The Medical Section of the SLA Biomedical and Life Sciences Division

2013 News

November 21, 2013
Fall 2013 issue of Biofeedback is available.
In this issue: Chair's Message, Medical Section, Vancouver Conference Preview, Volunteer Callout, Member News & Publications, and more!
Download the PDF.

November 5, 2013
PubMed Commons vs. PubPeer
NCBI has released a pilot version of a new service PubMed Commons, that allows researchers to post comments on individual PubMed abstracts. During the closed pilot phase, several organizations have provided NCBI lists of approved e-mail addresses of PubMed authors.
You can find out if you are on one of these lists at the Join PubMed Commons page. NCBI offers an option for academic and research institutions to add to these lists. You can read more about this at FAQ.
PubMed Commons, the new post post-publication peer review system will allows users to comment directly on any of PubMed's 23 million indexed research articles, much in the way people review films on Rotten Tomatoes, evaluate restaurant service on Yelp, or grade purchases made on Amazon.
For now, scientists eager to comment directly through PubMed can do so via PubPeer, a website that allows first and last authors of published articles to comment on almost any scientific article published with a DOI or preprint in the arXiv. A free browser plug-in is available for download that that show PubPeer comments directly on PubMed. PubPeer enables anonymous comments on scientific articles, while PubMed Commons will not. You can read more about anonymity on PubPeer Blog

November 5, 2013
Genomes reveal roots of TB drug resistance
Using sequenced mycobacterium tuberculosis whole genomes the studies listed below showed  that the antibiotic resistance to drugs of bacteria occurs through several stages of mutations. The resistance is encoded in the bacterial genome; therefore, resistance-associated mutations, whether they are directly causal in resistance or not, have served as biomarkers.

Farhat, M.R., et. al. 2013 Nature Genetics 45(10):1183-9. doi: 10.1038/ng.2747. Epub 2013 Sep 1.

Zhang H., et. al. Genome sequencing of 161 Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from China identifies genes and intergenic regions associated with drug resistance. 2013. Nature Genetics 45(10):1255-60. doi: 10.1038/ng.2735. Epub 2013 Sep 1.

October 7, 2013
DS-Connect: The Down Syndrome Registry
The National Institutes of Health has launched DS-Connect, a Web-based health registry that will serve as a national health resource for people with Down syndrome and their families, researchers, and health care providers.

Participation in the registry is free and voluntary. Individuals with Down syndrome, or family members, on their behalf, may sign up to create personalized profiles with information about their health histories, including symptoms, diagnoses, and medical visits. The website has been designed to ensure that all information remains confidential. The site will separate users' names from their health information, so that individuals may compare their health information with that of all other participants in an anonymous manner.

If participants give permission to be contacted, the registry coordinator can inform them of research studies in which they may be interested. Results from these studies will help researchers better understand Down syndrome and how to treat its accompanying health problems across the lifespan.

October 4, 2013
eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to Improve Patient Outcomes) open access journal
eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes), a product of the Electronic Data Methods Forum (EDM), is an open access journal with the overall goal of improving patient and community outcomes.

eGEMs aims to facilitate publication and rapid dissemination of innovative methods and strategies that advance the science of using electronic clinical data (ECD) from an electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR), to conduct comparative effectiveness research (CER), patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR), and QI. Publications are organized within four thematic domains: Methods, Informatics, Governance, and Learning Health System. The EDM Forum intends for all eGEMs publications to be indexed in PubMed.

The EDM Forum is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, Grant U13 HS19564-01.

October 2, 2013
Health reform subsidy calculator
The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its health reform subsidy calculator to provide ZIP code-specific estimates of the insurance premiums and tax subsidies available for people who buy coverage for 2014 through the new state health insurance marketplaces.
By entering their ZIP code, income, age, family size and other factors into the calculator, consumers can get estimates of the tax subsidies and insurance premiums available to them if they were to purchase insurance through the marketplaces, or exchanges, after Oct. 1, 2013 when the open enrollment begins. The calculator includes local premium data from 46 states plus the District of Columbia. The remaining four states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont) either set premiums using different formulas than other states or have not yet provided needed premium data. The Foundation hopes to expand the calculator to include those states in the future.

The calculator is part of the Foundation’s growing body of consumer resources, which include the popular “YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare” cartoon video in English and Spanish and frequently asked questions about the law. Other organizations can embed the updated calculator on their websites using the embed instructions.

July 25, 2013
Summer 2013 issue of Biofeedback is available.
In this issue: Chair's Message, Conference Report, Sponsor Appreciation, Medical Section, Awards, and more! Download the PDF.

July 25, 2013
mHealth Evidence Workshop
The world now has 5 billion mobile phones — one for every person over 15. There is a lot of excitement around the use of new mobile and wearable health information and sensing technologies and their potential to enhance health research, improve health, while also reducing the cost of health care. However, strong scientific research is needed to examine their potential and challenges of their use. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine features a paper highlighting the results of NIH's mHealth Evidence Workshop.1

1Kumar, Santosh et. al. August 2013. Mobile Health Technology Evaluation: The mHealth Evidence Workshop. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(2): 228-236.

