Editor Does What’s Right (for Wrong)

On Deltoid, Tim Lambert reports that Wolfgang Wagner, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing, has taken personal responsibility for the publication of a “problematic” paper and resigned his role. Wagner writes, “With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions,” in stories such as “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism” (published by Forbes) and “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?” (published by Fox News). On Class M, James Hrynyshyn asks “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was as good at admitting their mistakes?” Here’s hoping that Wagner’s move can reduce or reverse public misconceptions arising from promotion of the paper.

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Texas Verdict Turns Tables

i-dd2b777d72b3ea7931ec60072c944ca6-robertsbuzz.jpgEmbattled Texas nurse Anne Mitchell was readily declared innocent by a jury yesterday, proving that she didn’t belong in a courtroom in the first place. After filing complaints about a doctor who sold herbal remedies in the ER and performed unorthodox surgical procedures, Anne Mitchell was charged with “misuse of official information” by a constabulary loyal to the doctor. As PalMD writes on The White Coat Underground, “reading about the actions of these local officials is like watching Blazing Saddles—it’s a small town, with a few people in control of everything.” Orac has more coverage of the trial and video of the defendant on Respectful Insolence, as well as a foray into Dr. Arafiles’ quackery, colloidal silver, and delusional parasitosis. Orac commends the jury for reaching a verdict with “such alacrity,” sending “a strong message to the hapless Dr. Rolando Arafiles and his errand boy Sheriff Robert L. Roberts.” Mike Dunford on The Questionable Authority writes that “the civil suit against the doctor, hospital, sheriff, district attorney, and county” can now go forward, and real justice can be pursued. It just doesn’t help to be friends with the sheriff when he’s as incompetent as you are.

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Celebrating Henrietta Lacks

i-76b237f631d6933435bd146644c8c804-helabuzz.jpgOn February 2, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by ScienceBlogger Rebecca Skloot was officially published. If you haven’t heard, everyone who has read this book has wonderful things to say. Dr. Isis on On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess declares it “the single best piece of non-fiction I have ever read. It is one of the most important stories of the last 100 years and should be required reading for every scientist and physician-in-training.” Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cervical cancer cells gave rise to the first immortal human cell line. Long after she herself died, HeLa cells continued to multiply, playing a critical role in several scientific breakthroughs. But as Ed Yong describes on Not Exactly Rocket Science, Henrietta never consented to this use of her cells, and her family went 20 years without knowing that part of her was still alive. These days, HeLa is ubiquitous, as “50 million tonnes of these cells have been grown in churning vats of liquid all over the world.” Scicurious on Neurotopia calls the book “a labor of love:” “a love of science, a love of history, and over all things, a love of people.” PalMD on The White Coat Underground values the book for its insight into “the legal and ethical background of human tissue culture.” And Abel Pharmboy on Terra Sigillata emphasizes that “Skloot’s book is of far broader appeal than just the scientific community.” As much about humanity as it is about science, this is a story no one should miss.

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OSU Cans Primate Research

i-ce27b1e033be525d787d70135ae8aa47-osubuzz.jpgA raging ERV says we could see this coming in April, when the wife of 400-million-dollar contributor T. Boone Pickens wanted to bar the veterinary school at Oklahoma State University from receiving funds. Ms. Pickens cited the cruel treatment of dogs—doomed shelter animals who were apparently appeased with cheeseburgers before being operated on and euthanized. Now, a proposed “ethics panel approved, NIH funded” anthrax vaccine project using baboons as test subjects has been canceled by the school president. “WTF?” wonders ERV. DrugMonkey also gets up in arms, writing that the NIH is “the ONLY thing that can hope to oppose the power of the wealthy donor. The NIH has to come out swinging.” DrugMonkey goes on to consider the implications this decision has for OSU’s facilities, which were designed for primates and funded by a range of interests. For a concise all-around view of the situation read Scicurious’s open letter to OSU on Neurotopia, where she says animal research is “essential to the understanding of human and animal health and disease.” You can also find OSU president Burns Hargis’s response to these criticisms on DrugMonkey.

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New Embryonic Stem Cell Lines

i-e35bf3368d623c47f1f6f1910c0c659d-cellbuzz.jpgOn Wednesday, the NIH approved thirteen new embryonic stem cell lines for federally-funded research, with ninety-six additional lines still under review. These new approvals come as a direct result of the “Obama administration’s new rules on federal funding for stem cell research, which reversed the Bush policy of prohibiting such funding in most cases.” Read more about the new rules and a dismissed lawsuit against them on Dispatches From the Culture Wars by Ed Brayton. On Framing Science, Matthew C. Nisbet suggests that public attitudes toward stem cells are changing, and reminds us that much of the research currently underway uses stem cells of non-embryonic origin. Then for a different kind of cell line, Abel Pharmboy tells us about Henrietta Lacks on Terra Sigillata, a “woman whose cervical cancer gave rise to the most famous human cancer cell line.” Her cells live on today, as does her story.

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