Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Meet Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett

 Have you ever wondered who developed the COVID-19 vaccines or how they did it so quickly?  Meet Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, viral immunologist and lead scientist for the NIH Coronavirus Vaccines and Immunopathogenesis Team.  For the past six years, Dr. Corbett's work has focused on the biology of coronaviruses.  Her research laid the groundwork for the Moderna vaccine.

From NIH Record, Vol. LXXII, No. 25, December 11,2020


WHSLA member accepted into MLA RTI

Congratulations to WHSLA Member Xou Lee Va Vang, Research Help and Instruction Librarian, from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Xou Lee has been accepted into the MLA Research Training Institute for 2021-2022 and will begin this summer.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Anyone remember Medlars? Or just a Non Sequitur

WHSLA Member Kellee Selden recently came across this article from the BBC about medlars, a forgotten fruit that was also used for medicinal purposes back in the day.  [It looks like a giant rose hip ... among other things.  Check out the article to find out some of it's other not-so-affectionate names.]

Although it has an interesting history in it's own right and appears to be attempting a comeback, the term medlars got me thinking about the original Medline -- the one before PubMed.  Back when I was in Library School, and working in a hospital library, I had the opportunity to go to Chicago to take a multi-day in-person training by NLM on searching Medlars, so--yes-- I am old enough to have some experience with it.    PubMed only began in 1997 ...

And I started to wonder if the original MEDLARS might have been named after this strange fruit?

So I did a little digging and found this article:

The development of the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System (MEDLARS).
Dee CR.J Med Libr Assoc. 2007 Oct;95(4):416-25. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.95.4.416.PMID: 17971889 Free PMC article.

Turns out MEDLARS stands for Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System.  Aside from creating a sense of awe for the incredible profession I am a part of and how it helped to usher in the dawn of computers, there was no mention of rotten fruit in this abbreviated history of MEDLARS, but still, it makes me wonder if someone coined the acronym with a cheeky (Pun intended!) sense of humor?

Food for thought ...  Or not!  ;-)

The Viral TikTok that Explains Vaccine Science and Makes You Laugh


The simplicity and humor of this little TikTok video was just too good to pass by.  Who doesn't love learning that is painless AND humorous at the same time?  

Kudos to Vick Krishna for putting this wonderful public service announcement together, and to NPR for helping to get it out there!

You'll never look at forks in quite the same way ever again.  Enjoy!

Reposted from NPR's Goats & Soda blog.  Article by Joe Palca. April 1, 2021.  

(No it's NOT April Fool's.)  

"I've spent 30 years trying to make complicated science understandable. Explaining how vaccines work can be especially tricky. Explaining the new technology used in COVID-19 vaccines can be trickier still.

So my heart filled with joy and delight when I saw Vick Krishna's TikTok explaining how the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna work. So simple. So straightforward. So well done."

Read More and watch the video ...

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Book review: Things That Are by Amy Leach

I’m not sure where you would find this collection of essays shelved in bookstores.  The pieces deal with nature, cosmology, and the world of fables, often blurred together into a satisfying whole.  But perhaps it should be shelved in the poetry section as her accounts of the natural sciences reads like the finest prose.  I found myself marveling every few paragraphs over the inventiveness of her wordplay.

This book is a rich dessert and is best sampled in small doses.  Each of the twenty-six essays is just the right size to be consumed in a single sitting.  While whimsical in nature, one comes away with a better understanding of the natural world, the universe, and humankind as well.  Except for one brief instance, the author does not insert her own voice into any of the essays.  Rather, the observant narrator seems an omnipotent presence.

The reader is guaranteed to encounter words no dictionary has ever cataloged, but on the tongue (and mentally) they delight nonetheless.  Examples include mouldywarps, sagittaries, starflakes, vasty, argle-bargle, and Crocodilopolis.  For the serious writer, reading these essays will inspire and also humble.  Amy Leach’s prose is so sumptuous, thoughtful, and inventive that an author is sure to wonder how dare they try to compete.  It is the rare dessert that proves to also be nutritious.

Thank you to Robert Koehler for this book review. 

NLM Update - April 1st Edition

Chevy Chase, MD (AP) --  In an early morning press conference, NLM's recently appointed director Ervin D. Smarmsworth announced a new campaign to take on widespread misinformation.

"Listen, evidence-based science is great and all," said Smarmsworth, "but it's clearly not getting through to people.  You know what people listen to?  Anecdotes.  My aunt told me her friend's brother's wife got the vaccine, and afterwards her adult onset acne totally cleared up!  The vaccine may even be able to get rid of visceral -- er --- tummy fat WITHOUT diet and exercise."

When asked to cite a source for that claim, Smarmsworth made a rude noise, then replied, "Everyone knows that. Duh."

Another reporter asked if it was unethical to spread misinformation in any form.  Smarmsworth rolled his eyes and replied, "Ethics?  Yeah, those are about as useful as trepanning."

Want to apply to be a part of this exciting new team?  Click here for an application or  click here to learn more!

Just because you read it on the internet doesn't mean it's true.  Especially on April Fool's Day.