Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Computer data


Figures in scientific publications are critically important because they often show the data supporting key findings. Our systematic review of research articles published in top physiology journals (n = 703) suggests that, as scientists, we urgently need to change our practices for presenting continuous data in small sample size studies. Papers rarely included scatterplots, box plots, and histograms that allow readers to critically evaluate continuous data. Most papers presented continuous data in bar and line graphs. This is problematic, as many different data distributions can lead to the same bar or line graph. The full data may suggest different conclusions from the summary statistics. We recommend training investigators in data presentation, encouraging a more complete presentation of data, and changing journal editorial policies. Investigators can quickly make univariate scatterplots for small sample size studies using our Excel templates.

Concepts: Sample size, Science, Bar chart, Computer data


Background:The risk of cancer with hypercalcaemia in primary care is unknown.Methods:This was a cohort study using calcium results in patients aged ⩾40 years in a primary care electronic data set. Diagnoses of cancer in the following year were identified.Results:Participants (54 267) had calcium results: 1674 (3%) were ⩾2.6 mmol l(-1). Hypercalcaemia was strongly associated with cancer, especially in males: OR 2.92, 95% CI 2.17-3.93, P=<0.001; positive predictive value (PPV) 11.5%; females: OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.39-2.50, P<0.001: PPV 4.1%.Conclusions:Hypercalcaemia is strongly associated with cancer in primary care, with men at most risk, despite hypercalcaemia being more common in women.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 5 August 2014; doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.433

Concepts: Cohort study, Vitamin D, Epidemiology, Male, Following, Gender, Primary care, Computer data


Physical activity is widely known to be one of the key elements of a healthy life. The many benefits of physical activity described in the medical literature include weight loss and reductions in the risk factors for chronic diseases. With the recent advances in wearable devices, such as smartwatches or physical activity wristbands, motion tracking sensors are becoming pervasive, which has led to an impressive growth in the amount of physical activity data available and an increasing interest in recognizing which specific activity a user is performing. Moreover, big data and machine learning are now cross-fertilizing each other in an approach called “deep learning”, which consists of massive artificial neural networks able to detect complicated patterns from enormous amounts of input data to learn classification models. This work compares various state-of-the-art classification techniques for automatic cross-person activity recognition under different scenarios that vary widely in how much information is available for analysis. We have incorporated deep learning by using Google’s TensorFlow framework. The data used in this study were acquired from PAMAP2 (Physical Activity Monitoring in the Ageing Population), a publicly available dataset containing physical activity data. To perform cross-person prediction, we used the leave-one-subject-out (LOSO) cross-validation technique. When working with large training sets, the best classifiers obtain very high average accuracies (e.g., 96% using extra randomized trees). However, when the data volume is drastically reduced (where available data are only 0.001% of the continuous data), deep neural networks performed the best, achieving 60% in overall prediction accuracy. We found that even when working with only approximately 22.67% of the full dataset, we can statistically obtain the same results as when working with the full dataset. This finding enables the design of more energy-efficient devices and facilitates cold starts and big data processing of physical activity records.

Concepts: Statistics, Data, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, Neural network, Artificial neural network, Unsupervised learning, Computer data


BACKGROUND: Due to the growing number of biomedical entries in data repositories of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it is difficult to collect, manage and process all of these entries in one place by third-party software developers without significant investment in hardware and software infrastructure, its maintenance and administration. Web services allow development of software applications that integrate in one place the functionality and processing logic of distributed software components, without integrating the components themselves and without integrating the resources to which they have access. This is achieved by appropriate orchestration or choreography of available Web services and their shared functions. After the successful application of Web services in the business sector, this technology can now be used to build composite software tools that are oriented towards biomedical data processing. RESULTS: We have developed a new tool for efficient and dynamic data exploration in GenBank and other NCBI databases. A dedicated search GenBank system makes use of NCBI Web services and a package of Entrez Programming Utilities (eUtils) in order to provide extended searching capabilities in NCBI data repositories. In search GenBank users can use one of the three exploration paths: simple data searching based on the specified user’s query, advanced data searching based on the specified user’s query, and advanced data exploration with the use of macros. search GenBank orchestrates calls of particular tools available through the NCBI Web service providing requested functionality, while users interactively browse selected records in search GenBank and traverse between NCBI databases using available links. On the other hand, by building macros in the advanced data exploration mode, users create choreographies of eUtils calls, which can lead to the automatic discovery of related data in the specified databases. CONCLUSIONS: search GenBank extends standard capabilities of the NCBI Entrez search engine in querying biomedical databases. The possibility of creating and saving macros in the search GenBank is a unique feature and has a great potential. The potential will further grow in the future with the increasing density of networks of relationships between data stored in particular databases. search GenBank is available for public use at

Concepts: Computer program, Search engine optimization, Internet, Searching, Computer software, Application software, Web service, Computer data


