Linkage 9/17: Sick Residents, Reptiles, & A Bridge to China

469px-kleenex-small-boxMany people take pride in never missing a day of work, and fighting through what they perceive as a minor illness to put in a full shift at the office. But what if your office is a hospital ward? Doctors who show up for work sick run the risk of spreading their illness to patients, further complicating their health issues. But with the tight schedules and long hours of the hospital, there’s even more pressure to get out of bed and fight through your sniffles (or worse).

Medical residents, physicians in their first few years out of medical school, have the tightest schedules and longest hours of all, and a study by University of Chicago and Massachusetts General Hospital researchers found that population to be especially guilty of “presenteeism.” In the wake of last year’s H1N1 flu epidemic, concerns about this bad habit have grown, and Vineet Arora, Anupam Jena and colleagues surveyed residents from 12 medical centers. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they found that 60 percent of residents surveyed showed up to work sick at least once in the academic year 2008-09.

“Hospitals need to build systems and create a workplace culture that enables all caregivers, not just residents, to feel comfortable calling in sick,” Arora said of the results. “Their colleagues and their patients will thank them.”

See coverage at CNN, Scientific American, and AP.


How many species bear your name? If your name is Robert F. Inger, the answer is more than 50, ranging from Calamalaria ingeri to Ingerna charlesdarwini. That’s the kind of list you rack up when you’ve spent seven decades studying amphibians and reptiles in Borneo, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and China. Last week, Inger – a graduate of the University of Chicago and curator emeritus at the Field Museum in Chicago – celebrated his 90th birthday, and his colleagues put together a website to celebrate the occasion.

The official opening of the University of Chicago Center in Beijing was celebrated this week, a space designed to foster collaboration between our faculty and Chinese researchers and experts. As this feature describes, many such partnerships are already underway, including the AIDS education efforts of professor of medicine Renslow Sherer and fossil-hunting projects by paleontologist Paul Sereno. By a stroke of luck, ScienceLife will write about another Sino-UofC research collaboration next week – stay tuned!

Our contribution to President Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, physician/bioethicist/friar Daniel Sulmasy, was profiled in the Chicago Tribune.

Another genetic sequencing race, this time between…Mars and Hershey’s? The Snickers maker struck the first blow with Wednesday’s online public domain publication of the Cacao Genome Database, while a group funded by Hershey’s hopes to publish their sequence in a journal soon. The competition is both delicious and beneficial, experts said, and may someday yield more efficient cocoa famring as well as chocolate that is both healthier and better-tasting. Yes, please.

About Rob Mitchum (525 Articles)
Rob Mitchum is communications manager at the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
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