Friday, August 27, 2021

30-Year NIAID Project Reveals Structures of Infectious Prions

Remember Prions?  Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)? Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer? Or even Scrapie in sheep? These are all prion diseases.  Basically a deformed protein. Not even alive, but capable of great havoc in living bodies.

From   NIAID Now | August 23, 2021

Studying infectious diseases in a research laboratory can be like a family building a jigsaw puzzle at home, though with an infinite number of pieces. Dozens of people will enter and exit the research team over many years, making important contributions to the puzzle but never finding the final piece.

In January 2021, Allison Kraus, Ph.D., found the final piece to learning the molecular structure of an infectious prion—a puzzle that her mentor, Byron Caughey, Ph.D., had started 30 years earlier. Together, they and a broad team of scientists at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Montana and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Ohio solved the first high-resolution, three-dimensional prion structure. They also obtained unprecedented, but lower resolution, images of another distinct prion strain. Determining prion structures, and their diversity, is fundamental in helping researchers to understand how prion diseases develop, how treatments could be targeted to slow and prevent disease, and how prions compare to proteins that cause related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Normal form of the prion protein shown tethered to a cell membrane

For comparison, the normal form of the prion protein is shown tethered to a cell membrane beside the corrupted form that is infectious. This graphic image was created after scientists analyzed thousands of data points from images collected of the infectious prions.

Credit: CWRU and NIAID

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Reference Injuries: Can Your Character Keep Fighting?

Reference Injuries: Can Your Character Keep Fighting?  by Lindsi McIntyre

Not Quite Dead: A Writer's Guide to Serious Injuries and Calamaties by Bryn Donovan

Turns out there are lots of similar websites and books on this topic.  

I stumbled across these websites on Pinterest and thought it might be of interest to WHSLA Members, considering the medical angle for writers.  It may also have implications for gamers, too?

It made me think of the horrendous injuries Jamie Frazer suffers throughout the Outlander series, and how in the world he would have been able to build that house for Claire in North Carolina, or do any number of things that would have caused disability in any other human being.  But he recovered from each injury to lead a normal life.  Probably because Claire brought her medicines and healing knowledge from the future! [Wink!]

Have any fiction writers asked you for help in finding references to injuries or illnesses?  

Monday, August 23, 2021

Member book review: "Love" by Roddy Doyle

Love / Roddy Doyle

In Roddy Doyle’s latest novel, two men in their late 50’s reconnect to spend an evening talking in various Dublin pubs.  Fueled by alcohol consumption, four letter words are regularly exchanged.  Even so, with awkwardness and evasiveness, these childhood friends, after decades apart, begin to reveal their lives’ truths beneath the generalities.  One of them, Joe, has recently left his wife for a woman both men were enchanted with back in their bachelor days.  Always the dominant member of the pair, he commands the conversation, even if he seems at a loss to fully explain why he left his wife for a woman he barely knows.

Davy is the friend listening, and the novel is presented from his perspective.  In flashbacks interspersed through the conversation, we learn about how he met his wife Faye, and their longtime relationship.  Like Joe, he has secrets that the novel is slow to reveal.  But while Joe seems incapable of articulating his late mid-life crisis, Davy appreciates what life has presented him with, even if his marriage is far from perfect.
At times, the repetitive aspects of the two men’s conversation seem a detriment.  But like any clever poker player, Doyle knows how to hold the cards close to the chest.  In the novel’s final section, a shift in its focus changes everything, and the secrets hinted at throughout are cleverly woven into the story to complete it.  Doyle deftly delivers a finishing punch that makes the reader sit up and applaud a job well done.
Robert Koehler, Medical Librarian
UnityPoint Health-Meriter

Friday, August 20, 2021

Podcast recommendation: Maintenance Phase

 Looking for a podcast that's smart, funny, and well-researched?  Check out Maintenance Phase.  Hosts Aubrey Gordon & Michael Hobbes debunk the junk science behind health and wellness fads.  WHSLA member Jennifer Deal recommended this episode about failures in science publishing as being of particular interest for us nerdy medical library types.  Be forewarned that swear words abound.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Recognizing logical fallacies

Have you ever listened to someone whose logic is clearly flawed, but you can't quite articulate why?  Then check out Fallacy Detected, an interactive website designed to improve online discourse.

(You may have already seen the link to this site in my April Fools Day blog post, but there's still a lot of flawed logic and misinformation on the loose, so I thought this was worth posting again.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

What are you reading?

 It's hard to believe that it's already August.  By this time next month, I'll be back to slowly chipping away at grad school a few classes at a time, and won't be reading as much for fun.  

I'm currently reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean.  This well-researched book tells the story of the catastrophic fire that devastated the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986.  At the time, it was largely overshadowed in the national news by the Chernobyl disaster.  I highly recommend this book to all you library/history nerds out there.

Photo from "The Legacy of the Central Library Fire,"  LAPL Blog post, April 2016

Have you read any good books this summer?  Let us know what they are!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Better Posters - Generation 2

How to Create a Better Research Poster in Less Time (#betterposter Generation 2)

Back in 2019, Brenda Fay shared a revolutionary video on creating Better Posters.  

The creator, Mike Morrison recently updated his video with a Generation 2 version that goes deeper into the research behind user experience for making better conference posters.  

Morrison offers 2 cardinal rules for making better posters:

  • Don't include anything on your poster that people will ignore.
  • People ignore most things.

Yes-- He includes the references and templates for the recommended formats.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

NLM's List of Open Source Medical Images

Did you know: 

The National Library of Medicine curates a short list of open source medical images, stock photos, slides, videos, animations, and film footage.  The list includes public domain government sources, among others.

What are your favorite sources for open source medical images?

  • Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

How the Coronavirus Infects Cells - and why Delta is so Dangerous


A computer simulation of the structure of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.Credit: Janet Iwasa, University of Utah

Nature recently posted a fascinating article about how the coronavirus infects cells-- and why Delta is so dangerous.

The article features an animated SARS-Cov-2 cell, the stalks of the spike proteins waving as if they were in a parade ...  There are several other illustrations to help explain this thing that has the world in it's thrall at the present moment.  

It's a 15-minute read.

Scudellari, M. (2021, July 28). How the Coronavirus INFECTS cells - and why delta is so dangerous: Scientists are unpicking the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 and how the virus uses tricks to evade detection. Nature News.

Monday, August 2, 2021

August is National Immunization Awareness Month!

 August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a time to focus on the importance of vaccinations throughout the lifespan to prevent serious diseases.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has some excellent teaching materials available for sharing, particularly these infographics on vaccine science & safety.

If you'd like to learn more about how vaccines are developed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), here's an exhaustive (and kind of boring, which is how I like my science to be) explanation of the process.