PET using O-(2-[(18)F]fluoroethyl)-L-tyrosine ((18)F-FET) is an established method for brain tumour diagnostics, but data processing varies in different centres. This study analyses the influence of methodological differences between two centres for tumour characterization with (18)F-FET PET using the same PET scanner. Methodological differences between centres A and B in the evaluation of (18)F-FET PET data were identified for (1) framing of PET dynamic data, (2) data reconstruction, (3) cut-off values for tumour delineation to determine tumour-to-brain ratios (TBR) and tumour volume (Tvol) and (4) ROI definition to determine time activity curves (TACs) in the tumour. Based on the (18)F-FET PET data of 40 patients with untreated cerebral gliomas (20 WHO grade II, 10 WHO grade III, 10 WHO grade IV), the effect of different data processing in the two centres on TBRmean, TBRmax, Tvol, time-to-peak (TTP) and slope of the TAC was compared. Further, the effect on tumour grading was evaluated by ROC analysis.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Grade, Brain tumor, Astrocytoma, Methodology, Computer data


Big data is a term used for any collection of datasets whose size and complexity exceeds the capabilities of traditional data processing applications. Big data repositories, including those for molecular, clinical, and epidemiology data, offer unprecedented research opportunities to help guide scientific advancement. Advantages of big data can include ease and low cost of collection, ability to approach prospectively and retrospectively, utility for hypothesis generation in addition to hypothesis testing, and the promise of precision medicine. Limitations include cost and difficulty of storing and processing data; need for advanced techniques for formatting and analysis; and concerns about accuracy, reliability, and security. We discuss sources of big data and tools for its analysis to help inform the treatment and management of dermatologic diseases.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Epidemiology, Statistics, Data, Accuracy and precision, Dermatology, Computer data


To improve the practical use of the short forms (SFs) developed from the item bank, we compared the measurement precision of the 4- and 8-item SFs generated from a motor item bank composed of the Functional Independence Measure (FIM™) and the Minimum Data Set (MDS).

Concepts: United States, Measurement, Data, Psychometrics, Accuracy and precision, Human Development Index, Computer data


With rapid adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in China, an increasing amount of clinical data has been available to support clinical research. Clinical data secondary use usually requires de-identification of personal information to protect patient privacy. Since manually de-identification of free clinical text requires significant amount of human work, developing an automated de-identification system is necessary. While there are many de-identification systems available for English clinical text, designing a de-identification system for Chinese clinical text faces many challenges such as unavailability of necessary lexical resources and sparsity of patient health information (PHI) in Chinese clinical text. In this paper, we designed a de-identification pipeline taking advantage of both rule-based and machine learning techniques. Our method, in particular, can effectively construct a data set with dense PHI information, which saves annotation time significantly for subsequent supervised learning. We experiment on a dataset of 3,000 heterogeneous clinical documents to evaluate the annotation cost and the de-identification performance. Our approach can increase the efficiency of the annotation effort by over 60% while reaching performance as high as over 90% measured by F score. We demonstrate that combing rule-based and machine learning is an effective way to reduce the annotation cost and achieve high performance in Chinese clinical text de-identification task.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Statistics, Data, Data set, Machine learning, Electronic health record, Supervised learning, Computer data


Delayed reporting of health data may hamper the early detection of infectious diseases in surveillance systems. Furthermore, combining multiple data streams, e.g. aiming at improving a system’s sensitivity, can be challenging. In this study, we used a Bayesian framework where the result is presented as the value of evidence, i.e. the likelihood ratio for the evidence under outbreak versus baseline conditions. Based on a historical data set of routinely collected cattle mortality events, we evaluated outbreak detection performance (sensitivity, time to detection, in-control run length) under the Bayesian approach among three scenarios: presence of delayed data reporting, but not accounting for it; presence of delayed data reporting accounted for; and absence of delayed data reporting (i.e. an ideal system). Performance on larger and smaller outbreaks was compared with a classical approach, considering syndromes separately or combined. We found that the Bayesian approach performed better than the classical approach, especially for the smaller outbreaks. Furthermore, the Bayesian approach performed similarly well in the scenario where delayed reporting was accounted for to the scenario where it was absent. We argue that the value of evidence framework may be suitable for surveillance systems with multiple syndromes and delayed reporting of data.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, The Canon of Medicine, Performance, Bayesian inference, Absenteeism, Outbreak, Computer data


Inferring dependence structure through undirected graphs is crucial for uncovering the major modes of multivariate interaction among high-dimensional genomic markers that are potentially associated with cancer. Traditionally, conditional independence has been studied using sparse Gaussian graphical models for continuous data and sparse Ising models for discrete data. However, there are two clear situations when these approaches are inadequate. The first occurs when the data are continuous but display non-normal marginal behavior such as heavy tails or skewness, rendering an assumption of normality inappropriate. The second occurs when a part of the data is ordinal or discrete (e.g., presence or absence of a mutation) and the other part is continuous (e.g., expression levels of genes or proteins). In this case, the existing Bayesian approaches typically employ a latent variable framework for the discrete part that precludes inferring conditional independence among the data that are actually observed. The current article overcomes these two challenges in a unified framework using Gaussian scale mixtures. Our framework is able to handle continuous data that are not normal and data that are of mixed continuous and discrete nature, while still being able to infer a sparse conditional sign independence structure among the observed data. Extensive performance comparison in simulations with alternative techniques and an analysis of a real cancer genomics data set demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Data, Probability theory, Normal distribution, Continuous probability distribution, Computer data