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Great Article on the Personalized Medicine (From the journal Nature) – Personalized Medicine: Time for one person trials

There is something wrong the American medical system. This is clearly indicated by the fact that, despite spending more per capita on health care than any other country, the life expectancy is America has actually started falling.

It should be noted that much of the drop in average life expectancy is accounted for by overdoses and suicides. However, one would expect that, given our massive health care infrastructure, the number of lives saved by the American medical system would more than offset deaths of the aforementioned causes.

I’m of the opinion that an important step in tackling this nation’s health crisis will be rethinking the way in which we conduct medical research and treatment (in addition to our current strategy of relentlessly creating novel technologies and pharmaceuticals.) The article I included a link to above outlines a few interesting ways in which we could do so.


  • “Every day, millions of people are taking medications that will not help them. The top ten highest-grossing drugs in the United States help between 1 in 25 and 1 in 4 of the people who take them (see ‘Imprecision medicine’). For some drugs, such as statins — routinely used to lower cholesterol — as few as 1 in 50 may benefit1. There are even drugs that are harmful to certain ethnic groups because of the bias towards white Western participants in classical clinical trials2.”
  • Infographic from the article:



Effect of High Temperature Days During Gestation on Future Income – “Extreme heat during pregnancy could one day affect the salary of those fetuses”

As close readers of this blog might be starting to realize, I’m very interested in how conditions during pregnancy affect the health and wellbeing of children after birth. It turns out that, like gestation season and air quality, the number of high temperature days a pregnant mother experiences during pregnancy have been causally linked to important  aspects of the child’s life/health; in this case, income. A recent study (linked to above) has suggested that the more days with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit a child experiences during gestation, the lower its future salary is likely to be. I’m sure the scientifically minded among you are already thinking about ways in which this study might be flawed. Although the study’s design looked fine to me, I recommend that you read it and decide for yourself.


A short post from earlier this week – 5/29/2019

Topics coved include:

  • A new fleet of internet satellites
  • The most expensive drug ever (That was recently approved)
  • Football linked with early mortality relative to other sports
  • Antidepressant use, by country
  • How Wikipedia works despite the fact that anyone can edit it



The History of the Term “Meme”

Turns out, the term “meme” was invented long before people began using the internet, and initially had nothing to do with pictures of cats. It was coined by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene.” The term is defined by my dictionary as “An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.” Examples of memes include clothing styles, slang terms, slogans, and of course, the images spread through social media with which most people associate the term.

Once you start thinking about memes, you realize that they are everywhere. We essentially live in a world of competing memes. The songs that play on the radio, best selling books, popular dance moves, and the “Baby on Board” bumpersticker, are all examples of memes our culture has selected. 

  • (If you want to learn more about why things spread, I’d highly recommend reading the book Contagious by Jonah Berger.)

For a description of the term meme by it’s inventor, check out the video below. 


Quote From My Baccalaureate Speaker

“Oftentimes, our contemporary dialog can sound something like this: “Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. When in true liberal fashion, that is to say a fashion that honors tolerance and and broad mindedness, the more effective dialog might sound something more like this: “I think A, and here is my argument.”

Professor K. Elizabeth Coggins


Drone Photo: Shoreline of Lake Tahoe