Research in speech recognition and synthesis over the past several decades has brought speech technology to a point where it is being used in "real-world" applications. However, despite the progress, the perception remains that the current technology is not flexible enough to allow easy voice communication with machines. The focus of speech research is now on producing systems that are accurate and robust but that do not impose unnecessary constraints on the user. This chapter takes a critical look at the shortcomings of the current speech recognition and synthesis algorithms, discusses the technical challenges facing research, and examines the new directions that research in speech recognition and synthesis must take in order to form the basis of new solutions suitable for supporting a wide range of applications.
From 1955 through early 1963, millions of people were inadvertently exposed to simian virus 40 (SV40) as a contaminant of poliovirus vaccines; the virus had been present in the monkey kidney cultures used to prepare the vaccines and had escaped detection. SV40 was discovered in 1960 and subsequently eliminated from poliovirus vaccines. This article reviews current knowledge about SV40 and considers public responses to reports in the media. SV40 is a potent tumour virus with broad tissue tropism that induces tumours in rodents and transforms cultured cells from many species. It is also an important laboratory model for basic studies of molecular processes in eukaryotic cells and mechanisms of neoplastic transformation. SV40 neutralizing antibodies have been detected in individuals not exposed to contaminated poliovirus vaccines. There have been many reports of detection of SV40 DNA in human tumours, especially mesotheliomas, brain tumours and osteosarcomas; and DNA sequence analyses have ruled out the possibility that the viral DNA in tumours was due to laboratory contamination or that the virus had been misidentified. However, additional studies are necessary to prove that SV40 is the cause of certain human cancers. A recently published review article evaluated the status of the field and received much media attention. The public response emphasized that there is great interest in the possibility of health risks today from vaccinations received in the past.
A postal questionnaire study was carried out in an urban general practice to determine the effect of the introductory letter being sent by the participants' own general practitioner compared with that from a letter sent directly from a research unit. By sequential sampling 409 individuals aged between 40 and 59 were assigned to one of two groups. The people in one group were written to by their own general practitioner and those in the other by a doctor from a research unit. Husbands and wives were paired and were always sent the same letter. A second letter was sent to nonresponders after one month. The response rate to the general practitioner was significantly higher than that to the doctor in the research unit (85% compared with 75%) and differed by age and sex. The results have important implications for other research workers and suggest that general practitioners are in a key position in the conduct of medical and epidemiological research.
Because the effects of epigenetic (gene-environment interaction) changes have been associated with numerous adverse health states, the study of epigenetic measures provides exciting research opportunities for biobehavioral scientists. However, recruitment for studies focusing on any aspect of genetics poses challenges. Multiple factors, including lack of knowledge regarding a research study, have been identified as barriers to recruitment. Strengthening the informed consent process through extended discussion has been found to be effective in recruiting for research studies in general, yet there is a paucity of information that focused on such a recruitment strategy for epigenetic studies. In this paper, we share our experiences with strategies to strengthen the informed consent process as well as provide samples of materials developed to heighten potential participants' understanding of epigenetics, in 4 epigenetic research studies with women from diverse backgrounds experiencing a range of health issues. The combined enrollment success rate for epigenetic studies using the process was 89% with participants representing a diverse population. We posit that carefully developed recruitment scripts provided a foundation for improving potential participants' understanding of the research project. Easy to understand illustrations of the epigenetic process provided a basis for active engagement and encouraged individual questions.
There has been renewed emphasis on research following the Calman recommendations for higher training. It is often considered essential for progression in training to have participated in research projects and to have some publications to one's credit. Orthopaedic surgery is usually thought to lag behind other disciplines in this respect. It was decided to conduct a review of the research output of a cohort of orthopaedic consultants in Great Britain to obtain baseline information for future comparisons. A group of surgeons who graduated at least 25 years ago was chosen as it was felt this would provide the pattern of research output throughout the surgical career of the cohort. The type of publication and the various factors that may affect research output were studied. There was a significant difference in the output of consultants working in teaching hospitals and large centres compared to those in district general hospitals. Is the soil as important as the seed?
This paper provides a concise but comprehensive review of research on religion/spirituality (R/S) and both mental health and physical health. It is based on a systematic review of original data-based quantitative research published in peer-reviewed journals between 1872 and 2010, including a few seminal articles published since 2010. First, I provide a brief historical background to set the stage. Then I review research on R/S and mental health, examining relationships with both positive and negative mental health outcomes, where positive outcomes include well-being, happiness, hope, optimism, and gratefulness, and negative outcomes involve depression, suicide, anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse, delinquency/crime, marital instability, and personality traits (positive and negative). I then explain how and why R/S might influence mental health. Next, I review research on R/S and health behaviors such as physical activity, cigarette smoking, diet, and sexual practices, followed by a review of relationships between R/S and heart disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, immune functions, endocrine functions, cancer, overall mortality, physical disability, pain, and somatic symptoms. I then present a theoretical model explaining how R/S might influence physical health. Finally...
