Posted on November 14th, 2013 by Andrew M. Harrsion
By Joshua J. Faucher
I returned two weeks ago from the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) 2013 Annual Meeting, which took place on November 2nd in Boston, MA. It was the third PNHP Annual Meeting I have attended, and my first as a student member of the organization’s Board of Directors. I can say that the meeting was a rousing success, and that we had a record number of attendees (including over 130 medical and health professional students – the largest number ever)! Can I say, however, that we are approaching the final realization of our goal: the implementation of single-payer national health insurance? Not by a long shot.
I’ll admit it; our organization is a bit fringe. This is in spite of the fact that single-payer national health insurance is utilized by our closest developed neighbor – Canada (with its decidedly federalized Medicare system), and by the country to which we can trace our heritage as a nation – the United Kingdom (with its more socialized National Health Service). Alas, during the most recent efforts to reform the health care system in the United States, single-payer was barely discussed as an option. When it was brought up it was denigrated as “socialism” without serious consideration of the real nature of single-payer or its merits.
On what can we blame this dearth of information, other than a lack of diversity of opinion? As a student of medicine and law, the need for this reform is clear. Patients, providers, and the majority of American employers all have an interest in expanding access to care for patients, and reducing the ballooning amount of spending in the health care system. The simplest way to do this would be via single-payer insurance scheme, which would facilitate the reduction and redirection of spending away from redundant and wasteful administrative costs associated with the private insurance scheme.
If you don’t believe me, get in touch, and I’ll explain it until your ears fall off. But should I have to? Shouldn’t the national news media give a clear and honest evaluation of an approach that works for so many other developed, capitalist democracies around the world? I find it hard to believe that the one industry that stands to truly lose from single-payer – for-profit health insurance corporations – can have that much of a stranglehold on the messaging.
As public perception of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation reveals it to be a bloated, unnecessarily complex subsidization of private insurance, I worry that the conversation about health care in the United States will drift towards budget cuts and austerity rather than a simplified social insurance scheme. Any steps toward austerity and further privatization of health care will collide head-on with looming crises in our retirement system and the financing of long-term care for an aging population. This could lead to a degree of social unrest rarely seen in our society. If progressive voices were a louder part of the mainstream media, our future demographic and socioeconomic shifts might be gentler.
All the same, I realize that PNHP as an organization could also use more diversity of opinion. At the Annual Meeting, our lunch speaker was Dr. Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. She received a strongly positive reaction from the crowd when she extolled the virtues of a system that would go farther than single-payer – one that would nationalize the entire health care apparatus and eliminate private interests and the destructive aspects of the profit motive in health care delivery.
On the one hand I found myself agreeing with her; the corporatization of health care delivery has its own set of negative effects, and a system like the UK’s National Health Service would be the most efficient and equitable way to distribute the resources of the medical system. As this idea was reiterated throughout the second half of the meeting, though, I also found myself growing apprehensive. I know that many of my medical colleagues would not accept a scenario granting the government near complete control over health care providers, and I know that if PNHP makes purely socialized medicine its message then we will lose the opportunity to gain numerous allies in the private delivery system. In fact, when presenting the idea of single-payer to new audiences, I make sure to draw the distinction between the financing scheme and the delivery system, and to point out single-payer’s ability to coexist with privatized delivery. I take these steps in order to shield the topic from emotionally charged and politicized label of “socialized medicine”.
Members of the Mayo Medical School chapter of PNHP in attendance at the PNHP 2013 Annual Meeting (left to right): Dominic Caruso, Sharon Kim, Josh Faucher, Swathi Damodaran, Ashley Cobb, and Eric Jackson.
The only way to build a coalition large enough to affect true social change is by meeting in the middle, and by engaging in compromise. Just as the national conversation must feature progressive ideas to achieve effective reform, PNHP and other groups must temper ideological purity with a realistic approach to building consensus. After presenting ideas from the full spectrum of economic and social approaches to fixing health care, we must look beyond ideology to objectively evaluate our diverse options.
