the coverage in the press about the Cochrane systematic review of the subject. The Guardian covered it (as did many others).

The review is available at

University news

Asthma UK is funding research into a new test for asthma in babies and small children. Jonathan Grigg is leading the research, which aims to replace current ways to collect sputum, which are unsuitable for use in small children. Read more in a University press release.

Another press release gives details of another project involving Dr. Grigg, which is exploring the possible adverse effects of inhaling nanoparticles used in things like cosmetics and plastics.

University of Leicester people are involved in a major project searching for genes associated with ten major diseases (including coronary heart disease, hypertension and TB). Details in another press release.

Eyes and Vision Specialist Library

This is a new specialist library within the National Electronic Library for Health. It is a portal to the best available evidence on ophthalmology and eye care, aimed at eye health care professionals.

Cell retracts Brazilian paper on Chagas disease

SciDev.Net reports this interesting story. Cell published a paper by a group of researchers from Brazil, on Chagas disease, but then on 23rd September retracted it, on the advice of unnamed independent experts. But several other independent experts in the field have reacted with surprise, and one is preparing a letter of complaint to Cell.

Read more on SciDev.Net.

Increase in allergic diseases

Is the subject of this article in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology (access to full text available to University members, Athens authentication needed off campus). The authors look at factors that might explain the increase, namely the switch from aspirin to paracetamol, the introduction of broad spectrum antibiotics, and advice on avoiding dust and pets.

Other BMJ things

I have been squirrelling BMJ items away for some weeks but haven't got round to blogging them. So here they are all at once.

Someone's interactions with the FBI when trying to enter the USA to attend a conference.
A Health in Africa special issue (the issue dated 1st October).
An editorial about sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and pedestrian safety.
A report from the fifth conference on peer review and biomedical publication, held in Chicago in September.
A personal view on the current state of the NHS, arguing that big business is taking it over.

BMJ ABC Series, and making slides out of BMJ illustrations

The BMJ has created a page of links to its ABC of... series, other series (10-minute consultations, Statistics notes, and other things), and to reviews of films and books, and also to the various Fillers series. Go to

There is also now the facility to turn BMJ illustrations into PowerPoint slides. This appears as a button in the illustration itself. The copyright on the illustration needs to allow you to do this, and you also need to have access rights to the full text in which the illustration appears. The resulting slide includes a reference to the article and a copyright notice.

PLoS Pathogens

Is a new open access journal, available in PubMed Central (click the link in the title of this entry) or also at The journal will publish on bacterial, fungal, parasitic, prionic and viral pathogens, according to the inaugural editorial.

More things about hurricanes

The BMJ of 22nd October has an editorial on poverty and public health, and what Hurricane Katrina has shown us about them.

Science is making its Katrina-related content available free at

Claire Rayner

BMJ Career Focus recently carried an interview with Claire Rayner, who has some interesting things to say about doctor-patient communication and about nurse education.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Avian influenza

I happened to be watching Question Time last night (20th October) on BBC1, and there was a question about bird flu - threat or media hype?

I was interested in a comment from a GP in the audience, who said that they had been sent no information about bird flu. Perhaps it is in the post, but I was interested because there is a lot of information out there.

I have compiled a webpage (shameless plug) which you can see at I have circulated this to colleagues here, and to librarian and information colleagues in the UK. The Health Management Specialist Library (part of NeLH) also has a very comprehensive page.

The information is certainly available - all sorts of government bodies, along with bodies in the rest of Europe, the US, and people like the WHO, are producing it and it is freely available.

And the moral of this story - make friends with a librarian! We know where the information is, and if we don't, we know how to find it!

Later note: according to Nursing Times (25-31 October 2005, p.5) the Department of Health has sent information to all GP surgeries - this being done "last week".

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I've been compiling a list of Katrina related resources, and some will appear in my "Internet Sites of Interest" column in the Health Libraries Group newsletter in due course.

