SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

2013 News

Latest Medical News

November 21, 2013
Fall 2013 Issue of Biofeedback Available!
In this issue: Chair's Message, Medical Section, Vancouver Conference Preview, Volunteer Callout, Member News & Publications, and more!
Download the .pdf.
November 4, 2013
NIH Sequester Fact Sheet—updates
On March 1, 2013, as required by statute, President Obama signed an order initiating sequestration. The sequestration requires NIH to cut 5 percent or $1.55 billion of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. NIH must apply the cut evenly across all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs), which are primarily NIH institutes and centers. This means every area of medical research will be affected.

-- Approximately 640 fewer competitive research project grants issued in 2013
-- Approximately 750 fewer new patients admitted to the NIH Clinical Center
-- No increase in stipends for National Research Service Award recipients in FY2013


-- Delay in medical progress:
-- Medical breakthroughs do not happen overnight. In almost all instances, breakthrough discoveries result from years of incremental research to understand how disease starts and progresses.
-- Even after the cause and potential drug target of a disease is discovered, it takes on average 13 years and $1 billion to develop a treatment for that target.
-- Therefore, cuts to research are delaying progress in medical breakthroughs, including:
-- Development of better cancer drugs that zero in on a tumor with fewer side effects
-- Research on a universal flu vaccine that could fight every strain of influenza without needing a yearly shot.
-- Prevention of debilitating chronic conditions that are costly to society and delay development of more effective treatments for common and rare diseases affecting millions of Americans.
-- Risk to scientific workforce:
-- NIH drives job creation and economic growth. NIH research funding directly supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs and serves as a foundation for the medical innovation sector, which employs 1 million U.S. citizens. Cuts to NIH funding will have an economic impact in communities throughout the U.S. For every six applications submitted to the NIH, only one will be funded. Sequestration is reducing the overall funding available for grants.
This NIH News Release is available online at:
November 4, 2013
SciELO Citation Index
Thomson Reuters introduces SciELO Citation Index
The SciELO Citation Index will include approximately 650 titles and more than 4 million cited references from Open Access journals from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Venezuela. The addition of SciELO to Web of Knowledge will follow a similar model to that of the Chinese Science Citation Database, which has been hosted within the Web of Knowledge since 2008, and the planned 2014 launch of a journal database featuring Korean scholarly literature. These databases are part of Thomson Reuters continuing efforts to further integrate high-quality Open Access content into the Web of Knowledge, spotlight regionally relevant scholarly literature and identify influential authors and research within rapidly developing research centers.
November 4, 2013
Copyright for MOOCs
The rapid growth of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in higher education has raised the question of what services libraries on campus can, and should, provide for these courses. One area in which librarians are frequently the source of advice and assistance is in providing copyright education and obtaining permissions to use copyrighted material, and there is now a pressing need to address those areas for MOOCs. This article describes the creation of a copyright and permissions service for MOOC instructors within the Duke University Libraries. Although the service has not been free of difficulties, and its success in actually obtaining permission for desired uses has been uneven, overall the response from faculty has been positive, and the libraries believe that this service is a fruitful and sensible way for them to support the MOOC phenomenon.

TFowler, L. and K. Smith. July/August 2013. Drawing the Blueprint As We Build: Setting Up a Library-based Copyright and Permissions Service for MOOCs. D-Lib Magazine, 19 (7/8):
October 7, 2013
Vesicle Trafficking Trio Wins Nobel Prize
James Rothman of Yale University, Randy Schekman, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Thomas Südhof of Stanford University share Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.

The Nobel committee said their research on "vesicle traffic" — the transport system of our cells — helped scientists understand how "cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time" inside cells. "Without this wonderfully precise organization, the cell would lapse into chaos," the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a statement when awarding the prize of 8 million crowns ($1.2 million). Disturbances to the system can contribute to diabetes and neurological and immunological disorders, the committee said. Each scientist came to similar answers from different angles. Schekman focused on yeast genetics, while Rothman used biochemical methods in mammalian cells, and Südhof worked on synaptic vesicles in nerve terminals.
October 7, 2013
Most efficient stem cells
Researchers describe in an article* published in Nature on October 3, 2013 that they have for the first time converted cultured skin cells into stem cells with near-perfect efficiency. By removing a single protein, called Mbd3, the team at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, was able to increase the conversion rate to almost 100% — ten times that normally achieved. The discovery could clear the way for scientists to produce large volumes of stem cells on demand, hastening the development of new treatments.

* Rais, Yoach, et al. "Deterministic direct reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency." Nature 502 (2013): 65–70.
October 4, 2013
New Fossils Push the Origin of Flowering Plants Back by 100 Million Years to the Early Triassic
Peter Hochuli and Susanne Feist-Burkhardt from Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zürich, studied two drilling cores from Weiach and Leuggern, northern Switzerland, and found pollen grains that resemble fossil pollen from the earliest known flowering plants. With Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy, they obtained high-resolution images across three dimensions of six different types of pollen. The research is published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science*.