Unfortunately, our current political system favors polarization and concentration, rather than diversity, of opinion. Sadly, the increasing inter-connectedness of our world seems to make it easier for us to cloister ourselves among those with whom we already agree, rather than to be challenged by new and unanticipated positions. Diversity of opinion breeds compromise, and compromise facilitates stability in our personal and societal relationships. We should work together to elevate small voices instead of drowning them out, and to always give a little when we expect to get something in return.
On November 7th, 2013, MMS-PNHP hosted TR Reid, reporter and creator of the Frontline documentary Sick Around the World. Pictured above is TR speaking at the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation Transform 2013 conference the following day. Acknowledgement: Photo by Andrew Harrison.
Josh J. Faucher is a student in the joint MD-JD program between Mayo Medical School and Arizona State University. In 2011, he and Andrew M. Harrison co-founded the Mayo Medical School chapter of PNHP (MMS-PNHP).
Posted on October 31st, 2013 by Danielle Miranda
By Wells B. LaRiviere
Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given came during my final year at Reed College. In the midst of a departmental meeting, a professor exhorted the seniors to select a thesis topic that we cared so deeply about that we would work tirelessly on it, even “during the darkest days of February,” to see through its completion.
It helps to have lived in Portland to understand just how deeply he felt about motivation, because it gets really dark in the depths of the Portland winter. Still, even if you have never set foot in Oregon, I think it’s easy to relate to his words. In education, there is a sense that one is constantly trying to catch up; running a gauntlet of never-ending hurdles, each yet higher than the last. Each mistake or misstep seems crushingly disappointing, and often there is the temptation to surrender to self-doubt. No matter how dark February gets in your part of the world, pursuing academics is always an inherently difficult task. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on October 17th, 2013 by Danielle Miranda
"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual...The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both."
– Carl Sagan
Close to 100 scientists and religious community members gathered in Geffen Auditorium this past Monday night to hear evidence from Dr. Fazale “Fuz” Rana describing the logical intimacy of science and religion. Listeners embraced the challenge of identifying their own beliefs and were encouraged to evaluate the framework through which they orientate their lives. Although I cannot do justice to the complexity of arguments in this summary, I hope to mirror the theme of the presentation and challenge all readers with the question, “Are science and religion mutually exclusive?” Intentionally, many of us have discrete answers arising from years of experience reconciling each space. However, I ask you to read the first sentence of this post again and consider your reflexive interpretation of the phrase “scientists and religious community members.” Did you originally perceive this to describe unique individuals in attendance with competing viewpoints, people who identify singularly with science or religion yet inform their worldview with the other, or a single group of people unified in their beliefs. I believe our response is indicative of our current perspective. Much like being a “father and husband” does not preclude one from the other, Dr. Rana proposes being a scientist and believer are entirely complementary foundations granted by God.
Posted on October 3rd, 2013 by Danielle Miranda
Graduate students including Mayo Clinic’s Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Ph.D. candidate, Alfreda Nelson, planned on attending the 2013 NIH National Graduate Student Research Conference, but due to the lapse in government funding, the conference has been canceled.
This is just one of the many examples of the lapse in government funding which has and will continue to affect research. The shutdown has cut off access to myriad of electronic resources which many researchers depend. Websites that were not operation include the National Science Foundation the Education Department’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences1. Many sites such as PubMed, a free repository of biomedical and life science research maintained by the National Institutes of Health, are operational but a notice on the site warns users that it would not be updated during the shutdown. Some researchers are setting up mirror websites to keep forms to apply for grants from the National Science Foundation accessible2. This creates the perfect opportunity to ask professors and students how the government shutdown impacts research.
How is the government shutdown affecting your work on campus?