Here are some that I have found since:

The Hurricane-related information for health care professionals page from the CDC at

An interesting site which did make it to the column is the Eye of the Storm blog, at, which is still being updated and has many photos. The bloggers are based in Mississippi. Another blog which I only just found is Hurricane Katrina, at, authored by journalism students at California State University, Long Beach.

The NLM has a page of links to health, toxicology and environmental health information at

The 13th October issue of the New England Journal of Medicine includes several eyewitness pieces about the aftermath of Katrina. These are available online free of charge, at

CMAJ has published a short piece on the psychological aftermath of Katrina, at and Student BMJ reports on the effects on medical students in the region at

MSNBC is reporting that two New Orleans hospitals are beyond repair and will need to be demolished.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Avian influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans

This is from the Writing Committee of the WHO Consultation on Human Influenza A/H5 and appears as a freely available piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. It's timely to mention it this morning, with the news over the weekend reporting incidences of bird flu in Romania and Turkey. The Guardian has a story at,,1588470,00.html.

CMAJ has published an article on the changing ecology of avian flu, which includes some links to useful clinical resources and statistics. The article is open access at

Monday, October 10, 2005


This is a "bioinformatics resource centre for invertebrate vectors of human pathogens". The site is still under construction but includes already Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles aegypti. Other organisms are proposed for inclusion (including the domestic house fly) and the site includes genomic data and links to tools for its analysis.

Open Bioinformatics Foundation

This is a nonprofit organisation supporting open source programming in bioinformatics. I learnt of this from the WebWatch column in the journal Biotechniques (see another posting).

Lessons from Hurricane Charley

This article from CMAJ, published in mid September, looks at a survey of the effect of four hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004 on residents' health. Physical injuries experienced were looked at, as were residents levels of preparedness and the availability of portable generators.

I am writing this immediately after the terrible earthquake that has hit Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. I will post details of anything medical/health related that I see relating to this event as I can.

Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology

This is a Nature news piece on Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, who have been awarded this year's prize for discovering that Helicobacter pylori causes most stomach ulcers. The fact that most people dismissed their work when they first proposed the link is interesting!

This story has gained some coverage on library/information listservs as they have acknowledged the role of libraries and librarians in their work. The MEDLIB-L list alerted me to this story in the New York Times, which talks about exactly that:

Education Media Online

This site is Athens authenticated and includes video and film for download for educational purposes. It does include health care material, and material from the Biochemical Society charting the development of the discipline. The IWF Knowledge and Media collection also includes biomedical/biochemical/biological material.

2nd UK Space Medicine Day

Details of this event to be held next Saturday at the National Space Centre. Topics under discussion include bed rest as an analogue for spaceflight, cardiovascular considerations of space flight, and health hazards of lunar dust.

Health information for University of Leicester students

Information from Freemen's Common Health Centre about vaccinations and vacation health care. If you know a student, pass it on in case they missed this ebulletin article!

BTS TB guidelines

The British Thoracic Society has issued guidelines for assessing risk and for managing Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and disease in patients due to start anti-TNF-alpha treatment. The guidelines are published in Thorax.

Leonardo da Vinci and heart valves

The Times last week reported how the anatomical drawings of Leonardo inspired Francis Wells, consultant cardiac surgeon at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, to change the way he operates. The story is at,,2-1801070,00.html. It was Leonardo's drawings of the operation of the heart valves that provided Mr. Wells with his "eureka" moment, says the story.

British National Formulary for Children

This new resource is available with an NHS Athens username and password to NHS staff in England, and also to members of the HINARI scheme (low income countries). BNFC is at

There is a link on the National Electronic Library for Health home page at, but that tells me that I am not eligible. Instead, I went to My Athens (go to, click My Athens, and log in with NHS Athens), and it is listed there, and I can access it. It's possible that Athens DA is causing BNFC to think I am not eligible.

If you have trouble logging into BNFC because of Athens DA, please contact me, as I know how to get round the problem.

There is a BMJ leading article about the BNFC at .

How is the indoor environment related to asthma?

This is the subject of an article in the "Integrative literature reviews and meta-analyses" section of the Journal of Advanced Nursing (November 2005, 52(3), 328- : Athens authentication required off campus).

