Friday, May 27, 2005

Registration of clinical trials

The European Paediatric Clinical Trials Register is at, and there is an article about it in Archives of Diseases in Childhood for June. This register is the only one exclusively for paediatric trials and involves the UK, Italy, France and Spain. The register contains information for parents and for professionals.

Meanwhile the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors have issued a statement about registration of clinical trials. They have already said that they will require trials to be registered if they are to be included in articles submitted for publication. Their statement, "Is this clinical trial fully registered?" is available via the NEJM website (free) at and also in the Lancet of May 28th-June 3rd. The statement answers questions about this requirement for trials to be registered and discusses the data set needed for registration, among other issues.
Bird flu update

Plenty of material about bird flu. The Guardian today (26th May) reports fears of a pandemic, with estimates of numbers of deaths greatly understated. There is also an interview with Albert Osterhaus, of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, an authority on viruses that have crossed the species barrier.

The Guardian also has an interactive guide to avian flu, which I have not spotted before. It needs Flash, I think.

Meanwhile, the BMJ reports the World Health Organization's reaction to reports that it has not been getting samples of the virus.

The issue of Nature for 26th May contains several commentaries and news features about avian flu.
Migration of health professionals from sub-Saharan Africa

A paper in the Lancet argues that the health systems of sub-Saharan African countries have been damaged further by migration of health professionals, a process that the UK is involved in. The paper argues that the UK has the chance this year to focus the attention of the G8 countries on this matter, and proposes some unilateral and multilateral measures that the UK could take. These include training more doctors in the UK, helping in recruitment and retention in those countries, and developing postgraduate training in those countries.

Read the Lancet's editorial
Read the Lancet paper

You will need a password for the Lancet which the Library can give you if you are a University member.

Read a BBC news report on the story

Thursday, May 26, 2005


An editorial in the Journal of Hospital Infection looks at measures to control MRSA. The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy have just issued some draft guidelines. Consultation has ended on those, but you can read the draft online.
CADRMP Adverse Reaction Database

Reading the
Librarians Rx blog has alerted me to this database, produced by the Canadian adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Program.

The database is at (and in French at There are some notes to read before using the data.

The blog contains information of interest to Canadian health librarians: my thanks/je vous remercie!
Sikh birth customs

Sikh birth customs are described in an article in the Archives of Disease in Childhood for June. There is a brief overview of Sikh theology as an introduction to the article.

There have previously been articles about Muslim and Hindu customs, and there are links to those.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

African universities to present growth plans to the G8

SciDev.Net reports that leaders of universities in Africa are discussing plans for how richer nations can help the growth of higher education in Africa. Those plans will be presented to the G8 meeting to be held in Gleneagles later this year.
Failed sudden cardiac death?

My eye was caught by a short piece in the BMJ, where a patient who was successfully defibrillated in a doctor's surgery had this phrase recorded on their notes. The one online response that is there at the moment makes interesting reading as well, putting the case for using such an apparently odd phrase.
Nuffield Council on Bioethics report

Their report on research involving animals is here.
Scottish health staff to help Malawi

Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell, has pledged to fund secondment of Scottish doctors and nurses to work in Malawi, according to the Scotsman. He is currently on a visit to the country.
Human embryo cloned

Just catching up with information to post! Last week's news about this being done in South Korea and in Newcastle is covered in the Guardian. The Korean work has apparently been published in Science. The UK work has been submitted for publication to Reproductive Biomedicine Online (journal homepage is at

There is discussion of embryonic stem cells in an editorial in the BMJ dated 21st May.
Rejected paper appears as an advert

This story is covered by two pieces in the Scientist. The paper in question was submitted to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and rejected. The author then bought advertising space.

