It’s an old question, at least as old as Prometheus. Are the gods indifferent or is there something in the scheme of things that cares? The ancient tale of Prometheus neatly parses its reply – yes and no. Zeus is indifferent to humanity; we are small change. But not Prometheus. His concern for our plight leads him to give us fire, which as Aeschylus explains is more than the warming flames of the hearth.
It has been known for centuries that bacteria tend to adhere to solid surfaces, forming a slimy and slippery layer known as biofilm. Bacterial biofilms are complex microbial communities protected by an extracellular matrix composed of polysaccharides, proteins, and nucleic acids. The extracellular matrix improves biofilm cohesion and its adhesion to surfaces.
In November 2017, the Future of Life Institute in California—which focuses on ‘keeping artificial intelligence beneficial’—released a slick, violent video depicting ‘slaughterbots’ [some viewers may find this video distressing]. It went viral. The tiny (fictional) drones in the video used facial recognition systems to target and destroy civilians.
When orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. William H Harris discovered massive bone destruction around a total hip replacement that he had implanted, he was startled and dismayed. In fact, he had identified a new condition, “periprosthetic osteolysis”, which came to be the leading factor in failure of total hip replacement (THR) surgery. While THR surgery dramatically reversed severe arthritis of the hip, the same operation simultaneously created a relentless “particle generator” in the body.
Imagine you are explaining your research to a friend. You might say “I tested this factor” or “We examined that effect”. But when you later prepare a written version for a scientific journal, you would probably eliminate the “I” and “we” in favour of the passive voice, which, unfortunately, can sometimes present a challenge.
Over the last decade or so, patients have been encouraged to think ahead, and make clear their wishes and plans for a time when illness may render them unable to makes decisions about their care for themselves. This process we know as Advance Care Planning (ACP). Intuitively, as a hospice physician trained in Palliative Medicine, ACP seems to me like a good thing to do, with those patients who are willing to do it.
Whether you are approaching retirement, or are a few years or decades away from thinking about leaving the workforce, it is likely that you will be affected by the changing nature of retirement. Maybe it’s not your own retirement that is on the forefront of your mind, but your spouse or partner’s. Perhaps your parent or another family member is trying to navigate the complexities of their pension, all the while trying to decide whether and how to retire.
In November last year, after much debate over cost, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved two new drugs for treatment of breast cancer for use on the NHS. Although first approval happened some time ago, this decision to make palbociclib and ribociclib available on the NHS, gives thousands more people access.
Whether they’re gray or red, climbing a tree or scurrying on the ground, squirrels are one of the most ubiquitous mammals in the world. They are found in almost every habitat imaginable from tropical rainforests to deserts, avoiding only the most extreme conditions found in the high polar and arid desert regions. Different types of squirrels are indigenous to almost every continent including the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
In a world that values busyness, it is often easy to prioritize personal responsibilities over personal fulfillment. Phrases like I wish I had the time and once things settle down justify an all-too-common postponement of happiness and self-care. In the following excerpt from Night Call, acclaimed psychologist and author Robert Wicks details a five-day guide to self-care designed to fit even the busiest of schedules.
Palliative care is now a cemented service offered by health care services globally, and in the United Kingdom the hospice care sector provides support to 200,000 people each year. The care given to the terminally ill, as well as their family and friends is vital in supporting individuals through what is, for most, the most challenging time of their lives. This care ranges from clinical medical practice to spiritual support, and aims to put individuals in as much comfort as is possible.
Can trauma lead to positive change? Posttraumatic growth is a phenomenon experienced by those who have undergone trauma. After facing a traumatic event, those who experience posttraumatic growth endure a period of psychological struggle before eventually finding a sense of personal growth. The process can be long and difficult, and isn’t experienced by everyone who survives a traumatic event.
Images of a Loa Loa worm crawling across a woman’s eye, a man’s leg swollen, unrecognizability from filariasis, a child comatose from malaria: these are the images often used to start a lecture on global health. The people suffering from these exotic maladies are undoubtedly of people of color who hail from communities and countries impoverished by a succession of geopolitical forces in direct opposition to human rights.
Defined as “the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health”, the field of epidemiology is a widely-encompassing field. Issues under this branch range from incarceration and health to environmental issues to gun violence. In recent years, global outbreaks have also brought epidemiology to the forefront with the reemergence of infectious diseases such as Ebola and Zika.
In the 19th century, biologists came to appreciate for the first time the fundamentality of the cell to all life. One of the early pioneers of cell biology, Rudolf Virchow, realized that the discovery of the cell brought with it a new way of seeing the organism and described it as a ‘cell state’. In the 20th century, this metaphor fell out of favour, but recent trends in biology suggest a revival.
Retail thinking is spreading quickly in health care. It promises greater convenience and speed for delivering basic health care services — but it isn’t what patients really want. Retail thinking views patients as consumers: faceless targets for buying services and products that aren’t always health-related. It’s the thinking behind technology-assisted health care services, like ZocDoc, Amwell, and One Medical, which quickly triage symptoms or serve up medical advice.