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In Its Endlessness Life Abounds

Posted 13 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

The past one year has been rough - what with the deaths of a few close family members. Just as I am slowly settling into 2015, in quick succession come three harsh blows from life: first, that poignant announcement from Prof. Oliver Sachs, next, the untimely death of a beloved mentor and friend, Prof. Paula Pitha-Rowe, and now, the sudden passing of my ever-the-most-favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett. One by one, my favorite people are leaving me, and I don't... Read more

“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” Live forever in our hearts, PTerry

Posted 12 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

One by one, the luminous lights are being extinguished. A stark reminder yet again, that life is fragile, ephemeral, fickle. One of my most-favorite-ever of authors passed away today. Goodbye, and rest in peace, Sir Terry Pratchett. You have given me the gifts of laughter and a deeper understanding of life. Thank you for everything. You shall live forever in our hearts and minds. The following is a screenshot from the only official announcement (from the Publishers) that I could... Read more

Rest In Peace, Professor Pitha-Rowe, Scientist, Mentor

Posted 12 March 2015 by Kausik Datta

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. I recently learned the terrible news that we have lost a distinguished scientist, Dr. Paula Marie Pitha-Rowe, Professor of Oncology, Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Biology and the School of Medicine. She was also, until recently, my wife Sujayita's postdoctoral research mentor, and an immensely knowledgeable, well-informed, fun and compassionate person. She was a sprightly 77. The Mentor and Friend My connection to Paula... Read more

A Life Well-lived With Love, Compassion, Joy Reaches Denouement

Posted 20 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

Fuck cancer. Seriously. We keep losing immense numbers of good people to it; I have lost close friends and family members to it. And yesterday, I was aghast to learn that one of my most favorite scientist/authors, Professor Oliver Sacks, has fallen a prey to this scourge. As he announced yesterday in a New York Times Op-Ed: ... a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I... Read more

Inflammation, Acupuncture, and HPA axis: Faulty Science Clouds Understanding

Posted 18 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

In the wake of my recent critique of acupuncture being touted as a remedy for allergic rhinitis, I was pointed (via a Twitter comment) towards a 2013 review in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which purported to propose a mechanism for the much-claimed anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture. There are several putative mechanisms, discussing all of which will make this post gargantuan. Therefore, I shall focus on the explanation involving the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The review, by a group of... Read more

Sniffles, Sneezes, Itches, Boo-boo: What Can The Needles Do?

Posted 11 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

Nasal allergies (a.k.a. Allergic Rhinitis, or hay fever) represent a frequent allergic disorder that reduces the sufferer’s quality of life, and has harsh economic implications in terms of healthcare costs and social productivity. A 2003 retrospective study from Germany estimated that average annual cost of season allergic rhinitis was approximately €1,089 per child/adolescent and €1,543 per adult, considering direct medical and nonmedical costs. (Note: €1 = US $1.0503, on January 1, 2003, the day this study was published.) During the... Read more

About Ethics In Science News Journalism And Editorial Practices

Posted 6 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

Media and communication professionals, including those in the news business, understand the power and value of visual communication. The old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words", has never been truer than it is now, what with the nearly ubiquitous use of imagery and iconography – both moving and still – to communicate information via printed material, digital screens, and even the built environment. This phenomenon is outside my area of expertise (so I wouldn’t hold forth more on... Read more

(Passing Along Information) One PhD position in Microbial Pathogenesis at Hans Knöll Institute

Posted 2 February 2015 by Kausik Datta

This morning I received an email from Professor Bernhard Hube of the Hans Knöll Institute in Jena, Germany. In this email, Prof. Hube requested for this information to be forwarded to anyone interested. Here is the text of the advertisement, in its entirety: Job Advertisement No. 04/2015 The Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute – (HKI, www.hki-jena.de) investigates the pathobiology of human-pathogenic fungi and identifies targets for the development of novel natural product-based... Read more

Worm-holes in Muscles Lead to Universe of Pain

Posted 29 January 2015 by Kausik Datta

Do you dream of steak tartare? Are the names ossenworst, kitfo, crudos, yookhwe, or larb lu, music to your ears? You are not alone. Globally, including in the United States, countless people swear by these and other raw meat dishes. The question is – are you putting yourself at risk? According to 2011 CDC estimates, every year foodborne illnesses attack 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people), resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths. The spectrum of foodborne diseases... Read more

The hands that tinker with nuts and bolts behind research (a fantastic Nature News feature)

Posted 28 January 2015 by Kausik Datta

I was alerted this morning - via Malcolm Campbell - to an excellent news feature on Nature News - titled: "Not Your Average Technician" - on four individuals who are engaged in behind-the-scenes jobs, which nevertheless support the scientific and technological research work of many in more visible fields. NOTE: An indefatigable curator of the most interesting science news, Dr. Malcolm Campbell - I am honored to be his Scilogs colleague - continues to stimulate our minds with his daily... Read more