Med school for free

Got a kid who wants to be a doc? You’d do well to encourage him or her to apply to New York University (NYU) because they’re dropping tuition to $0 per year. Yeah, for everyone, regardless of need. The program will be paid for by a bunch of grants the university has received from the likes of Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot, and others. Booooo, rich people! Amiright? [insert sarcastic emoji here] NYU hopes the program will encourage / allow more students to choose lower paying options like family practice or pediatrics because they won’t have mountains of debt to pay off, which may cause many to choose higher paying specialties like orthopedics or plastic surgery. Here’s a list of the 15 worst careers if you want to pay off student loans.

Cutting class to study

You may have skipped class in college to recover from Tequila Tuesday, but the US’ elite medical students are skipping class so they can learn faster. That’s caused medical schools like Harvard’s to start doing away with lectures since students aren’t even attending those taught by Nobel laureates. In these curricula, students are instead taught with the “flipped classroom” model—essentially where students learn the material outside of class and focus on things like group activities in class. But students still must memorize so much content for the first exam in the medical licensing process that they’re turning to sources like YouTube to make sure they’re prepared. We guess we’re happy that med students are over-achievers, but it sucks that they’re spending so much money on school to not go. NYU apparently being the exception.

What’s wrong with Amsterdam?

Turns out a lot of people who work for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) don’t want to move to Amsterdam. Well, apart from having to move countries, according to Teleport, London beats Amsterdam on 11 of 17 quality metrics. Don’t forget about those pesky labor laws in the Netherlands, which means 135 short-term contract staff can’t work for the EMA. In total, the EMA anticipates “a staff loss of about 30%, with a high degree of uncertainty regarding mid-term staff retention.” Want to know what the EMA is going to do about it, or not do, as the case may be, go here for a list of scaled-back operations. Thanks a lot, Brexit. In case you didn’t know what the EMA does, they coincidently put out a video of what they do a week after announcing the higher-than-expected staff losses. Timing is everything.

Gottlieb: “we’re not going to play regulatory whack-a-mole”

In last week’s He said, she said InsightCity article we talked about how regulators in Britain don’t think the price of biosimilar products is low enough. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has kicked it up a bit. In prepared remarks, Gottlieb blasts the pharma industry. Some quotes: “the FDA approved 11 biosimilars, only 3 are marketed in the U.S.” – “competition is, for the most part, anemic.” – “if Americans had the opportunity to purchase successfully marketed, FDA-approved biosimilar prescription drugs, they could have saved more than $4.5 billion in 2017.” – “branded drug makers thwart competition by dangling big rebates to lock up payors in multi-year contracts right on the eve of biosimilar entry.” All this was part of FDA releasing their Biosimilars Action Plan and the final guidance on biosimilar labeling. Might be time to keep your head down.

Free gene tests! Get your free gene tests here!

Genes seem to play a role in causing disease, but perhaps not in the way you may think. The current thinking around genes is that one bad or missing gene isn’t going to be the sole cause of most diseases. Rather, it seems that multiple genetic factors mix together to increase risk. Dr. Sekar Kathiresan came up with a way to assess how many genes are causing those risks in a patient, called a polygenic risk score. The score could help identify ‘hidden’ at-risk patients—AKA patients at-risk for a condition that weren’t tipped off by current assessment tools. Also, Kathiresan wants to offer the assessment for free. But there’s some skepticism that an extra diagnostic tool could cause patients to seek unnecessary treatment. Still, something to keep tabs on.

Google Glass half full

In a pilot study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, Google Glass was tested as a tool to help children with autism learn to read peoples’ facial expressions. As you may be aware, many people with autism struggle to interact socially, often lacking the ability to interpret others’ emotions from their facial expressions. That’s where Google Glass comes in. The technology was programmed to recognize and interpret facial expressions and provide children wearing the device feedback about others’ feelings. This feedback is given either in the form of words on the Glass screen or spoken into the wearer’s ear through a speaker. Parents of 12 of the 14 children reported increased eye contact and social interaction from their children post-intervention. The study represents a small sample and no control group, that said, it’s promising. Study participant quote: “Mommy, I can read minds!”