Outline of the Measles Outbreak #SadButTrue

Another satirical feature from The Onion outlining the timeline of the Measles Outbreak.  At CauseScience, we’ve posted about this many times.  Check out the sad/funny/true outline below:

  • February 28, 1998: British physician Andrew Wakefield publishes the first in a long line of 0 scientific studies that link vaccines to autism
  • June 9, 2004: Mother of three Karen Myers tells new mom Ashley Wheeler about a “great new parenting blog”
  • April 5, 2011: Group of negligent parents decide to start calling themselves “anti-vaxxers”
  • September 7, 2011-2014: Anti-vaccination movement spreads to thousands of other parents through direct online contact
  • December 1, 2014: Herd immunity still holding up
  • December 15, 2014: Measles outbreak in Southern California reduces San Diego classroom to manageable size
  • January 10, 2015: Infected Beckwith family pushes through the pain for a second day at Disneyland because they spent 900 goddamn dollars for five two-day passes
  • January 11, 2015: CDC epidemiologists conduct victim surveys in some very weird California homes
  • January 18, 2015: Ben’s mom gives Jessa’s mom withering glance in preschool parking lot
  • January 26, 2015: CDC angrily changes answer to “Has measles been eliminated in the United States?” on FAQ page of website
  • January 27, 2015: Unvaccinated 9-year-old Hunter Warren still fine, so who’s to say who’s right?
  • August 12, 2020: 2015 outbreak starting to look really quaint

Take Action with @UCSUSA – Tell the senate that climate #science is clear!

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Take 2 minutes to send a letter to tell the senate that climate science is clear! – via Union of Concerned Scientists. TAKE ACTION NOW!!

The Senate just voted against endorsing the basic fact that human activities contribute to climate change. Please join me in taking this action from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) urging the U.S. Senate to stop debating established climate science and start debating what to do about it. It’s important for scientists to speak out when politicians play games with research like this. Add your support today.

Learn more about the clear relationship between human activities and climate change and read our latest blog post on how policy makers are talking about climate science.

AAAS and Pew poll confirms differing opinions between public and scientists on science-related issues.

[tweet https://twitter.com/CauseScience1/status/561224486998261761]

If you haven’t already seen the public and scientist opinion poll put out yesterday by AAAS and Pew Research Center, its a must see (the featured tweet above is satire based on a CauseScience hashtag)! If you’ve been paying attention, there isn’t anything overly surprising – scientists and the general public have differing views on many science-related issues. A nice summary of the poll is here at NBCNews.com. Some major highlights of the in-depth poll include:

– Should animals be used in research? 89 percent of the scientists said yes, as opposed to 47 percent of the public.

– Is it safe to eat foods grown with pesticides? 68 percent of the scientists agreed, compared with 28 percent of the public.

– Is climate change caused mostly by human activity? 87 percent yes from the scientists, 50 percent yes from the public.

– Have humans evolved over time? 98 percent yes from the scientists, 65 percent yes from the public.

– Should more offshore oil drilling be allowed? 32 percent yes from the scientists, 52 percent yes from the public.

– Should more nuclear power plants be built? 65 percent yes from the scientists, 45 percent yes from the public.

– Should parents be allowed to decide not to have their children vaccinated? 13 percent yes from the scientists, 30 percent yes from the public.

In good news from the poll:

Science holds an esteemed place among citizens and professionals. Americans recognize the accomplishments of scientists in key fields and, despite considerable dispute about the role of government in other realms, there is broad public support for government investment in scientific research.

CauseScience Friday – Jan 30th – #Science #Selfie #Friday

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crestwind24- I am spending part of my day processing images (micrographs) that I took earlier on our labs confocal microscope. As I mentioned in a previous CauseScience Friday, the confocal allows me to take amazing pictures of neurons and their axons and dendrites. Today I am taking many images taken through the depth of a worm and making 3D animations. This allows you to see the morphology of the axons – or where they are in space. Below is a partial low-res GIF I made of one of my animations – it shows two neurons and their axons in C. elegans!!