Journal prints rejected paper as ad
A response

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Unite for Sight: volunteer opportunities

For students, ophthalmologists, nurses and others, with this US-based organisation. Their website is full of information about their work, and there is a site for parents about eye health.
Knowledge gap in biomedical sciences

SciDev.Net reports a growing gap in the number of scientific publications produced by less-developed and more-developed countries. This might imply a gap in the amount of research actually being done. This is the result of a survey done by the WHO and published in Science. The SciDev.Net article will lead you to the full study in Science. On a related issue, a recent letter in the Bulletin of the WHO discusses the effect of a Nepalese journal being chosen for indexing in Medline on the publication of research from Nepal.
Screening for asthma in Cantonese speaking immigrant children

This is a study in BMC Public Health, looking at children in the USA. There are apparently several possible Cantonese translations for the word "wheeze", which makes diagnosis a challenge.
Recruitment of ethnic minority patients to trials

Is the subject of a study in BMC Medical Research Methodology, which looks at a cardiac rehabilitation trial in Birmingham, rather splendidly called BRUM.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Too much biodefence research

Letter to Science protests against NIAID research priorities

The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (part of the NIH) has prioritised research with emphasis on biodefence. An open letter in Science (4th March) protests against this and presses for corrective action, especially with research into microbial physiology, genetics and pathogenesis being poised for breakthroughs. There is a response from the NIH in Science for 1st April (p.49).

This criticism is now being echoed by some NIH scientists. Another letter is scheduled for publication in Science, but read more in the Scientist .

Science of the 13th May reports that NIH officials and the letter writers have had a constructive meeting and have pledged to look for gaps in research.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Medicines linked to sudden death from heart attack

The Scotsman reports a study in the European Heart Journal, which found the risk of sudden death was increased by the use of a number of common medications including domperidone and haloperidol.

Read the Scotsman

Read the EHJ paper
Cerovive and Serevent

The Guardian reports that two separate trials of Cerovive, a drug used in stroke, are finding conflicting results. The same piece reports that the FDA will review Serevent, an asthma drug.
UK mirror for PubMed Central

The BMJ reports moves to set up a UK mirror of PubMed Central (PMC). The mirror would make available peer reviewed research funded by the funding partners (MRC, BBSRC, DoH, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation), as well as the content of PMC itself. PMC is an online archive of freely available peer reviewed papers in biomedical sciences and many renowned journals make their back files available through it. There is also a news item in Science (308:623, 29th April) about European developments in open access publishing, which talks about this, among other things.

The Guardian, on Wednesday 11th, reports on this also.
Celera stops selling genome information

A Nature news item reports that Celera will stop selling genome information. All their data will be made available through publically available databases from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
RAE panel members announced
Bioinformatics in parasitology

An issue of the International Journal of Parasitology has been devoted to this topic.
National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death

The first report of NCEPOD for 2005, called An acute problem?, is now available online. It looks at critical care facilities.
What caused the Black Death?

Not bubonic plague, but haemorrhagic fever, argues this paper in the Postgraduate Medical Journal by CJ Duncan and S Scott from the University of Liverpool.
Implantable cardiac devices

A Nature news item looks at implantable electronic devices that can restart the heart. Read more...

Foreign office warning for travellers to the UAE

The Guardian reports that a British citizen escaped imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates for having traces of codeine in her blood. Codeine is considered a mind altering substance in the UAE and is illegal if you have no proof it was obtained on prescription.

BioModels database

BioModels is a database of information on mathematical models of biological interest.

BIOME hot topics

BIOME is a web gateway to quality web resources in biomedical sciences. Its Hot Topics page chooses a monthly subject of interest and provides links to key resources for that subject.


PNAS is now available online back to 1915 via PubMed Central. Current material is available via HighWire and requires a subscription, which we have.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Other things of interest in today's BMJ

A letter arguing that an avian flu pandemic is a real threat and against complacency. This short letter seems to have been picked up in many newspapers.

An editorial on the prevalence of asthma (by H. Ross Anderson of St George's Hospital Medical School, London)

OUP extends open access

According to a report in the Guardian, Oxford University Press is widening its scheme to allow authors in participating journals the option of paying a publication charge to make their paper open access.
Can a computer program help detect cheating in exams?

A BMJ paper pilots some software that looks at pairs of candidates and tries to spot anomalies. The software was piloted on some students sitting RCPCH exams.