Recent guidelines from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandate the inclusion of adequate numbers of women in clinical trials. Ought such standards to apply internationally? Walzer's theory of justice is brought to bear on the problem, the first use of the theory in research ethics, and it argues for broad application of the principle of adequate representation. A number of practical conclusions for research ethics committees (RECs) are outlined. Eligibility criteria in clinical trials ought to be justified by trial designers. Research ethics committees ought to question criteria that seem to exclude unnecessarily women from research participation. The issue of adequate representation should be construed broadly, so as to include consideration of the representation of the elderly, persons with HIV, mental illness and substance abuse disorders in clinical research.
Translational research is conducted to achieve a predefined set of economic or societal goals. As a result, investment decisions on where available resources have the highest potential in achieving these goals have to be made. In this paper, we first describe how multicriteria decision analysis can assist in defining the decision context and in ensuring that all relevant aspects of the decision problem are incorporated in the decision making process. We then present the results of a case study to support priority setting in a translational research consortium aimed at reducing the burden of disease of type 2 diabetes. During problem structuring, we identified four research alternatives (primary, secondary, tertiary microvascular, and tertiary macrovascular prevention) and a set of six decision criteria. Scoring of these alternatives against the criteria was done using a combination of expert judgement and previously published data. Lastly, decision analysis was performed using stochastic multicriteria acceptability analysis, which allows for the combined use of numerical and ordinal data. We found that the development of novel techniques applied in secondary prevention would be a poor investment of research funds. The ranking of the remaining alternatives was however strongly dependent on the decision maker's preferences for certain criteria.
Risk is assessed on the basis of assumptions, but this practice might not be well received by the general public. To avoid miscommunication, the assumptions should be stated clearly in reporting the results. Recently, a report on an assessment of the cancer risk associated with consumption of oysters caused a panic among consumers in Taiwan and produced significant effects on related industries. A group of researchers measured the arsenic content in oysters in the Taiwan area and conducted a cancer risk assessment accordingly. The results, published in a research article in an international journal, included a lifetime cancer risk estimate of 5.10/10(-4) as calculated based on the assumption that a person consumes oysters with the highest arsenic level (19.3 mg/g dry weight) at the highest rate (139 g/day) for 30 years. A national newspaper in Taiwan translated part of the article and published results that focused on the finding that this estimate was more than 500 times higher than what would be considered acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As a result, most consumers stopped purchasing oysters, and the related industries suffered substantial losses. The newspaper's omission of the key assumptions in the risk assessment and the extreme assumptions made in the risk assessment led to this tragedy. This event demonstrated the importance of careful communication of risk assessment results.
The majority of nurses surveyed used the library on a regular but limited basis to obtain information needed in caring for or making decisions about their patients. A minority indicated that the libraries in their own institutions totally met their information needs. In fact, only 4% depended on the library to stay abreast of new information and developments in the field. Many of the nurses had their own journal subscriptions, which could account in part for the limited use of libraries and the popularity of the professional journal as the key information source. This finding correlates with the research of Binger and Huntsman, who found that 95% of staff development educators relied on professional journal literature to keep up with current information in the field, and only 45% regularly monitored indexing-and-abstracting services. The present study also revealed that nurses seek information from colleagues more than from any other source, supporting the findings of Corcoran-Perry and Graves. Further research is necessary to clarify why nurses use libraries on a limited basis. It appears, as Bunyan and Lutz contend, that a more aggressive approach to marketing the library to nurses is needed. Further research should include an assessment of how the library can meet the information needs of nurses for both research and patient care. Options to be considered include offering library orientation sessions for new staff nurses...
We examined the range and nature of investigators' communication and relationship building as they recruit minority participants in their research. Semistructured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 33 investigators conducting research with human participants. The response rate was 77%. Investigators described several kinds of relationships that are formed or called upon when including minority participants in research. The relationships ranged from study-related, short-term interactions geared solely to facilitate recruitment to others that were longer term, extending beyond a particular project. The data suggest that a range of relationships is important as investigators seek to include minority populations in research. These relationships can both facilitate the recruitment process as well as aid in the interpretation of research findings.
The National Association of Physicians for the Environment (NAPE) has assumed a leadership role in protecting environmental health in recent years. The Committee of Biomedical Research Leaders was convened at the recent NAPE Leadership Conference: Biomedical Research and the Environment held on 1--2 November 1999, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. This report summarizes the discussion of the committee and its recommendations. The charge to the committee was to raise and address issues that will promote and sustain environmental health, safety, and energy efficiency within the biomedical community. Leaders from every important research sector (industry laboratories, academic health centers and institutes, hospitals and care facilities, Federal laboratories, and community-based research facilities) were gathered in this committee to discuss issues relevant to promoting environmental health. The conference and this report focus on the themes of environmental stewardship, sustainable development and "best greening practices." Environmental stewardship, an emerging theme within and outside the biomedical community, symbolizes the effort to provide an integrated, synthesized, and concerted effort to protect the health of the environment in both the present and the future. The primary goal established by the committee is to promote environmentally responsible leadership in the biomedical research community. Key outcomes of the committee's discussion and deliberation were a) the need for a central organization to evaluate...
