Advancing The Science

Mayo Clinic Medical Science Blog

Archive for November, 2010

Proton Beam Program Also Advances Research

Posted on November 16th, 2010 by Admin

By now you may have heard about Mayo Clinic's plan to initiate a proton bean therapy program. It will consist of two centers, one on the hospital campus in Arizona (Phoenix) and one on the Minnesota campus (Rochester). These will use pencil beam therapy, which is a more precise form of proton therapy treatment that allows greater control over radiation doses, shorter treatment times and fewer side effects. The beam can be targeted so the radiation precisely hits the tumor, while minimizing any damage to surrounding tissue. This approach is especially valuable in cancer treatment for children. It is also believed to be more cost effective in selected patients. The first patients will be treated in 2014 or early 2015.

While advancing patient care, the facilities will also allow for advancing research in this new therapeutic approach. Robert Foote, M.D., Mayo radiologist says investigators will be planning clinical trials that will help physicians determine the most effective approaches for each patient.


Read the news release on proton beam therapy.

National Science Writers Look Ahead

Posted on November 8th, 2010 by Admin

I'm sitting in a large ballroom at Yale University with roughly 600 fellow scribblers. They are here (those who could get here given their restrictive travel budgets) listening to the president of the National Academy of Sciences, among other noted researchers. We have heard about deep brain stimulation, feathers on dinosaurs, regeneration of organs, particle physics, and changes in the atmosphere among dozens of workshops on scientific findings. In this room are students, reporters, public information officers, and freelance writers.They gather every year to do this because they feel strongly about improving their craft and training newcomers to the field. They are the people who listen carefully to researchers, read the scientific papers and explain what it means for the rest of us. Without them the existing gap between science and the general public would be even wider than it is.

There is concern here about future funding for science and how science is regarded by the public and by those in leadership.  You probably agree that science is important to society or you wouldn't be reading a science blog. Still, it's worth repeating. The public's understanding of science and how scientists work has slipped in recent years as newspapers have cut back on space and staffers. "What science writers do is more important than ever," could be the subtitle of this conference, as I've heard it so many times in the last three days. New initiatives for outreach and broader public education are being discussed. About half of the professionals here write about medicine and health. They range from the Associated Press, broadcast networks, and major daily papers to the realm of online magazines and blogs. Their common traits are curiosity, a strong interest - if not love - of science of some kind, and the ability to put what they find into compelling prose. Their overarching concern seems to be one of accuracy and base their words on data, properly understood. And they hope society will continue to find value in that.