ResearchPad - point-of-view https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Bioengineering horizon scan 2020]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_16343 Horizon scanning is intended to identify the opportunities and threats associated with technological, regulatory and social change. In 2017 some of the present authors conducted a horizon scan for bioengineering (Wintle et al., 2017). Here we report the results of a new horizon scan that is based on inputs from a larger and more international group of 38 participants. The final list of 20 issues includes topics spanning from the political (the regulation of genomic data, increased philanthropic funding and malicious uses of neurochemicals) to the environmental (crops for changing climates and agricultural gene drives). The early identification of such issues is relevant to researchers, policy-makers and the wider public.

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<![CDATA[From the quarantine diary of an emergency physician: the coronavirus and the dysautonomic storm]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N5b4d6384-2751-4de5-94f3-2241d83db6f2 <![CDATA[Mitigating the impact of conference and travel cancellations on researchers’ futures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N944f63c5-6a8f-4a6e-b9ff-cb4565380ccb

The need to protect public health during the current COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated conference cancellations on an unprecedented scale. As the scientific community adapts to new working conditions, it is important to recognize that some of our actions may disproportionately affect early-career researchers and scientists from countries with limited research funding. We encourage all conference organizers, funders and institutions who are able to do so to consider how they can mitigate the unintended consequences of conference and travel cancellations and we provide seven recommendations for how this could be achieved. The proposed solutions may also offer long-term benefits for those who normally cannot attend conferences, and thus lead to a more equitable future for generations of researchers.

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<![CDATA[Improving on legacy conferences by moving online]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nd76ab90d-5ef3-4e73-b70d-1ca32d3d49ba

Scientific conferences and meetings have an important role in research, but they also suffer from a number of disadvantages: in particular, they can have a massive carbon footprint, they are time-consuming, and the high costs involved in attending can exclude many potential participants. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of many conferences, forcing the scientific community to explore online alternatives. Here, we report on our experiences of organizing an online neuroscience conference, neuromatch, that attracted some 3000 participants and featured two days of talks, debates, panel discussions, and one-on-one meetings facilitated by a matching algorithm. By offering most of the benefits of traditional conferences, several clear advantages, and with fewer of the downsides, we feel that online conferences have the potential to replace many legacy conferences.

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<![CDATA[In the mix: the potential benefits of adding GM-CSF to CpG-B in the local treatment of patients with early-stage melanoma]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N13ba25e1-0c5c-45f0-add4-05a00c4825e2

ABSTRACT

Whereas TLR9 agonists are recognized as powerful stimulators of antitumor immunity, GM-CSF has had mixed reviews. In previously reported randomized trials we assessed the effects of local immune modulation in early-stage melanoma with CpG-B alone or with GM-CSF. Here we discuss the added value of GM-CSF and show sex-related differences.

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<![CDATA[Nursing students’ perception of the quality of clinical learning: a mixed methods inquiry]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N1c6c58ad-35aa-4687-8706-610391702af3

Background and aim:

As part of the Nursing Degree Course, the “internship” period represents a strategic lever to systemize the fundamental combination of theoretical study and nursing practice. However, only a few studies have examined in depth students’ perception of this experience. The aim of the study was to assess the quality of the places in which the University of Parma’s Nursing students did their internships based on their experience.

Methods:

Through a quantitative and qualitative study, students who had completed at least one clinical internship (n.200) were asked to fill out a self-report questionnaire on the quality of learning using the CLEQUEI scale (1) and answer a few social and demographical questions. In addition to the questionnaire, 24 narrative interviews (semi-structured) were conducted; these interviews deepened the significance of the assigned internship experience.

Results:

Throughout all the clinical contexts that were analyzed, the dimension of the perceived quality of the internship averaged a value ≥ 44 (the minimum cut-off indicating the presence of necessary elements to promote the processes of quality clinical learning). The perceived quality dimension particularly stands out in the Pediatric Area, in which it amounted to a mean value of 66 (close to the maximum cut-off value of > 66). This result indicates the opportunity to further develop the processes used in students’ quality clinical learning. The latter describe the internship as a moment of both personal and professional growth of fundamental importance in one’s own training process.

Conclusions:

Overall, the University of Parma’s Nursing students have a good perception of the quality of clinical learning. The significance of assigned internship presents some elements which are a relevant part of the new paradigm. However, there are still some aspects which need improvement, such as the necessity to reevaluate certain parts of the teaching organization of the professionalizing activities and of the clinical internships throughout the duration of the three-year course. (www.actabiomedica.it)

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<![CDATA[Does student orientation improve nursing image and positively influence the enrolment of nursing students in the University? An observational study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nf0f3eaab-ef8d-473e-b782-c0a53141a82a

Background and aim of the study:

Nursing has not yet received full social recognition and in general the public opinion does not have a completely positive perception of it, which regards it as an auxiliary profession to the medical profession. This study aims to investigate the image of the nurse among year 4 and 5 high school students.