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psgurel- Part of joining a new lab involves developing a new project.  Today, I’m doing some test runs as an initial step in developing a method for imaging different conformations of actin filaments for cryo Eelectron Microscopy.  First, I have to coat EM grids in a mechanism that will allow the actin to bind properly, so I’m surveying different ways of coating EM grids. Wish me luck!

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What if scientists acted like celebrities? #IfScientistsWere #IfScientistsWereProAthletes

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The other night while watching a sports interview (during the US national figure skating competition to be exact), the writers of CauseScience noticed that athletes get away with saying a lot, trash talking, and completely ignoring criticism. It made us wonder about what it would be like if scientists were treated like celebrities. Our culture values entertainers, athletes, musicians, actors/actresses, and other celebrities to a much higher degree than scientists, doctors… and most other meaningful professions.

Imagine scientists trash talking competitors. Or responding to reviewers comments the same way athletes respond to criticism. Or being interviewed about how running a gel or PCR went that day. It would be hilarious!!

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CauseScience will be launching a series of posts and hashtags to consider what it would be like If Scientists Were… Since this weekend is the superbowl, what better way to start than with #IfScientistsWereProAthletes

A few examples from Ashley Wagner’s interviews surrounding her WIN at the 2015 US Figure Skating Nationals – just to get your wheels spinning. Some negative, but also positive quotes that are quite funny when applied to SCIENCE!

  • About her competitors – “In skating, she makes me uncomfortable, because she’s always kind of breathing down my neck. I don’t like to get beat. And I do not like to get beat by girls.”
  • About her critics – “this shows them that they need to shut their mouths and watch me skate.”
  • About her job – “I LOVE skating, i mean, I’m so lucky that this is my job, that this is what i do everyday.”
  • and again – “I’m so endlessly in love with this sport and I’m so glad I was able to show it with the way I skated tonight.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/CauseScience1/status/561164403052380160]

Note: While this is ultimately for fun and a laugh, it can also serve to showcase the lack of public engagement and agreement with science and scientists. As well as the under-appreciation of scientists. In the end, it may not be surprising that most scientists don’t act like celebrities or professional athletes. Science is a profession that trains people to be logical, critical, evidence-based, and open-minded. And usually the ‘system’ keeps most scientists’ egos from getting too big.

UPDATE- See our favorites of #IfScientistsWereProAthletes in a new CauseScience post here!

Super excited for the movie ‘Still Alice’ – based on Lisa Genova’s amazing story featuring Alzheimer’s Disease #science #writing

If you have not read Lisa Genova’s book Still Alice, I highly recommend that you do. Especially if you are interested in neuroscience and neurodegenerative disease. The book, which captures Alzheimer’s Disease in a unique personal light, has now been made into a movie. I am very excited to see it, and I absolutely love Julianne Moore. I will post an update once I see it! Also check out this terrific article about the movie, the story, and more at The Conversation!

Congrats to Lisa Genova, a fellow neuroscientist and writer, for this terrific story and her success! Definitely check out her other books, Left Neglected and Love Anthony!

Still Alice Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth Drama HD

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.

Curious about Precision Medicine? Ingrid Winship and Timothy Smith explain it @ConversationUK

Precision medicine offers the hope of cures made just for you

By Ingrid Winship, Melbourne Health and Timothy Smith, University of Melbourne

Hidden among all the other announcements in last week’s State of the Union address by US President Barack Obama was a promise to fund a new “precision medicine initiative”. The president said it would bring Americans closer to curing illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.

Once funded, the initiative is expected to provide medical researchers with data about the genetic make-up of everyday people. This data will allow them to undertake research into the genetic causes of common diseases and tailor medicines for them.

Tailoring medicine

Precision medicine describes a new approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. It helps deliver treatment based on the particular variant of the disease by taking the genetic make-up of the ill person into account.

It’s underpinned by two key areas of knowledge that have been building rapidly in the recent past. The first is our understanding of the function of human genes and their role in the development and progression of certain diseases. And the second is the recognition that diseases characterised – and therefore diagnosed – by a particular set of signs and symptoms may arise through fundamentally different biological mechanisms.

