Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Scientists Don’t Use Social Media

From the 21 April 2011 posting of the Krafty Librarian

According the article “Scientists & Social Media” in Lab Manager Magazine, a survey 200 lab managers revealed that most of these scientists didn’t use social media for work.  Yet they are some of the exact types of people who should.

“Laboratories are at the forefront of research and analysis. But when it comes to communication, they are followers rather than leaders and can be very slow to adopt innovations.”

The article states the three most popular reasons for not using social networking resources are:

  1. Blurred boundaries between private and business life
  2. Loss of productivity
  3. Fear that confidential information will be leaked

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meditation may help the brain ‘turn down the volume’ on distractions

Enhanced control of alpha rhythms may underlie some effects of mindfulness meditation

From the 21 April 2011 Eureka news alert

(Massachusetts General Hospital) The positive effects of mindfulness meditation on pain and working memory may result from an improved ability to regulate a crucial brain wave called the alpha rhythm. This rhythm is thought to “turn down the volume” on distracting information, which suggests that a key value of meditation may be helping the brain deal with an often overstimulating world….

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to tolerate our microbial self: Bacteria co-opt human immune cells for mutual benefit

The image depicts symbiotic microbes in the process of colonizing the mucosal surface of the mouse colon. Yellow cells are Escherichia coli; red cells are Bacteroides fragilis. Intestinal tissues are labeled in green with blue nuclei.

(Credit: S. Melanie Lee/Caltech)

From the 21 April 2011 Science Daily article

ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2011) — The human gut is filled with 100 trillion symbiotic bacteria — ten times more microbial cells than our own cells — representing close to one thousand different species. “And yet, if you were to eat a piece of chicken with just a few Salmonella, your immune system would mount a potent inflammatory response,” says Sarkis K. Mazmanian, assistant professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Salmonella and its pathogenic bacterial kin don’t look that much different from the legion of bacteria in our gut that we blissfully ignore, which raises the question: What decides whether we react or don’t? Researchers have pondered this paradox for decades.

In the case of a common “friendly” gut bacterium, Bacteroides fragilis, Mazmanian and his colleagues have figured out the surprising answer: “The decision is not made by us,” he says. “It’s made by the bacteria. Since we are their home, they hold the key to our immune system.”

What’s more, the bacteria enforce their “decision” by hijacking cells of the immune system, say Mazmanian and his colleagues, who have figured out the mechanism by which the bacteria accomplish this feat — and revealed an explanation for how the immune system distinguishes between beneficial and pathogenic organisms….

…bacteria actually live in a unique ecological niche, deep within the crypts of the colon, “and thus in intimate contact with the gut mucosal immune system,” he says.

“The closeness of this association highlights that an active communication is occurring between the bacteria and their host,” says Caltech postdoctoral scholar June L. Round.

From that vantage point, the bacteria are able to orchestrate control over the immune system — and, specifically, over the behavior of immune cells known as regulatory T cells, or Treg cells. …

…”Our immune system arose in the face of commensal colonization and thus likely evolved specialized molecules to recognize good bacteria,” says Round. Mazmanian suspects that genetic mutations in these pathways could be responsible for certain types of immune disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease: “The question is, do patients get sick because they are rejecting bacteria they shouldn’t reject?”

On a more philosophical level, Mazmanian says, the findings suggest that our concept of “self” should be broadened to include our many trillions of microbial residents. “These bacteria live inside us for our entire lives, and they’ve evolved to look and act like us, as part of us,” he says. “As far as our immune system is concerned, the molecules made by gut bacteria should be tolerated similarly to our own molecules. Except in this case, the bacteria ‘teaches’ us to tolerate them, for both our benefit and theirs.”…

Journal Reference:

  1. June L. Round, S. Melanie Lee, Jennifer Li, Gloria Tran, Bana Jabri, Talal A. Chatila, and Sarkis K. Mazmanian.The Toll-Like Receptor 2 Pathway Establishes Colonization by a Commensal of the Human MicrobiotaScience, 21 April 2011 DOI:10.1126/science.1206095

[Abstract only, for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

  • Do bacteria control your brain? (
  • Gut Bacteria Mapping Finds Three Global Varieties (
  • Friendly Bacteria Fight the Flu (
  • What’s your gut type? (
  • People Fall Into Three Categories Of Gut Microbiota : Implications for Nutrient and Medicine Uptake (
  • Humans Shown To Have Intestinal Bacteria Groups As Well As Blood Groups

    “The three enterotypes show various categories of bacteria with a different impact of the gut. Enterotype 1 is dominated by the Bacteroides intestinal bacteria, which together with a few other species of bacteria, forms a distinctive cluster of gut flora. The dominant bacteria in enterotype 2 is Prevotella. And in enterotype 3, Ruminococcus is the main bacteria, along with other species such as Staphylococcus, Gordonibacter and a species discovered in Wageningen previously, Akkermansia. Enterotype 3 is the most common.

    Furthermore, every cluster of bacteria has its own way of supplying energy. Enterotype 3, for example, specialises in breaking down mucin, a carbohydrate that enters the gut via our food. This allows the gut to absorb these fragments asnutrition for the body. All three enterotypes also produce vitamins, albeit in varying amounts. Enterotype 1 produces the most vitamin B7 (biotin), B2 (riboflavin) and C (ascorbic acid), and enterotype 2 produces mainly vitamin B1 (thiamin) and folic acid. Every enterotype, with its distinctive clusters of bacteria and functional differences, reflects a distinctive way of generating energy that is closely compatible with its host. It is also possible that the enterotypes may interact with their host on various levels, having an impact on the individual’s health.

    In March of last year, the MetaHIT consortium published the first catalogue of genes of human intestinal bacteria (also known as the second genome). These bacteria populations encode 150 times more genes than our own genome. It was shown that from a range of more than a thousand species of bacteria that live in the human gut, every individual is host to several hundred types of bacteria.

    The discovery of the enterotypes will influence the fields of biology, medicine and nutrition, making it much easier to analyse an individual’s needs. The research team sees future opportunities for personal and preventive dietary and medicinal advice.”

  • Learning to tolerate our microbial self: Bacteria co-opt human immune cells for mutual benefit (
  • Deepak Chopra: Weekly Health Tip: You Are Home to Millions of Microbes! (
  • Friendly bacteria fight the flu (

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

New Tutorials from HCUP (US Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project)

             Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project logo
HCUP On-line Tutorial Series

HCUP Online Tutorial Series provides HCUP data users with information about HCUP data and tools, and training on technical methods for conducting research with HCUP data.

From the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) press release

HCUP Offers New Online Tutorial Series’ Modules

AHRQ is pleased to announce the release of a new module and an updated re-release of a favorite in the HCUP Online Tutorial Series.  These online trainings are designed to provide data users with information about HCUP data and tools, as well as training on technical methods for conducting research using HCUP datasets.

  • The all-new Calculating Standard Error tutorial is designed to help users determine the precision of the estimates they produce from the HCUP nationwide databases.  Users will learn two methods for calculating standard errors for estimates produced from the HCUP nationwide databases.
  • The newly revised HCUP Overview Course is a helpful introduction to HCUP for new users.  The original course has been updated to include the latest additions to the HCUP family of databases and tools, including the Nationwide emergency Department Sample.

 The HCUP Online Tutorial Series is available on the HCUP-US Web site.  For more information, contact HCUP User Support at

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Librarian Resources, Public Health, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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