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Friday, August 22, 2014

Using Monkeys to Understand and Cure Parkinsons Disease

This article for Using Monkeys to Understand and Cure Parkinsons Disease is linked to a special report by the Hastings Center.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Weakest Link: “Proper Procedures Were Not Followed”

The laboratory science world was aghast this week on the news from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  [Emphasis is on CONTROL] where researchers were exposed to Anthrax due to procedures not being followed. “Shortcuts may have been taken” and “untrained staff may have…” were phrases that peppered news accounts of the incident.  In the coming weeks and months we will hear the extent of their exposure.  At this writing the number of researchers exposed was raised from 75 to 84.  The CDC has been the global standard to protect (and advise) humankind in regards to health and safety threats.  With an annual budget of $11.3B they seem to be well funded to achieve their mission.

However that organization, along with all others, is only as strong as their weakest link. Please pardon the cliché’.  It seems in this case the weak link is not following procedures.  A few televised news reports placed blame on untrained staff.  I would like to assure you that there is also a procedure in place to train staff.  So rather than a training issue, it is actually a not following procedure issue.  Supervisor did not follow up on the employees?  Also a not following procedure issue.  I feel confident in saying that a Federal Investigation will ensue and blame will be officially placed.

The take home opportunity for those many of us who work in laboratory settings is to use this unfortunate story to reinforce with our staff the necessities for following Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s).  While many SOP’s do not deal with such acute life and death scenarios they do speak directly to adherence to regulations and good scientific practices.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Who Owns Your Opinion?

A close acquaintance of mine is a right-wing ideologue.  A short while ago after sometime between jobs he landed a plum position in a small company, where his jack-of-all-trades skills paid off.  He was recognized for his efforts and after about a year was given a nice title and placed on their board of directors.  “Joe” was not only a jack-of-all-trades at work, he was also a jack-of-all-trades on social media.  No social media was immune from his often hate-filled rhetoric.  It was fairly frequent that his entire email list would receive an almost overtly racist cartoon regarding the POTUS.  Some emails and FB posts were more subtle.  Mostly not too subtle.  One day “Joe” was, without notice, let go of his job.  Company struggling in the economic climate? No, the company was doing fine.  “Joe” said they did not tell him why he was let go and had no idea.  Gosh, he was on their board and was a critical member of the organization.  Recently “Joe” got a new position at another company after a rather desperate, prayer-filled  search.  His new job is going well and of course he is happy to be working again. “Joe” no longer streams his hate-speech across the internet.  I’d like to think that he has had a change of heart.  That seems unlikely.  More to the point it would seem he’s finally put 2 + 2 together.  While he is certainly entitled to his opinion, the company does not have to hold that opinion and if he represents the company, he represents the company too when he is “off the clock”.  Unfair?  Perhaps.

“Joe” and the rest of us represent our companies around the clock.  When you meet someone outside of work, how quickly does the conversation get to “what do you do”? The internet is littered with notorious stories of people who send controversial tweets, emails and posts.  These famous folks make the news so the “Joe’s” of the world need to not re-invent the wheel on how you represent yourself (and your company).