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Concept: California


Death rates by specific causes vary across the 50 states and the District of Columbia.* Information on differences in rates for the leading causes of death among states might help state health officials determine prevention goals, priorities, and strategies. CDC analyzed National Vital Statistics System data to provide national and state-specific estimates of potentially preventable deaths among the five leading causes of death in 2014 and compared these estimates with estimates previously published for 2010. Compared with 2010, the estimated number of potentially preventable deaths changed (supplemental material at; cancer deaths decreased 25% (from 84,443 to 63,209), stroke deaths decreased 11% (from 16,973 to 15,175), heart disease deaths decreased 4% (from 91,757 to 87,950), chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) (e.g., asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema) deaths increased 1% (from 28,831 to 29,232), and deaths from unintentional injuries increased 23% (from 36,836 to 45,331). A better understanding of progress made in reducing potentially preventable deaths in the United States might inform state and regional efforts targeting the prevention of premature deaths from the five leading causes in the United States.

Concepts: California, New York City, United States Constitution, Oregon, Death, Demography, U.S. state, United States


You finished your PhD, have been a postdoc for a while, and you start wondering, “What’s next?” Suppose you come to the conclusion that you want to stay in academia, and move up the ladder to become a principal investigator (PI). How does one reach this goal given that academia is one of the most competitive environments out there? And suppose you do manage to snatch your dream position, how do you make sure you hit the ground running? Here we report on the workshop “P2P - From Postdoc To Principal Investigator” that we organized at ISMB 2012 in Long Beach, California. The workshop addressed some of the challenges that many postdocs and newly appointed PIs are facing. Three experienced PIs, Florian Markowetz (Group Leader, Cambridge Research Institute, Cancer Research UK), Gary Bader (Associate Professor, The Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto), and Philip Bourne (Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California San Diego), provided insight into the transition from a trainee to PI and shared advice on how to make the best out it.

Concepts: 2006 singles, Professor, Rector, California, Tenure, Academic administration, University, Doctorate


Amanita phalloides, colloquially known as the “death cap,” belongs to the Phalloideae section of the Amanita family of mushrooms and is responsible for most deaths following ingestion of foraged mushrooms worldwide (1). On November 28, 2016, members of the Bay Area Mycological Society notified personnel at the California Poison Control System (CPCS) of an unusually large A. phalloides bloom in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, coincident with the abundant rainfall and recent warm weather. Five days later, CPCS received notification of the first human A. phalloides poisoning of the season. Over the following 2 weeks, CPCS was notified of an additional 13 cases of hepatotoxicity resulting from A. phalloides ingestion. In the past few years before this outbreak, CPCS received reports of only a few mushroom poisoning cases per year. A summary of 14 reported cases is presented here. Data extracted from patient medical charts revealed a pattern of delayed gastrointestinal manifestations of intoxication leading to dehydration and hepatotoxicity. Three patients received liver transplants and all but one recovered completely. The morbidity and potential lethality associated with A. phalloides ingestion are serious public health concerns and warrant medical provider education and dissemination of information cautioning against consuming foraged wild mushrooms.

Concepts: San Francisco Bay, Amanita, San Francisco, Mushroom poisoning, California, Amanita phalloides, San Francisco Bay Area, Fungus


Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by certain marine microalgae that can accumulate in the foodweb, posing a health threat to human seafood consumers and wildlife in coastal regions worldwide. Evidence of climatic regulation of domoic acid in shellfish over the past 20 y in the Northern California Current regime is shown. The timing of elevated domoic acid is strongly related to warm phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Oceanic Niño Index, an indicator of El Niño events. Ocean conditions in the northeast Pacific that are associated with warm phases of these indices, including changes in prevailing currents and advection of anomalously warm water masses onto the continental shelf, are hypothesized to contribute to increases in this toxin. We present an applied domoic acid risk assessment model for the US West Coast based on combined climatic and local variables. Evidence of regional- to basin-scale controls on domoic acid has not previously been presented. Our findings have implications in coastal zones worldwide that are affected by this toxin and are particularly relevant given the increased frequency of anomalously warm ocean conditions.

Concepts: Oceanic climate, Marine debris, United States, Atlantic Ocean, Ocean, Climate, California, Neurotoxin


The NEPROCHECK test (Astute Medical, San Diego, CA, USA) combines urinary tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) to identify patients at high risk for acute kidney injury (AKI). In a US Food and Drug Administration registration trial (NCT01573962), AKI was determined by a three-member clinical adjudication committee. The objectives were to examine agreement among adjudicators as well as between adjudicators and consensus criteria for AKI and to determine the relationship of biomarker concentrations and adjudicator agreement.

