The Science Of Science: Smaller Is Better When It Comes To Building Innovative Teams
A study published in Nature mines large databases and reports that while big teams help drive progress, they are best suited for confirming novel findings, rather than generating them. Public health news also looks at beneficial insects; a failed uterus transplant; chronic inflammation's toll on memory; income predictors at age 6; and aging-in-place pitfalls.
The New York Times:
Can Big Science Be Too Big?
Modern science is largely a team sport, and over the past few decades the makeup of those teams has shifted, from small groups of collaborators to ever larger consortiums, with rosters far longer than that of the New England Patriots. Answering big questions often requires scientists and institutions to pool resources and data, whether the research involves detecting gravitational waves in deep space, or sorting out the genetics of brain development. But that shift has prompted scientists to examine the relative merits of small groups versus large ones. Is supersizing research projects the most efficient way to advance knowledge? What is gained and what, if anything, is lost? (Carey, 2/13)
To Fight Antibiotic Resistance, Scientists Look To Microbes In Insects
Nobody likes a cockroach in their house. But before you smash the unwelcome intruder, consider this: that six-legged critter might one day save your life. That's right. Insects—long known to spread diseases—could potentially help cure them. Or rather, the microbes living inside them could. Scientists have discovered dozens of microorganisms living in or on insects that produce antimicrobial compounds, some of which may hold the key to developing new antibiotic drugs. (Chisholm, 2/13)
The Washington Post:
Why Did The First U.S. Uterine Transplant Fail?
On March 7, 2016, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic introduced the nation to Lindsey McFarland, the first person to undergo a successful uterus transplant in the United States. Within hours, however, McFarland was back in surgery: A life-threatening infection forced the organ’s removal, crushing hope she might one day give birth. McFarland later learned the culprit was Candida albicans, a fungus common in women’s reproductive tracts. In her, it flared into a raging infection that damaged at least two of her arteries, including one that supplied blood to the newly implanted uterus. (Bernstein, 2/13)
The New York Times:
Inflammation In Midlife May Lead To Memory Problems
Chronic inflammation in middle age may lead to memory and thinking problems later in life. Unlike acute inflammation, which arises in response to injury, chronic inflammation persists over months or years. Autoimmune disease, lingering infection, exposure to polluted air, psychological stress and other conditions can all promote chronic inflammation. (Bakalar, 2/13)
The New York Times:
Behavior At Age 6 May Predict Adult Income
A kindergarten boy’s behavior could predict his income as an adult, a new study has found. Kindergarten teachers in the poorest neighborhoods of Montreal rated 920 6-year-old boys using scales measuring inattention, hyperactivity, defiant behavior, aggression and prosociality (the tendency to help someone being hurt, stop quarrels or invite a bystander into a game). Researchers then gathered information on earnings from tax returns at ages 35 to 36. The study is in JAMA Pediatrics. (Bakalar, 2/13)
Kaiser Health News:
Seniors Aging In Place Turn To Devices And Helpers, But Unmet Needs Are Common
About 25 million Americans who are aging in place rely on help from other people and devices such as canes, raised toilets or shower seats to perform essential daily activities, according to a new study documenting how older adults adapt to their changing physical abilities. But a substantial number don’t get adequate assistance. Nearly 60 percent of seniors with seriously compromised mobility reported staying inside their homes or apartments instead of getting out of the house. (Graham, 2/14)