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NEJM Interactive Medical Cases

The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the best medical journals in the World, has just started an innovative new series on their website, Interactive Medical Cases. These interactive cases, so far just one, allow you to virtually manage an actual patient’s case, from presentation to outcome. The first case is just fantastic and I am really looking forward to new ones in the future. You absolutely have to try this unique combination of videos, animations, quizzes and other interactive content.

Here are some screen shots to get you excited:




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Two interviews

Recently I gave two interviews regarding my scientific research of medical blogs and the Health Blogs Observatory.

The first one was conducted by Ed Silverman, a prize-winning journalist who used to maintain the extremely popular Pharmalot blog. He now contributes to the Association of Health Care Journalists blog, where the actual interview was published.

The second one was conduced by Norina Wendy Di Blasio, a member of the editorial staff of Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore, an Italian publisher established in 1946.Among books and journals, this Company publishes a weekly newsletter sent to 11 thousands Italian doctors. Currently they are publishing a series of interviews on Health 2.0. My interview was eventually published in both Italian and English.

Hope you will read the interviews and consider joining our team in conducting scientific research of the medical blogosphere at the Health Blogs Observatory.

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Buy a video game console for your grandparents

video gamesThe research paper which will appear this month in the journal Psychology & Aging suggest you should buy your grandparents a video game console, or a PC loaded with games.

This study found that adults in their 60s and 70s can improve a number of cognitive functions by playing a strategic video games. “When you train somebody on a task they tend to improve in that task, whatever it is, but it usually doesn’t transfer much beyond that skill or beyond the particular situation in which they learned it,” he said. “And there are virtually no studies that examine whether there’s any transfer outside the lab to things people care about.”

After testing several video games, the researchers selected “Rise of Nations,” which gives gamers points for building cities and “wonders,” feeding and employing their people, maintaining an adequate military and expanding their territory.

The study included 40 older adults, half of whom received 23.5 hours of training in Rise of Nations. The others, a comparison group, received no training in the game.

Both groups were assessed before, during and after the video game training on a variety of tests designed to measure executive control functions. The tests included measures of their ability to switch between tasks, their short-term visual memory, their reasoning skills and their working memory, which is the ability to hold two or more pieces of information in memory and use the information as needed.

There were also tests of the subjects’ verbal recall, their ability to inhibit certain responses and their ability to identify an object that had been rotated to a greater or lesser degree from its original position.

The researchers found that training on the video game did improve the participants’ performance on a number of these tests. As a group, the gamers became significantly better – and faster – at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group. Their working memory, as reflected in the tests, was also significantly improved. Their reasoning ability was enhanced. To a lesser extent, their short-term memory of visual cues was better than that of their peers, as was their ability to identify rotated objects.

The video game training had no effect on their ability to recall a list of words in order, their enumeration ability or their ability to inhibit certain responses, however.

There was a correlation between their performance on the game and their improvement on certain cognitive tests, Kramer said.

Those who did well in the game also improved the most on switching between tasks. They also tended to do better on tests of working memory.

“In medical terminology, these would be dose-response effects,” Kramer said. “The more drug – or in this case the more training on the video game – the more benefit.”

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Medical Bloggers Survey Resume

It has been ten days since our “Examining the Medical Blogosphere: An Online Survey of Medical Bloggers” article was published in Journal of Medical Internet Research. During this period we have received numerous supportive e-mails from various bloggers and researchers. Also, many bloggers have written about our research, posted our abstract or slideshow presentation on their blogs. Interestingly, a lot of these post were written in languages other than English. There are posts out there about our research written in Italian, German, French, Russian, Spanish and Danish. All of these webpages were archived and are accessible at my Iterasi page.

We, the authors of the article, would like to thank everyone who wrote to us or wrote about or research on their website. Furthermore, we would like to announce that very soon we will be publishing the results of our follow-up medical bloggers survey, which will be available on this blog.

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Digg-like open peer-review

Medicine 2.0™ is an international conference on Web 2.0 applications in health and medicine, organized and co-sponsored by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the International Medical Informatics Association, the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, CHIRAD, and a number of other sponsoring organizations.

This conference, to be held in Toronto from 4th to 5th September 2008, is a successor of a highly successful “Mednet 2006: 11th World Congress on Internet in Medicine” Congress. It will be smaller and oriented only on Web 2.0 in medicine. However, these are not the only differences, because the organizing committee decided to completely change the peer review selection process of the submitted papers.

Consistent with the Web 2.0 theme of the conference, we are experimenting with a new “Digg”-like open peer-review mechanism, allowing any user to vote for submitted abstracts using a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system, with the additional ability for anyone to sign up as a peer-reviewer for a submitted abstract.

Go ahead and vote for your favorite papers.

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Ten simple rules for…

Professor Philip E. Bourne has been writing a series of “Ten Rules” editorials in PLoS Computational Biology for almost three years now. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the mentioned open-access scientific journal, who came up with this idea after giving a presentation on getting published to a group of students. Since then a total of 9 such articles were published, written by him alone or with a little help from his fellow colleagues. These articles are basically lists of ten simple rules, with some additional explanation, on various subjects mostly aimed at young researchers. Rules which professor Bourne and his coauthors propose are a product of rich personal experience and are written in a honest, concise and simple manner.

I am listing all the rules here, sorted by the publishing date. However, I strongly recommend that you visit and read the whole articles, as the short commentaries accompanying each rule are most valuable.

