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).