Felix Onuah and Tom Miles for Reuters report that the government of Nigeria has confirmed that a man has died of Ebola virus in the megacity of Lagos, Nigeria (population: 21 million). However, the city of Lagos reports it is still awaiting official confirmation of the Ebola virus. Since February an Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone has killed 660 people. Apparently the man was quarantined upon arriving to Lagos, but was likely in contact with others while traveling to Nigeria. A spread to a major city may not be as bad as one might think:
“The fear of spread within a dense population would be offset by better healthcare and a willingness to use it, easier contact tracing and, I assume for an urban population, less risky funerary and family rites,” Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading in Britain, said. “It would be contained more easily than in rural populations.”
It still can’t be good for viral spreading to have an outbreak in a major city. Check out previous posts from CauseScience about this Ebola outbreak. Including a terrific description of what it is like to have Ebola virus by Derek Gatherer and how likely the Ebola outbreak is to spread to the US and Europe. Obviously if the Ebola outbreak spreads to a large city in Nigeria, spread to other countries will become much more likely.
Contact your senators to support biomedical research! Great post from #Research!America as usual! #CauseScience
Ask Your Senators to Support the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act
Funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has remained flat in recent years, and uncertainty is growing over the ability of universities and other research institutions to conduct the noncommercial medical research underlying new preventative measures, diagnostic tools, treatments, and cures. In response to significant concerns about the erosion of NIH’s purchasing power, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced legislation, the Advancing Biomedical Research Act, that empowers Congress to provide up to 10% increases in NIH funding for FY 2015 and FY 2016, and up to 5% increases through 2021. These increases are more than justified by the scientific opportunity unleashed when the human genome was sequenced. And that’s just one of the developments that has set the stage for accelerated medical progress. We need to conquer Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and other deadly and disabling health threats…and…
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The next 8 days will be a little quieter on CauseScience because one contributor is still on vacation in Turkey (lucky!), and the other is heading up to Vermont to volunteer at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta. Have no fear, we will return to make sure you get all the interesting science, science advocacy updates, and scientific explanation you are used to!
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta is an amazing camp in Vermont for children who have, or had, pediatric cancer. Check out the camp’s website here. Especially if you know any children that are eligible, want to support this amazing place, or are interested in volunteering!
Camp Ta-Kum-Ta provides challenging, extraordinary experiences in a safe and loving environment for children who have or have had cancer and their families. Camp exists for Vermont and Northern New York children, (including other out-of-state children who are treated in Vermont), between the ages of 7-17, at no cost to their families.
This video does a great job visualizing gravity and spacetime. I have never quite connected the dots about this theory until now. Check it out… ‘CauseScience.
From EdwardCurrent on youtube:
A new demonstration of gravity, featuring the “Spacetime Stretcher,” built mostly out of materials from my garage and the hardware store.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, one major hurdle for researchers in countries outside the US and Europe is gaining access to published science. And remember that doing effective science requires access to what other scientists have done, which often comes at an exorbitant price.
Today I learned about Diego Gomez, a Colombian masters student in Conservation and Wildlife Management in Costa Rica. According to an article on Electronic Frontier Foundation by Maira Sutton, Diego Gomez is facing 4-8 years in prison for sharing an academic article (possibly just a master’s thesis?) on the internet with a group of other students and researchers. According to the Sutton article,
The author of the paper then filed a lawsuit over the “violation of [his] economic and related rights.”
I am curious who this author is… i mean really? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a publishing company or institution, but it seems crazy that it would be the author themselves. See a letter from Diego Gomez in english on karisma.org (the website of Fundación Karisma, who are supporting Gomez). Sadly, as you can see below, Gomez and other researchers outside the US and Europe are almost required to break laws to participate in research. Below are some excerpts from Gomez’ letter, bolding is mine.
My name is Diego Gomez and with 26 years old I have defined my great passion in life: the biodiversity conservation.
Above all, I’m disconcerted that this activity I did for academic purposes may be considered a crime, turning me into a “criminal.” Today what the vast majority of the country’s researchers and conservationists are doing, despite being committed to spreading knowledge, is turning us into criminals.
