Sunday, 31 August 2008

"We're Scientists"

McDawg's Match Report on Science Blogging 2008: London

Pleasant train journey from Glasgow (via Edinburgh) to London (Kings Cross) Friday 29th August. Met up with Dr Jennifer Rohn as roughly scheduled and then the Guardian's, James Meikle.

Whilst Jenny and I were waiting for James at the Guardian's reception area, who troops in? None other than Weblebrity Ben fucking Goldacre (he likes to swear you see):-

Never met Ben before although we have exchanged a few emails, the most recent, the day before (since Ben gets gazillions of emails, he didn't immediately recall my name).

NOTE: Ben is the Keynote Speaker tomorrow.

Rough transcription, "So Ben, have you finished preparing your talk for tomorrow?" - Ben, "I haven't thought about it yet" etc. Blimey.

A couple of drinkies and some very interesting chat in a local pub with James and Jenny but with differing schedules, James pissed off to a local Morrisons store for some grub and Jenny and I hoofed it back to where we started off from-ish.


Off to Paddington Station for me and a one hour train journey to an undisclosed (sorry) location in Taunton. Was met at the station by a friend as scheduled, couple of drinks at the local pub (such a nice quiet friendly establishment), was treated to a lovely meal back home and crashed without being too late. Who needs Hotels when you have friends/places like this.

Cue Times Like These: Acoustic This is entirely appropriate under the circumstances, plus it's just a bloody great song.


Early start, HUGE cooked breakfast (which came in very handy) and returned to the local rail station. A points failure though on the line, all trains cancelled. Shite. Thankfully, the half dozen or so of us commuters were taxied 17 miles to a much larger station and caught an alternative connection back to Paddington.

Quick ride on the London Tubes and arrived about 30 mins. later than scheduled at the Royal Institution (RI) for the event in question. Due to the delay, I had sadly missed Ben's keynote (apparently, he swore shed-loads but they'll bleep 'em out from the yet to be seen video) but there was a long absorbing day still ahead.


Are there any bloggers in da house?

When I opened one of the three doors to the Faraday, and peeked inside, I truly felt like a young boy late for his school lesson.

A hundred or so. Fuck, how can I get "into class" unnoticed?

A distant memory which I actually rather enjoyed, if only for a second. I waited. Oh, there's someone else who's also late who's wandered through, so I followed their slipstream unnoticed. I like to be discreet/polite anywhere where I can.

I joined the Conference at the early stages of the first panel discussion.

Now, McDawg being an active member of Nature Network etc. knew many of the attendees by name but not many by face at this juncture.

On the floor, obviously, I recognised Jenny. Oh, next to her must be Anna Kushnir.

In "the audience" who did I spot. Ah, that must be Henry Gee. Is that Bob O'Hara down there - I think so. Now that will be Cameron Neylon. Is that Jean-Claude Bradley sitting beside him? I think so. Oh, and there's Timo Hannay down there. I think that might be Heather Etchever Now that looks like Attila Csordas. There's Ben Goldacre again. Oh, that must be Corie Lok. etc. etc.

Tea/coffee break and my first chance to mingle. Now at this juncture (posted two days post event) I don't intend to report much about the Conference itself in detail since many others have already done so most adequately.

Time to (literally) recharge those batteries?
Well yes. Whilst I charged my vid camera overnight - I stupidly left it on play-mode so all the juice had gone. Like an Eagle, I spotted a much in demand spare plug socket and Corie confirmed it was fine to use it. Thanks Corie...

Really superb lunch I have to say c/o the Conf. organisers.

Had lunch with Henry, Bob and Viktor Poór. Since I was still stuck for accommodation (lengthy saga) that night, this came into discussion and within seconds, Mo Costandi's accom. offer was made and accepted straight away. PHEW. That part of my brain could now relax.

After muchos chatting, munching, slurping and networking, everyone headed off for the afternoon sessions.

During the final session "embracing change: taking online science into the future"many interesting things were discussed as one might have expected. Quite unexpectedly, Peter Murray-Rust, whilst talking about blogging and patient advocacy asked me to comment and briefly divulge my background. This I did but having now listened back to the recording of that session, I fully agree with Corie who mentioned later on in the pub that as bloody usual, I spoke too fast. Anna, bless her, commented that she got the general gist though of what I said.


