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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

Restrictive Publishing Policies Guiding Self-archival of Articles by Authors are Not Helpful

Posted 15 January 2015 by Kausik Datta

Publishing policies of scientific journals - especially, the closed-access journals - often leave me scratching my head. Seriously. I am a member of ResearchGate; it is supposed to be a scientist-only social network, perhaps a "Facebook for Science" (as Eli Kintisch wrote in 2014 in Science's Career Magazine), in which scientists can upload and share their research papers, track citations, follow the work of - and even request papers from - colleagues and fellow scientists across the world. Every once... Read more

Many a slip… between actual science and Press Release clip?

Posted 2 January 2015 by Kausik Datta

To whomever reading this first post of a shiny, brand new year, A Happy New Year To You. May the year ahead bring you joy, peace and accomplishments galore. Within the past week from today, two notes related to science communication - from two people I follow on Twitter and elsewhere - came to my attention. And the funny thing is, the two notes (I say 'notes' for want of a better descriptor) are related to each other. One note... Read more

Sciencebloggers and SIWOTI – A Science Communication Research Project

Posted 27 October 2014 by Kausik Datta

A couple of days ago, Paige Brown Jarreau, my Scilogs co-blogger ("From the Lab Bench") and our intrepid, supportive, Scilogs-Community Manager, launched her own crowdfunding project on experiment.com to fund her research work on science communication. It is a worthy effort, and her results will be Open Access, which is an awesome plus. Please do visit her blog as well as the project page to support her endeavor if possible. In her survey (duly approved by the IRB of her institution),... Read more

The MIDAS touch: NIGMS Propels Infectious Disease Research To Golden Age via Computational Modeling

Posted 26 October 2014 by Kausik Datta

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), was established in 1962 via an Act of Congress for the "conduct and support of research and research training in the general or basic medical sciences and related natural or behavioral sciences", especially in areas which are interdisciplinary for other institutes under the Act, or alternatively, which fall under no institute’s purview. In these 52 years, the NIGMS has acquitted itself laudably... Read more

No, Drinking Your Own Urine Will Not Cure Ebola (Or Anything Else)

Posted 22 October 2014 by Kausik Datta

Fear does strange things to people. The fear du jour currently permeating the US is, of course, the Ebola virus disease. Despite the august efforts to reassure and educate from CDC and the WHO, there has spread a modicum of panic (often with tragic results); we have seen Ebola response become a political issue, and as pointed out recently by that redoubtable scienceblogger, Orac, a ghastly profusion of conspiracy theories and quackery has crawled out of nooks and crannies, feeding... Read more

Addressing TB disease, a global burden

Posted 30 July 2014 by Kausik Datta

Bacteria, fungi, viruses, protozoan parasites; we share our world with countless agents of infectious, disease-causing bugs. Globally, infectious (or ‘communicable’) diseases of various stripes – respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, and meningitis among them – together remain the fourth leading cause of death, with people from lower-income countries being disproportionately more affected. Children form an especially vulnerable group; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 6.6 million children under 5 years died worldwide in 2012, and over two-thirds... Read more

Tuberculosis, the global scourge, and a new drug-design strategy

Posted 18 June 2014 by Kausik Datta

Every year on March 24, World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is observed to commemorate the discovery of the etiological agent of this disease, the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis by noted German physician and microbiologist and Nobel Laureate, Robert Koch (1843-1910). The infection occurs via inhalation of the air-borne bug; therefore, the disease primarily affects the lungs, but it can spread to other parts of body as well, such as the central nervous system (brain and spinal chord), bone, and internal organs. If... Read more

Saga of Dietary Supplements: “All Natural”? “Herbal”? “Safe and effective”? Um… Not quite.

Posted 5 June 2014 by Kausik Datta

Poor wee "All Natural", "Herbal" dietary supplements -- 'safe and effective' alternative medical modalities so beloved of the pseudoscience aficionados and woomeisters all over the world: they can't get a break! On June 2, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning - via its Medication Health Fraud webpage - against 6 over-the-counter products for 'Sexual Enhancement', its second-largest single-day set of warning in this particular category. (The largest-yet set was warnings against 7 products in June... Read more

Bug’s “To-do”: Lose a few genes; Cause the Black Death

Posted 27 May 2014 by Kausik Datta

Yersinia pestis (YP) is a rod-shaped bacterium associated with the pandemic plagues that have devastated human civilization multiple times. According to available genetic evidence, an ancestral bacterium called Yersinia pseudotuberculosis (YPT) gave rise to this bug in China, from where it spread repeatedly westward to the rest of the world causing disease in both animals and humans. Infections due to both YPT and YP are classified as “zoonoses”, transmissible from animals (mostly rodents) to other animals and humans. YPT is... Read more