Archive for the ‘science magazine’ Tag

World RePORT: A Worldwide Health Research Database

Credit: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhoto.net

Credit: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhoto.net

An article recently published in the September 12th issue of  Science discusses the necessity of creating a global map of    health R&D activities. The goal is to improve coordination  of research and create a “global observatory” for health research.

The Science article states, “How to finance research and   development where normal market forces are absent has been the focus of a number of studies organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), culminating in 2012 with a report that assessed the strengths and weaknesses of more than 100 new financing mechanisms (1). One of the issues that became clear in compiling this report was the absence of good data. There is no global health R&D map that provides a comprehensive picture of research funding, ongoing research, and results that could be used to guide the allocation of the limited available funding. Consequently, the member states of WHO have called for the establishment of a global observatory on health R&D to address this lack of information (2).”

While a truly comprehensive global health observatory is still years away, the World Health Organization recently created a database, the World Research -Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (World RePORT), which constitutes an important first step toward this goal. Released last year, the beta version of World RePORT was initially limited to research conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. However since then, a new funding organization has been added (the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership; EDCTP) and coverage has been expanded to include NIH projects funded in 2013 and projects emanating from South Asia and East Asia/Pacific regions of the world.

As existing funders update the database with projects funded in 2013 across this expanded set of regions, the hope is that the database will help researchers build more effective networks and allow governments and donors to invest their time and money more strategically. Complete information from all ten current funders, as well as information on new organizations joining the World RePORT, will be available on the site soon.

As to the question of funding, the article explains: “As with many WHO projects of this type, it is a new activity and will require new and additional funding outside of its existing budget. A conservative estimate is that $11.5 million will be needed in the first 5 years to cover project staff and software development and to build capacity in those countries (the majority) that do not report health R&D data.”

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Seeing Beauty in Biology

Meg- Microscope Pic

Credit: Lemonade at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I started my career in a laboratory, spending countless happy hours doing cell culture work and bent over a microscope. I sometimes miss those quiet hours and the joy of doing delicate, precise work with my hands. I also miss the beautiful images under the microscope, especially of neurons. So it’s no wonder that the winning entry of the 2013 Visual Challenge knocked my socks off. Each year Science magazine and the National Science Foundation conduct an International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge. The 2013 winners in each category were announced last month, and can be found here (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6171/600.full).

This year’s winners in the Illustration category were Greg Dunn and Brian Edwards, Greg Dunn Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Marty Saggese, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, D.C.; Tracy Bale, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Rick Huganir, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

The winning entry in the Illustration category looks like Asian art—beautiful cortical neurons displayed like bare trees in winter, against a pastel background in muted tones. The Science magazine piece describes it thus:

Cortex in Metallic Pastels represents a stylized section of the cerebral cortex, in which axons, dendrites, and other features create a scene reminiscent of a copse of silver birch at twilight. An accurate depiction of a slice of cerebral cortex would be a confusing mess, Dunn says, so he thins out the forest of cells, revealing the delicate branching structure of each neuron.

“Dunn blows pigments across the canvas to create the neurons and highlights some of them in gold leaf and palladium… He hopes that lay viewers will see how the branching structures of neurons mirror so many other natural structures, from river deltas to the roots of a tree.”

This idea about the repetition of such visual themes throughout nature is bound to resonate with any biologist who has spent time at a microscope. I have been enjoying watching the remake of the wonderful television series Cosmos, and I must say that the images they show of space remind me strongly of many of the images I saw years ago at the microscope.

Not surprisingly, Greg Dunn earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and loves Asian art.  His works can be seen and purchased here (http://www.gregadunn.com/).

(And no, I have no financial interest in recommending Dr. Dunn’s art work—though I may buy a print for my office!)

Science Meets Dance: Science magazine’s 2011 Dance Your Ph.D. Contest

I don’t know about the rest of you, but October always feels as if life has lurched into high gear and summer is a distant memory. When you are feeling overwhelmed it’s important to maintain a sense of humor, and perhaps no people on earth have a quirkier sense of humor than scientists. Each year Science magazine invites Ph.D. students to submit a video that depicts their thesis work in the form of dance. (Many of you know I trained as a dancer, so I particularly love this contest.) The stipulation is that if you submit a video, it has to be your own thesis work and you have to be in it. Last Friday Science announced the sixteen finalists, one funnier than the next. Finalists in each of four categories (physics, chemistry, biology, and social sciences) and an overall winner will be announced this Thursday.

I have had these videos open on my desktop for the past few days and every time I feel myself in need of a laugh I watch one. Some are goofy and silly, some are quite beautiful and innovative, all are creative. I invite you to enjoy them as well. And the next time Hoda Eydgahi’s fun-loving lab at MIT has a party, I definitely want to be invited!

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/10/dancing-to-epigenetics-and-endoc.html?ref=hp

 

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