One example of such an illness is cystic fibrosis, for which there’s already a treatment based on genetic factors. An inherited condition, cystic fibrosis results from a deficiency in the performance of an enzyme (the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator) responsible for moving chloride into and out of the cells. To date, scientists have observed over 1,900 changes in the single gene that codes for this enzyme.

Of these genetic changes, one is very common with a frequency of 70%, while 20 are less common, with a combined frequency of 15%. The remaining genetic changes are very rare. So you can see why although cystic fibrosis is considered to be just one disease, it can be caused by many different biochemical mechanisms.

Medication developed in 2012 can effectively treat cystic fibrosis in people who have specific genetic changes. But it’s estimated these changes are present in only 4% to 5% of cystic fibrosis patients. The medication is ineffective for the others.

Precision medicine is not just about new and better treatments for diseases, it can also provide guidance on how best to apply current treatments through the study of how individual genetics influence the manner in which drugs are absorbed and metabolised. This particular field of precision medicine is called pharmacogenomics.

Technology as the driving force

Precision medicine relies on having ready access to a large amount of information about genes and how they influence health. It’s been driven by recent advancements in DNA sequencing technology, which have drastically increased our ability to generate the data needed to derive this information.

The first human genome to be sequenced (completed in 2003) took ten years, two large global consortia and billions of dollars. The brunt of the sequencing work in what was known as the Human Genome Project was performed using Sanger sequencing, a method that involves pushing DNA molecules of varying sizes through a gel using an electric field.

As they move through the gel, the fragments are sorted by size because smaller fragments travel faster than larger ones. The need for these gels is a major limiting factor for this method as only a small number of samples can be sequenced in parallel on any one machine.

But sequencing technology has changed markedly in 12 short years.

Beginning in 2005, new technologies that utilised a different method of DNA sequencing and did not rely on gels as separation media came to market. Crucially, these technologies could be miniaturised and a single instrument could run multiple samples at the same time.

Instruments using these technologies can sequence between one million and 43 billion DNA fragments at a time, depending on the specific technology used. With these technologies, the cost and time required to sequence a single genome dropped dramatically, from around US$100 million in 2011 to around US$4,000 today.

This drastic reduction in cost led to a proliferation of projects designed to sequence genomes in ever-increasing numbers.

What comes next?

Precision medicine is still a long way off being the default approach to diagnosis and treatment within regular health-care settings. We still don’t know enough about the biological processes that cause disease; we know plenty about what happens when we get sick, but often not how and why.

Sequencing large numbers of genomes – as part of projects that cost millions of dollars and many years to complete – is just the first step towards precision medicine. That data needs to be analysed and compared against the sequence data of healthy and sick people. Hypotheses need to be posed and tested through big longitudinal studies involving many people before meaningful insights can be made and translated into diagnostic tests, treatments and preventive strategies.

All this requires not just access to genomes but detailed clinical information about people that’s routinely collected over time and linked to their genomic sequences.

Another issue that needs to be overcome is the cost of individualised treatments. Drug development is expensive, but the costs are usually offset by the combination of the large number of people who will purchase the new drug and some form of government subsidy.

But precision medicine is designed to develop treatments for smaller numbers of people. Not only does this mean a smaller market across which the cost of drug development needs to be spread, it also means governments may be less likely to offer subsidies. A single year’s supply for the cystic fibrosis drug mentioned above, for instance, currently costs more than US$300,000, making it one of the most expensive drugs available in America.

To realise the potential of precision medicine, the driving force behind it needs to shift from technology to clinical practice and improving health service delivery. Technology has brought us a long way, and no doubt we’re not far from another paradigm shift that will allow us to sequence genomes more quickly and cheaply. But it will only ever get us so far.

Only the incorporation of genomics into health care, with robust electronic record systems, will allow for correlation of genomic data with health status. Our focus needs to be on answering real questions about real people’s health. And ensuring that national health systems are capable of delivering on the promise of precision medicine.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.