Ten Simple Rules for Getting Published

  1. Read many papers, and learn from both the good and the bad work of others
  2. The more objective you can be about your work, the better that work will ultimately become
  3. Good editors and reviewers will be objective about your work
  4. If you do not write well in the English language, take lessons early; it will be invaluable later
  5. Learn to live with rejection
  6. The ingredients of good science are obvious—novelty of research topic, comprehensive coverage of the relevant literature, good data, good analysis including strong statistical support, and a thought-provoking discussion. The ingredients of good science reporting are obvious—good organization, the appropriate use of tables and figures, the right length, writing to the intended audience—do not ignore the obvious
  7. Start writing the paper the day you have the idea of what questions to pursue
  8. Become a reviewer early in your career
  9. Decide early on where to try to publish your paper
  10. Quality is everything

 
Ten Simple Rules for Getting Grants

  1. Be Novel, but Not Too Novel
  2. Include the Appropriate Background and Preliminary Data as Required
  3. Find the Appropriate Funding Mechanism, Read the Associated Request for Applications Very Carefully, and Respond Specifically to the Request
  4. Follow the Guidelines for Submission Very Carefully and Comply
  5. Obey the Three Cs—Concise, Clear, and Complete
  6. Remember, Reviewers Are People, Too
  7. Timing and Internal Review Are Important
  8. Know Your Grant Administrator at the Institution Funding Your Grant
  9. Become a Grant Reviewer Early in Your Career
  10. Accept Rejection and Deal with It Appropriately

 
Ten Simple Rules for Reviewers

  1. Do Not Accept a Review Assignment unless You Can Accomplish the Task in the Requested Timeframe—Learn to Say No
  2. Avoid Conflict of Interest
  3. Write Reviews You Would Be Satisfied with as an Author
  4. As a Reviewer You Are Part of the Authoring Process
  5. Be Sure to Enjoy and to Learn from the Reviewing Process
  6. Develop a Method of Reviewing That Works for You
  7. Spend Your Precious Time on Papers Worthy of a Good Review
  8. Maintain the Anonymity of the Review Process if the Journal Requires It
  9. Write Clearly, Succinctly, and in a Neutral Tone, but Be Decisive
  10. Make Use of the “Comments to Editors”

Ten Simple Rules for Selecting a Postdoctoral Position

  1. Select a Position that Excites You
  2. Select a Laboratory That Suits Your Work and Lifestyle
  3. Select a Laboratory and a Project That Develop New Skills
  4. Have a Backup Plan
  5. Choose a Project with Tangible Outcomes That Match Your Career Goals
  6. Negotiate First Authorship before You Start
  7. The Time in a Postdoctoral Fellowship Should Be Finite
  8. Evaluate the Growth Path
  9. Strive to Get Your Own Money
  10. Learn to Recognize Opportunities

Ten Simple Rules for a Successful Collaboration

  1. Do Not Be Lured into Just Any Collaboration
  2. Decide at the Beginning Who Will Work on What Tasks
  3. Stick to Your Tasks
  4. Be Open and Honest
  5. Feel Respect, Get Respect
  6. Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate
  7. Protect Yourself from a Collaboration That Turns Sour
  8. Always Acknowledge and Cite Your Collaborators
  9. Seek Advice from Experienced Scientists
  10. If Your Collaboration Satisfies You, Keep It Going

Ten Simple Rules of Making Good Oral Presentations

  1. Talk to the Audience
  2. Less is More
  3. Only Talk When You Have Something to Say
  4. Make the Take-Home Message Persistent
  5. Be Logical
  6. Treat the Floor as a Stage
  7. Practice and Time Your Presentation
  8. Use Visuals Sparingly but Effectively
  9. Review Audio and/or Video of Your Presentations
  10. Provide Appropriate Acknowledgments

Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation 

  1. Define the Purpose
  2. Sell Your Work in Ten Seconds
  3. The Title Is Important
  4. Poster Acceptance Means Nothing
  5. Many of the Rules for Writing a Good Paper Apply to Posters, Too
  6. Good Posters Have Unique Features Not Pertinent to Papers
  7. Layout and Format Are Critical
  8. Content Is Important, but Keep It Concise
  9. Posters Should Have Your Personality
  10. The Impact of a Poster Happens Both During and After the Poster Session

Ten Simple Rules for Doing Your Best Research, According to Hamming

  1. Drop Modesty
  2. Prepare Your Mind
  3. Age Is Important
  4. Brains Are Not Enough, You Also Need Courage
  5. Make the Best of Your Working Conditions
  6. Work Hard and Effectively
  7. Believe and Doubt Your Hypothesis at the Same Time
  8. Work on the Important Problems in Your Field
  9. Be Committed to Your Problem
  10. Leave Your Door Open

Ten Simple Rules for Graduate Students

  1. Let Passion Be the Driving Force of Your Success
  2. Select the Right Mentor, Project, and Laboratory
  3. Independent Thinking Is a Mark of a True Scientist
  4. Remember, Life Is All about Balance
  5. Think Ahead and Develop Your Professional Career Early
  6. Remain Focused on Your Hypothesis While Avoiding Being Held Back
  7. Address Problems Earlier Rather Than Later
  8. Share Your Scientific Success with the World
  9. Build Confidence and a Thick Skin
  10. Help Select and Subsequently Engage Your Thesis Committee
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