Posted on September 20th, 2013 by Carl Gustafson
By Carl T. Gustafson
King Solomon, reputed by Biblical lore to be the wisest man that ever lived, once commanded us to “go to the ant…consider her ways and be wise...” This man, the wisest man, knew we had a thing or two to learn, even from ants.
This past summer I took my Written Qualifying Exam, which is, in essence, a tiresomely long and nearly comprehensive test that determines whether I stay in graduate school or not. Every Ph.D. student that ever existed has had to take a test similar to this. During this summer I studied like I have never studied before and was essentially blind to the outside world. When I emerged from the gloomy caverns of dose response curves and receptor binding kinetics, I realized what I had missed. There was conflict in Syria. People were upset about marriage rights. My nephew had learned to walk. I had even missed Shark Week of all things. It had been less than two months since I had even attempted to lend an ear to anything other than research methods and experimental designs, but I was way behind. I had missed a lot and I hadn’t even noticed it when I was missing it. It was too easy to fall behind and so very hard to get caught up. I’m still kinda bummed about Shark Week.
Posted on September 6th, 2013 by Stella Hartono
Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to clean my refrigerator. As I took out the various old jars of condiments and containers of leftovers to be thrown away, I noticed how some of them had developed a fuzzy growth with a clear ring around them. Being a scientific parent, I showed these to my daughter as a demonstration of the anti-bacterial properties of some fungi, then proceeded to throw all of them in the trash and continued with the cleaning.
Later that day, I thought about Alexander Fleming and how other scientists before him had probably noticed the same thing. Instead of throwing his “contaminated” culture in the trash, Fleming took the next step and asked WHY those clear zones appeared around the fungal growth, which led to the discovery of penicillin and the development of antibiotics. That simple question was pretty revolutionary if you think about it; all because Fleming was not very good at practicing sterile technique.
If you look back through history, there were many amazing discoveries and inventions that happened solely because someone observed something that everyone else took for granted and decided to ask “WHY?” Newton and the falling apple. Archimedes and his bathtub. I think all of us would agree that good observation skills are necessary in both science and medicine. I would put forth, however, that being observant is not enough. You need curiosity in the mix, as that is what set the difference between Fleming throwing the contaminated cultures in the garbage vs. Fleming discovering penicillin.
Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” When we are open-minded to seeing all the possibilities in front of us (especially those we aren’t looking for) and take the next step by asking questions…that is when scientific magic happens.
Stella Hartono is a fitfth year MD/PhD student in Dr. Joseph Grande's lab.
Posted on August 22nd, 2013 by Andrew M. Harrsion
By Timothy N. Kruse
On July 31 through August 04, 2013, Andrew Harrison and I attended the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) in Santa Clara, CA. The AAIP is an organization for American Indian and Alaska Native physicians across North America. The Mission of the AAIP is “to pursue excellence in Native American health care by promoting education in the medical disciplines, honoring traditional healing principles and restoring the balance of mind, body, and spirit”.
Association of American Indian Physicians
Posted on August 8th, 2013 by Carl Gustafson
By Bennett G. Childs and Andrew M. Harrison
After attending the recent College of Medicine “Discussions About Diversity”, I (BGC) was sorely disappointed to miss the Westboro Baptist Church's visit to Mayo Clinic (1, 2). I was drawn to ask the question: what motivation would drive someone to get up at the crack of dawn to preach hate (as I got up even earlier to pursue the answer)? The protest-protesters were dispersing as I arrived, carrying American flags and picket signs. Tapping him on the shoulder, I asked one guy: “Hey, have the crazy people gone?” He gave me a puzzled look and then perked up. “Oh yeah, the gay-bashers are gone. But they're not crazy. That kind of hate takes conscious effort.”
The list of people hated by the Westboro Baptist Church (3) and their God could fill a book. Though, that may have been done already: homosexuals, fornicators, wiccans, women who do not obey their husbands, and atheists. As I walked away, I started to think about the sort of people it takes conscious effort to not hate: bigots, homophobes, AIDS-denialists (4, 5), anti-vaccinationists (6), men who think misandry is a thing, people who say YOLO, people who end lists with etc., etc... Why do I have to fight down this crimson hate every day?
