Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ; she's currently attending the 31st International Conference on PharmacoEpidemiology &Therapeutic Risk Management (ICPE) in Boston
About a year ago I suggested "Big Medical Data" as a potential topic for a CMAJ editorial to our editors’ writing group. I remember receiving some blank looks that sounded a lot like “Weirdo!” In fact, that may well have been upon my return from the last ICPE, or perhaps it was a year before that when I came back from participating in the working group that produced The REporting of Studies Conducted Using Observational Routinely-Collected Health Data (RECORD) Statement. Anyway, there’s something about talking to people who are working with, and developing new ways of crunching, Big Data that gets me all fired up about it. I can see an exciting future full of possibilities and I want to evangelize.
In the first plenary session at ICPE yesterday, entitled “Computer Power and Human Reason: from calculation to judgement”, speakers seemed to be defending the role of the pharmacoepidemiologist now that crunching data with computer programs can tell us just about anything we need to know. What are the virtues of the human operator vs. computer systems? “Is it the pilot or the plane that’s critical for a successful flight?” ...continue reading →
The 20th International Epidemiology Association World Congress being held in Anchorage, Alaska, this week is focusing on global epidemiology in a changing environment, and particularly, delegates are discussing and learning about the epidemiological effects of climate change. While much research being presented in concurrent sessions and posters is the usual mix of national and regional epidemiology (infectious diseases, nutritional diseases, cancer…), and epidemiological methods research (always interesting to a journal editor), the ‘circumpolar perspective’ is the subject of many sessions. What is happening in the world’s frozen regions as a result of climate change?
It may or may not surprise you to hear that people who live in areas that are frozen year-round aren’t high-fiving each other about the mean increase in temperature of 3°C. They aren’t throwing off their traditional fur clothing in celebration. This is because communities are being destroyed by warming in polar regions. ...continue reading →