Time for a change of T shirt before we commenced networking post Conf. I found what I thought was a quiet spot (broom cupboard) to change but was caught in the nude with, sorry by a Nature employee. She's since recovered.

After that, on went one of my two navy blue PLoS ONE T shirts, quick spray of body de-od, clipped the name badge on again and completed the transformation/pit-stop in under 19.56 seconds thus setting a new 'personal best' in the process. Nice.

Rejoined the masses and lost track of the number of people who made comments such as, "weren't you wearing orange a few moments ago?". "Yes, I replied, I just fancied a change". Fair enough.


My gosh, the bar at the RI is a tad expensive :-(


Off to the King's Head PH (public house) down the street for the evening. As was announced during the final session, Peter and I found a quiet spot to work on our Manuscript for the OA Journal: Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine PEHM for short. Great to get this back on track but this was a tad anti-social. Matters got more complicated though when Mo told me that he was going to be heading home fairly soon. WHAT?? 9.30 on a Saturday with all these fine minds around?? Surely not.

Peter let me go (thanks Peter) and continued writing until he lost power on his laptop. The only plug points available were 2-pin sockets so we couldn't re-charge the laptop or my vid cam. I did spot a double socket just down below but after I attempted a recharge, Peter informed me that he had already tried this but the sockets, and I quote, "don't contain any electrons".

Very thirsty work this Manuscript writing business you know.



At closing time (~ 11pm) around a dozen of us wandered off into Soho in an attempt to find a suitable drinking hole. At £10 a head to get in anywhere though, we spent what felt like a lifetime finding "our utopia" for the night. Small, clean, ambient Moroccan restaurant was where we ended up. Well it was ambient till we turned up and loud music started blaring within a minute or so after we sat down.

It was getting late, so time to part company and head into the night. Mo, Attila and I took a cab (well, we think it was a cab) but the science related chat continued to flow.

Our cab driver asks Mo what he did. Mo's reply of "We're scientists" in the context of the situation and indeed the day to me was totally spot on. Now, I is no scientist, but Mo and Attila are. In a way though, I kind of felt that I had morphed into the role of scientist by now, at least for a day. Is it within the remit of a Patient Advocate/anyone to socialise with scientists in this manner? Absolutely, and the more of this, the better.


We dropped Attila off, hit Mo's, Mo and I had a couple of cups of tea before shut-eye. Big thanks to Mo for letting me crash over. Much appreciated Mo.


As it happened, we both chose to wear our new sciblog T shirts the next day. Tube was down so took a bus to Victoria and parted company. Several hours later, I was back in Glasgow but turned a number of heads with my latest science slogan bearing garment along the way.


All in all, what a really fantastic bunch of cool, intelligent, creative and friendly people and Richard P. Grant. I was one of the lessor experienced bloggers but I came away with much to contemplate.

Sign O' The Times.

Monday, 18 August 2008

How to play a Podcast

Phew. That's better.

Welcome back to Who Wants to Be A Beekeeper.

"I'm your host, Chris Tarentless."

"OK, OK.I've got Dr Henry Gee here who's stuck, and is one question away from winning a whopping million pence (one pence a year)."

Henry asks to phone a friend.

Dramatic music ending with a ping

"Dr Grant, Hello, it's Chris Tarentless from Who Wants to be a Beekeeper."

"Hello, Dr Grant here."

"OK, Dr Gee is stuck on the following question, but is one step away from tonight's Jackpot"

"Hi Henry"

"Hello Richard"


"OK, the final question is, how do you open a podcast file. Henry's had some difficulties earlier in the show on this question, so can you help him?"


"I'll certainly try Chris"

Dramatic music ending with an even louder ping

Cameraman "B" then spins back to Henry's uncertainties:-

"Sorry, Graham: any audio technology substantially in advance of this"

"Searching for Her Master’s Voice"

"is beyond my ability to comprehend. If you happen to have it on a wax cylinder, perhaps you could bring it to the blogathon?"

