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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Improving care for the family and friends who care for cancer patients

Many individuals in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis this year. Such a diagnosis is upsetting to those who receive it and overwhelming to those—relatives or friends—who love them. Cancer is rarely experienced in isolation. 

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Safe and supportive schools for LGBTQ-GNC students

Within its first month, the Trump administration revoked federal guidelines designed to promote protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or gender non-conforming youth (LGBTQ-GNC) public school students. This move received significant media attention, much of which focused on the challenges of growing up LGBTQ-GNC, and the unique role of schools as places that should be safe and supportive for all students.

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Smashing black holes at the centre of the Milky Way

The centre of the Milky Way is a very crowded region, hosting a dense and compact cluster of stars—the so-called nuclear star cluster—and a supermassive black hole (SMBH) weighing more than 4 million solar masses. A star cluster is an ensemble of stars kept together by their own force of gravity. These large systems are found in the outskirts of every type of galaxy, being comprised of up to several million stars.

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What you need to know about plastic pollution

“There’s a great future in plastics,” Mr. McGuire said to recent-grad Benjamin Braddock at his graduation party in one of the most iconic films of the twentieth century, the Graduate. This scene captures more than just the mere parting words of some career advice the older generation tends to give young people at their graduation parties, it signals something more cultural—indeed, more industrial—that had been so prevailing at the time, and so worrisome now.

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Stroboscopic medicine

The stroboscope is an ingenious device of rapidly flashing lights that allows engineers and scientists to freeze motion and capture brief slices of time. The resulting image is akin to examining a single frame of a motion picture that provides a sharp image, albeit one without context and with neither past nor future. This is now, sadly, an apt metaphor for contemporary clinical encounters.

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Defining a network

The scientific study of networks is an interdisciplinary field that combines ideas from mathematics, physics, biology, computer science, statistics, the social sciences, and many other areas. It is a relatively understudied area of science, but its multidisciplinary nature means that an increasing amount of scientists are engaging with it.

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Levels of editing of a scientific paper

There are four key steps to crafting a paper and getting it ready for submission just as there are four levels for editing or reviewing a paper. These steps will help you develop and perfect your idea before it is read. It is just as important to edit your research as it is to copy edit for grammar before turning in your submission. 

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Can environmental DNA help save endangered crayfish?

Most people have a passing familiarity with crayfish: as an occasional food item, or as animals routinely caught by children wading in streams and ditches in the summer. Yet few people likely realize how astoundingly diverse crayfish are globally. Our planet is home to approximately 600 species of crayfish, which use habitats ranging from caves to streams and lakes to terrestrial burrows.

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Kidney transplants, voucher systems, and difficult questions

It is commonly said that necessity is the mother of invention, and this was certainly the case at UCLA Medical Center in 2014 . Howard Broadman, then aged 64 and a retired judge from San Diego County, California, was concerned that his grandson, Quinn Gerlach, would be unable to secure a transplant kidney when he needed one. And so began the first “voucher system” for kidney procurement.

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Drug-resistant infections and the misuse of antibiotics in children

Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine and have saved countless lives. But misuse and overuse of these important medications accelerates the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, one of the biggest threats to global health. As experts who focus on this problem in children prepare for the Ninth Annual International Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference, held from 31 May to 1 June, Dr. Theoklis Zaoutis, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, shared several insights on drug resistance and antibiotic use among children.

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What is a mathematical model?

As a mathematician who focuses his attention on a field called dynamics, I am often asked when queried about my area of specialty, exactly what is a dynamical system? I usually answer something like: “I study the mathematics underlying what is means to model something mathematically.” And this seems to work as most people have a basic understanding that mathematics is used in science and engineering to model either a physical or an abstract process and to mine it for information.

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Mind-body connection: a psychosomatic approach to women’s health

For millennia, medicine has been applied towards three main areas of the human condition: the mind, the body, and the spirit. Traditional Chinese medicine was similar to ancient Indian medicine in that it sought to create a holistic approach to treating illness, and recognised the contributions of psychological and social aspects in disease management.

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How can research impact patients’ health in the “real world”?

As an academic researcher, my primary goal is to improve population health. I was trained in innovative study designs, rigorous analytic approaches, and taught that fidelity to the methods is of the utmost importance. However, it is just as important that patients actually use the programs that we design to improve their health. Unfortunately, the few health programs that actually make it into the community can take years—even decades—to get there.

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Animal of the Month: 8 things threatening koalas [slideshow]

Despite being found only on one continent in the world, many of us appreciate everything koalas have to offer. We celebrated this endearing marsupial earlier this month on Wild Koala Day and have continued the revelries by providing interesting facts throughout the month. Highlighting this iconic Australian mammal is of continued importance as the wild population continues to decrease. According to some estimates, the koala population in Queensland between 1996 and 2016 decreased by as much as 80%. Here, we present some of the leading threats Phascolarctos cinereus face in their bid to survive in the modern world.

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Do liquid biopsies have potential to outperform tissue diagnostics?

Cancer diagnosis can often be an exhausting, extensive process with endless tests, scans, and screenings. We all know the importance of early detection and successful treatments to potentially save thousands of lives every year, so could liquid biopsies offer the lifeline we’ve been holding out for? 

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Does consolidation in health care mean patients suffer?

The recent news that US retail giant CVS Health will purchase insurance giant Aetna, in part to gain millions of new customers for its prescription drug and primary care businesses, is another ominous sign for patients. Consolidation often limits competition, and when that happens in market-based systems the result, says good research, is often that the cost of health care goes up.

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