Forge Friday Roundup - June 8, 2018

June 8, 2018

Welcome to our Friday roundup of news stories, peer-reviewed articles, and preprints we encountered this week and found interesting or thought-provoking. Today: FTC eyes security at DNA testing companies; Apple unveils APIs for health data; GDPR and its implications for data sharing; the Gates Foundation gets into nonprofit biotech & much more.


  • Our previous roundup included a STAT News report of a security breach at a genealogy website. Now, Fast Company is reporting that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating DNA testing companies with regard to their privacy practices.
  • Deep learning for automated ICD-9 coding: In an upcoming article in Neurocomputing, Min and colleagues describe a deep transfer learning framework for automatic ICD-9 coding that leverages MeSH domain knowledge.
  • Is there anything big data can’t do? Well, yes. A preprint by Hernan and colleagues available from the ArXiv server addresses data science, causal inference, and the critical role of domain expertise.
  • A recent report of a strikingly successful immunotherapy approach in metastatic breast cancer has generated excitement and fanned hopes, but there have also been sobering reminders that much remains to be understood. The New York Times reports on a trial of a checkpoint inhibitor that made patients’ disease worse.
  • A review article in the American Heart Journal whose authors include representatives from academia, industry, and the regulatory world provides a thorough overview of considerations for using EHRs for clinical research.
  • Letting it all hang out: a qualitative study published in Science Communication examines what happens when scientists take inside jokes public on social media.
  • In this week’s Nature: A neural network based on nanoscale synaptic devices shows performance comparable to software-based networks but with substantial gains in efficiency.
  • A blog post at Stanford Medicine describes possible progress in identifying drug targets for Staph aureus, thanks to new screening approaches.
  • Good news from the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research – AHRQ reports substantial national progress in reducing the number of hospital-acquired conditions. The full National Scorecard report and interim findings are also available.
  • News from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference: Apple announces a new API to encourage the development of apps for managing healthcare information.
  • Chronic conditions: A new Pew Research poll finds that 7 in 10 people in the US report feeling “news fatigue” – although these feeling are not evenly distributed.
  • Defensive medicine? STAT News reports on a new article in JAMA Cardiology that finds that the number of invasive cardiovascular procedures performed fell in states with malpractice damage caps.
  • A preprint available from ArXiv by Gottesman and colleagues takes a deep dive into the complexities of evaluating reinforcement learning approaches for observational studies.
  • From April: applying psychological strategies for understanding and countering vaccine skepticism and refusal.
  • Deep learning applied to analysis of retinal fundus photographs sheds light on cardiovascular risk factors in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
  • New European data use laws have significant implications for privacy, data sharing, and for the future of data science. A viewpoint published in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at some of the possible ramifications of the GDPR.
  • This seems to be a recurring theme across multiple specialties: machine learning offers significant potential, but privacy challenges, data sharing issues, and inadequate labeling create persistent barriers to use. A blog post at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) offers a useful summary from the field of radiology.
  • A review article in Journal of the American College of Cardiology provides a rundown of recent developments in mobile health (subscription required). The article is one of three reviews focusing on mHealth.
  • Process mapping for quality improvement – a report on research from the UK’s National Health Service.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation debuts its nonprofit biotech development institute at this week’s BIO convention; STAT News has an interview. TB and malaria are early priorities.
  • The vast majority of the factors that determine health status and outcomes exist outside of clinical settings, and have long remained largely or entirely opaque to researchers. A JAMA viewpoint article by Genevieve Dunton examines how the microtemporal processes that drive behaviors that affect health can now be measured and analyzed as technology advances.

Author