Journal Club 2015

A new semester, time for new cool stuff. I am starting a Epi Journal Club for medical students. Here is the recruitment text.

Do you want to learn how to read medical literature?

What is a Kaplan Meier Curve? What is the difference between a case-control study and a case-cohort study? How do you get rid of confounding? What is confounding anyway! Or just in short, what distinguishes a good paper from a bad paper? Do you want to know? Here is a start:

Bob Siegerink is a clinical epidemiologist from the Centrum für Schlaganfallforschung Berlin (CSB) and he is starting a journal club for medical students (5th semester and up) where participants will be discussing both good and bad papers from both ancient and recent history. Although there is no previous experience needed, students have to be highly motivated as this is a fun, but hardcore, crash course in clinical epidemiology. All discussion will be held in English.

I have no clue on how many student will react: the deadline is soon, but this text will end up in the inbox of a lot of students. And as the level of science education in their curricula is limited compared to the Dutch curricula, they might not be triggered by this topic. Or they will… Who knows? I will use some of my previous teaching material, but I guess I need to adapt the content based on the number of participants and their level or knowledge, so everything is possible. I will keep you posted!

– update 18-4-2015: 11 participants… not bad for a first time! we start in 10 days. For the programme, click here

The pharmaceutical industry, both good AND bad

As said, I spoke at the “Gezondheidszorg in Vogelvlucht” symposium, organised by the Leidse Co-raad for all students doing their clinical rotations on the topic of the role of the pharmaceutical industry in medicine.

Previously I told you that I wondered what kind of presentation it would be. During the preparation the story became clear to me… there is no way to choose between good or bad… they are both. How come? There are some serious problems in the way medicine is organised how it comes to new decisions on treatments. Missing data from trials indeed hamper the way doctors can decide what treatment to give and which not. So, I did talk about the book Bad Pharma and our Bad Pharma Symposium. But this was not all. Science has taken a beating lately, for example in the Economist article from October. And while preparing this talk I learned that Science and pharmaceutcal companies can learn a lot from each other. 

During the presentation I used two books: Bad Pharma, which can be bought everywhere, or borrowed from the Walaeus Library of the LUMC, and Arrowsmith, a great coming of age novel by Sinclair Lewis, about a young scientist doctor who is struggling with the questions young doctors/scientist all encounter. I will write a longer post on that novel somewhat later, but in the mean time you can download the free e-book here

A pdf from my lecture can be downloaded here: Big Pharma co raad symposium  2013 (pdf)

The pharmaceutical industry, a blessing in disguise?

I will speak at the “Gezondheidszorg in Vogelvlucht” symposium, organised by the Leidse Co-raad for all students doing their clinical rotations on the topic of the role of the pharmaceutical industry in medicine. Although I do not have any experience with working with commercial partners, I do have an opinion on such collaborations. The stories that were published before on this website might give you a hint: The Diane-35 story (part 1, 2 and 3) and the “Bad Pharma” the book by Ben Goldacre.

However, in the preparation of the course that started today I keep on wondering whether it’s all that bad. I guess it’s not. Sure, there is a lot to change in the way new medications find their way to their patients. Also, I believe that at some level commercial interest should not be the driving force of medicine. But there are lessons to learn from pharmaceutical companies: their R&D departments are highly effective and come up with great stuff. Also, companies like these have adopted strict protocols which might be used as a template to order the flow of data in academia to minimise sloppy science! These thoughts will keep me busy for the next couple of days while i prepare for my talk. To be continued!