Posted on July 26th, 2013 by Carl Gustafson
Every year, the Mayo Clinic hosts visiting students in summer research fellowship programs. The Mayo Graduate School welcomes over 100 visiting undergraduate students in a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) that lasts for 10 weeks through the summer. The Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education hosts visiting medical students who are between their 1st and 2nd years of medical school and are looking for training in patient-oriented research. Both programs bring in many students from various backgrounds with diverse research interests and career goals. Here’s what a few of our visiting students had to say about their research experiences and future aspirations:
- Stephanie Nemec -
Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Danielle Miranda
Network of Early Clinical and Translational Researchers (NECTR) is a resource for early investigators in clinical and translational research.
NECTR aims to drive collaborations between graduate and medical students and provide educational and scientific information sharing to decrease the gap between the bench and the bedside. NECTR Facebook page is a social media platform for all geared to biomedical trainees to discuss the dynamics and prospects of relevant programs from mentoring opportunities to help identifying available post-doctoral positions. The goal is to share advice on the importance of mentorship in creating and guiding leaders of the future and establish a network that promotes collaboration and innovation.
Please use this page to:
• Connect with peers/colleagues/potential mentors who are working in translational science
• Continue to define and provide examples of translational research
• Highlight post-doc opportunities and share career goals and accomplishments
• Share publications, conference materials, etc.
Posted on June 28th, 2013 by Stella Hartono
By Andrew M. Harrison, Stella P. Hartono, Carl T. Gustafson
The Supreme Court case of Fisher v. University of Texas concerns the question of whether the race-based, affirmative action undergraduate admission policies of the University are constitutional. This question was raised by a former undergraduate applicant in the specific context of existing Supreme Court rulings and precedent.
On June 24, 2013, in this case, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-1 decision to vacate (make void) and remand (send back) the ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Thus, this case will be returned to the Fifth Circuit Court—which represents parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi—for another decision. Justice Elena Kagan, former US Solicitor General and prior participant in this case, recused herself from participation and vote.
Posted on June 14th, 2013 by Stella Hartono
This week in Washington Post, Phyllis Richman published her reply to a letter from Harvard regarding her graduate school application. In the letter, she was asked to describe how she would balance a professional life in city planning with her responsibilities to her husband and her future family. Her response to this question will help determine her admission to the program since “[their] experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers, and hence tend to have some feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education.” Her response – which was written last week – was quite interesting since this letter was sent to her 52 years ago in 1961.
A recent Nature special explores the dismaying extent of how sexism still exists in science. Although universities in US and Europe granted half of their doctoral degrees in science and engineering to women, only 20% of NIH investigators are women and less than 20% of tenured faculty positions are held by women. Why is the attrition rate so high? One of the explanations would be the additional hurdles that women faced to rise through the ranks due to pervasive bias against women. Shockingly, this bias is perpetrated not only by male, but also by female faculties of all ages. Sadly, even I have to admit to this bias based on my performance on the Implicit Association Test (https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo), which measures unconscious associations between concepts.
When I raise this intriguing issue for discussion, I find continued resistance to the idea that bias against women in science is still pervasive. One colleague argued that the gender discrepancy is the result of the residual bias of older faculties and that could affect the hiring decision, but would not affect other aspects, such as the evaluation of a manuscript. However, Behavioral Ecology found a significant increase in female first-authored papers following a switch to a double blind peer review system. In the period 2010–11, the proportions of women authors in Nature News and Views were 17%, 8% and 4% for life, physical and Earth sciences respectively. Nature further admits that only 14% of its reviewers and 19% of its invited Comment and World View authors were female.
So how do we move on from here? I think admitting that gender bias exists is the first step in overcoming the problem. Things are definitely better for women now compare to the 1960s, but there are still significant rooms for improvement. A parting question I want to leave you with is why no one ever asks a man how he plans on balancing his professional life with his responsibilities as a husband and a parent. Let me know your thoughts.