"Yes, I tried that, but my adapter was the wrong size. Or perhaps I needed new batteries."

"Yes. And also because 18.5 Mb is more Mb than I can eat."


Dull music starting with a quiet bong


"OK, Henry, you've called a friend - what's your final answer"

Is it:-

A) do some gardening
B) hit CTR-ALT-DEL and hope for the best
C) click on the play button
D) throw the bastarding machine out the nearest window

Sunday, 17 August 2008

The International Gang of Four (IGF)

Source: Norma Desmond's Flickr Photostream

Here's a wee story I'd like to share in real time.

In order to respect privacy, I've changed the names and omitted the nature of disease topic. In the grander scheme of things, what we're doing is equally applicable to any condition anyway.


My involvement in Patient Advocacy leads to a vast array of interesting avenues. On one of the Forum's that McDawg frequents, off Forum, I've made contact with a few folks in particular who post extremely interesting and thought provoking comments and are clearly, very intelligent people. The majority of these comments are accompanied with links to abstracts in PubMed.

Now, I'm not suggesting at all that the content of posts from others are not of value. Far from it. Everyone has something to offer. Having navigated these waters for a number of years now, users of the Forum would be the first to agree however that some people do very much stand out from the crowd. I'm not one of them but my "connecting people" skills is appreciated there.

Last year in particular, the first person unbeknown to anyone at that time to be "recruited" to the IGF was "Margaret" in Australia and then "Laura" in New Zealand a few weeks later. Broadly speaking, we've all gathered a lot of useful information and share much common ground. Our backgrounds are all quite different but we all very much have a reason for being interested in a particular disease.

This year, off Forum, contact was established with "Thomas" in Canada. We all started off emailing each other separately and this gradually started to morph into something bigger - more collective.

Thomas proposed that it would be a good idea or formally structure what we were doing, and also proposed the name of the International Gang of Four and since all were in agreement, that's how we formed the IGF.

This also ties in very nicely with a Review Manuscript I was already working on about the disease.

"Julie" from the USA has been the most recent addition a month or so ago. Now that we are up to five, we're still trading at the IGF but the "F" now represents five, not four.


Rather than all working separately, I proposed that we should collaborate online using Google Docs. Some of us are more advanced than others in using it, but we're making progress as a team.

We all still contribute to the Forum but in a way, as a group, we sort of outgrew it. Part of "the problem" is that off Forum, we share many Manuscripts using "Fair Use", so are unable to continue with our detailed discussions in a public Forum.

What we are currently doing is uploading our own documents and presentations to Google Docs. At any given moment of time, any member of the IGF can access these, share, remix, whatever. We have a house rule that such access at the moment does not extend to those outwith the group.

This is somewhat ironic for an Open Access Advocate and indeed, someone interested in the concept of Open Notebook Science (ONS) and so on. Indeed, it was contributing to this thread on FriendFeed about writing a Manuscript on ONS and 2.0 social networking science stuff that prompted me to write this post.

So, should the IGF continue to collaborate in the way that we currently are or perhaps experiment with a wiki for example? I would say that we stick with doing what we are currently doing and think about this again at some point in the future.

Once we get to a point where we've actually produced something tangible, where do we go from there? Submit to a Journal for peer review? Most probably.

This is all very much a learning curve for McDawg at least in terms of scientific collaborations but not music collaborations. I've only done this once before (last year) with the end result getting published in Nature Precedings:-

Nature Precedings is a free online service launched in 2007 enabling researchers in the life sciences to rapidly share, discuss and cite preliminary (unpublished) findings. One year later, we look at some of the highlights.

Being a non scientist, a number of questions arise. How do scientists collaborate online? Do many actually do this? Should non scientists venture into such territories? What types of 2.0 tools do people/scientists use to collaborate online?

Monday, 11 August 2008

'Jaws' in 60 Seconds v 400m freestyle in 4:03.22

For the first time in 48 years, a British Woman wins a Gold Medal in the swimming division of the Olympics.

Gotta love that.

H/T to Fringe Toast

Today in the UK, we are celebrating our second Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics.

"Britain's Rebecca Adlington took a historic gold in the women's 400m freestyle, while her team-mate Jo Jackson claimed the bronze medal."

