Earlier this week, I attended a Meetup organized by Impact of Science at the Alexander von Humboldt Institut for Internet and Society in Berlin. The topic was the highly publicized Projekt DEAL negotiations with Elsevier et al. and the future of Open Access research in Germany and beyond.

The speakers were Dr. Nick Fowler, Chief Academic Officer and Managing Director of Research Networks at Elsevier, and Prof. Dr. Gerard Meijer, Director of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society and a member of the German science council.

Each speaker gave their perspective on the past, present, and future of the negotiations. To me, it was refreshing hearing the “other side’s” take on the matter. Dr. Fowler highlighted some important issues that made the negotiations more complicated and difficult. Before that, I admit I had mostly been exposed to the viewpoint of the proponents of Projekt DEAL. So I started the evening thinking “OK, this is good. I’m learning some new stuff and some of these counter-arguments make sense.” …

One of the most difficult steps in developing a drug to treat an illness is finding a biological target for the compound to act on. In many cases, nature has solved this problem for us, and all it takes are a few astute observations from people to figure out how we can make use of our surroundings to improve and maintain our health.

Once the effects of a certain plant or animal product on the human body are observed, the exact substance causing these effects must be extracted. …

A Personal Tribute to Professor Oliver Sacks

Seven years ago, while doing my postgraduate medical internship, I remember sitting in the on-call room during the few calm moments I had and reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. Professor Oliver Sacks, the neurologist who wrote the book (a collection of short stories based on some of his patients), passed away in August 2015.

There is something special about Professor Sacks, and it is not what you would expect from a world-renowned doctor and researcher. He probably was not on the verge of the “next big thing”, and the field of neurology certainly will not collapse in his absence. People like him are not known for making groundbreaking discoveries that shake the foundations of their disciplines and win Nobel prizes. …

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