The authors, based in Plymouth, conduct a literature review to identify factors in the indoor environment which have a link with asthma.

Biochemical Journal

Biochemical Journal is available in PubMed Central back to 1951. Some older issues are still being digitised. The most recent issue there today is that for April 1st, 2005, so there appears to be an embargo period.

PubMed Central is a digital archive of life sciences journals, hosted by the US National Institutes of Health.


The WebWatch column in the journal Biotechniques has alerted me to some bioinformatics and cell biology sites. I will mention some of them in a minute!

Biotechniques is available at, and you can register to receive emailed tables of contents. You need to sign in to read the full articles, but registration is (I think) free.
New email list for children's services

lis-children's-services is a new JISCMAIL list for information workers involved in children's health, social services or education. It is run by staff at NFER and the archives are at .

There are details also at, with details of other useful resources for information workers in the field.
1918 influenza pandemic

The press last week has this story, about the recreation of the virus that caused this pandemic.
Nature has a web focus about it, including a link to the letter from Jeffrey Taubenberger and colleagues that describes the work of understanding what made this virus so virulent. Much of the content accessible from this web focus is freely available.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Psoriasis-like skin disease and arthritis caused by inducible epidermal deletion of Jun proteins

Is a paper reporting experiments in mice, and published in Nature: (this link will not work off campus).
Microbiological Garden

This site, in English and German (Mikrobiologischer Garten) is full of presentations about bacteria in various environments: the sea, lakes, the kitchen, and about different types of organism: Euglena, phytoplankton, and others. It is compiled by Heribert Cypionka, and was mentioned in the Netwatch column in Science.

The home page is at, where you choose your language.
BabelMeSH: search Medline/PubMed in French (and more)

NLM's experimental interface at enables you to search in French, Spanish or Chinese, and also to access PubMed for Handhelds (you need a wireless enabled handheld for this last one).

I've tried the French interface. It uses a translation of MeSH, and predicts terms as you type. Results are displayed in an interface much plainer than PubMed, with links to (English) abstracts, full text (where available) and related articles.

I think it is really an interface to MeSH - I am not sure it will accept complex searches like you can do in PubMed.

There are existing Spanish language interfaces to PubMed developed by other agencies: one I have bookmarked is from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, at
Summary of recommendations from the Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines, 2003 and Canadian Pediatric Asthma Consensus Guidelines, 2003 (updated to December 2004)

This is published as a supplement to the Canadian Medical Association Journal
and available online.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Medical History

The complete run of this journal is now available in PubMed Central (PMC), from vol. 1, 1957-date. PMC is an online archive of bioscience journals, free to access. Go to

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Some recent papers that have caught my attention

G2D is a web based application allowing you to inspect any area of the human genome for candidate genes for a disease. It is described in a paper in
BMC Genetics.

Researchers from Iceland have used European guidelines to estimate the high risk group for cardiovascular disease in a Norwegian population, with results published online in the BMJ in August. They conclude that using those guidelines would classify most adult Norwegians as being at high risk.

A study in Birmingham (England, not Alabama) looked at patients monitoring their own blood pressure and concluded that practice based self monitoring was feasible and gives similar results to the usual method. The study appeared in the BMJ.

Another BMJ paper proposes UK guidelines for managing severe malaria in children.

Lastly, a paper in Social Science and Medicine looks at subjective stigma among those with SARS living at Amoy Gardens, Hong Kong, one of the first places to experience the outbreak.
Smoking and age related macular degeneration

Today (7th) is the RNIB's Eye Test Action Day. New research linking smoking and AMD has been published in Eye.

More details on the RNIB site (with link to the paper in Eye)
European Society of Cardiology guidelines

10 of these have been added to the Emergency Care Specialist Library (part of the National Electronic Library for Health). They cover: supraventricular arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, acute pulmonary embolism, aortic dissection, acute heart failure, acute coronary syndromes, heart attacks, syncope and chest pain.

