Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Politics: scientific impact, what is it?

How to measure scientific impact in the era of pop science? Will altmetric turn out to be a curse? #MSPolitics #MSResearch #MSBlog

"Research impact; what does it mean? We as researchers are increasingly getting judged, and then hired and fired, based on our research performance. The 2014 UK research excellence framework (REF) include a metric on impact. We are told  that going forward research impact is going to be increasingly important. It is a great pity we can't rely in the tried and tested way of assessing research impact based on citations and longevity of research over time. Short-term impact may turn out to be a fad; i.e. pop science, and disappear with time. In comparison transformational discoveries stand the the test of time; they are adopted and become entrenched in our culture."

"A good example, of pop science is our recent publication on the negative association between HIV infection and MS: Gold et al. HIV and lower risk of multiple sclerosis: beginning to unravel a mystery using a record-linked database study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 4. pii: jnnp-2014-307932. When you track it using Altmetric, it is flying."

"When you look at it using the JNNP Marmite-ometer it is not doing so well."

"If you ask me this paper will only have real impact if what we have described is real, i.e. confirmed, and it leads to new insights and treatments for multiple sclerosis. What is needed and is currently lacking is the time vector? As I sit on my sabbatical in Lima, Peru, at the LACTRIMS meeting contemplating life, the universe and everything, it is essential for us to take the HIV-MS association as a starting point to look at MS in a different way. Could this observation that started off with an anecdotal observation that someone's MS went into long-term remission after he went onto antiretroviral therapy having become HIV-positive. Could the association between MS and HIV be the clue to the cause of MS and autoimmunity in general? What we really need is; (1) for a register of people who have MS and HIV who are on anti-retrovirals to see what happens to their MS; (2) the results of the INSPIRE trial; (3) and a full-blown well-powered phase 2 trial of HAART (highly-active antiretroviral therapy) in MS."

"You may be interested in reading an article on the Wellcome Trust's website about the issue of impact: Alternative impact: Can we track the impact of research outside of academia? It is based on  the following publication in PLoS Biology". 

Dinsmore et al. Alternative Perspectives on Impact: The Potential of ALMs and Altmetrics to Inform Fundersabout Research Impact. PLoS Biol. 2014 Nov 25;12(11):e1002003.

More evidence of the meaning and validity of ALMs and altmetrics, coupled with greater consistency and transparency in their presentation, would enable research funders to explore their potential value and identify appropriate use cases.

CoI: multiple, please note that Merck have kindly funded the INSPIRE Trial

Survey: proposed ECTRIMS 2015 teaching course

Do you think MS Researchers and Healthcare workers should know how to use social media? #MSBlog #MSResearch

"The following is a proposal we have put forward for a teaching course at next year's ECTRIMS 2015 meeting in Barcelona. Do you think this type of course is worth having? Is it necessary for MS Researchers and Healthcare workers to have the opportunity to learn about using social media in the modern era? Please have your say."

ECTRIMS 2015 Teaching Course Proposal

Title of the proposed Teaching Course: Using social-media to manage and research MS

The rapid development and influence of social-media has empowered MSers (people with MS); allowing them to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. This is having a dramatic impact on how MSers are managed and how they perceive and interact with MS researchers. These developments have had both a positive, and in some cases negative impact, on how neurologists and researchers interact in turn with MSers. ECTRIMS-2013 and ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS-2014 successfully incorporated social-media sessions into the programme with some success. However, only a minority of attendees engaged with these sessions. We believe the low engagement rates are because few attendees use social-media professionally. To address this skills gap we propose running a social-media teaching course. As part of the course attendees will be taught on how to open and use social-media accounts, learn the necessary etiquette and ethical guidelines governing their use of this medium, and how to formulate messages in an easy to understand way, i.e. to junk the jargon. Sessions will then be devoted to teaching neurologists how to use social-media to manage MS and how to conduct research using the medium. Neurologists will also learn how their patients are using social-media and how this impacts their behaviour, allowing neurologists to interact with their patients more effectively. The teaching course will close with the critical perspective of someone with MS on what MSers need from their neurologists and how neurologists and researchers can help MSers use the medium to change MS healthcare policy.

Name and contact details of the two chairpersons / organisers:

NEUROLOGIST: Professor Gavin Giovannoni (aka Prof G), Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel, London E1 2AT

DESIGNER: Ms Alison Thomson, Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel, London E1 2AT

Additional speakers (in addition to the 2 organisers):

RESEARCHER: Professor David Baker (aka the Mouse Doctor), Blizard Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, 4 Newark Street, Whitechapel, London E1 2AT

MSER / PERSON LIVING WITH MS / PATIENT: Dr. Julie Stachowiak, Person Living with MS, MS columnist for, epidemiologist and the author of ‘The Multiple Sclerosis Manifesto’

Titles of the individual presentations:
  1. What is social-media and how to use it? Ms Alison Thomson, Design Researcher 
  2. How to use social-media to manage multiple sclerosis? Gavin Giovannoni, Neurologist 
  3. How to use social-media to do research into multiple sclerosis? David Baker, Basic Scientist 
  4. How patients use social-media? Julie Stachowiak, Person living with MS

Modeling JCV virus infection

Kondo Y, Windrem MS, Zou L, Chandler-Militello D, Schanz SJ, Auvergne RM, Betstadt SJ, Harrington AR, Johnson M, Kazarov A, Gorelik L, Goldman SA.Human glial chimeric mice reveal astrocytic dependence of JC virus infection. J Clin Invest. 2014 Nov . pii: 76629. doi: 10.1172/JCI76629. [Epub ahead of print]

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a demyelinating disease triggered by infection with the human gliotropic JC virus (JCV). Due to the human-selective nature of the virus, there are no animal models available to investigate JCV pathogenesis. To address this issue, we developed mice with humanized white matter by engrafting human glial progenitor cells (GPCs) into neonatal (post-birth) immunodeficient (no effective immune system so it will not reject human cells) and myelin-deficient mice. The human cells then produce the myelin in the miceIntracerebral delivery (brain injection) of JCV resulted in infection and subsequent demyelination of these mice. Human GPCs and astrocytes were infected more readily than oligodendrocytes, and viral replication was noted primarily in human astrocytes and GPCs rather than oligodendrocytes, which instead expressed early viral antigens and exhibited death. Engraftment of human GPCs in normally myelinated and immunodeficient mice resulted in humanized white matter that had human astrocytes and GPCs. JCV effectively propagated in these mice, which indicates that astroglial infection is sufficient for JCV spread. Sequencing revealed progressive mutation of the JCV capsid protein VP1 after infection, suggesting that PML may evolve with active infection. These results indicate that the principal CNS targets for JCV infection are astrocytes and GPCs and that infection is associated with progressive mutation, while demyelination is a secondary occurrence, following oligodendroglial apoptosis. More broadly, this study provides a model by which to further assess the biology and treatment of human-specific gliotropic viruses.
Demyelination after JC virus has been mooted as a main problem in PML, however in this study they got a mouse and made it contain human glial cells and mylein and it suggests that infection of astrocytes is the main problem and that oligodendrocyte is a later casualty. This now gives a tool to hunt for treatments to JCV infection