Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

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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Can green entrepreneurs save our planet?

Less than a year after the governments of the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, the United States has inaugurated a new president, Donald Trump, who denounces the whole idea as a Chinese hoax. How did we get here?

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Slipping expectations for child outcomes

Certainly we should be happy that kids from “at risk” environments graduate from high school and do not end up in prison for life. But is this enough to aim for? We may not score their life outcome as minus 5 (on a -10 to +10 scale), but Chiron’s life outcome does not warrant much more than a zero. Why? Because his intelligence, unique gifts, and potential were not fostered (which would go on the plus side of zero).

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Celebrating 100 years of Urie Bronfenbrenner

n the United States, currently, about 15 million children (almost a quarter of the global child population) live in families whose income falls below the federally established poverty level. The damaging effects on children’s and families’ development were something that was a life-long concern of Urie Bronfenbrenner.

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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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Managing stress: body

Stress, anxiety, and tension can be regulated by changing your perspective on forthcoming events or using techniques such as mental imagery or meditation, but they can also be controlled by what you physically do with your body. Techniques such as muscle relaxation, relaxed breathing, and exercise can all be used to decrease the impact of your stress response.

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Digging for the truth?: Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland

In the summer of 2014, reports that a ‘septic tank grave’ containing the skeletal remains of ‘800 babies’ was discovered within the grounds of a former home for ‘unmarried mothers’ in Tuam, County Galway, featured prominently as an international news ‘story.’ Interest in the issue was prompted by the tireless and tenacious work of a local amateur historian, Catherine Corless.

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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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Resisting change: understanding obstacles to social progress

The People’s Climate Movement, made up of dozens of organizations working to fight the climate crisis, held their first march in September 2014. On Saturday, 29 April, activists will once again march to demand climate action. As they protest the Trump administration’s drastic approach to climate change, the People’s Climate Movement will aim to “show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.”

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Seeing a cat with photons that aren’t there

Quantum mechanics allows some mind-bending effects. A recent paper shows us how to make an image of the silhouette of a cat using a set of photons that had never interacted with the cat object. The photons that had actually interacted with the cutout, and carried information about it, had even been discarded. The explanation depends on the ideas of quantum superposition and interference; the trick is in transferring quantum information from one set of photons to another.

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Earth Day 2017: reading for environmental & climate literacy

Earth Day is celebrated globally on 22 April in support of environmental protection. The theme for 2017’s Earth Day is “Environmental & Climate Literacy” – and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate knowledge of the environment and climate than with a reading list. These books, chapters, and articles can add to your understanding of Earth through topics such as climate change, natural phenomena, and what practical steps are being taken to help protect our planet.

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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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