Access the guidelines

You can receive emails advising of new additions to this Library, which is how I know. Ask me for details.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Acinetobacter baumannii

Ah, not the last thing for today. Earlier I finished a short list of resources about this bacterium, found in soil and water, which is making a nuisance of itself in intensive care units and also among US service members (a good, non gender specific phrase) in Iraq.

The list is on my homepage ( - please credit it if you use it anywhere.
And lastly for today

SciDev.Net reports a Vietnamese doctor who has built his own endoscope for substantially less than the cost of a ready made one. Nguyen Phuoc Huy bought a microscope for $800, built a system of lenses linked to a webcam, for $30, and linked the whole thing to his computer. He taught himself computing, optics, and the maths required to do this, and can now build the endoscope in a week. SciDev.Net picked the story up from the BBC World Service's Go Digital programme and there is a link to the BBC Online site for more details.
Open letter to the Science Minister on open access

Tim Berners-Lee and seven other academics have written an open letter to Lord Sainsbury and the Research Councils, calling on the RCUK to go ahead with plans to make researchers that it funds place a copy of their research in an open access online archive. The letter is in response to the RCUK's consultation on its plans and is in contrast to views expressed by some publishers, reports the Guardian. A News Extra piece in the BMJ of 3rd September picks up this story as well.

Effectiveness of innovations in nurse led chronic disease management for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: systematic review of evi

I picked up on this BMJ early publication through Nursing Times. It concludes that there is little evidence to date for implementing nurse led management of COPD, but that data is sparse.

It has now appeared in the BMJ "proper" -;331/7515/485, in the issue dated 3rd September 2005.
Viral capsid structures

Virus Particle Explorer (viperdb) is a database of viral capsid structures, featured recently in the Netwatch column in Science (which is where I saw it). It is at - you need to register in order to use it but I did this in seconds. There was a commentary in the Journal of Virology in December 2001 which describes the database - follow this link to read it.
Glucose in airways and MRSA

The latest Nursing Times has alerted me to a study in Thorax that concludes:

"The results imply a relationship between the presence of glucose in the airway and a risk of colonisation or infection with pathogenic bacteria including MRSA".

Read the Thorax paper
Measuring air pollution

The University's ebulletin reports work done by Dr. Paul Monks and colleagues to measure air pollution in the city using a single instrument mounted on the roof of the Space Research Centre. The instrument measures sunlight and also nitrogen dioxide.
Trainee heart surgeons no threat to success of operations

The University's ebulletin reports this research undertaken by Christou Alexiou at Glenfield Hospital, which compared the results of heart valve operations undertaken by trainees and by consultants. With appropriate selection of patients and adequate supervision, the research concludes, the results are as good in each group. The article is:

Alexiou C, Doukas G, Oc M, Oc B, Hadjinikolaou L, Spyt TJ. Effect of training in mitral valve repair surgery on the early and late outcome.Ann Thorac Surg. 2005 Jul;80(1):183-8

Read the ebulletin
Bird flu in India

An article in SciDev.Net outlining India's preparation for any epidemic.

MedlinePlus, a National Library of Medicine website linking you to quality consumer health information, has a page on bird flu.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

WHO strategy to combat sleeping sickness

SciDev.Net reports the WHO's new strategy to eliminate most cases of sleeping sickness by 2015. There are links also to Lancet papers reporting sleeping sickness in Uganda.
Chloraquine and SARS-CoV

A paper in Virology Journal reports that chloraquine has strong antiviral effects on SARS coronavirus infection in primate cells. Read the paper (the journal is open access).
Modelling drug resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae

SciDev.Net reports research done at University College London which used a computer model to do this. Read more. The research appears in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

Radius is a database of information on federally funded research and development (funded by the US federal government, that is). Access is free to all interested individuals, but you need to register for a licence. Access RaDiUS at
NCBI Toolbar

This is currently being tested. It's a toolbar you can download, which offers quick links to and searches of NCBI resources including PubMed and Gene. You can download it from