Methods:

Two groups of students were interviewed, one at their institution without any previous orientation (n = 102) and one at the University of Bologna during orientation day (n = 388). A validated questionnaire (Nursing Attitude Questionnaire) of 30 items was delivered. Two additional questions were added to explore the possibility of advising relatives and acquaintances to become a nurse and therefore to choose the nursing degree course.

Results:

All areas of the NAQ scored significantly higher in the group where students attended the orientation day, especially the ones related to the professional role, stereotypes and professional value items. Female students ≥ 21 had a more positive image of the nurse. Both groups recognized that nurses are important figures for patients and that they are intelligent people, who must have a degree in order to carry out their work duties. Differences between the groups were recorded. Students in group 1 did not accept nursing autonomy while students in group 2 understood differences between nursing and medical careers, attributing to them the same value. A positive correlation between the positive image of the nursing profession and the interest in becoming nurses or advising others to undertake the nursing course was found. In conclusion, orientation is effective in helping high school students in the choice of their university courses. Regarding nursing, strategies to improve the image of the nurse and enrollment should be combined during orientation day with current up to date communication and learning tools, such as social media and simulation laboratories. Furthermore, it appears increasingly important to extend orientation and tutoring activities to junior high school students, families and teachers. (www.actabiomedica.it)

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<![CDATA[Ventricular assist device implantation in patients with a failing systemic right ventricle: a call to expand current practice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nd7062f31-55bf-4086-b3df-fdb4409808cd

Ventricular assist device (VAD) implantation is an established treatment modality for patients with end-stage heart failure, and improves symptoms and survival. In the Netherlands, it is not yet routinely considered in patients with congenital heart disease and failing systemic right ventricle (SRV). Recently, a VAD was implanted in 2 SRV patients, one who underwent a Mustard procedure during infancy for transposition of the great arteries (male, 47 years old) and one with a congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (male, 54 years old). The first patient is doing well >1 year after implantation; the second patient will be discharged home soon. These examples and other reports demonstrate the feasibility of adopting VAD implantation into routine care for SRV failure. In conclusion, patients with SRV failure may be suitable candidates for VAD implantation: they are relatively young, usually have a preserved subpulmonary left ventricular function, and their specific anatomical and physiological characteristics often make them unsuitable for cardiac transplantation. Therefore it is important to recognise the possibility of VAD implantation early in the process of SRV failure, and to timely refer these patients to a heart failure clinic with experience in VAD implantation in this group of patients for optimisation, screening, and implantation.

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<![CDATA[Employing plant functional groups to advance seed dispersal ecology and conservation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c9e598fd5eed0c484243252

Abstract

Seed dispersal enables plants to reach hospitable germination sites and escape natural enemies. Understanding when and how much seed dispersal matters to plant fitness is critical for understanding plant population and community dynamics. At the same time, the complexity of factors that determine if a seed will be successfully dispersed and subsequently develop into a reproductive plant is daunting. Quantifying all factors that may influence seed dispersal effectiveness for any potential seed-vector relationship would require an unrealistically large amount of time, materials and financial resources. On the other hand, being able to make dispersal predictions is critical for predicting whether single species and entire ecosystems will be resilient to global change. Building on current frameworks, we here posit that seed dispersal ecology should adopt plant functional groups as analytical units to reduce this complexity to manageable levels. Functional groups can be used to distinguish, for their constituent species, whether it matters (i) if seeds are dispersed, (ii) into what context they are dispersed and (iii) what vectors disperse them. To avoid overgeneralization, we propose that the utility of these functional groups may be assessed by generating predictions based on the groups and then testing those predictions against species-specific data. We suggest that data collection and analysis can then be guided by robust functional group definitions. Generalizing across similar species in this way could help us to better understand the population and community dynamics of plants and tackle the complexity of seed dispersal as well as its disruption.

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<![CDATA[Prevalence and cardiac phenotype of patients with a phospholamban mutation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c82b2e2d5eed0c484e5a744

Pathogenic mutations in the phospholamban (PLN) gene may give rise to inherited cardiomyopathies due to its role in calcium homeostasis. Several PLN mutations have been identified, with the R14del mutation being the most prevalent cardiomyopathy-related mutation in the Netherlands. It is present in patients diagnosed with arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy as well as dilated cardiomyopathy. Awareness of the phenotype of this PLN mutation is of great importance, since many carriers remain to be identified. Patients with the R14del mutation are characterised by older age at onset, low-voltage electrocardiograms and a high frequency of ventricular arrhythmias. Additionally, these patients have a poor prognosis often with left ventricular dysfunction and early-onset heart failure. Therefore, when there is a suspicion of a PLN mutation, cardiac and genetic screening is strongly recommended.