Concepts: California, Adjudicator, Blood, Insulin-like growth factor 1


Deep groundwater aquifers are poorly characterized but could yield important sources of water in California and elsewhere. Deep aquifers have been developed for oil and gas extraction, and this activity has created both valuable data and risks to groundwater quality. Assessing groundwater quantity and quality requires baseline data and a monitoring framework for evaluating impacts. We analyze 938 chemical, geological, and depth data points from 360 oil/gas fields across eight counties in California and depth data from 34,392 oil and gas wells. By expanding previous groundwater volume estimates from depths of 305 m to 3,000 m in California’s Central Valley, an important agricultural region with growing groundwater demands, fresh [<3,000 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS)] groundwater volume is almost tripled to 2,700 km(3), most of it found shallower than 1,000 m. The 3,000-m depth zone also provides 3,900 km(3) of fresh and saline water, not previously estimated, that can be categorized as underground sources of drinking water (USDWs; <10,000 ppm TDS). Up to 19% and 35% of oil/gas activities have occurred directly in freshwater zones and USDWs, respectively, in the eight counties. Deeper activities, such as wastewater injection, may also pose a potential threat to groundwater, especially USDWs. Our findings indicate that California's Central Valley alone has close to three times the volume of fresh groundwater and four times the volume of USDWs than previous estimates suggest. Therefore, efforts to monitor and protect deeper, saline groundwater resources are needed in California and beyond.

Concepts: Central Valley Project, Fog, Seawater, Groundwater, California, Total dissolved solids, Aquifer, Water


The integration of immigrants presents a major challenge for policymakers in the United States. In an effort to improve integration, several US states recently have implemented laws that provide driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants. These new laws have sparked widespread debate, but we lack evidence on the traffic safety impact of these policies. We examine the short-term effects of the largest-scale policy shift, California’s Assembly Bill 60 (AB60), under which more than 600,000 licenses were issued in the first year of implementation in 2015 alone. We find that, contrary to concerns voiced by opponents of the law, AB60 has had no discernible short-term effect on the number of accidents. The law primarily allowed existing unlicensed drivers to legalize their driving. We also find that, although AB60 had no effect on the rate of fatal accidents, it did decrease the rate of hit and run accidents, suggesting that the policy reduced fears of deportation and vehicle impoundment. Hit and run behaviors often delay emergency assistance, increase insurance premiums, and leave victims with significant out of pocket expenses. Overall, the results suggest that AB60 provides an example of how states can facilitate the integration of immigrants while creating positive externalities for the communities in which they live.

Concepts: Implementation, California, United States Congress, United States, Legislature, U.S. state, Policy, Law


The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is the dominant mode of interannual climate variability across the Pacific Ocean basin, with influence on the global climate. The two end members of the cycle, El Niño and La Niña, force anomalous oceanographic conditions and coastal response along the Pacific margin, exposing many heavily populated regions to increased coastal flooding and erosion hazards. However, a quantitative record of coastal impacts is spatially limited and temporally restricted to only the most recent events. Here we report on the oceanographic forcing and coastal response of the 2015-2016 El Niño, one of the strongest of the last 145 years. We show that winter wave energy equalled or exceeded measured historical maxima across the US West Coast, corresponding to anomalously large beach erosion across the region. Shorelines in many areas retreated beyond previously measured landward extremes, particularly along the sediment-starved California coast.

Concepts: Alaska, San Diego, Weather, Marine debris, United States, San Francisco, Ocean, California


Invasive species present significant threats to global agriculture, although how the magnitude and distribution of the threats vary between countries and regions remains unclear. Here, we present an analysis of almost 1,300 known invasive insect pests and pathogens, calculating the total potential cost of these species invading each of 124 countries of the world, as well as determining which countries present the greatest threat to the rest of the world given their trading partners and incumbent pool of invasive species. We find that countries vary in terms of potential threat from invasive species and also their role as potential sources, with apparently similar countries sometimes varying markedly depending on specifics of agricultural commodities and trade patterns. Overall, the biggest agricultural producers (China and the United States) could experience the greatest absolute cost from further species invasions. However, developing countries, in particular, Sub-Saharan African countries, appear most vulnerable in relative terms. Furthermore, China and the United States represent the greatest potential sources of invasive species for the rest of the world. The analysis reveals considerable scope for ongoing redistribution of known invasive pests and highlights the need for international cooperation to slow their spread.

Concepts: Great Lakes, California, Insect, Invasive species, United States, Agriculture, Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa


We report a case of thelaziasis in a 26-year-old female, acquired in Oregon. A total of 14 worms were removed from the patient’s left eye and were morphologically identified as being Thelazia gulosa. Until now, only two species of Thelazia have been implicated in causing human disease, Thelazia callipaeda in Asia and Europe and occasional reports of Thelazia californiensis from the United States of America. Here, we describe a third, previously unreported parasite of humans, T. gulosa (the cattle eyeworm) as an agent of human thelaziasis and the first reported case of human thelaziasis in North America in over two decades.

Concepts: Caribbean, Thelazia, California, Americas, U.S. state, Oregon, North America, United States