During a replay tonight, an Editor at the BBC chose the theme-tune from the film 'Jaws' to accompany some of the underwater cinematographic footage which worked very well actually.

Hence the reason for a 'Jaws' element in this post.

Oh yeah, and here's the official trailer from 1975 to Jaws.

Well done team GB for winning in the jaws of defeat !!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Rush, Rio 2006 "2112 Overture & The Temples Of Syrinx"

Zero 7 - "Home"

One of my fav tracks/videos from 2006. IMHO, a stunningly simple and effective video.

If you like this, check out the Zero 7 website

Social Media and Marketing: Evolution or Revolution


"A Literature Review on Social Media. A compilation of social media thoughts from the experts point of view. Produced by Alex Wong from Charles ... less Sturt Uni, Australia. Can be contacted via email"

Airbourne - "Runnin' Wild"

Didn't know about Airbourne until Friday. If you liked early AC/DC stuff, you'll love Airbourne

Life? On Mars?

Saturday, 9 August 2008

BioBarCamp - Institute For The Future 6/7 Aug 08 videos

Livecasts from Cameron Neylon

Click on "On-Demand" and then "BioBarCamp". There you will see click-able links to all six of the talks captured thanks to Cameron.

"BioBarCamp is a barcamp that will bring together life science geeks and anyone else who wants to talk about the life sciences with others interested in the subject. Expect lots of interesting topics, and people from all around the country/planet"

Here's some information about the venue for the event:

"The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit research group with nearly 40 years of forecasting experience. The core of our work is identifying emerging trends and discontinuities that will transform global society and the global marketplace. We provide insights into business strategy, design process, innovation, and social dilemmas. Our research generates the foresight needed to create insights that lead to action. Our research spans a broad territory of deeply transformative trends, from health and health care to technology, the workplace, and human identity. The Institute for the Future is located in Palo Alto, CA."

For a much more detailed overview of the event, skip on over to this post on the Public Rambling blog.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

PLoS ONE New Articles Published 6th Aug 2008

What is PLoS ONE?

An interactive open-access journal for the communication of all peer-reviewed scientific and medical research. More

New articles this week in PLoS ONE
Published August 6, 2008

Estimating the Resources Needed and Savings Anticipated from Roll-Out of Adult Male Circumcision in Sub-Saharan Africa
Bertran Auvert et al.

Cocaine Serves as a Peripheral Interoceptive Conditioned Stimulus for Central Glutamate and Dopamine Release

Roy A. Wise et al.

Gene Expression and Functional Studies of the Optic Nerve Head Astrocyte Transcriptome from Normal African Americans and Caucasian Americans Donors
Haixi Miao et al.

Coincident Activity of Converging Pathways Enables Simultaneous Long-Term Potentiation and Long-Term Depression in Hippocampal CA1 Network In Vivo
ZhiFang Dong et al.

Messenger RNA Oxidation Occurs Early in Disease Pathogenesis and Promotes Motor Neuron Degeneration in ALS
Yueming Chang et al.

K-ras/PI3K-Akt Signaling Is Essential for Zebrafish Hematopoiesis and Angiogenesis

Lihui Liu et al.

A National Survey of Musculoskeletal Impairment in Rwanda: Prevalence, Causes and Service Implications
Oluwarantimi Atijosan et al.

A Randomised Controlled Trial of Triple Antiplatelet Therapy (Aspirin, Clopidogrel and Dipyridamole) in the Secondary Prevention of Stroke: Safety, Tolerability and Feasibility
Nikola Sprigg et al.

Three-Dimensional Analysis of Vascular Development in the Mouse Embryo

Johnathon R. Walls et al.

Response Properties of the Auditory Telencephalon in Songbirds Change with Recent Experience and Season

Thomas A. Terleph et al.

A High-Sensitivity Method for Detection and Measurement of HMGB1 Protein Concentration by High-Affinity Binding to DNA Hemicatenanes
Claire Gaillard et al.

Comparison of Pattern Detection Methods in Microarray Time Series of the Segmentation Clock

Mary-Lee Dequéant et al.

