Sunday, May 25, 2008

Three Brainy General-Readership Books

Just finished reading three excellent books with neuro themes, one a work of fiction and the other two are narrative accounts:

"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova (available in paperback by iUniverse Press), is a very accurate dramatic fictional account of early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

"Insomniac" by Gayle Greene is a great account of the world of insomnia, from the vantage point of individuals living with sleep disorders (including the author) and from the vantage point of the clinical researchers who study the condition and who work on drug development and other facets of diagnosis, understanding, and treatment.

Finally, "Can't Remember What I Forgot" by Sue Halpern, self described as a "behind-the-scenes foray into the world of cutting-edge memory research." It lives up to that description and does so in a very readable manner.

"Insomniac" is published by the University of California Press and "Can't Remember ..." is published by Harmony Books.


Today, I am reading "Netherland" by Joseph O'Neill, published by Pantheon,, which was released about a week ago to critical acclaim. No neuro themes, but a compellingly good read.

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Analysis of the Neurotechnology Industry

The Ultimate Cure
by David Ewing Duncan
CondeNast Portfolio
May 2008

"The neurotech industry is engaged in a $2 trillion race to fix your brain. Many players will fail, but the payoff will be huge for those who succeed."

[snip]

"Neurotech’s returns are already enormous. In 2006, the industry brought in more than $120 billion—about $101 billion from drugs and the rest from neurodevices ($4.5 billion) and neurodiagnostics ($15 billion)—up 10 percent from the previous year, reports NeuroInsights, a market research and investment advisory firm. But industry analysts insist that this figure hardly begins to suggest the potential. For Alzheimer’s, a disease currently without an effective treatment for about 4.5 million sufferers in the U.S., 40 companies—including behemoths like Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and Wyeth, as well as Targacept and a gaggle of similar upstarts—are testing 48 new drugs in human trials in a quest for the Prozac of dementia. The push has brought many small to midsize biotech firms together in partnerships with larger pharmaceutical companies to pursue everything from pain-control compounds derived from chili peppers to an antistroke medicine developed from vampire-bat saliva. There is so much activity in neurotech that last fall it got its own index, NERV, on the Nasdaq, tracking the performance of 30 leading brain companies based in the United States. Analysts estimate that the sector should continue to grow by about 10 percent a year, which would produce a brain-industrial complex worth more than $300 billion in the next 10 years."

[snip]

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Military Traumatic Brain Injury and Rehabilitation

An interesting feature article in tomorrow's New York Times Sunday Magazine:

The Sergeant Lost Within
By DANIEL BERGNER
Published: May 25, 2008

"Roadside bombs have caused hundreds of dire brain injuries to soldiers in Iraq. One of them is Shurvon Phillip, and a team of specialists has worked avidly trying to reach him."

A good deal of the article deals with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

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Friday, May 02, 2008

The Game Brain

Yep - another fine New York Times interview about neuro gymnastics:

Boomers, Exercise Your Brains, or Else You’ll...Uh...
By KATIE HAFNER
Published: May 3, 2008

"The fear of a decaying brain has inspired a mini-industry of products from dietary supplements to computer games."

[ ... Read the full article ... ]

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Upcoming Event: American Pain Society, 8-10 May 2008, Tampa Florida

The annual meeting of the APS takes place next week in Florida. Visit the conference homepage for details: Link.

From the conference homepage:

Conference Purpose and Objectives

"The 27th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society will offer current information about the diagnosis, treatment, and management of acute pain, chronic cancer and noncancer pain, and recurrent pain. In-depth workshops are planned and are designed to enhance research or clinical skills pertinent to the management of pain; they will feature content appropriate for professionals at several experience levels.

"Each year the APS Scientific Program Committee carefully reviews attendees’ evaluations in order to organize a scientific program which addresses a broad range of topics related to pain research and treatment.

"Designed for a diverse group of scientists, pain clinicians, and other professionals, the 27th Annual Scientific Meeting features a prominent faculty presenting basic, translational, and clinical research advancements.

Interact with cutting-edge researchers.

Translate scientific discoveries into clinical practice.

Network with your colleagues.

Hear from policy makers about issues that directly affect you.

Raise questions, debate the implications, plan follow-up studies, and discuss results.

Discuss your own research and clinical observations.

Meet with poster presenters to learn about their thinking and future research directions.

Visit more than 150 booths that feature products and services specifically designed for multidisciplinary leaders who study and treat pain."

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