I have just discovered this ASM site, which includes current issues, a weekly news digest (also available as a podcast), and activities for teachers and pupils, including "Microbiology: what it's all about", which looks at what microbes and microbiologists do.
Journals offering RSS feeds

An RSS feed offers continually updating information. News sites like the BBC have them, and I monitored one in the run up to the Space Shuttle launch, which was updated with new announcements. Many journals offer their tables of contents in this form, and you can find a list at, courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan Library.
Risk of a stroke underestimated, say Stroke Association

The Stroke Association says that 50000 strokes a year could be prevented if people were more aware of the risk factors and took steps to tackle high blood pressure and reduce smoking and alcohol consumption. Stroke is the UK's third biggest killer and the biggest cause of disability, according to the Association. Read more in the Guardian, or on the Stroke Association website.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Avian influenza and Europe

There was a Nature news item recently reporting bird flu in Kazakhstan and Russia, but the item was only available to subscribers (the University subscribes to Nature but not to their premium news service, where this appeared).

But last week's BMJ has an editorial on avian influenza and Europe, by the director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which argues that a pandemic is likely, but that Europe is getting prepared.

Read more in the BMJ at

Friday, August 19, 2005

Viral genome databases

There are genome databases for 12 groups of viruses at, funded by the Viral Bioinformatics Resource Center (University of Victoria, Canada) and Viral Bioinformatics - Canada.
Quality of care in A and E departments

The Healthcare Commission has published a report on the quality of care in A and E departments. Most patients are happy with the care they receive, the report says, although performance varies. The report finds that patients in some departments are not receiving the recommended standard of care. The media has picked up their comments about patients not receiving pain relief quickly enough, but the report also talks about blood tests being given too soon in suspected paracetamol overdose cases.

Nursing Times (9-15 August 2005) points out that the report praises the increased use of emergency nurse practitioners, and says that they could be even more widely used.

This report is included in the Emergency Care Specialist Library ( of the National Electronic Library for Health. Ask me for details of how to sign up to their current awareness alerts, which sends email notification of new additions to the library (which is how I know it's in there).

Read the Healthcare Commission's press release (with link to the report)
Read about the report in the Guardian

Scientists behaving badly

A commentary in Nature reports a survey of the actual behaviour of scientists. Several thousand NIH funded scientists were surveyed anonymously and asked to report which of a list of questionable practices they had themselves engaged in. The results are presented in the commentary - practices reported included falsifying data, ignoring the requirements of human subjects, and not disclosing the involvement of commercial concerns.

From a library point of view, interesting sins included publishing the same data in more than one publication, assigning authorship credit where none was due and using someone else's ideas without credit.

There is an interesting letter in Nature for 11th August, which argues that acceptable practices differ between basic and clinical research, and that some of this reported misbehaviour might not actually be misbehaviour. The original study surveyed basic and clinical scientists.

New interface for Web of Science

Web of Science has a new interface. Click the blue "Connect ISI Web of Knowledge" button. The familiar red button is there also until the end of September but will then disappear.
Bird flu

Journalists must play a role in the wide dissemination of accurate information on bird flu and its spread, according to
a news item in SciDev.Net.
News from Leicester

My eye was caught by these news pieces in the eBulletin, concerning people in "my" departments:

Prof. Schwaeble's diagnostic test for sleeping sickness
Drs. Grigg and Lakhanpaul's research into viral induced wheeze
Mr. Doukas' Young Investigator of the Year in Clinical Science award from the British Cardiac Society
Canary database: animal disease outbreaks as an early warning system for human diseases

An item in EurekAlert, the AAAS' science news service, gives details of this database, launched by Yale School of Medicine and available at . The database home page says "The Canary Database contains studies in the biomedical literature that explore the use of wildlife, domestic, and companion animals as "sentinels" for the effects of chemical, biological, and physical hazards in the environment that may be a risk to human health".

A crucial role of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in SARS coronavirus?induced lung injury

The results, the authors (from China, Canada, Austria and the USA) say, "provide a molecular explanation why SARS-CoV infections cause severe and often lethal lung failure and suggest a rational therapy for SARS and possibly other respiratory disease viruses".

