Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Join STAT reporters Helen Branswell and Eric Boodman tomorrow for a free chat on researchers working to quell vaccine hesitancy. Register here and submit any questions you may have in advance.

Autism advocacy group ends partnership with ‘Sesame Street’ 

The nonprofit Autistic Self Advocacy Network announced yesterday that it was ending a partnership with “Sesame Street” over its use of material ASAN argued further stigmatized autistic children and adults. “Sesame Street” consulted with ASAN to develop the autistic character Julia and the See Amazing project for autism awareness. Despite ASAN’s protests, “Sesame Street” continued airing PSAs with controversial material from Autism Speaks, including material that ASAN claimed treated autistic people as “burdens” on their families. ASAN called on “Sesame Street” to sever its ties with Autism Speaks and to promote inclusive programs. In response, “Sesame Street” told me in a statement that it “continue[s] to work with a wide range of advisors and organizations to ensure that [the See Amazing campaign’s] resources meet the needs of families and promote acceptance and inclusion.”

Half of NCI cancer center directors received industry payments in 2017 

About half of all the physician directors of the National Cancer Institute’s centers received more than $4.4 million in industry payments, according to a new survey. Here’s more: 

  • The context: In 2017, there were 53 physician directors across NCI’s 16 centers. Twenty-six received industry payments, a rate that’s lower than industry payments to chiefs of academic oncology units. 

  • Payment type: Some $2.5 million in 2017 were payments unrelated to research — including consulting fees — and were distributed among 22 directors. Twelve directors received close to $1.9 million in research payments. 

  • Payment amount: The largest non-research-related payment to a single director was for nearly $2.3 million for a faculty or speaker. The largest research payment was for $863,000.

More than half of articles in top psychiatry journals include some kind of ‘spin’

A small analysis of psychology and psychiatry clinical trials published in top journals finds that 56% of them highlight a treatment or therapy as beneficial, even if the results were not statistically significant, a quality the researchers call “spin.” Of the 116 articles the researchers analyzed, 65 included some kind of spin and about half of them had the spin in the conclusion of the abstract. The scientists also found that the presence of industry funding didn’t have an effect on whether the study included some kind of spin. Journal editors should invite article reviewers to also assess studies for the presence of spin, the researchers suggest. And more research is needed to identify whether articles with spin influence clinical decisions or funding for future studies, the study authors write. 

Inside STAT: Ann Curry is going to air patients’ medical mysteries on live TV


The patients’ doctors haven’t been able to help with their problems — and so those people are hoping that the power of many minds in a TV audience and beyond can help them. From one person who gained 90 pounds in one year to a medical student dealing with kidney failure-like symptoms, these patients will appear in a new show being hosted by former “Today” show host Ann Curry. Called “Chasing the Cure,” the program will have patients presenting their problems to a panel of doctors and experts, with audience members weighing in on possible diagnoses. But there are a number of ethical questions that the show has to grapple with, including responsibly sharing health information. Read more here from STAT’s Megan Thielking, who spoke with Curry to learn more about the show, which premieres this week.

High temps? Think twice about reaching for that fan 

Rising temperature may automatically have us reaching for an electric fan, but a new study suggests that that fan may do us more harm than good. And the reason may lie with the heat index, which is a measure of temperature and humidity. Researchers had a small number of men sit for two hours in either very hot and dry (heat index of 114 F) or very hot and humid conditions (index of 156 F) — some with fans and others without fans. Those who used fans in hot and dry conditions had worse measures of body heat, including cardiovascular strain, whereas those in humid conditions showed an improvement in most measures except for sweating. Public health organizations including the CDC advise against fans for extreme heat, but this study suggests that fans may be OK in certain conditions. However, the study was conducted only in young men, so the findings cannot be generalized to apply to women, children, or the elderly. 

Remembering science editor David Corcoran

David Corcoran, a former science editor at The New York Times, died on Sunday. He was 72, and the cause was leukemia. Losing a member of the science journalism community is always tough, and several at STAT had a professional connection with Corcoran. “Day after day, year after year, David Corcoran sat across a conference table from me and other colleagues at Times’ news meetings, where he would passionately promote science stories for the front page,” Rick Berke, STAT’s executive editor who spent decades at the Times with Corcoran, tells me. “Ever gently and cheerfully, David delivered a daily tutorial about the latest studies or clinical trials and why they were important — or not,” Berke says. And whether for his thoughtful critiquing of stories or his side gig as a restaurant critic, Corcoran will be missed by many. Read more about him in this farewell from his former colleagues at the Knight Center for Science Journalism.

What to read around the web today

  • The search for an easier way to stop taking sleeping pills. The Wall Street Journal
  • Why doctors should organize. The New Yorker
  • Deadly germ research is shut down at army lab over safety concerns. The New York Times
  • Why parents are turning to a controversial treatment for food allergies. Undark
  • The criminal justice system is bad for your health, warns New York City’s health department. Buzzfeed News

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Tuesday, August 6, 2019


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