Monday, April 25, 2016

World Immunisation Week, 24-30 April 2016

Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. World Health Organisation (WHO)
Image: WHO

This year's World Immunisation Week (24-30 April) focuses on "Closing the Immunisation Gap - Immunisation for all throughout life." The WHO, who coordinate the annual campaign, have created a campaign toolkit to help raise awareness on this theme: Close the Immunisation Gap Toolkit

How much do you know about Immunisation? Some of the myths and facts about vaccination are answered in Q&A format here
If you would like to test your knowledge on immunisation you can take this short Quiz
Some of these fact sheets may help improve your score:
Fact sheet on immunisation coverage
Fact sheet on measles
Fact sheet on rubella
Fact sheet on poliomyelitis

Why strengthening Immunisation Systems matters?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 130 million infants are born around the world each year. Protecting these newborns from vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) requires an organized, accessible, and well-functioning immunisation program. Strengthening our Immunisation Systems, the infrastructure that supports this global exercise and the awareness campaigns all contribute to improving world health.

Image: CDC

Training materials for best practice in Immunisation The training and upskilling of staff working in immunisation is one of the most important factors in enhancing immunisation performance and effectively introducing new vaccines, technologies, practices and policies. There are a wide variety of materials for professional practitioners available through the WHO website here, and these materials are also relevant for those working in support areas, in community contexts and other healthcare environments. 

Studying Immunisation at the RCSI Library
Our Library collections hold a wide range of materials on immunisation which can be accessed through the 'Clinical Summaries' section on the Library Website.  Full text articles on vaccination and immunology are available through our Clinical Key and UpToDate electronic resources.

For further information you can check out Global Health Links on RCSI Library Website.

Ireland immunisation facts links are available at:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Focus on Cystic Fibrosis: 65 Roses Day

Today is 65 Roses Day as part Cystic Fibrosis National Awareness Week (11th - 17th April 2016). We have a look at RCSI's contributions to research on this genetically inherited disease, and how buying a Purple Rose can support CF patients, their families and future research in the area. 

Bryan Dobson & Keelin Shanley launching 2016's 65 Roses Day for Friday 15th April.

What is Cystic Fibrosis? 
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life threatening inherited chronic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that: 

  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; 
  • obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. 

Health probles associated with Cystic Fibrosis.
Ireland has highest global rates of CF
Ireland has both the highest incidence of CF in the world at 2.98 per 10,000 and the highest carrier rate in the world with 1 in 19 individuals classed as carriers. The incidence of cystic fibrosis in this country is almost two and a half times the average rate in other EU countries and the USA (1). At present, there are approximately 1,200 people with Cystic Fibrosis living in Ireland (2).

Many people with the disease in Ireland can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond. People with CF in Ireland are increasingly going on to attend third level colleges, accessing employment, and living more independent lives, with the support of family and friends. 

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland is a voluntary organisation established by families of CF patients in 1963 to improve the treatment and facilities for people with Cystic Fibrosis in Ireland.

RCSI Research in Cystic Fibrosis
Research into respiratory diseases like CF is a particular strength of the College with notable breakthroughs such as the role of estrogen and the CF gender gap 
showing that the female hormone oestrogen promotes the presence of a particular form of bacteria which results in more severe symptoms for female cystic fibrosis patients.

Other major research interests in the area of respiratory diseases include pulmonary innate immunity, airway fluid dynamics in Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, protease/anti protease interactions in the lung, signal transduction and gene regulation in bronchial epithelium, the role of the neutrophil in inflammatory lung disease, microRNA profiling in CF, pro-resolution and ion transport effects of lipoxins in CF, endoplasmic reticulum stress responses and anti-inflammatory and gene therapeutics.

From the RCSI Library catalogue!
Studying Cystic Fibrosis at the RCSI Library
Our Library collections hold a wide range of materials for learning about CF, check out our saved search here for a taste. 

You can also check out all of our institutional publications related to Cystic Fibrosis from RCSI's institutional repository e-publications@RCSI.   

This is a wonderful resource managed and maintained by the RCSI Library which is an open access resource with all research and scholarly outputs from the College. Check out our saved search here to see publications to CF.

Why 65 Roses?
'65 Roses' is how some children first learn how to say 'Cystic Fibrosis'. The symbol in Ireland for '65 Roses Week' is a purple rose.