Stella Hartono is a fourth-year M.D.-Ph.D. student in the Mayo Medical / Mayo Graduate Schools. In addition to being a mother to a 14-year-old daughter, she works in Dr. Joseph Grande's lab to elucidate the role of T-cells in renovascular hypertension.
 Answering Harvard’s question about my personal life, 52 years later. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/answering-harvards-question-about-my-personal-life-52-years-later/2013/06/06/89c97e2e-c259-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html
 Nature. V495 Issue 7439, 07 March 2013
 Science faculty's subtle gender biases favor male students. Moss-Racusin CA, Dovidio JF, Brescoll VL, Graham MJ, Handelsman J. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2012 Sep 17.
 Budden, A. E. et al. Trends Ecol. Evol. 23, 4–6 (2008).
 Nature. V491, issue 495, 22 November 2012
Posted on May 24th, 2013 by Danielle Miranda
It is without a doubt that we live in a meritocracy; i.e. a society that has a built in rank and opportunity based on certificates, degrees, and records to determine worth. This is not unique to the realm of science, where indeed we are pigeon holed by our degrees, but can be seen in all sectors of our society. However, we are not just bound by our degrees but by our institutions and our associations. While this may not be ideal for your self esteem, it establishes a simplification of social dynamics that is almost formulaic in nature. Given that we can not radically alter our scholastic training, from scientist to engineer; nor institutional associations, from Mayo to U of MN; we can assume those variables to be fixed. What is left in the equation is our associations. How can we rise above the mass of others who have obtained the same degrees and fit the same requirements for a given job? How can we rise above the meritocracy of civilized society? The answer is networking. I am not the first to promulgate this point and several others have done it better than I, so I will leave it to you to examine some of the other articles on this subject to get the larger picture. (Here’s just one) However, below are four simple points to help you on your way.
1. Set up a LinkedIn Profile. Connecting with others on professional networking sites like LinkedIn is like having a live Rolodex (that was this thing that those ancient scientists all had on their desks about 100 years ago that kept track of people’s information and business cards). All anyone has to do now is update their own profile and everyone else can see where you published and on what topic, what institution you are at, and what advanced training you've received. You can even easily provide a link to the PubMed abstract of your work. And many company job sites now use LinkedIn profiles to populate their applications, which will make applying for jobs that much easier. They are easy to update and show up on all the major search engines as well. Lastly, this is not Facebook, and does not need to be associated with your Facebook account so your friends and your associates can remain separate (Your associates don't need to know what your cat is up to these days and your friends have no idea what a chemokine receptor is).
2. Get a business card. A business card does not have to be that intricate. It should simply have your name, email, phone number, highest level degree, and title as well as any additional information that you think will quickly represent your skills. This small piece of paper is the key to networking efficiently. Having several in your pocket when you give a presentation, attend a meeting, or explain your poster will allow you to dole out your personal credentials to almost everyone. Even if they don't have a job for you, they may know someone who does. A grad student from Ohio State may talk to you at a poster session and take your card. Weeks later, his mentor may mention that he really needs a post doc with skill in tetramer construction and as it just so happens our dedicated graduate student might respond with, "You know, I met a student at the Super Amazing Science (SAS) Conference last month that does just that. And I think I have her card. Here you go." (It works exactly like this every single time).
3. Attend conferences and talk to people. (See above.) Don't just give your cards out, but get them in return. Sometimes just the act of distributing your polished piece of personal advertising is enough to elicit a card in return. Otherwise, it is perfectly okay to ask for one. If the contact doesn't have a card, write down their name and contact info in your smart phone for later use. And then, follow up on any leads that you have established. (Most of your very important PIs (VIPIs) love getting emails out of the blue from students asking about post doc opportunities that they can't afford to give out because the NIH failed to renew their R01). You will have to do more work than that, but this is typically the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I would first inquire before sending them your full CV, latest publication, and glossy glamour shots; but it doesn't hurt to inquire. And it never hurts to tell someone how cool you think they are (professionally speaking that is). Sometimes they will remember your name and sometimes they will be at the next SAS conference and you can reintroduce yourself and your willingness to work for peanuts for their greater glory.
