News and Views

Having spent the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, with a theme of science policy, I have been immersed in a four-day, non-stop conversation about the relationship between scientists and "the public."

In thinking about the gap that exists, at least anecdotally, between the public and scientists on scientific issues, I looked for data on exactly how wide that gap is. 

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that conducts polling and collects data, asked scientists and non-scientists their opinions on various scientific topics: GMOs, global warming, pesticide usage, etc. The results are not surprising - there is a big gap between what those two groups think. The question is - why? And, what can be done to...

Let’s wax nostalgic. Do you recall the Ebola outbreak a few years ago that brought fear into many American’s lives and ravaged our television screens? Those spacesuit-like outfits medical personnel wore to prevent acquiring the infection were demonstrated by anchors and blasted out via all media forms. The challenge of taking the gear on and off without compromising one’s safety was replayed nearly on a loop.

The messages transmitted then still ring true now regarding the importance of health care worker biohazard protection—not only for themselves, but also the communities they inhabit. In a recent statement put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the governing agency revealed...

Past studies have suggested a link between cat ownership and psychosis, specifically Schizophrenia. But researchers say the latest studies simply don't show any association. That's bad news for the crazy ole cat lady, who can't use her feline friends as an excuse. 

As the time-honored saying goes, it's better to give than to receive.

Well, maybe not always – especially when it comes to tattoo artists.

When these workers ply their creative trade, they must bend over their customers and maintain steady positions, sometimes for hours at a time – and the physical strain they must endure on a given workday can be significant. That's the key finding of the first-ever study of its kind, researchers say, measuring muscle stress of tattoo artists at work.

In this small study of parlor workers, researchers from Ohio State University found that "all of them exceeded maximums recommended to avoid injury, especially in the muscles of their upper back and neck," according to a ...

committee of international experts, assembled by the National Academies of Science and Medicine, released a highly anticipated report on human genome editing this past week.

The report, entitled "Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance" addresses three major applications of genome editing, but, has a focus on making changes in the DNA that can be passed down through generations - germline editing. 

For germline editing, although interventions to treat or prevent diseases are far from being ready to be tried in humans, the committee placed an emphasis permitting the forward progress of this scientific technology, with the contingeny that proper...

Three separate bills have been introduced (2 in the House, 1 in the Senate) to drive a stake into a vampire like Board, which has no members, little funding and bipartisan support for its demise – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). [1] Created as part of the Affordable Care Act, you know it as ObamaCare, it is a cost-control mechanism designed to maintain per beneficiary costs of Medicare within certain guidelines. IPAB’s Renfrow, the person giving the undead Board life is Paul Spitalnic, the actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) who believes that Medicare costs will exceed the statuary limits in 2017 and require awakening the IPAB. 

Like other vampires, there are restraints on its powers. Specifically, it cannot reduce benefits and cannot...

Organic chemists are a different species (1). While the world was pondering the geopolitical ramifications of the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong-Nam, we were all wondering "what the hell was in those needles?"

This morbid curiosity became even more so as the story changed. Instead of needles, different reports said that a liquid was either sprayed in Kim's face or applied with a cloth. For us chemists, that is even crazier. What on earth could be applied to the skin and cause dizziness, a headache, and then death so quickly? This has led to speculation about what chemical was used, because, given the "facts" that we now have, there is no obvious answer. 

This didn't stop me from trying to figure it out, even knowing in advance that I...

Among the conclusions from a newly-released study focusing on women's military service during the Vietnam War – both in uniform and as civilians – one is rather eye-catching: That longer service corresponded to greater happiness and life satisfaction decades later. 

The headline of the press release that introduces the study reads, "Career military women who served in Vietnam: Happier and in better health than all women."

On a visceral level it's a conclusion that's striking, partly because the concepts of happiness and war don't usually go together. The headline generates interest and curiosity, so one is drawn to take a closer look.

Yet since that's quite a statement, to the casual...

If you're working at a DMV office, you'd better get busy. The old organ donor cards just aren't going to cut it any more. We have a new organ. Instead of 78, the number is now 79. So, if someone comes in and wants to donate his or her mesentery, you will need to be prepared (1).

Also, these guys need to get to work, or at the very least, fix the title (2,3):

 

 

 

 

 

 

It must have taken real guts (sorry, that was pretty stupid) for J. Calvin Coffey, a professor of surgery at University of Limerick’s Medical School Ireland, to challenge...

Human genome editing, like self-driving cars or drone delivery, is becoming a part of our everyday reality faster than we realize it. 

A panel discussion held at The Rockefeller University entitled "The Future of Gene Editing: A multi-disciplinary panel discussion" brought together four experts who tackle the challenges of human gene-editing from different approaches and perspectives, based on their individual focuses and specialties. Why does this particular area of science need so much conversation?

There are significant concerns, to be sure, especially about unintended consequences. People are particularly nervous about gene drive technology and the release of altered...