News

Open Source Tools Provide An Economic Advantage For Science

Free and open source software (FOSS) and the distributed digital manufacturing of free and open source hardware (FOSH) have shown great promise for developing custom scientific tools. For some time now, FOSH has provided scientists a high return on investment. In fact, my previous research in the Open Source Labreported substantial economic savings from using these technologies. However, the open source design paradigm has since grown by orders of magnitude; now, there are examples of open source technology for science in the vast majority of disciplines, and several resources, including the Journal of Open Hardware, are dedicated to publishing them.

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How Breaking My Back Led Me To Open Source

Open source gave a voice and a community to someone coping with the aftermath of a major injury, and eventually led to a new career...Breaking my back was a pivotal experience on many fronts. It scared the hell out of me. But the road to recovery helped me become a more resilient, courageous, and patient human being. Interestingly, it was this incident that also led me to the world of open source. Living with chronic pain is lonely, but I found my voice and a community via WordPress. Now, nearly eight years later, I'm working for the number one open source company in the world.

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Data Management for Large-scale COVID-19 Immunization: This is all not as simple as it seems

There is a global race for the development of a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Finding a vaccine that works and receives approval is only part of the process. There are a series of other steps that need to be taken so that the vaccine can be delivered. These include the mass production of the vaccine, shipment, administration and record-keeping. This may be even more complex as there may be several vaccines. In this article we review some of these issues with a particular focus on the United States.

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Radiology Initiatives Illustrate Uses for Open Data and Open AI research

Fans of data in health care often speculate about what clinicians and researchers could achieve by reducing friction in data sharing. What if we had easy access to group repositories, expert annotations and labels, robust and consistent metadata, and standards without inconsistencies? Since 2017, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has been displaying a model for such data sharing. That year marked RSNA's first AI challenge. RSNA has worked since then to make the AI challenge an increasingly international collaboration. Organizers of each challenge curate and annotate medical imaging studies and ask the research community to come up with models to answer important questions.

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Extreme Wildfires Can Create Their Own Dangerous Weather, Including Fire Tornadoes - Here's How

It might sound like a bad movie, but extreme wildfires can create their own weather - including fire tornadoes. It happened in California as a heat wave helped to fuel hundreds of wildfires across the region, many of them sparked by lightning. One fiery funnel cloud on Aug. 15 was so powerful, the National Weather Service issued what's believed to be its first fire tornado warning. So, what has to happen for a wildfire to get so extreme that it spins off tornadoes? As professors who study wildfires and weather, we can offer some insights.

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Report on ONC’s Working Session on Patient Identity and Matching

On Monday, August 31, I attended the final Working Session on Patient Identity and Matching. This virtual event was hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). This Working Session was a followup to an earlier session back in June 2020. The event last week had over 300 attendees and covered a wide range of topics and technologies related to patient identity and matching. These ONC Working Sessions are being driven by requirements that are part of the 21st Century Cures Act as well as a Congressional request from December 2019 to continue to "...evaluate the effectiveness of current [patient identity and matching] methods and recommend actions that increase the likelihood of an accurate match of patients to their health care data." Much of the focus of this study has been on whether a national patient identifier should be implemented in the US.

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What Western States Can Learn From Native American Wildfire Management Strategies

News media coverage of wildfires commonly frames them as "natural disasters" - dangerous elements of the natural world over which humans have little control. The language of climate change, fear of fire and the sense that it has become inevitable can be overwhelming, leaving people with the view that little can be done to manage these events. But in fact, people aren't helpless. While fires can be dangerous, they are inevitable and necessary in many ecosystems, and humans have long adapted to them. Across North America, indigenous peoples have actively managed forest ecosystems through the use of fire. Euro-American settlers were struck by the rich biodiversity of California's forests, woodlands and prairies, but they didn't understand that indigenous people's use of fire was responsible for them.

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The Wrong Legacies of Health Information Technology

I read two articles this week that got me thinking, Robert Charette's "Inside the Hidden World of Legacy IT Systems" (IEEE Spectrum) and Douglas Holt's "Cultural Innovation" (Harvard Business Review). Both deal with what I'll call legacy thinking. It's a particular problem for healthcare...If you are in healthcare and rely on legacy systems, you're in trouble. If you are in healthcare and are not acutely aware of what your Achilles heel is, someone else is going to exploit it. Even if you are a new healthcare entrant with more modern technologies but still based on the current ideology, your impact is going to be limited.

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Approval Of A Coronavirus Vaccine Would Be Just The Beginning - Huge Production Challenges Could Cause Long Delays

The race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is well underway. It's tempting to assume that once the first vaccine is approved for human use, all the problems of this pandemic will be immediately solved. Unfortunately, that is not exactly the case. Developing a new vaccine is only the first part of the complex journey that's supposed to end with a return to some sort of normal life. Producing hundreds of millions of vaccines for the U.S. - and billions for the world as a whole - will be no small feat. There are many technical and economic challenges that will need to be overcome somehow to produce millions of vaccines as fast as possible.

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The Appeal of Graph Databases for Health Care

A lot of valuable data can be represented as graphs. Genealogical charts are a familiar example: they represent people as boxes, connected by lines that represent parent/child or marriage relationships. In mathematics and computer science, graphs have become a discipline all their own. Now their value for health care is emerging. Graph computing made a significant advance this past February in the form of a Graph Data Science (GDS) library for the free and open source Neo4j graph database. Graph databases are proving their value in clinical research and public health; I wonder whether they can also boost analytics for providers. This article explains what's special about graph databases, and some applications in health care highlighted by recent webinars offered by the Neo4j company.

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