Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Mitochondria donation: an uncertain future?

Earlier this year, UK Parliament voted to change the law to support new and controversial in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures known as ‘mitochondrial donation’. The result is that the UK is at the cutting-edge of mitochondrial science and the only country in the world to legalise germ-line technologies. The regulations came into force on 29th October this year, and clinics are now able to apply for a licence.

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What history can tell us about food allergy

What can the history of medicine tell us about food allergy and other medical conditions? An awful lot. History is essentially about why things change over time. None of our ideas about health or medicine simply spring out of the ground. They evolve over time, adapting to various social, political, economic, technological, and cultural factors. If we want to know anything about the health issues that face us today and will face us in future, the very first thing we should do is turn to the history of such issues.

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The antimicrobial resistance crisis: is there a global solution?

The serendipitous discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1929 positively transformed modern medicine. Fleming’s decision to spend his summer holiday in East Anglia and his casual approach to laboratory housekeeping was an auspicious combination. After his return to the laboratory he observed that an uncovered culture plate of Staphyloccocus bacteria had been contaminated.

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Booker T. Washington’s undervalued legacy

When Booker T. Washington died on this day in 1915, he was widely regarded not just as “the most famous black man in the world” but also “the most admired American of his time.” In the one hundred years since his death, he and his legacy have lost much of their luster in the eyes of the public, even though he, no less than Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the foremost figures in the history of the American civil rights movement.

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Junior doctor contracts: should they be challenged?

On Saturday 17 October, 16,000 people marched to protest against the new junior doctor contracts in London for the second time. The feeling at the protest was one of overwhelming solidarity, as people marched with placards of varying degrees of humour. Purposely misspelled placards reading “junior doctors make mistaks” were a popular choice, while many groups gathered under large banners identifying their hospital, offering 30% off.

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Tracheal Intubation Guidelines

We are used to lines that guide – from those that keep our words straight on the page to those that direct planes down runways or trains along tracks. Moving from lines that guide our direction to guidelines that direct our behaviour, particularly in clinical medicine, is a very exciting time.

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Can flour fortification programs reduce anemia?

Two studies published this year yield conflicting results on whether fortifying flour with essential vitamins and minerals improves anemia prevalence. One study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) showed that each year of flour fortification was associated with a 2.4% decrease in anemia prevalence among non-pregnant women.

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‘Death with Dignity’: is it suicide?

But what’s the right term, really? After all, much of the political disagreement and legal wrangling over this issue is rooted in this fundamental conceptual question, is “physician-assisted suicide” really suicide? Let’s see if we can figure it out.

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Charles West and Florence Nightingale: Children’s healthcare in context

At the dawn of the children’s hospital movement in Europe and the West (best epitomised and exemplified by the opening of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (GOSH) on 14 February 1852), the plight of sick children was precarious at all levels of society. After a long campaign by Dr Charles West, Great Ormond Street hospital was the first establishment to provide in-patient beds specifically for children in England.

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Elective neck dissection in early oral cancer: debate resolved

A debate over whether to remove lymph nodes from the neck during surgical treatment of early oral cancer has gone on for decades. Now findings from a randomized control trial reported last June at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting, in Chicago may finally put that controversy to rest.

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A European victory for the pharmaceutical industry

Following a preliminary reference made in the context of Seattle Genetics Inc. v Österreichisches Patentamt, the Court of Justice of the European Union has put an end to the uncertainty faced by both the innovative and the generic pharmaceutical industries regarding the duration of the effective patent protection afforded to medicinal products.

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How to cope when the words don’t come

Imagine someone close to you disappears. She no longer shows up on the day on which she always visited. She does not call or write. No one says where she has gone or if she is coming back. To make matters worse, you cannot ask about her. You experience feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, and grief, to name a few. The only way you have to express yourself is through your behavior.

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Why global health matters

It is every human being’s right to enjoy a state of complete mental, physical, and social well being on this planet. However, health is also a right that is unequally distributed throughout the world due to lack of access to proper healthcare facilities and professionals, lack of sanitation, feeble vaccination delivery systems, and treatment-oriented healthcare systems rather than preventative systems.

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Q & A with Martin R. Turner and Matthew C. Kiernan: Neurology’s past, present, and future

To mark this month’s release of Martin R. Turner and Matthew C. Kiernan’s Landmark Papers in Neurology, we spoke with the two editors, to discuss their thoughts on neurology – past and present. We asked about the origins of neurology, the understanding of neurological diseases, milestones in the field, why historical context is so important – and their predictions for the future…

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Ethics at the chocolate factory

Two women are being trained for work on a factory assembly line. As products arrive on a conveyor belt, their task is to wrap each product and place it back on the belt. Their supervisor warns them that failing to wrap even one product is a firing offense, but once they get started, the work seems easy.

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Building momentum for women in science

I recently attended an event at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine “Celebrating 200+ Women Professors”. The celebration of these women and their careers inspired me, especially as a “young” woman and an assistant professor. It was also humbling to hear about their successes in spite of the many challenges they faced solely due to their sex.

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