July 24, 2013, 2013
Family Medicine Digital Resource Library
Family Medicine Digital Resource Library was created by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) and was designed to support the sharing and collaborative development of educational resources among family medicine educators. All materials will be screened to insure that the wrong file was not sent, and that content seems generally appropriate for medical education. More information at:

July 24, 2013, 2013
The Study of Connective Tissue
Helene M. Langevin is a visiting professor of medicine and Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and a professor of neurological sciences at the University of Vermont, discusses the research on connective tissue and its connection to acupuncture.

May 10, 2013
Breakthrough therapy
Breakthrough therapy is “the strongest possible designation the FDA can award to highlight an unmet medical need and potentially speed up development times for a drug considerably. Drugmakers may win approval from U.S. regulators for "breakthrough" therapies after a single round of studies, rather than three, in an effort to speed them to patients. The breakthrough designation was created in legislation passed last year reauthorizing the FDA's user fee programs for drug and device reviews. The agency didn't receive authorization to hire more full-time employees for the enhanced communication and is attempting to balance its priorities.

The FDA's first Breakthrough Therapy Designations have been granted to two cystic fibrosis (CF) treatments from Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Read: Frequently Asked Questions: Breakthrough Therapies
On May 1, 2013 FDA granted this designation for daratumumab to treat patients with multiple myeloma.

May 6, 2013
Mapping of infectious diseases
According to a team of scientists led by Simon Hay1 from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, only 7 diseases corresponding to 4 percent of important infectious diseases have been comprehensively mapped at a global scale. The rest are plagued by patchy data. Among the 355 infectious diseases identified, the group mapped 174 diseases or 49 percent.

Despite shortfalls like this, Hay and his colleagues optimistic. They argue that technology can help to plug the gaps in our maps in the future, and they point to several untapped sources of data. For example, both PubMed and GenBank, which collect biomedical literature and gene sequences respectively, contain geospatial information for the majority of diseases that the team reviewed. And social networks like Twitter can provide invaluable real-time clues about spreading symptoms and illnesses, often tagged with geographical information. During the 2009 outbreak of H1N1 swine flu, for example, Twitter2 predicted outbreaks 1 or 2 weeks ahead of traditional surveillance measures.

1. Hay, Simon I., et al. "Global mapping of infectious disease." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368.1614 (2013). Available at:

2. Signorini, Alessio, Alberto Maria Segre, and Philip M. Polgreen. "The use of Twitter to track levels of disease activity and public concern in the US during the influenza A H1N1 pandemic." PloS one 6.5 (2011): e19467. Available at:

May 1, 2013
MLA Educational Clearinghouse
The Medical Library Association (MLA) Educational Clearinghouse ( is the new home for some of the resources previously available from the National Training and Clearinghouse Center (NTCC), which is no longer an active repository for training materials.

The merged database has a Keyword Search box and a link to the Advanced Search option where additional limits are available, such as Subject, Professional Competencies, Experience Level, Contact region, CE activity/Resource. For developers who are interested in having their activity or resource approved/renewed by MLA and listed in the Clearinghouse, please go to the instructor sign-up or instructor log-in to submit an item.

May 1, 2013
Spring 2013 issue of Biofeedback is available.
In this issue: Chair's Message, Conference Preview, San Diego for Geeks and Tree Huggers, Medical Section and more! Download the PDF.

February 13, 2013
Winter 2013 issue of Biofeedback is available.
In this issue: Chair's Message, Medical Section Report, MLA Liaison Report, and more! Download the PDF.

January 7, 2013
The Open-i project aims to provide next generation information retrieval services for biomedical articles from the full text collections such as PubMed Central. It is unique in its ability to index both the text and images in the articles. The article retrieval is powered by Essie (the search engine that supports

Open-i lets users retrieve not only the MEDLINE citation information, but also the outcome statements in the article and the most relevant figure from it. Further, it is possible to use the figure as a query component (e.g. MRI, PET, X-ray) to find other relevant images or other visually similar images. Future stages aim to provide image region-of-interest (ROI) based querying. The initial number of images is projected to be around 600,000 and will scale to millions.

Internet Explorer requires you to use Upload Image button. Other browsers support the ability to drag and drop the image to anywhere in the browser window to perform an Image Search or use the Upload Image button. Supported File Types are: .jpeg, .jpg, .gif and .png. Can also limit by specialties.

January 7, 2013
Cases Database
BioMed Central has launched a new semantically-enriched search tool, Cases Database, which aims to enhance the discovery, filtering and aggregation of medical case reports from many open access journals. More than 11,000 cases are currently available. The database offers structured search and filtering by condition, symptom, intervention, pathogen, patient demographic and many other data fields, allowing fast identification of relevant case reports to support clinical practice and research. Registered users can save cases, set up email alerts to new cases matching their search terms, and export their results. Cases Database will be free to access and is expected to be of particular interest to practicing clinicians, researchers, lecturers, drug regulators, patients, and students.


Rev. April 2014