Making the mark with markup

A very informative interview with our very own Ben Adida by Yahoo! regarding RDFa. This is a format that will allow very lightweight incorporation of structured data within web pages that will allow the kinds of interoperable applications we are developing at the Harvard Catalyst far easier to build and disseminate.


Can we afford NOT to invest in basic research?

With thanks to Ted Shortliffe who pointed out this article by Bill Buxton. Bill makes an interesting argument in favor of basic research which in many ways runs counter to trends in federal and corporate funding.


Foundations of Policy

"Twenty-first century leaders in medicine and government are confronted by questions of enormous magnitude: What are the determinants of disease and its distribution?  How should health outcomes be measured? How are we to optimize health care delivery and financing, and how are we to ensure access to the fruits of medical science to the poor of this country and the developing world? However, such twenty-first century dilemmas are not new."

The Center of the History of Medicine of the Countway Library has been growing under the leadership of Scott Podolsky and Kathryn Baker Hammond and most recently they were awarded a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation that will enable, for the first time, research in the manuscript collections of four influential leaders in public health: Leona Baumgartner, Alan Macy Butler, Howard Hiatt, and David Rutstein. This adds to the growing list of new initiatives by the Center, An important step towards understanding the current and future challenges in public health.

Can we understand genetics? Can you help?

In the context of the multitudinous business plans of various direct-to-consumer genomics companies, any informed analyst should wonder: Can we (healthcare consumers) understand the information communicated by the long-promised, now available, large personalized genomic data sets? This in the context of much evidence that doctors cannot correctly interpret genetic tests and can be readily influenced by genetic testing companies.

With funding from the NIH, we are trying to study how to have patients manage, control and understand their own genomic data. There are several ways you can help but perhaps most importantly it is those who have had experience as consumers of genetics counseling who could help by serving as study subjects to determine what works and what does not in web-borne computer interfaces for direct-to-consumer disclosure of genetic risk data.


Crossing the chasm from in silico to in vivo

Atul Butte just published a nice paper which illustrates how biomedical informaticians can mine large public (gene expression) data bases to identify novel gene variants with some relevance to human disease. He then goes on to outsource his biological validation to a collaborator half way around our planet to show in vivo that these database driven leads can be reproduced independently. As many aspects of biological discovery become commoditized, it's work like this that reminds us that it is those who as the right questions and who can reach out for the right team to answer them. It should be an important goal of translational science to support agility in this kind of multidisciplinary science-swarming.