From this Op-Ed.
The Institute of Medicine has recently released a report outlining the ominous public-health threat of chronic hepatitis C, much of which is the result of unwitting infection through medically-necessary blood transfusions, leading to 350,000 deaths worldwide each year and infecting more than three to five times as many people in the United States as HIV.
Narsty isn’t it? We should get right on that, don’t you think? Any decent models for research?
Currently, chimpanzees are the only experimental animal, except for humans themselves, susceptible to infection with hepatitis C. The Great Ape Protection Act would end the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research, grinding promising studies to a halt and unconscionably delaying the release of anti-viral therapies and a vaccine for chronic hepatitis C.
I stumbled back onto something I’ve been meaning to get to. It touches on both the ethical use of animals in research, the oversight process for animal research and the way we think about scientific inference.
Now, as has been discussed here and there in the animal use discussions, one of the central tenets of the review process is that scientists attempt to reduce the number of animals wherever possible. Meaning without compromising the scientific outcome, the minimum number of subjects required should be used. No more.
We accept as more or less a bedrock that if a result meets the appropriate statistical test to the standard p < 0.05. Meaning that sampling the set of numbers that you have sampled 100 times from the same underlying population, fewer than five times will you get the result you did by chance. From which you conclude it is likely that the populations are in fact different.
There is an unfortunate tendency in science, however, to believe that if your statistical test returns p < 0.01 that this result is better. Somehow more significant, more reliable or more..real. On the part of the experimenter, on the part of his supervising lab head, on the part of paper reviewers and on the part of readers. Particularly the journal club variety.
March 24, 2010
So you’ve just completed your last assays on physioprofitin signaling in the Namnezian complex. Lo and behold it is qaz-mediated, just like you suspected and the beccans are off the freaking chart. woot! PiT/PlS ratios are within relevant physiological ranges and still this work of art, your labor of love, came through with the experimental goods.
With a hope and a prayer you run your stats….and YES! p < 0.01!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What is the correct way to report your big Result?
March 20, 2010
[ Please welcome our guest blogger, who identifies as robin, just your average everyday neuropharmacologist. -DM ]
One of the most important yet overlooked tasks of the average pharmacologist is dissolving drugs into solution. Those of you who work with things that don’t have to cross the blood-brain barrier probably have a generally easier time dissolving shit than those of us who prefer to study CNS-active compounds. For those of us who play with compounds that are hydrophobic enough to cross the blood-brain barrier, I can testify that those range from fairly easy to major suck to put into an aqueous solution.
sourceI recently introduced a paper on the discriminative stimulus properties of cathinone analog drugs with reference to the recent emergence in the popular media of an analog called 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC), mephedrone (2-methylamino-1-p-tolylpropan-1-one), Meow-Meow, MMCAT. The name “plant food” is what 4-MMC is apparently being marketed under in the UK, given that the compound itself is not controlled but it is illegal (I surmise) to sell things as “legal ecstasy” or “legal methamphetamine” or similar. There has been one fatality attributed* to 4-MMC that I can find and a few bits of seized-drug analysis confirming that the stuff is indeed being used.
An early report of a fatality associated with consumption of the drug in Sweden resulted in placement of mephedrone on the controlled list. The followup in the Swedish press shows that the woman was reported to have consumed mephedrone (confirmed post-mortem) and smoked cannabis (no apparent confirmation; alcohol and other narcotics excluded postmortem) and then collapsed. Emergency services were unable to revive her and she died a day and a half later; symptoms of brain swelling, stroke, hyponatremia and hypokalemia were mentioned, as well as a low body temperature of 33 degrees C.
The story has heated up recently in the UK press after the death of two individuals who are, at present, suspected of taking 4-MMC/mephedrone, reportedly in combination with methadone (an opiate) and alcohol. As I mentioned before, a quick scan of PubMed finds little reported on the effects of this compound in animal models or in humans.
So the question is, scientists, what next?
Let’s play virtual science, shall we?
March 18, 2010
Research (source)via Female Science Professor. A recent news bit in the Chronicle of Higher Education details another case in which the alleged three legged stool of Professorial careerdom (teaching, research, service) is revealed to stand only on the one leg- research.
his department’s tenure-and-promotion guidelines.. were revised in 2000, shortly after he had received the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award and a similar prize from a statewide association of governing boards.
Under the revised criteria, faculty members are given many more points for supervising graduate students than for teaching undergraduate courses. “I can teach an undergraduate course with 44 students and get only three points,” Mr. Vable says. “But a faculty member who supervises a graduate student gets 19 points and can be released from course duty. So that totally skewed the algorithm.”
Well, at least they are up front about it.
March 16, 2010
After I read the now-infamous paper by I. Kouper, entitled “Science blogs and public engagement with science: practices, challenges, and opportunities“, I was left in some confusion as to how the author selected 11 blogs to study. I was also curious about what my readers thought of when asked to generate a list of “science blogs” so I asked them. I left the request as general as possible because I was interested in what “science blog” meant as much as in specific examples.
For your entertainment and edification, I tabulated* the results from the 31 answers supplied as of this writing.