* Peter A. Hochuli and Susanne Feist-Burkhardt. Angiosperm-like pollen and Afropollis from the Middle Triassic (Anisian) of the Germanic Basin (Northern Switzerland). Journal: Frontiers in Plant Science. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00344
October 4, 2013
U.S. Shutdown Spares an 'Essential' Few
Research agencies are hit hard by the shutdown. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 73% of its more than 18,600 employees were ordered to stay home. Although outside researchers could still submit grant applications through automated systems, NIH won't process them. And study sections won't meet to review pending applications.

The widely used PubMed database, which holds biomedical papers and abstracts, was not being updated, and the GenBank gene database wasn't taking new data. No new patients were admitted to the NIH Clinical Center, where more than 1400 studies are under way. The grants system also ground to a halt at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which spends 95% of its budget on research done by others. (Researchers who already had money in hand from both agencies could continue to draw funding.)

Every agency, however, has a list of employees that it says should keep working no matter what. At NSF, that "exempted" workforce amounted to just a few dozen people responsible for security, information systems, and overseeing its Antarctic program. NASA's few workers included those watching over the International Space Station. At NIH, more than 5000 employees were deemed critical to caring for patients and other tasks, including about 730 who were maintaining experiments in NIH's 1140 intramural laboratories. Overall, just 12% of some 6400 employees at the Smithsonian, which is two-thirds federally funded, were allowed to work.

In Boulder, Colorado, a skeleton crew of physicists and technicians is maintaining a cesium fountain clock that keeps official U.S. time accurate to 1 second every 100 million years, says Tom O'Brian, chief of the time and frequency division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The clock—"one of the most complex pieces of equipment in the world," he says—is essential to keeping GPS units, electrical power stations, and telecommunications networks in sync.
July 25, 2013
Sixty Years of Genome Biology
In Celebration of 60 Years of the publication of the structure of DNA in journal Nature, an article written by thirteen members of Genome Biology’s Editorial Board selected key advances in the field of genome biology subsequent to that discovery. Article available at:
Also of interest is “DNA@60: The Big Data Decade” — a poster published in journal Scientist outlining the last decade of genetics and genomics, since the completion of the draft human genome sequence 10 years ago.
July 25, 2013
Summer 2013 Issue of Biofeedback Available!
In this issue: Chair's Message, Conference Report, Sponsor Appreciation, Medical Section, Awards, and more!
Download the .pdf.
July 24, 2013
Gene Therapy Coming of Age?
Using lentiviral vectors to replace mutated genes in blood stem cells, scientists successfully treat two rare diseases in children, apparently without causing harmful side effects. The first disease is metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD)—a neurodegenerative disease caused by mutations in the gene that produces the enzyme arylsulfatase A (ARSA)1. There is currently no successful treatment for MLD and patients usually die within a few years. The second disease is Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS), a rare immunodeficiency disorder caused by mutations in the gene encoding a protein called WASP2.

1A. Biffi et al., “Therapeutic Benefit in Metachromatic Leukodystrophy by Lentiviral Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy,” Science, doi:10.1126/science.1233158, 2013.
2A. Aiuti et al., “Lentiviral Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy in Patients with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome,” Science, doi:10.1126/science.1233151, 2013.
July 24, 2013
New Features in Bing
  • New license filter on Bing Images: Now, Bing has simplified this process to allow you to filter by usage rights and only see images that have a Creative Commons license.
  • The Klout Score: A 1-100 number showing how influential you are. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score. Influence is the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score. Bing search prevalence — the number of times you are searched for on Bing — will now contribute directly to your Klout Score.
  • Introducing Bing Boards: Bing Boards are visual collections of images, videos and links that tell a story from a unique point of view. They are created by people who are passionate about the topics they blog, write or talk about — not companies or algorithms. Bing Boards are designed to be complementary to web search results, appearing in the middle column of Bing, and are aimed to help people to discover new, visually rich content.
July 23, 2013 Trivia Answers
Continuing the celebration of its 10th anniversary, has compiled a series trivia questions from the various agencies that comprise the Alliance. The trivia questions are posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays on, on Twitter @sciencegov, as well other social media accounts of the member agencies.
Examples of some of the questions:
  • What's the subject of the oldest book in the National Library of Medicine's "Turning the Pages" online collection of digitized rare and historic manuscripts? (July 16, 2013)
  • What is the age of the oldest written material held by the Library of Congress: 250 years old, 900 years old or 4,000 years old? (July 18, 2013)
May 11, 2013
Life sciences education resource
A new life sciences education resource, “As Many Exceptions As Rules” tells the stories of organisms that break biological rules or norms in order to survive and thrive. Through these stories, the core concepts of the science are reinforced. Posted weekly, each story includes pertinent vocabulary with etymology, interesting questions to spark discussion, links to the reports from the latest research on the subject being discussed, and a list of online resources for more information and classroom activities.

