Scientific Publishing: No Need To Suffer

Scientific publishing is a long established process, often presenting its share of frustrations to authors. Lengthy peer review processes and subsequent rejections can prevent timely publication of important research. A recent article in the Economist (June, 2013) addressed the issue of scientific publishing, stating that “slowness” is often identified by authors as the primary drawback of the publication process. According to the article, the average time for publication is six months after submission, and frequently follows submissions to multiple journals, as the article may be rejected for publication by journal after journal despite high scientific quality. This contributes to the extended time to publication. In addition, the article must be peer reviewed by multiple experts in the field, which adds  to the time for publication. This has been particularly true for print journals, in which the article, once approved, must also wait for publication of the particular edition of the journal.

A new generation of journals has been created in recent years. is an online medical journal with an Editorial Board that consists of hundreds of experts in a wide variety of medical specialties. The goal of the Cureus journal is to provide a transparent and rapid publishing process in which authors receive feedback, and an unbiased measure of the scientific merit of their papers via a novel crowd-sourcing algorithm, the SIQ, from reviewers and all readers. Authors on Cureus have the ability to have their work published in a timely manner, for no cost, and while retaining copyright at all times. The online accessibility also enables patients to access the most recent research on their particular medical condition. The structure and publication process provided by Cureus addresses and eliminates the historical problems in scientific publishing. Most importantly, it allows important research to be published quickly, and to be viewed by medical professionals and patients alike.

Time is Critical in Recovery from Stroke

hourglassStroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing one American every 4 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A stroke is an interruption of the blow flow to the brain. Strokes and be caused by a blocked blood vessel, or one that bursts and bleeds into the brain. Strokes can occur at any point in life, but the risk of stroke increases with age. Each year, over 795,000 Americans have a stroke, resulting in long-term or permanent disability.

The speed at which a stroke victim receives treatment can mean the difference between recovery and long term, or even fatal, consequences.  This was highlighted in a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Jeffrey Saver, director of UCLA’s Comprehensive Stroke Center and his colleagues. In their study, Dr. Saver et al., found that the risk of suffering from stroke symptoms or death decreases by 4% for each 15 minutes doctors gain when intervening with a stroke victim. John Adler, MD, a Dorothy & TK Chan Professor of Neurosurgery and Radiation Oncology at Stanford University, and CEO of Cureus, Inc., stated “This paper by Saver et al. adds to a large body of now incontrovertible data.  In the setting of ischemic stroke, the speedy restoration of brain perfusion with tPA leads to better functional outcomes.  The big unmet public health challenge is ensure the fastest possible recognition of ischemic stroke to be followed by ever more timely therapeutic intervention.”

Common signs of stroke can include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, confusion, trouble seeing, loss of balance or coordination, or a sudden, severe headache. At risk are those with diabetes, poor diet, obesity, physical inactivity, and those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Concerned about your own risk of stroke? Use this stroke calculator developed at the UCLA Stroke Center:

Weighing in on Obesity

obesity_amaThe American Medical Association (AMA) announced last week that they are officially declaring obesity a disease. According to the AMA, obesity is a significant public health problem, causing 112,000 preventable deaths each year.  By 2008, 34% of adults and 17% of children were considered obese, the prevalence having increased significantly between 1980 and 2008.

Supporters and opponents alike have expressed their views on this announcement. Those who disagree with the AMA’s decision to regard obesity as a disease say that this will cause more harm than good to those individuals who are fighting obesity themselves.  Hank Cardello’s article in Forbes stated that this would happen, in part, by taking away a sense of personal responsibility from those who are obese. In addition, he said, the food industry’s recent progress in labeling foods and promoting healthier choices may suffer as they defend themselves in legal battles linking their foods to obesity.  Their attempts at helping people with healthier choices may be interrupted or discouraged.

Supporters of the AMA’s decision include Lee Kaplan, MD, director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School. In his Forbes article, Dr. Kaplan described obesity as a complex health situation whose subtypes and causes vary, as do effective treatments for each individual. The decision to identify obesity as a disease, according to Kaplan, will help those who need it to access various health interventions that they need to make healthful changes. Dr. Kaplan discussed obesity as a condition that can be chronic, progressive, and cause subsequent health problems and disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, some cancers, as well as other conditions, increase as weight increases. Regardless of the way in which obesity is categorized, prevention and treatment are critical in improving public health and preventing subsequent and related disease.