4. Connect to people though social networking. It all circles back around to social media. We live in the internet age, which is a great advantage for the advancement of knowledge and network associations (as well as for finding pictures of cats). If you spend any sort of time getting to know someone in person, send them a networking request on LinkedIn. This is not too forward, you are not asking them over for pastries, you are saying, "I met you professionally and I would like to keep in touch." This is a perfectly legitimate thing to do and a lot easier than keeping a Rolodex, like they did in the time before penicillin. If you are really ambitious you can join groups with others that share your interests and make comments on others posts or post something yourself. This is another exercise in advertising, which just may pay off. But by and large, connecting with others via social media is a passive way to keep in touch and requires very little daily effort on your behalf.
This set of rules may seem simple and they are. The advent of social media and computers make maintaining associations rather easy. And, as knowledge workers, however busy our lives may be, it is always good to know those who are in our field and even better to know what they are up to. Early in your career these associations will help you get a job and get funding and later in your career they will help you do better science. Above all, networking allows you to be more than just a statistic in a meritocratic ranking system, but a person with soft skills and motivations that are hard to establish by looking at a piece of paper.
You can find me on LinkedIn (look me up and connect) or follow my blog at http://www.transductionist.com.
Posted on May 23rd, 2013 by Danielle Miranda
Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale offers a great graduate training experience. Some of the main areas of focus are metabolic and vascular biology, multiple myeloma, receptor signaling, molecular modeling, and cancer research. The smaller campus offers a close-knit feeling in which you interact with post-docs, technologists, and students from the other labs on a daily basis. You also get to know the principal investigators very well and can ask them for advice. Everyone is very friendly and willing to offer their expertise when trouble-shooting.
As for living in Scottsdale, I could not have made a better choice. I enjoy the beautiful sunsets and the surrounding mountains for hiking after a long day in the lab. Arizona is a beautiful state that has the Grand Canyon and is just a short trip to San Diego or Las Vegas. Mayo Graduate School offers a three-day visit to Jacksonville or Scottsdale to meet the students and investigators and to see if it is a possible fit for one of your rotations. This visit and rotation option is unique to Mayo Graduate School. All living accommodations are taken care of which include a furnished apartment and rental car. Jenny Ho, Arizona Education Manager of Operations, is friendly, knowledgeable, and easy to talk to if you have any questions. So if you get the chance, do not miss out on the opportunity to visit Mayo in Scottsdale!
Arizona Student Representative
Clinical and Translational Science PhD Candidate
Alright, experiment is almost up, timer is running low, and you only have time to read one more sentence. Give a Mayo Clinic in Florida rotation a chance. Now, those of you still reading are obviously procrastinating, so take this well deserved opportunity to hear me out. At the expense of sounding like a broken record/car salesperson, I just want to let you know that you have nothing to lose. I can attest. I'm a born and raised Minnesotan, and man, I do love that Midwest comfort. But there is also a thing called Southern comfort (and no, I am not referring to the alcohol). I went to my Mayo interview knowing very little about Mayo Clinic in Florida. But as an aspiring scientist, three things can really convince me (in no particular order): impressive top-tier research, passionate people, and free stuff (i.e. flight, housing, transportation, sun). So I gave it a chance (this is the rotation part). Many new friends, trips to the beach, hours in the lab, diverse restaurants, successful/unsuccessful experiments, weekday night trivia victories, insightful seminars, and empowering talks with faculty later, I'm still loving it. And the best part is, I still have 3 more years to go.