This resource is authored by Mark E. Lasbury, MS, MSEd, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Indiana University.
May 9, 2013
PeerJ PrePrints
PeerJ publisher has two publications serving the Biological and Medical sciences: "PeerJ" (a peer-reviewed academic journal) and "PeerJ PrePrints" (an innovative ‘preprint server’).

PeerJ operates a 'Lifetime Membership' model. Unlike many Open Access publications which charge authors per publication, PeerJ provides low-cost memberships to individuals, which gives them lifetime rights to publish with them (for free). All authors on a paper must have a 'paid Membership' and there are 3 Membership tiers, each conferring different rights. The three tiers are: Basic (which allows a Member to publish once per year, for life); Enhanced (which allows a Member to publish twice per year, for life); and Investigator (which allows a Member to publish an unlimited number of articles per year, for life). Each plan also includes other benefits as laid out on the membership plan page. The journal is currently indexed by PubMed, PubMed Central, Scopus and Google Scholar. All content is published using a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 3.0).

PeerJ PrePrints has been launched on April 2013, as a new 'preprint server' for the Biological and Medical Sciences. Similar to pre-print servers that already exist (for example, authors can submit draft, incomplete, or final versions of articles they are working on. There is no pre-publication peer-review of submissions; the requirement is for the submission author to be a member of PeerJ. Just because a manuscript ends up on PeerJ Preprints doesn't mean it has to be published in PeerJ, the author(s) can submit it elsewhere.
May 3, 2013
DBIO Programs at the Annual Conference
May 2, 2013
Spring 2013 Issue of Biofeedback available
In this issue: Chair's Message, Conference Preview, San Diego for Geeks and Tree Huggers, Medical Section and more! Download the .pdf.
February 27, 2013
DBIO Programs at the Annual Conference - Preview
February 20, 2013
2013 SLA Annual Conference - San Diego
Registration and Housing now open!
Click to view current conference page.
February 18, 2013
Workshop: Seoul, South Korea
Workshop: Methodological Developments in Advanced Bibliographic Searching and Assessing Research Impact
The international full day pre-conference workshop at the 10th Annual Meeting of HTAi - June 16th 2013 in Seoul, South Korea is organized by the Information Resources Group (IRG). HTAi (Health Technology Assessment International) is the global scientific and professional society for all those who produce, use, or encounter HTA. The workshop will provide an opportunity for information specialists and others interested in information retrieval to come together to network and discuss important issues in HTA information management and systematic review work.
Workshop session description and objectives:
Participants will learn, discover and discuss:
· How to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of information retrieval for HTA
· Creative approaches to searching the literature
· Searching Chinese, Japanese and Korean medical databases
· new skills in searching for health economic evaluations
· Assessing research impact of HTA and systematic reviews using bibliometrics
Pre-conference workshops are open both to members and non-members of HTAi.
Early bird rate: USD $108 until 22nd April 2013
Registrations between 23 April - 31 May: USD $128
On the day registration rate: USD $135
Venue: Coex Convention Center, Seoul, South Korea
HTAi Members: [choose Register Now]
Non HTAi Members: [choose Sign-Up]
For more information:please contact Catherine Voutier, HTAi Information Resources Group Chair:
February 13, 2013
Winter 2013 Issue of Biofeedback available
In this issue: Chair's Message, Conference Preview, Book Review, Member News and more! Download the .pdf.
January 18, 2013
Victory for human embryonic stem-cell research as Supreme Court Rejects Appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court let federal funding continue for human embryonic stem-cell research, by turning away (January 7) an appeal by researchers James Sherley and Theresa Deisher. These researchers who rely on adult stem cells, rather than embryonic ones challenged the Obama administration of lifting restrictions put in place by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

More information at:
January 18, 2013
Copyright Mobile App for Books
The new app by Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) ( makes it possible for copyright users to scan the ISN code of a book or magazine to find out whether they may legally copy from it under their CLA license. The CLA Title Search app delivers copyright permissions to users in seconds, explaining how extracts may be used: from sharing them via e-mail to storing them on a company intranet.

Visit the App Store or Google Play and search “CLA Title Search”; or visit the CLA website to download the app. More information at:
January 18, 2013
Tree of life constructed for all living bird species
Scientists have mapped the evolutionary relationships among all 9,993 of the world's known living bird species. The study, published in Nature1, is an ambitious project that uses DNA-sequence data to create a phylogenetic tree. According to the authors the “birds have undergone a strong increase in diversification rate from about 50 million years ago to the near present. This acceleration is due to a number of significant rate increases, both within songbirds and within other young and mostly temperate radiations including the waterfowl, gulls and woodpeckers. Importantly, species characterized with very high past diversification rates are interspersed throughout the avian tree and across geographic space. Geographically, the major differences in diversification rates are hemispheric rather than latitudinal, with bird assemblages in Asia, North America and southern South America containing a disproportionate number of species from recent rapid radiations. [Abstract].

(1) Jetz, W., Thomas, G. H., Joy, J. B., Hartmann, K., & Mooers, A. O. (Oct 2012) The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491(7424): 444-448.

Rev. April 2014