Could playing sports on artificial turf be bad for your health?

October 11, 2014

Most artificial turf these days incorporates rubber granules formed from recycled tires. They make an effective and environmentally friendly playing surface. But can the substances they contain also be bad for the health of players? A major report from NBC News this week examined possible associations between these granules and cancer cases amongst sports ...

(Some of the) most engaged research scientists on Twitter

October 6, 2014

Science Magazine has just released an update of it’s list of Twitter’s most popular researchers – now expanded to “100 of the most followed scientists on the social media platform”.  Having played around with the data, here’s an alternative listing, based on the Engagement Index (E-Index) – a measure I ...

Nano silver and ebola: Show us the data, or remove claims (FDA)

October 5, 2014

On September 23, the Food and Drug Administration sent Rima Laibow and Ralph Fucetola at the Natural Solutions Foundation a warning letter claiming that their allegedly nano (colloidal) silver based “Dr. Rima Recommends™ The Silver Solution” product violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDC Act). Earlier in September, I wrote about Rima Laibow’s ...

Info on ebola risks from the University of Michigan

October 5, 2014

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has posted a number of resources on the current ebola outbreak on its website, including a series of interviews with experts on risks and concerns.  These are well worth checking out for clear and informed information on health risks associated with the outbreak. For more information ...

Color My Poop Beautiful – now on video

October 2, 2014

Back in August, I gave a talk on colored poop and other “tales of technological derring do” at the Ann Arbor We Make Health Fest.  Videos and photos from the day are now available over on the Health By Design website. Here’s my talk – it draws on three stories from synthetic ...

Interactively visualizing major health risks

September 27, 2014

Visualizing risk, NHS style It maybe because I hang out too much in the US these days, but I’ve only just come across this rather excellent  Atlas of Risk from the UK National Health Service: Visualizing causes of death The Atlas uses a highly intuitive visualization approach to exploring information on health risks. ...

So you want to write better science blog posts …

September 23, 2014

Anyone can blog about science.  But it takes effort and diligence to blog well. When I was teaching the Mind The Science Gap blogging course at the University of Michigan, it became clear early on that, no matter how enthusiastic or knowledgeable you are, there are some basic guidelines that can help make the difference between a ...

Linking press releases to papers: How do universities compare?

September 15, 2014

Following up on my previous analysis of university news releases and whether they link to the papers they highlight, I’ve extended extend the analysis to 30 of the top universities in the US as ranked by US News and World Report. Here are the rankings, based on an assessment of the ten latest news ...

Less than 60% of university news releases link to the papers they cover

September 15, 2014

In an analysis of recent news releases from the top ten US universities, only 59% of them provided links to the peer review paper they were written about.  Over 30% did not cite the paper.  And less than 10% of the releases used DOI links to the peer reviewed paper. ...

MMR Vaccines and Autism: Bringing clarity to the CDC Whistleblower Story

September 12, 2014

Anyone following the Twitter #vaccinesNOVA hashtag on the evening of Wednesday September 10 would have seen their stream seemingly overwhelmed by the #CDCWhistleblower hashtag. Wednesday was when NOVA’s documentary Vaccines – Calling The Shots aired, and the #vaccinesNOVA hashtag was intended to enable a national discussion between parents, medical professionals and others on ...

Creating Poster Presentations that Tell Stories

September 11, 2014

This Friday my class of second year Environmental Health Science Master of Public Health students are going to get my admittedly quirky annual lecture on crating poster presentations.  Quirky, because I’m a little obsessive about the importance of story telling in posters, whether you are presenting research data or describing what ...

Why aren’t we more scared of measles?

September 10, 2014

Measles is one of the leading causes of death amongst children worldwide.  In 2012, an estimated 122,000 people died of the disease according to the World Health Organization – equivalent to 14 deaths every hour.  Yet talk to parents about this highly infectious disease, and the response is often a resounding “meh”. ...

Using nano silver to treat Ebola – is it misguided?

September 9, 2014

Update Oct 2: With concern over ebola in the US growing, I’m seeing a number of websites advocating the use of colloidal or nano silver as an effective preventative or cure.  Just to be clear – there is no research that suggests ingesting colloidal silver is any more effective than ...

University of Michigan, polio, and NOVA’s new documentary on vaccines

September 7, 2014

On April 12 1955, the world was informed that the Salk polio vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing paralytic polio.  At the time, it was hailed as one of the most anticipated announcements in medical history, and led to the overcoming of one of the most feared infectious ...

Fumed silica: Another nano material we need to worry about?

September 3, 2014

Pick up a jar of chili powder, and the chances are it will contain a small amount of fumed silica – an engineered nanomaterial that’s been around for over half a century.  The material – which is formed from microscopically small particles of amorphous silicon dioxide – has long been ...

The human side of vaccines and risk

August 31, 2014

Leading up to the new NOVA Special on vaccines (Vaccines – Calling The Shots, airing September 10th, 9:00 PM on PBS), the University of Michigan Risk Science Center be reposting a series of pieces that tackle some of the issues around vaccination, acceptance, anxiety and risk. Each week day between September 2 and September ...

World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers 2015 Announced

August 26, 2014

As a member of the selection committee for the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers, it’s always exciting to see which companies made the bar each year. This year’s Technology Pioneers have just been announced.  They represent 24 of the world’s most innovative and pioneering technology companies. The tech pioneers for 2015 include companies that ...

To Engineer is Human

August 26, 2014

I’ve just had my attention drawn to this inspiring 2 minute video on engineering from University of Michigan PhD student Barry Belmont:   The video’s part of the National Academy of Engineering Engineering for You Video Contest. What I like about it is the way it connects advances in engineering to our needs, hopes and ...

While the world watches Ebola, Meningitis continues to kill in West Africa

August 24, 2014

“This year alone, there have been 17,000 cases of meningitis in Nigeria, with nearly 1,000 deaths”. It’s a statement that jumped out at me watching a video from this summer’s Aspen Ideas Festival by my former University of Michigan Public Health student Utibe Effiong. With the current focus on Ebola, it’s easy to forget ...

Advanced Materials – What’s the big deal?

August 20, 2014

Why are materials important? How do they limit what we can achieve? And what can we do to change this?  (Check out the videos below). Advanced Materials Materials and how we use them are inextricably linked to the development of human society.  Yet amazing as historic achievements using stone, wood, metals and other ...