Open Educational Resources – Hewlett Foundation

“In 2002, the Hewlett Foundation began investing in open educational resources (OER), which are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.

We were one of the first institutions to invest in the field, at a time when MIT’s Open Courseware initiative and Creative Commons were in their infancy. Since then, the foundation has partnered with several content producers as well as technical assistance advisors and policy groups to support the creation of an ecosystem of OER groups.

In addressing the costs and quality of learning in the U.S. and the dearth of high-quality course materials, we see an unprecedented opportunity to scale OER and unleash its potential to improve education for the future. Our grantmaking supports mainstream adoption and effective use of openly licensed educational resources that provide students around the world greater access to a world class education….”

Latest Article Alert from Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

The following new article has just been published in Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Research article
Effectiveness of workers’ general health examination in Korea by health examination period and compliance: retrospective cohort study using nationwide data
Eom H, Myong J, Kim E, Choi B, Park S, Kang Y
Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Latest Article Alert from Acta Neuropathologica Communications

The following new articles have just been published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications

Methodology article
Isolation of primary microglia from the human post-mortem brain: effects of ante- and post-mortem variables
Mizee M, Miedema S, van der Poel M, Adelia , Schuurman K, van Strien M, Melief J, Smolders J, Hendrickx D, Heutinck K, Hamann J, Huitinga I

Open source lessons for synthetic biology – O’Reilly Radar

“So, that’s software. How does open source work in biology? Examples lie on a spectrum ranging from “garage” to “academic lab.”


Biohackers, for one, in many ways resemble the original “two nerds in a garage” origins of the computer movement. Biohackers use open source protocols and designs for equipment, such as PCR to set up personal laboratories that would normally be beyond the scope of casual tinkerers. This is assisted by recent attempts to standardize genetic elements, as seen, for example, in the BioBrick movement (which curates various DNA sequences designed to easily clone together into a biological circuit) or the OpenPlant collaborative initiative (which promotes an open source approach to plant synthetic biology). Supported by a surprising number of open, collaborative labs around the world, these groups aim to bring about the same sort of changes as were seen with the start of the PC era.


At the other end, we have institutions such as CambiaLabs and the BiOS Initiative, which aim to support open source IP initiatives for biological systems via collaborative licensing agreements. A good example of their work would be the Transbacter project, an attempt to perform an end-run around the multitude of Agrobacteria-mediated plant engineering techniques patents by identifying other vectors — which were then released to the community.


Both of these are attempts to democratize biological research and development, and tie into a general increase in popular interest over biotechnology — as can be seen by the success of the crowdfunded “Glowing Plants” synthetic biology project….”

Synthetic biology: Cultural divide : Nature News & Comment

“[Andrew] Hessel represents an increasingly impatient and outspoken faction of synthetic biology that believes that the patent-heavy intellectual-property model of biotechnology is hopelessly broken. His plan relies instead on freely available software and biological parts that could be combined in innovative ways to create individualized cancer treatments — without the need for massive upfront investments or a thicket of protective patents. He calls himself a “catalyst for open-source synthetic biology”.

This openness is one vision of synthetic biology’s future. Another is more akin to what happens at big pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Merck and Roche, where revenues from blockbuster drugs fund massive research initiatives behind locked doors. For such businesses, the pursuit of new drugs and other medical advances depends heavily on protecting discoveries through patents and restrictive licensing agreements….”


“OpenPlant is a joint initiative between the University of Cambridge, John Innes Centre and the Earlham Institute, funded by the BBSRC and EPSRC as part of the UK Synthetic Biology for Growth programme. 

Synthetic Biology offers the prospect of reprogrammed biological systems for improved and sustainable bioproduction. While early efforts in the field have been directed at microbes, the engineering of plant systems offers even greater potential benefits. Plants are already cultivated globally at low cost, harvested on the giga-tonne scale, and routinely used to produce the widest range of biostuffs, from fibres, wood, oils, sugar, fine chemicals, drugs to food.

There is urgent need to improve our ability to reprogram crop metabolism and plant architecture in the face of global threats from new pathogens, climate change, soil degradation, restricted land use, salinity and drought. The next generation of DNA  tools for “smart” breeding of crop systems should be shared – to promote global innovation and equitable access to sustainable bioeconomies….”

Opening Meta – Hypothesis

“A serious piece of scholarly infrastructure is being made open, free and effectively non-profit. Meta has built a cutting edge system to mine scholarly papers new and old, and allow the data to be employed in diverse ways–predicting discoveries before they’re made, projecting the future impact of papers just hours old, and unlocking the potential for innumerable applications applying computation at scale across scientific literature. In what must have taken extraordinary patience, persistence and a lot of finesse, they managed to secure access to some of the most strategic closed content in the scholarly world.”

List of federal government agencies told not to communicate with the public

“For the past decade, the Sunlight Foundation has advocated for all branches of the federal government to use modern technologies to inform and engage the American people, from social media to websites. We adamantly oppose measures that limit disclosing documents and data to the public, particularly the publication of scientific papers, research and analysis, or public access to government scientists or technologists that can explain the findings.

The following list are reported formal actions to limit public communication at federal agencies….”

Latest Article Alert from AIDS Research and Therapy

The following new articles have just been published in AIDS Research and Therapy

Late presentation increases risk and costs of non-infectious comorbidities in people with HIV: an Italian cost impact study
Guaraldi G, Zona S, Menozzi M, Brothers T, Carli F, Stentarelli C, Dolci G, Santoro A, Da Silva A, Rossi E, Falutz J, Mussini C
AIDS Research and Therapy 2017,