Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Preparing clinical laboratories for future pandemics

The rapid flourishing of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 caught clinical laboratories in the United States off-guard, and exposed a general lack of preparedness to handle collection and testing of samples in patients with such a highly lethal infectious disease. While the outbreak was largely limited to West Africa, fears in the United States became heightened in September of 2014 with the first reported imported case diagnosed in Texas.

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American healthcare: are you an expert? [Quiz]

As technology and education become more broadly accessible, people are being exposed to more information than ever before. It’s easier than ever to choose convenience over reliability or accuracy—to search for symptoms on WebMD instead of asking a doctor, or consult Wikipedia for definitive answers to every question. All this newly accessible yet unreliable information has produced a wave of ill-informed and angry citizens.

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The best baby money can buy: are you sure about that?

Take a look at the back page advertisements in any college newspaper. Dotted among the classified ads, there will invariably be an invitation or two to male undergraduates to sell their sperm. It’s an easy and hardly arduous way to make money, and pretty speedy too. Masturbate, ejaculate, hand over the results and you’re on your way with a little money in your pocket.

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Preparing for CISTM15 with the CDC

This weekend, the 15th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine (CISTM15) will be hosted in sunny Barcelona. It is a historical moment for the International Society of Travel Medicine who will also be celebrating its 25th anniversary during the conference on Tuesday, 16 May. The latest findings in travel medicine will be presented in a range of lecturers, workshops, and debates.

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The less mentioned opioid crisis

You’ve probably seen the dramatic photo of the Ohio couple slouched, overdosed, and passed out in the front seats of a car, with a little kid sitting in the back seat. Even if you haven’t seen that picture, images and words of America’s opioid overdose epidemic have captured headlines and TV news feeds for the last several years. But there’s a different image seared into my mind, a mental picture of a different little kid and two adults.

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Slaves to the rhythm

I met up with Russell Foster in 1996 when I was writing a book on the social impact of the 24 hour society. I wanted to know what effect working nights had on human biology and health. At the time Russell was Reader at Imperial College. Since then he has become professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University; a Fellow of the Royal Society; and he has a shelf full of medals from scientific societies around the world.

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Johnny had Parkinson’s…and music helped him walk

One day we stumbled upon something that would end up helping Johnny on this twice daily haul. Given our shared history as musicians, it’ll come as no surprise that Johnny and I often talked about music. As Johnny was prepping to take the first step, we joked about singing a march so he could march his way down the hall. It was Johnny’s idea to use Sousa’s Stars and Stripes, a march he liked.

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Addressing rare, toxic downside of immunotherapy

The American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network announced in mid-February their intent to issue day-to-day guidelines for physicians managing severe side effects from immune checkpoint inhibitors—a type of immunotherapy that works with a patient’s own immune system to attack cancer. They hope to release a document by the end of the year.

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FEMS Microbiology Letters

100 years of E. coli strain Nissle 1917

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a common bacteria found in the the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Whilst most strains are harmless, some can cause serious gastroenteritis, or food poisoning. However, one special strain, E. coli strain Nissle 1917 (EcN), is specifically used to prevent digestive disruption. Since its discovery 100 years ago, EcN is probably the most intensely investigated bacterial strain today.

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Modern life and clinical psychology

It’s a sad but very modern paradox. Despite the many wonderful opportunities and options like education, technologies, internet resources and travel that are open to young people today, young people’s mental health today has never been so fragile. In contrast to the frequently portrayed images of happy, successful, and socially connected millennials in selfies, in fact many millennials seem to feel more empty and lost than ever.

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Are the microbes in our gut affecting how fast we age?

The collection of microbial life in the gut, known as the microbiota, may be considered an accessory organ of the gastrointestinal tract. It is a self-contained, multi-cellular, biochemically active mass with specialized functions. Some functions are important for life such as vitamin K synthesis, an essential molecule in blood clotting. Others are responsible for training and maintaining a healthy immune system or digesting indigestible food products such as insoluble fiber.

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Debating the right to die

There are so many reasons why we value and promote choice and autonomy. The country and news media quite rightly protests with outrage when bad things happen to good people as their lives and civil liberties are destroyed by acts of terrorism and grievous crimes. But what about all those many people who are living a life in situations they didn’t want or anticipate?

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Is epigenomics the next breakthrough in precision medicine?

Epigenomics holds a lot of promise for cancer treatments, but there are still many more questions that we need to answer. How does the epigenome of a healthy person look, and how does the epigenome change as we age? How does the epigenome of a sick person differ? In the future, these important questions will be addressed by personalized epigenomics, which tries to extract information out of a comprehensive picture of a person’s epigenome.

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On the origins of “dad bod”

A few years back the phrase “dad bod” emerged to describe men, especially fathers, who have hints of lean muscle lurking beneath noticeable body fat, perhaps particularly around their bellies. There’s increasing evidence that men in industrialized countries like the United States tend to gain weight after they move in with a partner, marry, or become parents, lending some credence to the “dad” in dad bod.

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The modern marvel of medicine

So, where does the future lie in the specialty of anaesthesia? Equipment and monitoring will become more sophisticated with the ultimate aim to minimise harm to patients. It is likely that robotics will be integrated within the patient’s surgical pathway to reduce human error and optimise efficiency of care. Newer drugs will be synthesized with fewer adverse effects and complications.

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Preventing misdiagnosis of intracranial pressure disorders on diagnostic imaging

Imaging can build a stronger case for a specific diagnosis when several findings associated with that condition are present, making it important for those interpreting the images to be aware of the full scope of imaging findings in each ICP disorder. Finally, open and constructive communication between radiologists and clinical specialists is key to correct diagnosis, starting with appropriate clinical information

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