Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Devin: Do big sporting events create big opportunities for infectious disease transmission? Depends on the event.
Even those who make a living studying mass events say the risks shouldn’t be exaggerated. But outbreaks do happen, even at sports events in rich countries, Khan says; there was an outbreak of leptospirosis among triathlon athletes in 1998 in Illinois, for instance, and a cluster of meningitis cases was linked to a rugby match in the United Kingdom. What’s more, studies may miss some cases if they become apparent only after spectators go home. That might be especially true for diseases like tuberculosis, which can lie dormant for years.
From Jon: A “vaccine” for Parkinson’s Disease is starting human trials.

Called PD01A, the drug primes the body’s immune system to destroy alpha-synuclein, a protein thought to trigger the disease by accumulating in the brain and disrupting dopamine production.

Affiris, the company in Vienna, Austria, that developed the vaccine, says it is the first treatment to target the cause of the disease.

And from Jeremy: Blogging scientist Gerty-Z goes to an NIH study section, and reports on the grant review process from inside the metaphorical lion’s den. (Part 1; part 2.)

It was surprisingly hard to give out bad scores! But I do what I gotta do. For each of my grants, I did some literature searches and read up so that I had an understanding of the field. Obviously, all of the grants were in my Field, but some were outside of my own sub-field expertise. This was important to help me figure out what the “impact” of the research might be [HINT: spell out what the “impact” will be when you are writing a grant!!!!] In addition to “my” grants, I read the Aims page of all the grants we would be reviewing (THIS IS WHY YOUR AIMS PAGE IS SO IMPORTANT).