Emergence of Xin Demarcates a Key Innovation in Heart Evolution
Shaun E. Grosskurth et al.

Improving T-Cell Assays for the Diagnosis of Latent TB Infection: Potential of a Diagnostic Test Based on IP-10
Morten Ruhwald et al.

Characterization of a Nonclassical Class I MHC Gene in a Reptile, the Galápagos Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)
Scott Glaberman et al.

Ubiquitous Crossmodal Stochastic Resonance in Humans: Auditory Noise Facilitates Tactile, Visual and Proprioceptive Sensations
Eduardo Lugo et al.

A Randomised Trial of an Eight-Week, Once Weekly Primaquine Regimen to Prevent Relapse of Plasmodium vivax in Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan
Toby Leslie et al.

Perceiving What Is Reachable Depends on Motor Representations: Evidence from a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study
Yann Coello et al.

Induction of Olig2+ Precursors by FGF Involves BMP Signalling Blockade at the Smad Level
Bilada Bilican et al.

Riluzole Increases the Amount of Latent HSF1 for an Amplified Heat Shock Response and Cytoprotection
Jingxian Yang et al.

Iron Accumulation with Age, Oxidative Stress and Functional Decline

Jinze Xu et al.

Mere Expectation to Move Causes Attenuation of Sensory Signals

Martin Voss et al.

Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness in India

John Neena et al.

Individual Attachment Style Modulates Human Amygdala and Striatum Activation during Social Appraisal
Pascal Vrtička et al.

Protective Immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection by Chemokine and Cytokine Conditioned CFP-10 Differentiated Dendritic Cells
Nasir Salam et al.

Major Role for Amphotericin B–Flucytosine Combination in Severe Cryptococcosis

Françoise Dromer et al.

Characterization of Unique Small RNA Populations from Rice Grain
Sara E. Heisel et al.

Non-Replication of Genome-Wide Based Associations between Common Variants in INSIG2 and PFKP and Obesity in Studies of 18,014 Danes

Camilla H. Andreasen et al.

The Yeast Spore Wall Enables Spores to Survive Passage through the Digestive Tract of Drosophila
Alison E. Coluccio et al.

Complex Ecological Dynamics and Eradicability of the Vector Borne Macroparasitic Disease, Lymphatic Filariasis
Manoj Gambhir et al.

Effector Genomics Accelerates Discovery and Functional Profiling of Potato Disease Resistance and Phytophthora Infestans Avirulence Genes
Vivianne G. A. A. Vleeshouwers et al.

Mathematical Analysis of Copy Number Variation in a DNA Sample Using Digital PCR on a Nanofluidic Device

Simant Dube et al.

Receptor Tyrosine Kinase (RTK) Mediated Tyrosine Phosphor-Proteome from Drosophila S2 (ErbB1) Cells Reveals Novel Signaling Networks

Srinivasan Krishnamoorthy

No Major Change in vCJD Agent Strain after Secondary Transmission via Blood Transfusion
Matthew T. Bishop et al.

Genome-Wide Survey and Expression Profiling of CCCH-Zinc Finger Family Reveals a Functional Module in Macrophage Activation
Jian Liang et al.

HER2 Oncogenic Function Escapes EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors via Activation of Alternative HER Receptors in Breast Cancer Cells
Anthony Kong et al.

High-Throughput Isolation and Mapping of C. elegans Mutants Susceptible to Pathogen Infection
Laura E. Fuhrman et al.

Preservation of Genes Involved in Sterol Metabolism in Cholesterol Auxotrophs: Facts and Hypotheses
Giovanna Vinci et al.

Eye Movements Predict Recollective Experience

Tali Sharot et al.

Germline EPHB2 Receptor Variants in Familial Colorectal Cancer

George Zogopoulos et al.

C4b-Binding Protein Is Present in Affected Areas of Myocardial Infarction during the Acute Inflammatory Phase and Covers a Larger Area than C3
Leendert A. Trouw et al.

Meiotic Recombination Hotspots of Fission Yeast Are Directed to Loci that Express Non-Coding RNA
Wayne P. Wahls et al.

Generation of Breast Cancer Stem Cells through Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
Anne-Pierre Morel et al.

