Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Common pitfalls for UKCAT students and how to avoid them

The UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a widely-used admissions test which allows UK universities to evaluate the current skills and future potential of prospective medical students. Thoroughly preparing for the five separate sections of the UKCAT can be a daunting task, so the examination experts at Kaplan have pinpointed six common pitfalls that students should avoid.

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Reducing the harm done by substances: key strategies

The most recent data on life expectancy for the United States show stagnation over the past three years. This stagnation has happened at a time when the most important causes of death, such as cardiovascular diseases or cancers, have decreased. So, what causes of death are responsible for the stagnation in life expectancy?

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Practising surgery in India

Being a surgeon in India is very different and probably more interesting than being one anywhere else in the world. Not only are there the usual third world problems to deal with like poor, undernourished patients with advanced diseases who throng the underfunded public hospitals but there is now, in stark contrast, a for-profit and thriving expensive private health sector to which, in spite of its obvious shortcomings, three quarters of the patients go first.

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Shining evolutionary light: Q&A with EMPH EIC Charles Nunn

Evolutionary biology is a basic science that reaches across many disciplines and as such, may provide numerous applications in the fields of medicine and public health. To further the evolutionary medicine landscape, we’re thrilled to welcome Dr. Charles Nunn of Duke University as the new Editor-in-Chief of Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, the open access journal that aims to connect evolutionary biology with the health sciences

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Why do I wake up every morning feeling so tired?

The alarm rings, you awaken, and you are still drowsy: why? Being sleepy in the morning does not make any sense; after all, you have just been asleep for the past eight hours. Shouldn’t you wake up refreshed, aroused, and attentive? No, and there are a series of ways to explain why. The neurobiological answer: During the previous few hours before waking in the morning, you have spent most of your time in REM sleep, dreaming.

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Bipolar disorder and addictions

Bipolar disorder consists of two major types. Bipolar disorder, type I is the classical and well-known disorder, which used to be called manic-depressive illness. Episodes of hypomania and depression tend to alternate, with each phase lasting for days or weeks. Bipolar disorder, type II, is characterized by shorter-lived episodes of abnormal mood (it is sometimes termed “rapid cycling”) and there is a predominance of depressive phases.

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Famous doctors from the ancient world

Drastic advances in science have caused past medical practices to become not only antiquated, but often shocking. Although brilliant medical insights are peppered throughout history, many dated practices are more curious than insightful. From an early take on chemical warfare to human dissections, the following shortened excerpt from A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities includes short facts and quotes on some of the most famous doctors from the Ancient World.

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Suspected ‘fake results’ in science

There is a concern that too many scientific studies are failing to be replicated as often as expected. This means that a high proportion is suspected of being invalid. The blame is often put on confusion surrounding the ‘P value’ which is used to assess the effect of chance on scientific observations. A ‘P value’ is calculated by first assuming that the ‘true result’ is disappointing

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Teaching medicine: how the great ones do it

Attending physicians, the physicians who train interns and residents on hospital wards, have always borne a heavy responsibility. They are accountable for the level of medical care received by each succeeding generation of American patients. But today, these physician-teachers confront unprecedented obstacles. How well they meet the challenge may have long-term consequences for patients and for the medical profession as a whole.

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A better way to model cancer

Later this year, the first US-based clinical trial to test whether an organoid model of prostate cancer can predict drug response will begin recruiting patients. Researchers will grow the organoids—miniorgans coaxed to develop from stem cells—from each patient’s cancer tissues and expose the organoids to the patient’s planned course of therapy. If the organoids mirror patients’ drug responses, the results would support the model’s use as a tool to help guide therapy.

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A reading list for Euroanaesthesia 2017 in Geneva

This weekend anaesthetists from across the globe are descending upon Geneva for Euroanaesthesia, Europe’s largest annual event focusing on anaesthesia, perioperative medicine, intensive care, emergency medicine, and pain treatment. We’ll be heading out there too, and the interactive bookcase below will give you a sneak peek at what we’ll have available at stand 81a!

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Gut microbiota and melanoma treatment responses

Monoclonal antibodies directed against checkpoint molecules such as CTLA-4 have recently demonstrated success in cancer immunotherapy in patients with melanoma. CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4) is a T cell receptor that functions as an immune checkpoint, downregulating immune responses. The monoclonal antibody, ipilimumab, blocks CTLA-4 by inhibiting this negative immune signal and amplifying immune responses.

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Pandemics in the age of Trump

If Donald Trump’s administration maintains its commitments to stoking nationalism, reducing foreign aid, and ignoring or denying science, the United States and the world will be increasingly vulnerable to pandemics. History is not a blueprint for future action—history, after all, never offers perfect analogies. When it comes to pandemic disease focusing on nationalist interests is exactly the wrong approach to take.

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Police violence: a risk factor for psychosis

Police victimization of US civilians has moved from the shadows to the spotlight following the widespread adaptation of smartphone technology and rapid availability of video footage through social media. The American Public Health Association recently issued a policy statement outlining the putative health and mental health costs of police violence, and declared the need to increase efforts towards understanding and preventing the effects of such victimization.

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Lactate: the forgotten cancer master regulator

In 1923 Nobel laureate Otto Warburg observed that cancer cells expressed accelerated glycolysis and excessive lactate formation even under fully oxygenated conditions. His discovery, which is expressed in about 80% of cancers, was named the “Warburg Effect” in 1972 by Efraim Racker. The Warburg Effect in cancer and its role in carcinogenesis has been neither understood nor explained for almost a century.

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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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