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<![CDATA[The future of healthcare has arrived: who dares take up the challenge?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fc55cd5eed0c484e13b28

According to the Euro Health Consumer Index, the Dutch healthcare system is the champion of Europe. Yet we are living for longer, prosperity is increasing and the population is growing. If we do not continue to adjust our healthcare system to these trends, medical expenses in the Netherlands will double to € 174 billion (in 2040). We are also facing job market difficulties in healthcare. We risk a shortfall of 125 thousand employees in 2022. It is therefore time to restructure healthcare. Not tomorrow but today. Healthcare will increasingly be organised around the day-to-day lives of patients—at home or work, with offline and online healthcare seamlessly matching up to each other. The shortage of personnel also demands a different attitude to healthcare provision. As a health insurer we can help to improve healthcare, for instance by giving healthcare providers the financial capacity to organise their care differently. Or by conducting independent research so that conclusions can be drawn on the legal criterion of ‘the state of science and practice’. This is how it was possible, in conjunction with the Dutch Cardiology Centres, the Netherlands Society of Cardiology and FocusCura, to include the ‘Hartwacht’ telemonitoring service in health insurance policies.

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<![CDATA[SARS-CoV-2 and myocardial injury: a role for Nox2?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2a93bde9-c267-4c86-85a9-ed9bd7d64466 <![CDATA[A new companion of elongating RNA Polymerase II: TINTIN, an independent sub-module of NuA4/TIP60 for nucleosome transactions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bc6140140307c0afc0aa45b

Multiple factors are involved in the elongation stage of transcription regulation to ensure the passing of RNA polymerases while preserving appropriate nucleosome structure thereafter. The recently reported trimeric sub-module of NuA4 histone acetyltransferase complex involved in this process provides more insight into the sophisticated modulation of transcription elongation.

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<![CDATA[Avoiding a lost generation of scientists]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db28ab0ee8fa60bd0c28

By sharing their experiences, early-career scientists can help to make the case for increased government funding for researchers.

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<![CDATA[Biological causal links on physiological and evolutionary time scales]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da60ab0ee8fa60b90d0a

Correlation does not imply causation. If two variables, say A and B, are correlated, it could be because A causes B, or that B causes A, or because a third factor affects them both. We suggest that in many cases in biology, the causal link might be bi-directional: A causes B through a fast-acting physiological process, while B causes A through a slowly accumulating evolutionary process. Furthermore, many trained biologists tend to consistently focus at first on the fast-acting direction, and overlook the slower process in the opposite direction. We analyse several examples from modern biology that demonstrate this bias (codon usage optimality and gene expression, gene duplication and genetic dispensability, stem cell division and cancer risk, and the microbiome and host metabolism) and also discuss an example from linguistics. These examples demonstrate mutual effects between the fast physiological processes and the slow evolutionary ones. We believe that building awareness of inference biases among biologists who tend to prefer one causal direction over another could improve scientific reasoning.

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<![CDATA[Recent insights into Groucho co-repressor recruitment and function]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bc67ed740307c3abaa74346

Abstract

Gene expression is often controlled by transcriptional repressors during development. Many transcription factors lack intrinsic repressive activity but recruit co-factors that inhibit productive transcription. Here we discuss new insights and models for repression mediated by the Groucho/Transducin-Like Enhancer of split (Gro/TLE) family of co-repressor proteins.

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<![CDATA[The early antitumor immune response is necessary for tumor growth]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ac6f45b463d7e4269dcce8e

Early events responsible of tumor growth in patients with a normal immune system are poorly understood. Here, we discuss, in the context of human melanoma, the Prehn hypothesis according to which a weak antitumor immune response may be required for tumor growth before weakly or non-immunogenic tumor cell subpopulations are selected by the immune system.

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<![CDATA[Making the most of peer review]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e6ab0ee8fa60b6b2b4

Journals should publish referee reports and respond to well-founded concerns about papers after publication.

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<![CDATA[Towards a mechanistic foundation of evolutionary theory]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db59ab0ee8fa60bdefa0

Most evolutionary thinking is based on the notion of fitness and related ideas such as fitness landscapes and evolutionary optima. Nevertheless, it is often unclear what fitness actually is, and its meaning often depends on the context. Here we argue that fitness should not be a basal ingredient in verbal or mathematical descriptions of evolution. Instead, we propose that evolutionary birth-death processes, in which individuals give birth and die at ever-changing rates, should be the basis of evolutionary theory, because such processes capture the fundamental events that generate evolutionary dynamics. In evolutionary birth-death processes, fitness is at best a derived quantity, and owing to the potential complexity of such processes, there is no guarantee that there is a simple scalar, such as fitness, that would describe long-term evolutionary outcomes. We discuss how evolutionary birth-death processes can provide useful perspectives on a number of central issues in evolution.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.23804.001

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<![CDATA[How scientists can reduce their carbon footprint]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da66ab0ee8fa60b91ec2

Cutting down on long-distance air travel is the best way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by the scientific community.

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