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Posts from the ‘science’ Category

The 100 Most Influential People in the World: 1 Scientist

TIME magazine published again its list of most influental people globally and running through the list I only found one scientist, Hans Rosling, the statistics guru and public health expert. He has a perfect place in the list but where are the other amazing and innovative  physicians and scientists?

Google Scholar: See your citations

Have you realized that now scientisits can create Google Scholar profiles and receive citation reports automatically? It saves plenty of time and efforts. Great service!

New Paper in my PhD Coming Out

A new paper from our research group just came out in the Journal of Rheumatology. We tried to predict reponsiveness to a certain biologic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis by analyzing the gene expression profiles from the genomic aspects by using peripheral blood samples obtained before the therapy. Prediction is key in the future of medicine! Let me know if you need the paper.

Peripheral Blood Gene Expression and IgG Glycosylation Profiles as Markers of Tocilizumab Treatment in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Tocilizumab, a humanized anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, has recently been approved as a biological therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other diseases. It is not known if there are characteristic changes in gene expression and immunoglobulin G glycosylation during therapy or in response to treatment.

Global gene expression profiles from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 13 patients with RA and active disease at Week 0 (baseline) and Week 4 following treatment were obtained together with clinical measures, serum cytokine levels using ELISA, and the degree of galactosylation of the IgG Nglycan chains. Gene sets separating responders and nonresponders were tested using canonical variates analysis. This approach also revealed important gene groups and pathways that differentiate responders from nonresponders.

Fifty-nine genes showed significant differences between baseline and Week 4 and thus correlated with treatment. Significantly, 4 genes determined responders after correction for multiple testing. Ten of the 12 genes with the most significant changes were validated using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. An increase in the terminal galactose content of N-linked glycans of IgG was observed in responders versus nonresponders, as well as in treated samples versus samples obtained at baseline.

As a preliminary report, gene expression changes as a result of tocilizumab therapy in RA were examined, and gene sets discriminating between responders and nonresponders were found and validated. A significant increase in the degree of galactosylation of IgG N-glycans in patients with RA treated with tocilizumab was documented.

Questions about Social Media: Papers Gave Answers

Recently published papers have answered some of the questions I had about how certain channels of social media work. I decided to collect these here:

  • Do so-called barnstars in Wikipedia encourage volunteers to work more?

Yes! I myself got some of these while working on medical projects in Wikipedia and I really liked them. A new paper had this conclusion: “Comparison with the control group shows that receiving a barnstar increases productivity by 60% and makes contributors six times more likely to receive additional barnstars from other community members, revealing that informal rewards significantly impact individual effort.”

  • How do internet memes evolve and rise?

Answer: “Surprisingly, we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas.”

  • How does Facebook ‘Contagion’ Spread?

Answer: “If four people who were all connected via Facebook friendships were listed on the invitation, for example, the recipient was as likely to join the site as if one friend was listed. But if the message contained the names of four people who had no direct Facebook friendships between them, the odds of the recipient joining the site more than doubled.”

  • Why aren’t more and more tweets and blogs cited in medical papers?

Answer: “However, the conventional medical publication model is less than eager to regard them as equivalent to traditional modes of information dissemination.”

  • Are Patients Interested in the Use of Social Media for Health Care?

Answer: “This study indicates growing patient acceptance of SoMe in health care. Understanding user profiles, preferences, and barriers can help providers in prioritizing where to direct efforts when using evidence-based SoMe in their practice.”

The triad of success in personalised medicine: Our new paper

Our new paper was just published in the special edition of New Biotechnology. This is a review with the title: “The triad of success in personalised medicine: pharmacogenomics, biotechnology and regulatory issues from a Central European perspective“. An excerpt from the abstract:

We also present the state of the biotechnology market from a European perspective, discuss how spin-offs leverage the power of genomic technologies and describe how they might contribute to personalised medicine.

As ethical, legal and social issues are essential in the area of genomics, we analysed these aspects and present here the European situation with a special focus on Hungary.

We propose that the synergy of these three issues: pharmacogenomics, biotechnology and regulatory issues should be considered a triad necessary to succeed in personalised medicine.

How Do You Cite a Tweet in a Peer-Reviewed Paper?

Do you remember when more and more medical professionals started blogging 5-6 years ago and the Modern Language Association published a guide about citing a blog? Now here is the new format for citing a tweet in an academic paper.

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader’s time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet.

Hans Rosling Brings Humor to Global Health Statistics

Hans Rosling public health guru and data enthusiast shines again:

The most amusing medical story ever: How not to communicate new scientific information

I’ve recently come across the most amusing story of medicine I have ever read. A paper published in the British Journal of Urology describes how Professor G.S. Brindley demonstrated during a presentation in 1983 that vasoactive agents injected into the corporal bodies of the penis can induce an erection. He experimented on himself and well, showed the “results” live to the audience. A must-read, very funny story!

The Professor wanted to make his case in the most convincing style possible. He indicated that, in his view, no normal person would find the experience of giving a lecture to a large audience to be erotically stimulating or erection-inducing. He had, he said, therefore injected himself with papaverine in his hotel room before coming to give the lecture, and deliberately wore loose clothes (hence the track-suit) to make it possible to exhibit the results. He stepped around the podium, and pulled his loose pants tight up around his genitalia in an attempt to demonstrate his erection.

Rorschach Test Scandal on Wikipedia and the Aftermath

The Rorschach test is used for examining the personality characteristics and emotional functioning of patients as their perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed. In 2009, the New York Times had a report about Dr. James Heilman who posted all 10 pictures on the site, along with research about the most popular responses to each. Of course, it led to a heated debate whether this information should be accessed on Wikipedia or not. Here are the details of this scandal.


Now, 2 years later, a study came out with the title “Challenges since wikipedia: the availability of rorschach information online and internet users’ reactions to online media coverage of the rorschach-wikipedia debate.“. The abstract:

In the first study, the authors conducted 2 Google searches for Web sites containing Rorschach-related information. The top 88 results were classified by level of threat to test security; 19% posed a direct threat. The authors also found Web sites authored by psychologists that divulged sensitive Rorschach information.

In the second study, 588 comments to online news stories covering the Rorschach-Wikipedia debate were coded as expressing favorable or unfavorable opinions regarding the field of psychology, psychologists, and the Rorschach. Eight percent of comments described unfavorable opinions toward psychology, 15% contained unfavorable opinions toward psychologists, and 35% portrayed unfavorable opinions of the Rorschach.

Common themes and popular misconceptions of the Rorschach contained in these comments are described. Implications and recommendations for practice are discussed. Limitations, including the second study’s narrow sample and self-selection bias, are also detailed.



My Open Access Success Story

An interview with me focusing on how open access changed the way I conduct my research in genomics was published on Open Access Success Stories. An excerpt:

So what happened when he published his first paper? Naturally, Dr Mesko chose to publish it in an open access journal and to use his expertise with social media to share it as widely as possible.

“As I’ve been a medical blogger for years, it was clear to me I would like to get as much feedback as possible for my work so we decided to publish the paper in an open access journal. I wanted to get suggestions, I wanted to hear the opinion of respected scientists, some of whom were also bloggers,” explains Dr Mesko.


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