Monday, February 26, 2007

Recent articles I have seen

Here are some things I have noticed recently, which are relevant to the interests of this blog:

15 minutes with the man who revolutionised anaesthetic practice, BMJ Career Focus 334(7590). This is an interview with Cecil Gray.

Doubts over head injury studies, BMJ 334(7590) - article about studies of mannitol in head injury, where there are doubts over whether the studies ever took place.

A report of an article by Richard Smith in which he urges the boycott of Elsevier because of their involvement in organising arms fairs, in the same BMJ. (The report is in the BMJ, the article is in the Journal of the RSM). I read recently somewhere else that the Rowntree Trust had sold their shares in the same company.

Two from Science:

Quantitative Phylogenetic Assessment of Microbial Communities in Diverse Environments
C. von Mering, P. Hugenholtz, J. Raes, S. G. Tringe, T. Doerks, L. J. Jensen, N. Ward, and P. Bork
p. 1126

Staphylococcus aureus Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Causes Necrotizing Pneumonia
Maria Labandeira-Rey, Florence Couzon, Sandrine Boisset, Eric L. Brown, Michele Bes, Yvonne Benito, Elena M. Barbu, Vanessa Vazquez, Magnus Höök, Jerome Etienne, François Vandenesch, and M. Gabriela Bowden
p. 1130

and a Perspectives piece from the same Science:

MICROBIOLOGY: Mayhem in the Lung (about S. aureus infection)
Barbara C. Kahl and Georg Peters
p. 1082


I was following a link from a search alert to a paper about pandemic influenza, in PLoS Medicine, when this caught my eye:

Dorling D. Worldmapper: The Human Anatomy of a Small Planet. PLoS Med 2007 4(1): e1

This is a mapping application that enables you to make a world map with the proportions of the countries determined by the variable that you put in. There are examples in the paper of maps showing malaria cases, and public health spending, and more.

There is an episode of the West Wing in which the senior staff of the White House are shown the Peters Projection map, and in which their way of looking at the world is changed. This could be a similar experience...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

Avian influenza in Suffolk

I maintain a webpage of resources on avian and pandemic influenza, and have annotated the home page to indicate which resources are carrying news of this outbreak.

The webpage is at

This is a slightly different URL and if you have the site bookmarked, you might want to check that you have this address bookmarked.

Medical milestones

I found this in the Guardian on the train on the way home, and thought I had missed it in the BMJ that I read earlier - but it turns out to be in a supplement.

This is a list of the 15 most important medical discoveries made since the foundation of the BMJ in 1840. This is the list of 15, shortlisted from a list of 100:

Chlorpromazine - a drug to treat schizophrenia
Evidence based medicine
Germ theory
Magic bullets - monoclonal antibodies
Oral rehydration
The (contraceptive) pill
Risks of smoking - recognition of
Tissue culture

It is interesting, in closing, that some of these are still goals, rather than milestones, in some parts of the world.

Later note: I reworded this entry this morning (9th January). It appears in Libworm, and Libworm only gives the first few words of the original entry, and this gives a false impression of what I was saying.

Another later note: sanitation "won", with antibiotics and anaesthesia close behind. See

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tuberculosis resources

EurasiaHealth Knowledge Network is a project of the American International Health Alliance, and their website is a searchable collection of resources relating to TB. This includes links to websites, and details of publications of various sorts.

The contents of the site are particularly aimed particularly at people working in Eastern Europe.

In the 50 days leading up to World TB Day (24th March, this year), there is an online campaign designed to raise awareness of drug resistant TB. One in ten cases of TB are apparently drug resistant. I learnt about this campaign through an email sent to the HIF-NET discussion list: there is more here - look for the link that says One-in-Ten.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Importing doctors (or exporting them)

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at the situation in Ghana, where, as in many African countries (and others) many physicians train, then go abroad. Currently there are 532 Ghanaian doctors practising in the USA, which is in absolute terms a small number, but there are only 2600 physicians in Ghana. 25 percent of doctors in the USA trained outside the USA, and the same figure is true for the UK.

The article talks about some of the measures that the Ghanaian government is taking to try and keep Ghanaian trained health professionals in the country.

The article is available free in full text, here.

Antibacterial drugs in the films

The BMJ reports this paper, in Revista Espanola de Quimioterapia, which lists 70 films in which antibacterial drugs play a role. Films include Captain Corelli's Mandolin, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Out of Africa, among many others.

The BMJ item is here.
The journal itself is here, but this issue does not appear to be online yet.

Ghost authorship

Today's BMJ reports a paper in PLoS Medicine, that found that it is quite common for people significantly involved in clinical trials, not to be listed as an author on the resulting paper. These people are quite likely to be statisticians, the paper found.

There is a discussion in PLoS Medicine of this paper, also.

Read the BMJ
Read PLoS Medicine

Mutation in influenza viruses

A paper in Science this week reports that a small mutation to the 1918 influenza virus makes it far less likely to be transmitted between ferrets. An accompanying news item looks at some of the implications of this: perhaps a similar and small mutation might make the H5N1 virus more easily transmissible between humans?

Updates from the Child Health Specialist Library

I may have mentioned this before (and I should, I suppose, check whether I have or not, but there we are).

The Child Health Specialist Library of the National Library for Health is full of all sorts of useful information, and you can sign up to receive monthly email updates that tell you about the new things added in the previous month.

The Library is at, and there is a link on the home page to sign up to the alerts.

Patient information from Great Ormond Street Hospital

This is included in the Child Health Specialist Library of the National Library for Health - covering a range of tests, conditions, and more general things like your child having a general anaesthetic or being asked to fast for diagnostic reasons.

New edition of "Green Book"

The Department of Health have published a new edition of the "green book", Immunisation against infectious disease. It appeared in December 2006.

More details in the Child Health Specialist Library of the National Library of Health - use the "link to full text here" link to read the whole book online via the Department of Health website.