Read the paper

Endorsement of the CONSORT statement

This BMJ paper surveys instructions to authors for the top cited general medical journals, to ascertain which incorporate the CONSORT recommendations for reporting trials. About 20 percent of the journals did, although some were referring to an out of date version of the recommendations.
Quality of websites about retinopathy of prematurity

A paper in the most recent issue of British Journal of Ophthalmology looks at this. The authors searched for websites (they don't detail which sites they found), using a general search engine. They rated the information on its currency, author qualification, attribution and other things (according to various criteria including those from Health on the Net). Sites could be rated excellent, very good, good, fair, poor, and the majority of sites were fair or poor.

This brings out the need to evaluate websites, and also to use search tools that introduce an element of quality control - Health on the Net, OMNI, NMAP, and the like.

Read the paper (NHS Athens needed, if you are NHS staff; or University Athens if you are University and off campus).

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ghost writing

The recent incident of a ghost written paper being submitted to the Journal of General Internal Medicine has led the World Association of Medical Editors to issue guidance on ghost writing.

The incident of the ghost written paper (Guardian)
WAME guidance (BMJ article)
Using film in medical education

Movies, that is. A new book, by Matthew Alexander, called Cinemeducation: a comprehensive guide to using film in medical education, is discussed in a Guardian article. Films make a good way to teach communication skills, it is argued. The book is published by Radcliffe and I shall see if we can buy it.
News feed

This blog now has a news feed. Click the "Site feed" link on the right (under a heading that says Site Feed). You can paste the URL of that feed into a newsreader and be instantly updated when something new is put on the blog.

I have several news feeds that I monitor and so might be able to help you do this if you need more information.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Introductory training on EndNote is on offer at the Clinical Sciences Library, led by me, at these times:

For the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences:

Thursday 16th June, 2-330
Monday 27th June, 930-1100

For the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation:

Tuesday 14th June, 930-1100
Thursday 30th June, 200-330

Contact me to book a place, or if you would like to arrange another time and date for yourself or your group:
Critical appraisal of cohort studies

The BMJ is publishing a series of articles on this. There have been three so far, one on role and design, one on assessing potential for confounding and one on analytical strategies for reducing confounding.

All three of these are listed in the Other statistics and research methods: descriptions collection.
Preventing plagiarism

Is one of the subjects in an interview in the Education Guardian with Jude Carroll, of Oxford Brookes University. Academics' teaching styles may inadvertently encourage students to cheat (setting the same assignments every year, for example), as may assuming students know what counts as plagiarism when they don't. There are some responses to the article in this week's Education Guardian (3rd May) - scroll down to see them.

The Library, incidentally, can help teach referencing, and also the use of Endnote, a reference management software package supported on CFS machines. I am offering some training and have posted about them separately.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bird flu news

An article in SciDev.Net discusses the latest news from Vietnam, where the number of deaths is falling, but some experts think this might mean that the virus will spread faster.

There is also an article in the latest Bulletin of the WHO, which talks about the impact of the uncertainty over the spread of the virus on health policy.
Lancet redesigns website

The Lancet has redesigned its own website at We have access to full text on this site but you need to register to see it. We also have access to the Lancet through ScienceDirect. There is an explanatory article describing their plans.
Partnerships with African hospitals

A letter to the BMJ argues that such partnerships may improve health.
Evaluating a website you have written

Some useful advice in BMJ Career Focus, using the DISCERN tool for evaluating patient information. The Library would be happy to advise on the use of DISCERN and advise on what other tools are available.
Heart drugs

The BMJ last week draws attention to a study in JAMA about
nesiritide. Patients with heart failure treated with the drug were more likely to die in the month following treatment.

Guardian reports a study from the European Heart Journal which looks at adherence to guidelines on treating heart failure. The study looked at six countries including Britain. The study is a "publish-ahead-of-print" one and I tracked it down with the aid of the European Society of Cardiology's press release.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals

Across the two thirds world people are dying after taking medicines which turn out to be fake. This is organised crime. There was a Nature news feature on the subject in March.

An editorial in the International Nursing Review looks at the same subject, as does a piece in that issue's perspectives column. This is a campaign of the International Council of Nurses for International Nurses Day on the 12th May.

Get more information on International Nurses Day 2005.