scientific methodology

 

New Study Shows Surgical Checklists In Operating Rooms Are Less Effective Than Assumed

Posted 16 April 2014 by Jalees Rehman

The patient has verified his or her identity, the surgical site, the type of procedure, and his or her consent. Check. The surgical site is marked on a patient if such marking is appropriate for the procedure. Check. The probe measuring blood oxygen content has been placed on the patient and is functioning. Check. All members of the surgical and anesthesia team are aware of whether the patient has a known allergy? Check. These were the first items on a... Read more

Growing Skepticism about the Stem Cell Acid Trip

Posted 20 February 2014 by Jalees Rehman

In January 2014, the two papers “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency” and “Bidirectional developmental potential in reprogrammed cells with acquired pluripotency” published in the journal Nature by Haruko Obokata and colleagues took the world of stem cell research by surprise. Since Shinya Yamanaka’s landmark discovery that adult skin cells could be reprogrammed into embryonic-like induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by introducing selected embryonic genes into adult cells, laboratories all over the world have been using modifications of... Read more

The Replicability Crisis in Cancer Research

Posted 26 October 2013 by Jalees Rehman

A few months ago, we discussed the replicability issues associated with high-impact publications in stem cell research on this blog. Some of the most exciting and most widely cited papers using adult stem cells could not be replicated during subsequent studies, and resulted in a lot of conflicting data and frustration among stem cell scientists. However, this is not just an affliction of stem cell research, but it also applies to many other areas of research, such as cancer biology.   Here... Read more

The Science Mystique

Posted 4 August 2013 by Jalees Rehman

Here is an excerpt from my longform essay “The Science Mystique” for 3Quarksdaily: Human fallibility not only affects how scientists interpret and present their data, but can also have a far-reaching impact on which scientific projects receive research funding or the publication of scientific results. When manuscripts are submitted to scientific journals or when grant proposal are submitted to funding agencies, they usually undergo a review by a panel of scientists who work in the same field and can ultimately... Read more

Replicability of High-Impact Papers in Stem Cell Research

Posted 23 July 2013 by Jalees Rehman

I recently used the Web of Science database to generate a list of the most highly cited papers in stem cell research. As of July 2013, the search for original research articles which use the key word "stem cells" resulted in the following list of the ten most widely cited papers to date:   1. Pittenger M et al. (1999) Multilineage potential of adult human mesenchymal stem cells. Science 284(5411):143-147 Citations: 8,157   2.  Thomson JA et al. (1998) Embryonic... Read more

The Scientific Peer Review Process and its Limitations

Posted 16 July 2013 by Jalees Rehman

"...I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong." Richard P Feynman, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out"   It may be useful for non-specialists who are not actively involved in the scientific peer review process to get some insight into what constitutes “scientific peer review”. This blog post will give an overview of the peer review process, primarily based on... Read more

“Inflamm-Aging”: Inflammatory Signals in the Brain Regulate the Lifespan of Mice

Posted 10 July 2013 by Jalees Rehman

The hypothalamus is located at the base of the brain and in adult humans, it has a volume of only 4cm3, less than half a percent of the total adult human brain volume. Despite its small size, the hypothalamus is one of the most important control centers in our brain because it functions as the major interface between two regulatory systems in our body: The nervous system and the endocrine (hormonal) system. It consists of many subunits (nuclei) which continuously... Read more

Transparency Is Not A One-Way Mirror

Posted 24 April 2013 by Jalees Rehman

An editorial in the journal Nature published on April 24, 2013 announces an important new step in the scientific peer review process for manuscripts that are being submitted to Nature and other Nature research journals. Authors of scientific manuscripts will now be required to fill out a checklist before they can submit their work to the journal. The title of the editorial, "Announcement: Reducing our irreproducibility", reveals the goal of this new step - addressing the problem of irreproducibility that... Read more

The ENCODE Controversy And Professionalism In Science

Posted 24 February 2013 by Jalees Rehman

The ENCODE (Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project received quite a bit of attention when its results were publicized last year. This project involved a very large consortium of scientists with the goal to identify all the functional elements in the human genome. In September 2012, 30 papers were published in a coordinated release and their extraordinary claim was that roughly 80% of the human genome was "functional". This was in direct contrast to the prevailing view among molecular biologists that the... Read more