Friday, October 31, 2008

The Cancer Week - Nagoya: Paradigm shift in Japanese Science Communication

Traditionally, a majority of the Japanese researchers and clinicians have been shying off the mainstream communication skills in science and technology. However, this seems fast becoming history. The Japanese Cancer Association (JCA) meeting, a grand annual event in cancer science and medicine, started this year with a new trend – compulsory communication in English!

The cancer week witnessing the annual congregations of the JCA and the Japan Society for Clinical Oncology began on October 27 this year in Nagoya. The twin meeting was attended by 5000 attendees comprising of cancer specialists, doctors, basic researchers and students. Reportedly, for the first time in the last 66 years’ history of the Japanese cancer meetings, it was made compulsory for the presenters to write their abstracts in English only and 12 dedicated International sessions (with English only presentations) were organized. Also, the aspects of World Cancer Declaration were presented for the want of advocacy and solidarity of the Japanese cancer community to the cause of global cancer prevention.

This new beginning has also made possible for International academics and doctors to participate and communicate through the platform of JCA. It was especially a great opportunity for me to have shaped, participated and chaired one of their international sessions. This was also a nice platform for Open Access advocacy and I was excited to note the growing interest of Japanese biosciences community towards OA journals in general and PLoS ONE in particular.

The next JCA meeting is planned in Tokyo in 2009. Let us hope it will be equally successful and rewarding.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

PLoS ONE - what is going unnoticed?

I feel so proud each time PLoS ONE is attached to some high profile science personalities. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is one such icon - Nobel Laureate and a PLoS ONE author. This was announced and highlighted soon after she won the Nobel Prize, earlier this month. The other great thing that happened during the same time-period (and went largely unnoticed!) was the F1000 evaluation (of a PLoS ONE article) by none other than Rino Rappuoli !

Here is his evaluation:

Extensive adaptive changes occur in the transcriptome of Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus) in response to incubation with human blood. Mereghetti L, Sitkiewicz I, Green NM, Musser JM. PLoS ONE 2008 3(9):e3143

'In this work, the group of James Musser applied a microarray approach in order to understand how Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) adapts its transcriptional profile to growth in human blood during invasive disease. The authors observe the up-regulation of GBS virulence genes involved in host-bacteria interaction, such as factors involved in the interaction with the complement system and the coagulation/fibrinolysin system. Ex-vivo blood cultures were used to mimic sepsis and overcome the limitations of animal models (i.e. bias due to species-specific differences, appropriate volumes of blood and adaptation throughout time during animal blood exposure). The findings validate the use of ex-vivo human blood cultures as a surrogate of the invasive infection. Approaches like this one, pioneered by the group of James Musser, will be instrumental to understanding the mechanisms by which bacterial pathogens evade the host immune system leading to survival and proliferation in the human body'.

Complete evaluation of this article including ratings etc. is available via F1000 Biology. A total of 130 articles from PLoS ONE have been evaluated at F1000.