Heat Stress Enhances the Accumulation of Polyadenylated Mitochondrial Transcripts in Arabidopsis thaliana
Alessio Adamo et al.

Up-Regulation of Mitochondrial Activity and Acquirement of Brown Adipose Tissue-Like Property in the White Adipose Tissue of Fsp27 Deficient Mice

Shen Yon Toh et al.

Investigation of the Role of Mitochondrial DNA in Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility

Maria Ban et al.

Boc5, a Non-Peptidic Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist, Invokes Sustained Glycemic Control and Weight Loss in Diabetic Mice
Haoran Su et al.

Wingless Signalling Alters the Levels, Subcellular Distribution and Dynamics of Armadillo and E-Cadherin in Third Instar Larval Wing Imaginal Discs

Ildiko M. L. Somorjai et al.

Protein Crystals in Adenovirus Type 5-Infected Cells: Requirements for Intranuclear Crystallogenesis, Structural and Functional Analysis
Laure Franqueville et al.

Analysis of 17,576 Potentially Functional SNPs in Three Case–Control Studies of Myocardial Infarction
Dov Shiffman et al.

Evolutionary Origins and Functions of the Carotenoid Biosynthetic Pathway in Marine Diatoms

Sacha Coesel et al.

Relative Crystallinity of Plant Biomass: Studies on Assembly, Adaptation and Acclimation
Darby Harris et al.

Cytokine Plasma Levels: Reliable Predictors for Radiation Pneumonitis?

Claudia E. Rübe et al.

Transthyretin Protects against A-Beta Peptide Toxicity by Proteolytic Cleavage of the Peptide: A Mechanism Sensitive to the Kunitz Protease Inhibitor
Rita Costa et al.

Neuromagnetic Evidence for Early Auditory Restoration of Fundamental Pitch
Philip J. Monahan et al.

Superposition of Transcriptional Behaviors Determines Gene State

Sol Efroni et al.

A RasGAP SH3 Peptide Aptamer Inhibits RasGAP-Aurora Interaction and Induces Caspase-Independent Tumor Cell Death
Perayot Pamonsinlapatham et al.

Long Term Outcome of Severe Anaemia in Malawian Children

Kamija S. Phiri et al.

Dorsomorphin, a Selective Small Molecule Inhibitor of BMP Signaling, Promotes Cardiomyogenesis in Embryonic Stem Cells
Jijun Hao et al.

Maintenance of Large Subpopulations of Differentiated CD8 T-Cells Two Years after Cytomegalovirus Infection in Gambian Infants
David J. C. Miles et al.

Disruption of Neuronal Autophagy by Infected Microglia Results in Neurodegeneration
Mehrdad Alirezaei et al.

Genes to Diseases (G2D) Computational Method to Identify Asthma Candidate Genes

Karine Tremblay et al.

Molecular Detection of Multiple Emerging Pathogens in Sputa from Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Fadi Bittar et al.

Consumption of Bt Maize Pollen Expressing Cry1Ab or Cry3Bb1 Does Not Harm Adult Green Lacewings, Chrysoperla carnea (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae)
Yunhe Li et al.

Evidence from GC-TRFLP that Bacterial Communities in Soil Are Lognormally Distributed

James R. Doroghazi et al.

The Continuous Wagon Wheel Illusion and the ‘When’ Pathway of the Right Parietal Lobe: A Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study
Rufin VanRullen et al.

Surfactants as Microbicides and Contraceptive Agents: A Systematic In Vitro Study

Otilia V. Vieira et al.

A Dynamic Stochastic Model for DNA Replication Initiation in Early Embryos
Arach Goldar et al.

Study of a Synthetic Human Olfactory Receptor 17-4: Expression and Purification from an Inducible Mammalian Cell Line
Brian L. Cook et al.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

MP3 Experiment 9.65


So now, can I embed an MP3 of my own choosing?

Let's go random and see if this works.

FAIL - so over to YouTube instead for another version. Added value too in the form of video and live.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

For Free or for Fee? Dilemma of Small Scientific Journals

During a tidy up of my desk environment here at the home office cum multi media studio, I came across some interesting Manuscripts that I downloaded and printed out last year.

