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Student dies of flu after NHS warning over A&E visits

The Guardian

A young engineering student reportedly died of flu after her family followed NHS warnings over Christmas not to attend A&E unless it was an emergency.


OHSU apologizes for ‘archaic’ policy, reverses course after denying undocumented woman liver transplant

The Oregonian

Hours after learning that an undocumented women who has lived in Portland for 30 years had been denied a liver transplant because of her immigration status, Oregon Health & Science University officials terminated the policy that caused the denial and apologized.


Big tobacco’s offer: $1 billion for research. Should scientists take it?


Utrecht University (UU) in the Netherlands thought it had nothing to be ashamed of when it accepted a €360,000 research grant from Philip Morris International (PMI) last September. The tobacco giant had agreed to fund a study on cigarette smuggling that had obvious public health importance, and the lead researcher, law professor John Vervaele, would enjoy complete academic freedom. Sure, there had been a “thorough debate” about the grant, Vervaele said in a press release, “but the tobacco industry is not illegal. The illicit tobacco trade is.”


AI can predict when we’ll die — here’s why that’s a good thing

NBC News

Now, scientists have found a new medical application for AI: predicting when a seriously ill patient admitted to the hospital will likely die. In hospitals, palliative care teams are charged with improving the quality of life of gravely ill patients and making sure their final wishes are carried out. But clinicians sometimes don’t refer their patients to these specialists because they believe their patients are better off than they really are.


Gender bias goes away when grant reviewers focus on the science


Women lose out when reviewers are asked to assess the researcher, rather than the research, on a grant application, according to a study on gender bias. Training reviewers to recognize unconscious biases seems to correct this imbalance, despite previous work suggesting that it increased bias instead.


Aid-in-dying advocates target next battleground states


When the end draws near, Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired physician with incurable, metastatic prostate cancer, wants the option to use a lethal prescription to die peacefully in his sleep. As he fights for the legal right to do that, an influential doctors group in Massachusetts has agreed to stop trying to block the way.


The Rise of the Anti-Trump “Girthers”

The New Yorker

The matter of President Trump’s weight fits within a longer story about the erosion of trust between the Administration and the people it serves.


Could this be a better way to build a flu vaccine?


Scientists have used a mutant influenza A virus to develop a vaccine that gave the immune systems of mice and ferrets a significant boost, according to the study published in the journal Science on Thursday. The newly designed vaccine has been tested only in those lab animals, and more research is needed to determine whether it could be used safely and effectively in humans.


Handheld device sequences human genome

BBC News

Scientists have used a device that fits in the palm of the hand to sequence the human genome.


Bioethics in Action, Part II: Teaching About the Challenge of Balancing the Needs of Patients

The New York Times

One of the most difficult challenges in the field of bioethics is balancing the needs of individual patients against the welfare of society. In Part II of a two-part lesson series, we ask students to do just that: to balance the interests of patients against each other and in relation to the broader population.


Artificial neurons compute faster than the human brain


Superconducting computing chips modeled after neurons can process information faster and more efficiently than the human brain. That achievement, described in Science Advances on 26 January, is a key benchmark in the development of advanced computing devices designed to mimic biological systems. And it could open the door to more natural machine-learning software, although many hurdles remain before it could be used commercially.


Drug overdoses contribute to record number of organ donors


There were more than 10,000 deceased organ donors last year, a 3% increase over the previous year and a 27% jump since 2007.


What should we have the right to know about a president’s health?


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has promised a readout of the results as soon as information becomes available. But ultimately, Trump may decide to withhold details from his physical from the public. He can do so because presidents are shielded by the same federal health privacy laws that protect each of us from undue scrutiny.


Gene Therapy Could Make Cancer Care More Unequal, and This Map Shows Why

MIT Technology Review

Two new cancer treatments have shown miraculous cures, but if you happen to live in Arkansas or Montana, or a handful of other rural states—let alone outside the U.S.—you’ll have to travel hundreds of miles to get them. And it’s by no means certain that they’ll eventually be available everywhere.


In Trump’s first year, science advice sees a marked decline


Since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, expert panels that provide key federal agencies with science advice have had fewer members and met less often than at any time since 1997, when the government started tracking such numbers, a new analysis concludes.


Facebook is a ‘living, breathing crime scene,’ says one former tech insider

NBC News

“Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene for what happened in the 2016 election — and only they have full access to what happened,” said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google. His work centers on how technology can ethically steer the thoughts and actions of the masses on social media and he’s been called “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by The Atlantic magazine.


23andMe’s ancestry results ‘most confounding,’ new report says

Mercury News

Silicon Valley ancestry-testing firm 23andMe claims to have DNA from more than 2 million consumers, and its spit tests for insights into family history and health were top sellers on Amazon this past holiday season, but its ancestry test and those from three other companies produced drastically different results, a new report said.


Fed Up With Drug Companies, Hospitals Decide to Start Their Own

The New York Times

A group of large hospital systems plans to create a nonprofit generic drug company to battle shortages and high prices.


Michigan hit hard by deadly hepatitis A outbreak


A hepatitis A outbreak has hit several states across the country, killing dozens of people and potentially sickening thousands. Michigan has been hardest-hit in terms of deaths, with 22.


First treatment approved for breast cancer with BRCA genetic mutation

Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday cleared the first treatment for patients with advanced breast cancer caused by BRCA mutations, which are genetic defects that raise the risk of malignancies.


In Pakistan, surveillance for polio reveals a paradox



Chasing Seasonal Influenza — The Need for a Universal Influenza Vaccine

The New England Journal of Medicine

As clinicians in the United States prepare for the start of another influenza season, experts have been watching the Southern Hemisphere winter for hints of what might be in store for us in the North. Reports from Australia have caused mounting concern, with record-high numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications and outbreaks and higher-than-average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.


A top hospital knew this surgeon was accused of raping patients but kept him on staff, report says

Washington Post

A Cleveland Clinic surgeon accused of sexually assaulting two patients was kept on staff at the prominent Ohio hospital during confidential settlement negotiations


With nuclear codes in hands, why doesn’t the president get a thorough mental check?


With a tell-all book raising concerns about US President Trump’s mental stability, there is a renewed question asking why the most powerful man in the world is not required to pass a thorough mental health exam.


Does gender matter?


The suggestion that women are not advancing in science because of innate inability is being taken seriously by some high-profile academics.


Alzheimer’s protein may spread like an infection, human brain scans suggest


For the first time, scientists have produced evidence in living humans that the protein tau, which mars the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, spreads from neuron to neuron. Although such movement wasn’t directly observed, the finding may illuminate how neurodegeneration occurs in the devastating illness, and it could provide new ideas for stemming the brain damage that robs so many of memory and cognition.


Washington state offers third gender option on birth certificates


Washington state residents who don’t identify as male or female will soon be able to choose X as their gender on birth certificates.


Gene editing staves off deafness in mice


Technique to knock out mutant gene relies on fatty molecules to deliver CRISPR components to inner-ear cells.


Safety concerns derail dengue vaccination program


Efforts to control dengue suffered a major setback in late November when Sanofi Pasteur announced that its vaccine, the only one on the market, should only be given to those who have already had one infection with the mosquito-borne disease that affects millions of people in the tropics each year.


A boy’s basketball-size tumor is slowly suffocating him. Doctors will attempt a risky removal.

Washington Post

The tumor is benign but, if left untreated, it will kill Emanuel. As it grows, it is slowly suffocating the teen.