Daily Archives: May 29, 2012

When great scientists go unrecognized by the nobel prize: how should the public make up for that lapse?

Any body who has a family member suffering from an auto-immune disease realizes the importance of research in immune biology. Severe allergy, Multiple sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Lyme Disease, Osteoarthritis, and recently, Diabetes are a list of diseases that are related to a malfunction of the immune order in a body. The body begins to attack it’s own cells believing that it is a “foreign” cell or an invading organism that needs to be destroyed. The degeneration of parts of the body begins leading to specific disease. The New York Times covers the story of two scientists from two different countries who collaborated in the same lab to discover answers to the immune system. Read here to learn about: the seminal contributions of immunologists Charles A. Janeway Jr. (1943-2003) and Ruslan Medzhitov. Their work went unrecognized by the nobel committee. Now, you as the public must begin to award and recognize the scientists you value. Shower them with emails and let them know that you care about their research. Let them feel appreciated. Invite them for talks. Give them free dinners at talks – yes, scientists love that free cookie.

It is also well known that a strong immune system is capable of fighting disease. Monks from Tibet are being researched to teach the world how the mind can control the body’s immune system. A strong, happy person is invariab
ly a healthy person. A sad person, becomes depressed and begins to suffer from all kinds of ailments, many imagined and many real.

Click here to read about Prof Charles Janeway. His immunology course at Yale was legendary. He created more immunologists like himself by inspiration.
Click here to read about Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov. He arrived from Russia to work with Dr Charles Janeway, to prove his theory about the two fold immune system.

Prof Charles Janeway

Prof Ruslan Medzhitov

The immune system is two fold: The biological clock of the body controls the innate immune system – just like plants, all humans, animals and birds are conditioned by nature to wake up with the sun, have light exposure of several hours and then off to sleep by sunset or dark. Flowers close, birds stop chirping, animals begin to snore, but humans? Night shift workers have higher rates of illnesses. Could it be a biological clock gone awry?
The innate immune system controls the adaptive immune system which controls how we respond to microbes and environmental insults. When the biological clock is off, the innate immune system is off and since it controls the adaptive immune system, the response to body insult is off. Any wonder why unhappy people or those who work irregular hours feel sicker?

Which scientists should the public honor and thank for researching the innate and adaptive immune system and the way they are connected? You must read the following
A revolutionary idea of how the immune system worked. In vertebrates, two immune systems protect against infection. There’s the evolutionarily older system that all organisms, even plants, have — the innate immune system. There is also another system that evolved relatively recently, the adaptive immune system, which only vertebrates have. Janeway proposed that the innate system detects invading microbes, distinguishes them from everything else and signals the adaptive immune system to move against the intruder.

the authors of the paper did not get a nobel prize and the scientific community is very upset. They felt that the discovery of the toll receptors was worth a nobel prize. Read the New York Times article, “A long journey to the immune system” here.

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Is it time to revamp intellectual property world rights and how they are implemented?

The internet has a way of democratizing knowledge.  It has allowed free access to knowledge anywhere in the world by anybody who has a computer. When Napstar, an upstart music sharing software program allowed unprecedented music download and sharing, it forever changed the way copyrights were viewed and protected. Initially, intellectual property rights were created by industries to protect their rights to research, develop and sell with a monopoly for a certain number of years a product developed with the intellectual property rights giving them protection for a few years to recoup investment.

Now, the little guy can access that knowledge and dispense it freely. What is the direction of international intellectual property protection policy to be adopted? Should policy work towards an environment encouraging more innovation which comes only from uninhibited sharing of world – wide knowledge freely? Or should it restrict sharing of content at prohibitive costs, and discouraging free sharing of knowledge? Should policy protect the investments towards research and development which has greatly increased the life span of mankind this century, and allowed automobiles to connect mankind to ends of the earth? While this has ensured large profits for the industrialized, developed world, it has benefited many. Or has it? What about the developing country’s Shamans that freely shared their ancient medicinal knowledge with the industrial developers to isolate the active chemical compound from? Did the large company ever “take care” or continue to compensate for the life of the patent the barefoot shaman in an an impoverished country who with a toothless smile shared his timeless knowledge, perhaps for free or perhaps even offering their hospitality?

Such questions were asked in the past but the answers shrugged away. However, this recent 2009 -2012 world-wide recession has brought the world together through the internet with forums discussing international needs and internation humanitarian conditions and world-wide travel and space travel and border rights and free music and hollistic medicine and mixed marriages and mixed gene pools and air rights and water rights and more. Everywhere there are youngsters understanding the international language of computers in a way their educated, elders could not imagine even today.

What is this world of the future? Who are to make the new rules? How do we continue to serve the interests of innovation and progress with world-wide dissemination of knowledge best? Should knowledge be free?

There is this wonderful article by scholars of intellectual property at Duke University of USA, that asks these questions which you can read by clicking here. Here is an excerpt:

In fact, it is remarkable to consider that the areas where the Internet has succeeded most readily – for example as a giant distributed database of facts on any subject under the sun – are traditionally those in which there are little or no intellectual property rights. The software on which the Internet runs is largely open source, another Internet-enabled method of innovation to which policy makers have been slow to adapt. The Internet offers us remarkable opportunities to achieve the real goals that intellectual property policy ought to serve: encouraging innovation and facilitating the dissemination of cultural and educational materials. Yet policy making has focused almost entirely on the Internet’s potential for illicit copying. An example demonstrates the point.
• Copyright term limits are now absurdly long. The most recent retrospective extensions, to a term which already offered 99% of the value of a perpetual copyright, had the practical effect of helping a tiny number of works that are still in print, or in circulation. Estimates are between 1% and 4%. Yet in order to confer this monopoly benefit on a handful of works, works that the public had already “paid for” with a copyright term that must have been acceptable to the original author and publisher, they deny the public access to the remaining 96% of copyrighted works that otherwise would be passing into the public domain. Before the Internet, this loss – though real – would for most works have been largely a theoretical one. The cost of reprinting an out-of-print book or copying and screening a public domain film was often prohibitive. But once one adds the Internet to the equation, it becomes possible to imagine digitizing substantial parts of the national heritage as it emerges into the public domain, and making it available to the world. Now this is truly fulfilling the goals of copyright: encouraging creativity, and encouraging access.

Intellectual property firms are collapsing in 2012. The old model is no longer apparently working with a botique IP firm serving the needs of many. Firms are finding it cheaper to bring in their inhouse teams instead. Is the very model of protection being questioned? Recently Darby and Darby, a 100 year old IP firm in New York closed. Read here. Several law firms are merging to survive claiming they can survive the international clients better by being larger and offering diverse services. Read here.

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65th World Health Assembly in Geneva: Mental Health and Vaccinations Resolutions 2012

From May 21-26, 2012, the 65th World Health Assembly met in Geneva, Switzerland, to resolve how to improve world public health. They re-elected Dr. Margaret Chan for a second five year term as Director General of WHO, World Health Organization. Mental Health, vaccinations, maternal and child nutrition and financing for implementing resolutions and several other public health issues were discussed over plenary sessions. You may click here for details of sessions and resolutions. We shall update you here as the financing decisions of the resolutions are announced. Hopefully, we shall update you after the meeting in Rio coming up.

Re-election of Dr. Margaret Chan for second five year term as Director General of WHO

Professor Thérèse N’Dri-Yoman, President of the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, addresses the delegates at the plenary session.

Notes: Saturday, 26 May 2012

Financing research and development

The Health Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution on the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination in the form presented as draft by the drafting group and circulated yesterday.
To continue reading resolutions for each day from May 21-26, 2012, click here.

World Health Assembly forum 2012

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