One in particular was worthy of a blog post. I know of at least one reader of McBlawg (yes xxxxx xxxxxxxx, that's you) who will be interested in this Manuscript.

It's an excellent Manuscript from 2007 by four members of the Editorial Board of the Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ).

Check out For Free or for Fee? Dilemma of Small Scientific Journals archived here in PubMed Central.

Peter Suber blogged about this Manuscript July 2007 and that's probably when I came across it.

From the intro:-

Biomedical publishing is becoming increasingly dominated by multinational companies, advertising research articles at the international market, presenting them electronically through web-based services, and distributing them to readers-consumers. It seems that they will soon become the sole publishers for the majority of biomedical journals. In the past decade, however, we witnessed a quiet revolution in the whole structure of scientific communication, influenced by new technologies and initiatives such as Open Access, PubMedCentral, PLoS, and BioMedCentral.

and then the


After analyzing pros and cons for commercial publishing, we concluded that the CMJ would not benefit from such a change. Our interests are beyond making a profit and we still think that setting the standards and education are the fundamental aims of the CMJ.

Finally, the audience and readership of the CMJ are very loyal to the journal, which serves as a meeting point for many Croatian scientists who also work abroad, and it is unlikely that most of them would welcome losing its distinct national character and scope. Therefore, we may conclude that, for the time being, there are no pressing reasons for the journal to join any big commercial publisher. The journal should stay true to the course that has proven so successful in the past, and make sure to regularly and carefully re-evaluate its position in international medical publishing.

Open access to data in clinical medicine

A follow on from my last blog post about Multiple Sclerosis.

Yesterday, I was reading this post on Martin Fenner's blog Gobbledygook and left a short comment containing a link to a comment I had posted last year at PLoS Clinical Trials.

My comment over at PLoS was directly in relation to Liz Wager's 2006 Manuscript entitled Publishing Clinical Trial Results: The Future Beckons

When I re-read my PLoS comment, I wanted to spin back to this section:-

A few months ago (27th April), the BBC aired a real eye opener in the form of This World documentary "Drug trials outsourced to India". This can easily be found searching for "this world drug trials India". Even more recently, it was the BBC (again) who highlighted serious concerns about a MS trial "Concern over major MS drug trial". This can easily be found searching for "concern over major MS drug trial". Despite all of these issues, no-one seems to be concerned, and more worryingly, willing to do anything about this !!

I was alluding to two particular BBC documentaries about clinical trials.

When I originally submitted my comment to PLoS back in 2006, it wasn't possible to embed links.

The links are Drug trials outsourced to India and Concern over major MS drug trial

I repeat what I said, "Despite all of these issues, no-one seems to be concerned, and more worryingly, willing to do anything about this !!"

Now, let's spin back to Martin's post above:-

"This required reporting of results has so far largely gone unnoticed in the medical community, but will dramatically change the way research involving patients is conducted and reported. The 12 month deadline will probably lead to earlier reporting of many trial results, and not publishing negative results will be much more difficult. The required reporting in a standardized format will also facilitate the meta-analysis of several similar trials."

Now specifically in terms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), to demonstrate the importance of what Martin is talking about, let's focus on that BBC report Concern over major MS drug trial

When I initially read it, I was quite literally stunned. So much so that it directly led to me writing to PLoS about my views.

As the BBC report says:-

"It is feared patients currently taking expensive drugs like beta interferon may be kept in the dark even after the ten year study is complete."

It appears that due to Pharma pressure, after 10 years research at a cost of £500,000,000 to UK taxpayers, all of this ultimately led to nothing.

Since I know him, I contacted Sir Iain Chalmers who aired his concerns to the BBC. In response, he said, "There’s a very nasty smell coming from the whole business, Graham."

As Martin flags up in the comments section of his post, and as I was already aware since I participated, the WHO recently carried out a Public Consultation entitled Reporting of Findings of Clinical Trials.

As such, taking all of this into consideration, the MANDATORY registration of data acquired from clinical trials to be made open is a very large step in the right direction. Moreover, with all of the mandates now bounding around for public access to such data/knowledge it certainly looks like, at last, we're moving out of the dark ages. About time too.