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.