Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Little Creativity in Your Academic Cup!

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After spending the most rewarding and possibly the best 2 weeks of my scientific career so far, in the mountains at The Banff Centre, practicing, exercising, indulging in creativity with like-minded sorts, I have been refreshed, revamped, and reBanffed in to the world of scientific communication.  Before the time of SciComm 2012, I was not sure if the art of storytelling existed in the academic publishing world, though now, in my post-“Advanced Science Communication Course” I am reluctant to accidentally glaze over pieces of creativity in academic papers without appropriate appreciation. I would like to share with you, two short paragraphs from two papers that I have recently stumbled upon in my daily PubMed/Google Scholar searches. These short pieces of storytelling were not the typical dry and monotonous factoid filled introductions that typically plague and suffocate academic papers. Perhaps I am embellishing their significance, though they are pleasantly surprising for the nature of the papers and journals for which they are published. I hope when you read them you receive a little smile or sense of content and promise for the world of literature and creativity that is gently sneaking in to the generally stuffy world of academic writing.  Enjoy and if you have time, read through the papers as they are also equally interesting!  :)

From D.L. Eizirik and F.A. Grieco “On the Immense Variety and Complexity of Circumstances Conditions Pancreatic β-cell Apoptosis in Type 1 Diabetes”
Commentary in DIABETES, vol 61, July 2012, pg 1661
“In his masterpiece War and Peace (1869), Leo Tolstoy wrote: “The human intellect with no inkling of the immense variety and complexity of circumstances conditioning a phenomenon, any one of which may be separately conceived as the cause of it, snatches at the first and the most easily understood approximation, and says: ‘Oh, here is the cause!’” The field of type 1 diabetes has been plagued by this trend for oversimplification. As a result, individual pathways are often suggested as “the cause” of this complex, multifactorial, and probably heterogeneous disease, thereby leading to therapeutic attempts that nearly always end in failure.”

From T. C. Pierson & J. W. Yewdell “Measles  immunometrics”
PNAS, September 11, 2012, vol 109 no 37 pg 14724

“Like baseball, immunity is a team effort. Various innate/adaptive humoral/cellular components work in unison to clear infections. Determining the importance of each baseball player/immune element to winning/clearing is more difficult than meets the eye. Just as mathematical modeling of individual contributions (“sabermetrics”) revolutionized baseball, “immunometrics” will change our concept of immunity. Measles virus (MV) is a highly transmissible negative-stranded RNA virus that remains a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality (1).” 

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