What makes a research project ethical? A series of criteria need to be satisfied. Difficulties arise when only some of them can be satisfied or, as in the case of this trial, when two of them are mutually exclusive. The criteria are that the research is aimed at obtaining a desirable end, that the research subjects will not be harmed by being in the trial, and that the research subjects are consulted before going enrolled into the research.
A new draft code of conduct for research involving humans aims to bring a fresh vision to the ethics field. The code is a joint endeavour of the Medical Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and supersedes all three agencies' earlier ethics statements. Once the draft code is revised and approved, likely by the end of the year, investigators will have a more refined understanding of the ethical limits of acceptable research.
PURPOSE: Several authorities have documented a significant decrease in support for modern eye pathology/pathology research laboratories. Indeed, many laboratories have closed or suffered marked cutbacks. The purpose of this report is to ask why this is so and to seek a possible means for reversing this trend. METHODS: Observations from the senior author's experience and a case from author's facility are analyzed. RESULTS: There are several reasons for ocular pathologists' difficulties, such as financial problems, lack of vision, personality conflicts, and problems with the departmental administration. Until recently, most research and development in several subspecialty fields of ophthalmology, including biodevices research, has been done primarily by engineers and in-house workers in industry. This precludes proper independent, nonbiased control and guidance from academia. Most ocular pathologists have not participated in this relatively new and wide-open field. CONCLUSIONS: We suggest a new realm of activity for today's newly trained ocular pathologists. Based on personal experience of two decades of fruitful collaboration with industry, we believe that ocular pathologists are uniquely trained to apply their expertise to various new fields of research that most pathologists today have not utilized. An important example is research on clinicopathological aspects of implantable biodevices. In addition...
Recent advances in molecular and cellular biology allow for measurement of biologic events or substances that may provide markers of exposure, effect, or susceptibility in humans. The application of these new and emerging techniques to environmental health offers the possibility of significantly reducing the uncertainties that traditionally hamper risk assessments. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health research program emphasizes the validation of appropriate biologic markers and their application to high-priority Agency issues. The rationale for EPA's biomarker research program is presented, and future research directions are discussed. Exposure biomarkers will receive most of the research emphasis in the near term, particularly body burden indicators of exposure to high-priority chemicals, such as benzene, ozone, selected heavy metals, and organophosphate pesticides. Research on effects biomarkers will attempt to validate the relationship between the observed biological effects and adverse health consequences in humans, especially for cancer, pulmonary toxicity, immunotoxicity, and reproductive/developmental toxicity.
Regional research committees vary so widely in size, composition, and their methods of judging proposals that the standards of adjudication may also vary. Once the research has started it tends to be poorly monitored, and comparatively little attempt is made to discover whether the inexperienced researcher's ability has been promoted. Fostering the research spirit entails more than the provision of funds, and some regional health authorities may need to establish more formal ways of supervising and evaluating the research they support.
Health expenditures are rising inexorably; health status shows relatively little gain; technological possibilities are outstripping our ability or willingness to provide a commensurate level of resources. Clinical and administrative managers face increasingly difficult choices among alternative interventions in attempting to resolve these problems. If health services research is to succeed as a tool for assisting these decisions, clinicians, administrators, and researchers must view it as an integral part of management. This paper describes this concept of health services research and its implementation by the VA HSR&D Service, results from 1981 to date, and future directions. Four programs implement the Service's system to make relevant, valid information accessible to VA staff who can use it to improve veterans' health care: Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) Program; HSR&D Field Program, which implements the Service's mission in various local areas VA-wide; Special Projects Program, responsive to system-wide issues, including technology assessment and transfer; and Resources Program, the Service's own management system. The Service's impact on improving veterans health care is already apparent. However, the true value of the HSR&D system will become apparent only in the 1990s...
BACKGROUND: Recent changes in the organization of the National Health Service have created new roles and responsibilities for academic general practice. Previous work on the constraints and opportunities of a career in academic general practice is largely anecdotal and is often based on the views of more senior members of the profession. AIM: To survey the research activity, perceived level of training, support needs, and career intentions of junior academic general practitioners (GPs). METHOD: A postal, validated, semistructured questionnaire was sent to the 121 eligible junior academic GPs in the academic departments of general practice in the United Kingdom and Dublin. Main outcome measures were 'research activity score', as measured by publications in peer-reviewed journals and involvement in research projects, 'training score' devised from 13 skills required for both research and teaching, and perceived level of departmental support assessed by six different support mechanisms. RESULTS: Response rate was 89% (n = 108). Forty-six responders (43%) had no publications. Twenty-five responders (23%) had no principal project. Thirty-nine responders (37%) had a mentor. Research activity appeared to be dependent on sex, having a predominantly research role rather than a full-time teaching role...
This study applies co-authorship network analysis to generate baseline information about the patterns and structure of Canada's neglected tropical disease (NTD) publication activity and research network. Researchers, public and private funders, not-for-profit organizations, and policy makers may use the methodology or study findings for targeting, monitoring, and assessing Canada's contribution to a research field that is ready for attention and advancements. Future studies could use the findings to comparatively analyze the emergence of specific NTD research amongst institutional networks or further examine attributes and mechanisms that support and impede Canadian involvement in NTD research production and collaborative North–South research partnerships.