Florida Student Representative
Neurobiology of Disease PhD Student
Posted on May 10th, 2013 by Carl Gustafson
My name is Harrison AM and I am not unique. In fact, according to PubMed, there are at least three of me. Also, I cannot claim to be the only Harrison AM who has published on the subject of surgery. Or even surgical education…
For the Herasevich’s of the world this may not be an issue, but for the Harrison’s it is. In a world of increasingly sophisticated electronic medical records, unmanned drones, and shopping prediction software, why does the foundation of biomedical science authorship continue to operate on the premise that the non-random combination of letters we were assigned at birth might be unique? This premise would be hilarious, were it not true.
In addition to the generalized inconvenience, confusion, and frustration this problem causes, it poses increasingly significant challenges within the growing realm of biomedical sciences. For example, the computation of scientific ranking systems, such as the h-index, is riddled with inaccuracies . For the uninitiated, the h-index is a recent, but widely accepted metric for measuring the productivity and impact of individual scientists . Conceptually, this differs from citation indexing and impact factor, which, historically, were developed for measuring impact at the journal level . As another example, the biomedical literature is plagued with irregularities that extend beyond the manipulation of data [4, 5]. Examples include duplicate publishing, improper citation, lack of co-author consent to publish, and inappropriate omissions in authorship. Presumably, these issues extend into the realms of the resume, grant application, and tenure process.
Based on these observations, I propose PubMed allow biomedical authors to register for unique numerical identifiers, which would be linked to our non-random combination of letters, affectionately know as names. This system could function behind the scenes and thus need not be obtrusive. It would solve many of the problems I have outlined above, as well as the interesting phenomenon of the author name-change. We have unique identifiers for genes. Why not humans? Furthermore, there is already precedent for a similar system through Scopus. But who uses Scopus?
Unsurprisingly, my post-hoc analysis has revealed that I am by no means the first person to conceive of this simple-minded idea [6, 7]. In fact, this subject extends beyond the scope of biomedical research [8, 9]. However, for some reason, the idea has yet to take hold. Why is this? I believe it is simply the result of a lack of widespread dissemination and discussion of this idea. Thus, I write this essay with the specific readership of the Education in Diversity Blog in mind. It seems an appropriate forum to raise such an obvious and important issue that deeply affects us all.
In conclusion, due to a “clerical” error, I lament the loss of my prized, first-ever authorship to the sea that is Harrison A.
Andrew M. Harrison is a third-year M.D.-Ph.D. student in the Mayo Medical / Mayo Graduate Schools. He is originally from New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University in 2010. Andrew works in Dr. Vitaly Herasevich’s lab and his research focus is in the area of clinical informatics.
1. Phillip Broadwith. 2012. End of the road for h-index rankings. RCS’s Chemistry World: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2012/11/h-index-rankings-stop-chemist-chemistry
2. Hirsch JE. 2005. An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output. PNAS: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16275915
3. Garfield E. 1955. Citation indexes for science; a new dimension in documentation through association of ideas. Science: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14385826
4. Coats AJ. 2009. Ethical authorship and publishing. Int J Cardiol:
5. Retraction Watch blog “authorship issues” category: http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/category/by-reason-for-retraction/authorship-issues/
6. Richard Cave. 2006. Unique Author Identification. PLOS BLOGS: http://blogs.plos.org/plos/2006/11/unique-author-identification/
7. Enserink M. 2009. Scientific publishing. Are you ready to become a number? Science: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19325094
8. Madigan D, Genkin A, Lewis DD, Argamon S, Fradkin D, Ye L. 2005. Author identification on the large scale. Proc of the Meeting of the Classification Society of North America: http://dimacs.rutgers.edu/Research/MMS/PAPERS/authorid-csna05.pdf
9. De Vel O, Anderson A, Corney M, Mohay G. 2001. Mining e-mail content for author identification forensics. ACM Sigmod Record: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/8019/1/8019.pdf
Acknowledgement: Gustafson CT for helpful revisions.