Canaries In A Data Mine

from the I-wanna-new-drug dept

One of the toughest things to deal with in science is that sometimes experiments don’t work out the way they’re supposed to. (And it usually happens around the 3rd year of grad school.) But short of faking results, scientists have to make the best of the data that is collected. Though there are plenty of PhD theses that are filled with experiments that didn’t quite work out, drug companies are under a bit more pressure to produce products that work. So when their drug trials fail, they need to squeeze anything they can out of the research — which is turning into analyzing the data for correlations and correlated correlations. But that’s not the interesting part: science is supposed to look for these sort of clues to new discoveries. The interesting part is that data is being collected in ways that make it easier to do data mining for unexpected trends. (Perhaps some of the data mining could even be opened up to the public?) Some might suggest that scientists are “giving up” and submitting to combinatorial discovery, but whatever works, right?

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Comments on “Canaries In A Data Mine”

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dorpus says:

Putting out fires before they start

Bioterrorism and AIDS is fading out of public attention, but the efforts were not in vain. There are scary new diseases that can erupt suddenly in our front yard, like MRSA. Data miners and medical researchers can look forward to a lifetime of job security, in case any of you techies are discouraged.

MRSA refers to a type of bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) that is resistant to many antibiotics. It is a common cause of hospital acquired infections, and is increasingly found outside of hospitals.

9 year old who developed Staphylococcus aureus infection of her varicella lesions$89

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