Check out on twitter (mostly in spanish) at #CompartirNoEsDelito
The Accelerate Biomedical Research Act will establish a pathway for sustained growth in the NIH budget. That budget has remained virtually stagnant over the last decade, jeopardizing promising research to combat disease and deflating the aspirations of early career scientists. NIH-funded research fuels the development of lifesaving therapies and treatments and creates opportunities for public-private partnerships to better understand Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and other major health threats here and abroad. – Mary Woolley, President of Research!America.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are certainly a controversial topic these days, especially because when most people think of GMO’s they think of seeds and the corporate greed associated with Monsanto. However, there are many different types of GMO’s that have been designed and used for medical research, drug production, and also food production. Scientifically, GMO’s are an extremely useful tool, and hold promise for helping society deal with all sorts of issues (example: Plants that are resistant to the ill effects of increasing levels of carbon dioxide). Misinformation and misconceptions about GMO’s are everywhere, and just last week a congressional panel decided that most Americans are too stupid to correctly interpret GMO labeling on food products. See previous posts about GMO’s from CauseScience for more information.
This brings me to the title of this post. Apparently, some anti-GMO activists (namely Mike Adams of Natural News, see his crazy post here) have claimed that pro-GMO scientists and journalists are Nazi’s, or something along those lines (it’s sometimes hard to interpret crazy babble). The article then goes on to claim that these scientists, publishers, and journalists are committing crimes against humanity, and closes with this memorable quote from Nazi’s:
it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.
C-R-A-Z-Y! While not exactly a threat, it certainly seems to be suggesting violence based on non-existent and false accusations. And is compounded by the fact that an update to the post includes a link to a website that lists names and info of journalists, publishers, and scientists that are labelled as ‘Monsanto Collaborators.’ Scary stuff.
I became aware of all of this from a news article by Keith Kloor on the Genetic Literacy Project website (check them out!). Keith Kloor also wrote an article about the Mike Adams post for Discover Magazine blog Collide-a-Scape, and both do a great job summarizing and interpreting the article. No matter your feelings on GMO’s, Monsanto, and/or ‘crimes against humanity’, I think we can all agree that this type of rhetoric is ridiculous. Worst of all, this type of anti-GMO press is anti-science and will only continue the trend of Americans being too stupid or uninformed to make decisions about GMO products (Natural News is in general very anti-science, anti-vaccine etc.). While we should all question GMO’s and the companies that are selling them, just like with other food and drugs, we should also be open to the huge benefits to be gained by current and future GMO’s.
Julie Gould has posted a terrific Q and A with Gerjon Ikink on NatureJobs blog. The Q and A focuses on Ikink’s pending move from academic science to science policy, with a goal of fixing the ailing academic science system. It also highlights a lot of the reasons scientists are more and more becoming disillusioned with how academic science is run today. The post includes a lot of pertinent info about why scientists are leaving academia, what needs to change to retain scientists, and how scientists in policy can make these changes. Gerjon Ikink on becoming disillusioned with science:
I saw that career scientists were no longer driven by curiosity, instead they spend hours producing papers so they can get funding to keep doing their job. And in order to get funding they are evaluated on metrics like the impact factor of the journal in which they are published. Many believe that too much emphasis is placed on these metrics, and that a full evaluation should be based on more. Here I mean that it should be based on actual proposed research plans, combined with the experience and motivation of the researcher. Past successes shouldn’t (and don’t) guarantee future success in science. The successes come from plenty of money and time, motivated staff, a good infrastructure and to be honest, luck.
With the current overabundance of PhD’s and shortage of academic career options, the more scientists that go into policy and politics, the better. While academic career scientists should advocate for policies that support them, we certainly need people who have science policy as their main focus. CauseScience wishes Gerjon Ikink and other science-to-policy researchers the best of luck!
The Apollo space missions cost more than US $100 billion in today’s terms, the Large Hadron Collider $10 billion and the development of the Airbus A380 $15 billion — making the projected $4.5 billion for the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) initiative look paltry by comparison. -Anuj K. Rastogi in Nature Correspondence