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Morning Rounds

Good morning! STAT reporter Eric Boodman here, filling in for Megan once again. 

Prominent cancer researcher quits after report on financial disclosures

The chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has resigned on the heels of a New York Times and ProPublica investigation that found he failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies on studies he authored in leading journals. ProPublica and the New York Times found that Dr. José Baselga didn’t report any financial ties — including links to Roche and several small biotechs — in dozens of papers he authored since 2013. “It is my hope that this situation will inspire a doubling down on transparency in our field,” Baselga said in his resignation letter

After months of debate, international declaration on fighting TB nears completion

After months of contentious negotiations, there’s a resolution in sight for an international declaration on tackling tuberculosis. On Sept. 26, the United Nations is holding the first high-level meeting on efforts to end TB. Governments have been hashing out a policy declaration ahead of that meeting for months. The U.S. caused a stir by pressing other nations to change language that would have given countries leeway to let public agencies or generic drug makers copy a patented medicine without a brand-name company’s permission. South Africa spoke up and the wording was tweaked so that countries will actively commit to make TB medications affordable. Governments have until 10 a.m. ET today to voice any objections, but so far, there aren’t any. 

One in 5 adults have chronic pain, CDC report finds

Chronic pain is among the most common reasons adults go to the doctor, but estimates of how common it is in the U.S. vary widely. Prompted by the federal government's National Pain Strategy, the CDC just released a more precise assessment. Analyzing data from over 17,000 in-person interviews, researchers estimated 20 percent of adults in the U.S. had chronic pain, and for 8 percent of adults, it was so severe that it prevented them from going about their daily lives most days over the past six months. That kind of severe pain was more prevalent among certain groups, including women, adults without private health insurance, and those living in poverty.

Dartmouth health researcher resigns over plagiarism dispute

Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, one of the country's top health policy scholars, has resigned from Dartmouth College after a school investigation found he’d committed research misconduct. Welch disputes that conclusion. In an email to colleagues yesterday announcing his resignation, he wrote, “I feel that I can no longer participate in the research misconduct process against me — as I fear my participation only serves to validate it.” Last month, an internal investigation at the college found that Welch, who was a professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, plagiarized material from two researchers for a 2016 paper in NEJM. More here

Inside STAT: Meet Stacy Cline Amin, the new top lawyer at the FDA



Stacy Cline Amin has spent years helping lawmakers to scrutinize the FDA. On Monday, she’ll switch sides to become its top lawyer, helping the agency respond to congressional inquiries and providing guidance to lawmakers working on FDA-related legislation. Former colleagues say Amin, currently a special assistant to President Trump in the White House, is level-headed, fair, and meticulous. While working for the Senate HELP Committee, one of Amin's highest-profile projects was an investigation of a drug preparation facility whose products became contaminated by fungus, killing dozens and sickening hundreds more. STAT's Ike Swetlitz has more here.

Prizes for the quirkiest research papers celebrate roller-coaster therapy and self-colonoscopy

How many calories does a cannibal consume? Might roller coasters have an effect on kidney stones? These were some of the research questions celebrated last night at the 28th Ig Nobel Prize ceremony — a parody of its more serious Swedish counterpart. The festivities at Harvard included deluges of paper airplanes and an opera with a cardiovascular theme. As silly as it might sound, the papers selected are, in fact, real. Others included an investigation into oenophiles’ capacity to smell out a fly in their wine, an evaluation of human saliva as a cleaning agent, and a few “lessons learned from self-colonoscopy.”

Zimbabwe finance minister launches crowdfunding campaign to combat cholera outbreak

Within his first week on the job, Zimbabwe's new finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced on Twitter a crowdfunding campaign to help combat the country's cholera outbreak. He provided a code on EcoCash — a money transfer app popular among Zimbabweans — so citizens could contribute directly from their mobile phones. It's an odd move, experts say, for public officials to ask for donations to government coffers. U.N. officials have previously said they’re helping to provide hygienic products and clean water to residents in the country to stem the disease's spread. Yesterday, the death toll had reached 26, according to Reuters.

What to read around the web today

  • Health researcher calls on NIH to retract statement about alcohol and cancer risk. STAT
  • The future of chicken, without antibiotics. The Atlantic
  • Half of transgender teen boys have attempted suicide, according to a new study. Buzzfeed
  • On waste plastics at sea, she finds unique microbial multitudes. Quanta Magazine
  • Colorado inmates reach a deal for access to hepatitis C drugs. STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend,

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Friday, September 14, 2018


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