Norms on giving way to ambulances in India

By | July 16th, 2014|Tags: , |

Last December I experienced the traffic in India first hand. A big difference between the formal and informal rules!! One needs to honk the whole time to let people in front of you know you are there. People drive all kind of directions at the same time, and cows and other animals share the road with you too. The video below shows the experience ambulance drivers have in India in contrast to a European or North American situation. In India nobody give way to the ambulance and the patient dies, in European and North American countries lives are saved due to different social norms. Hopefully videos like this will raise awareness and change some of the norms people use in Indian traffic.

Towards a DNA commons?

By | November 14th, 2013|Tags: , , , |

23andme Inc. is a private for-profit organization that offers DNA analysis and information to individual consumers. DNA collection is collected through a $99 at home saliva sample collection kit that is then mailed back to the company for genome mapping and analysis. Individualized reports and personalized health recommendations are then delivered to the consumer over the internet via a personal homepage on the company website. In addition, consumers are given the opportunity to share their genomic data with doctors, researchers, scientists, hospitals, and other individuals within the online community that are members of the organization. The company website states that 90% of their customers have opted-in to participation in their research. While the individual consumer can opt into sharing the data with other members at basic or extended levels or opt out of sharing entirely. The company website states that each individual has the opportunity to “contribute to science’s understanding of how genes interact with the environment to make individuals who they are” and “participate in research that could improve understanding of how genetics influences our lives”. This privately-held company, however, owns and controls the aggregated data which may raise questions about ethics and the commodity value of [...]

Friends with benefits: P2P insurance

By | October 20th, 2013|Tags: , , , |

Technological development affects the way we can organize insurance. A new development is Peer to Peer insurance, which is basically a self-organization of customers to organize their insurance and bypassing the big insurance companies. This will lead to lower costs for the consumers since it does not pay for the large overhead of financial organizations. Each member is both an insurer and and insuree. The P2P insurance does not collect premiums but pays claims and the costs are shared among its members. Some P2P insurance websites include Friendsurance, and P2Pinsuranceagency

Cancer Commons

By | September 11th, 2013|Tags: , |

  Cancer Commons is a patient-centered resource and data sharing network that invites patients, researchers and clinicians to donate data in open science collaboration in order to create a “Rapid Learning Community”. The organization makes all of the collected data available to scientists working at over 20 cancer centers across the nation as they develop personalized therapies for patients as well as making personalized data and resources available to the patients who donate data and their caregivers. Researchers participate by contributing data and using the pooled data to help develop molecular models that delineate subtypes of cancer, diagnostic tests, therapies and clinical trials for treatment as well as a database of potential biomarkers, treatments and outcomes. Physicians who participate are able to share case reports and patient data, as well as the opportunity to analyze and comment on the information being generated by researchers working with the pool of data. While the organization is collecting data on all types of cancer, the currently supported types include Lung Cancer, Melanoma and Prostrate Cancer.

Free-riding of religious groups causes measles outbreak in the Netherlands

By | July 13th, 2013|Tags: , , |

A measles epidemic is emerging in the Netherlands. The hunderds of cases are mainly in areas where people live who don't vaccinate their children because of religious reasons. If 90% of the people or more are vaccinated measles is not epidemic because of something that is called herd immunity. A disease like measles spread from person to person, and if enough people are vaccinated, the disease cannot spread and is not epidemic. But in certain areas in the Netherlands, there live many very religious groups, so called fundamentalists Protestants, do not vaccinate their children because of their religious beliefs. As a consequence, these areas, called the Bible belt (see figure on the right), have vaccination rates below 90%. As a consequence these areas are more vulnerable to outbreaks. This not only affect religious communities, but also young children (< 14 months), who have not yet been vaccinated are at risk. This problem shows the conflict between religious beliefs of one group affecting the health of their children and the children outside the religious groups. What is the best solution to this? Some people call to make vaccination mandatory, other argue that this can become counter productive since imposing vaccination (which is now [...]