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The London attacks

This week's New England Journal of Medicine includes several papers about the medical response to recent terrorist attacks on London. We do not subscribe to this journal online, but the papers are available free.

NEJM Table of Contents for 11 August 2005
Bird flu: WHO scolds China

The BMJ reports that the WHO is "scolding" China for its perceived lack of cooperation over its outbreak of bird flu. Read more in the BMJ

Nature is also reporting that a Chinese lab has stopped work on the H5N1 strain of the virus following a disagreement with the government.
Investigating scientific misconduct

Publishing false data, and other scientific publishing misdemeanours, have always been of interest to me. If the published record is false, there are implications for scientific publishing and for literature searching.

The BMJ for 30th July has several interesting pieces about the case of Dr. Ram B. Singh, who published in the BMJ in 1992, and who has submitted and published papers in several places since. There is a growing feeling at the BMJ that there is something not quite right with the data in the 1992 paper, and a paper in this issue catalogues steps taken to investigate, leading to an "expression of concern" being published in the same issue.

Read the editorial by Jane Smith and Fiona Godlee (this links to the expression of concern and the investigation of Dr. Singh's work).
Published information on dose adjustment

A paper in the BMJ for 30th July looks at information in published sources of drug information. The authors looked at information on necessary adjustments to dose in the case of renal impairment, and compared the information from four sources including the BNF. They found some variation, which makes for interesting reading. There are also letters from representatives of each source, which also make interesting reading and point out some of the issues. The original paper is

Vidal L, Shavit M, Fraser A, Paul M, Leibovici L. Systematic comparison of four sources of drug information regarding adjustment of dose for renal function. BMJ 2005;331(7511):263-.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Clinical Sciences Library gets wireless network

You will need to be a registered CFS user and to have a laptop or PDA with 802.11b or 802.11g wireless card installed.
Read more on the Computer Centre webpages.
Clinical Infectious Diseases links to UptoDate

CID will provide links to relevant topic reviews from UptoDate from its table of contents. UptoDate provides continuously updated reviews of journal and other literature.

Friday, August 05, 2005

New research webpages

The Faculty of Medicine and Biological Sciences has new research webpages at
New president of the European Macrophage and Dendritic Cell Society

Professor Loems Ziegler-Heitbrock has been elected as the society's new president, to serve until 2009.

Read more in the University e-bulletin.


BiomedCentral has launched this new open access journal. Two Leicester based people are on the editorial board (Surinder Birring and Ian Pavord).

Friday, July 15, 2005

Medical and health news

There are links to lots of news sources on the news page in our Medicine and Health Room.
Avian flu H5N1 found in migratory geese

The Guardian reports a paper in the 14th July issue of Nature (which originally appeared as an early online publication). An outbreak has been detected in bar headed geese in western China, in a nature reserve that is nowhere near farms. There is a news report in Science for 8th July which reports an advance online publication in Science from other researchers, but reporting similar results. We do not have online access to Science.

Read the Guardian report
Read the Nature report

The WHO has launched its "plan of war" to tackle avian flu,
the BMJ reports. UN/FAO/WHO plans for helping poorer countries tackle a pandemic are described in SciDev.Net.
Today's Lancet

Here are some selected highlights:

Stem cells of the alveolar epithelium (review)

Music, imagery, touch, and prayer as adjuncts to interventional cardiac care: the Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II randomised study (there was a television programme some time ago about this study, I think)

Effect of handwashing on child health - this looks at the effect of soap (ordinary and antibacterial) on the incidence of pneumonia, diarrhoea and impetigo. Two of the authors have links with Proctor and Gamble, but the study did find that soap cuts the incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea.

You'll need a password to access these links and the Library can supply it if you are a member of the University.

Human Tissue Authority draft codes of practice

The HTA has published these on its website and there is an article in the BMJ about them. The codes cover donation for transplants, post mortems, anatomical examinations and removal, retention and disposal of human tissue. There is also a draft code on consent.