Category: Basic Science


Immunity: More Than Just Antibodies and Vaccines

Since I graduated from medical school, new scientific developments in immunology have been occurring at a prodigious rate. I knew I could use a refresher course, and serendipity dropped one in my mailbox in the form of a review copy of the new book Immunity, by William E. Paul, MD, chief of the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy...

/ October 27, 2015

No, the Nobel Prize does not validate naturopathy or herbalism

This year's Nobel prize is an excellent case study that illustrates the problems with alternative medicine and proving just what science-based medicine can deliver.

/ October 8, 2015

“Liquid biopsies” for cancer screening: Life-saving tests, or overdiagnosis and overtreatment taken to a new level?

I’ve written many times about how the relationship between the early detection of cancer and decreased mortality from cancer is not nearly as straightforward as the average person—even the average doctor—thinks, the first time being in the very first year of this blog’s existence. Since then, the complexities and overpromising of various screening modalities designed to detect disease at an early, asymptomatic...

/ September 28, 2015

“Precision medicine”: Hope, hype, or both?

I am fortunate to have become a physician in a time of great scientific progress. Back when I was in college and medical school, the thought that we would one day be able to sequence the human genome (and now sequence hundreds of cancer genomes), to measure the expression of every gene in the genome simultaneously on a single “gene chip,” and...

/ August 31, 2015
An example of ductal carcinoma in situ.

How should we treat DCIS?

I’ve written more times than I can remember about the phenomenon of overdiagnosis and the phenomenon that is linked at the hip with it, overtreatment. Overdiagnosis is a problem that arises when large populations of asymptomatic, apparently healthy people are screened for a disease or a condition, the idea being that catching the disease at an earlier stage in its progression will...

/ August 23, 2015

“Aborted fetal tissue” and vaccines: Combining pseudoscience and religion to demonize vaccines

As hard as it is to believe after seven and a half years of existence and nearly 2,400 posts on SBM, every so often, something reminds me that we here at SBM haven’t discussed a topic that should be discussed. So it was a couple of weeks ago, when I saw a familiar name in a news story that wasn’t about vaccines....

/ August 17, 2015

The 21st Century Cures Act: The (Somewhat) Good, The (Mostly) Bad, and The (Very) Ugly

The approval of new drugs and medical devices is a process fraught with scientific, political, and ethical landmines. Inherent in any such process is an unavoidable conflict between rigorous science and safety on the one side, which tend to slow the process down by requiring large randomized clinical trials that can take years, versus forces that demand faster approval. For example, patients...

/ August 10, 2015

ASEA, ORMUS, and Alchemy

I got an e-mail from a woman who had read my article on ASEA, a multilevel marketing diet supplement that I characterized as an expensive way to buy water.  She had not tried ASEA products but was applying for a position as an accountant with the company, and she chastised me for not doing my due diligence and researching the new science...

/ July 28, 2015

Bastions of quackademic medicine: Georgetown University

We frequently discuss a disturbing phenomenon known as quackademic medicine. Basically, quackademic medicine is a phenomenon that has taken hold over the last two decades in medical academia in which once ostensibly science-based medical schools and academic medical centers embrace quackery. This embrace was once called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) but among quackademics the preferred term is now “integrative medicine.” Of...

/ July 27, 2015

Aging and Longevity: Science for Spring Chickens

We’re all going to die, but we don’t like to think about it. I’ll reach the proverbial threescore years and ten next month, so I’ve been thinking more about it, wishing I knew some reliable way to ensure that I would live many more years and remain fully functional until I suddenly collapsed like the Deacon’s wonderful one-hoss shay. There are myriad...

/ June 16, 2015