Find out more about CF

(1) Farrell PM. The prevalence of cystic fibrosis in the European Union. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis 2008 Sep;7(5):450-3.
(2) The Cystic Fibrosis Registry of Ireland

Friday, December 18, 2015

BMJ Christmas Edition

Each year, the British Medical Journal publishes a special Christmas issue featuring tongue-in-cheek articles and unusual, to say the least, research. Past research has looked at the survival time of chocolate on hospital wards, whether people with the surname 'Brady' are more likely to suffer from bradycardia (they are!) and gender differences in idiotic behaviour. Let's take a look at the 2015 edition.

First up is 'Blood curdling movies and measures of coagulation: Fear factor crossover trial' which looks into whether blood truly curdles as a result of acute fear.  Participants in the study  first watched horror movie and then an educational movie and blood coagulant measures were taken, It was found that blood coagulant V111 increased in 57% of participants but only 14% during the educational movie. The authors advise as a result that ' a truly relaxing and merry Christmas , without exposure to frightening situations, seems to be advisable to prevent venous thrombosis'!

"Gunslinger's Gait": a new cause of unilaterally reduced arm swing' analyses the gait of high ranked Russian officials and found that President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and three other officials all walked with a consistently reduced right arm swing. The article traced the origins of this gait to Russian military training as well as to the 'imitating the boss' phenomenon. The authors conclude that neurologists should include 'gunsliger's gait' in their differential diagnosis of an asymmetrically reduced arm swing...




The threat caused by zombies isn't overlooked by the BMJ; in her paper 'Zombie infections: epidemiology, treatment and prevention', Tara C Smith calls for research and funding to prevent a zombie apocalypse. Smith notes that zombie outbreaks are 'expensive, difficult to control and have deleterious effects on the quality of life' but that despite this 'most countries remain grossly unprepared' for such an eventuality.  Smith also looks at the ethical considerations which would be faced in the event of an outbreak, for example is mass quarantine of those infected by the zombie pathogen desirable or even achievable? Issues such as these really put the current healthcare difficulties  in this country into perspective..

You can access the BMJ through the RCSI e-journal portal at (RCSI staff and students only).

Happy Christmas from all of us here at RCSI Library and watch out for those Zombies!


Monday, November 16, 2015

World Antibiotic Awareness Week

"Antibiotic resistance is compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases and undermining many advances in medicine"
- Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General WHO

World Antibiotic Awareness Week starts today and aims to increase the awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practice among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to global health; it happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. Over-use and misuse of antibiotics increase the development of resistant bacteria.

The theme of the awareness week is "Antibiotics: Handle with care" and it aims to highlight the fact that antibiotics are a precious resource and must be preserved and used only when necessary. You can find out more about antibiotic resistance at

Other useful resources 

  • 'A Strategy for the Control of Antimicrobial Resistance in Ireland', a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Disease Surveillance Centre can be accessed here

  • The 'Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance' is a quarterly journal that focuses on the global spread of antibiotic resistant microbes. RCSI Library subscribes to the journal; access it via our ejournal portal (RCSI staff and students only).


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

World Heart Day

Today (29th September) is World Heart day; a day to raise awareness of, and inform people about, cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the number one cause of death worldwide. Over 17 million people die from these each year.

The Irish Heart Foundation is running a 'red alert' campaign for the month of September in which they are focusing on women's heart health. While heart disease and stroke is the leading cause of death for Irish women, awareness is low. Just over 1 in 10 women believe cardiovascular disease is the number one killer and only 1 in 5 women know that menopause is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. More information about the disease can be found here.

The Cochrane Heart Group has a wide range of systematic reviews on cardiovascular disease and prevention, these can be found here.

RCSI Library subscribes to a number of high impact journals in the field of cardiovascular health; these include the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the European Heart Journal and Circulation. You can access these through the RCSI Library ejournal portal.

RCSI Library also has a number of books related to cardiovascular disease; these include 'Cardiovascular Medicine' (2015) by Paul Morris and 'Braunwald's Heart Disease' (2015) - the latter is available in both print and electronic versions. You can find these and more through the library catalogue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

World Alzheimer's Month

This month, September, is World Alzheimer's month, an international campaign to raise awareness and challenge stigma. Dementia is a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking behaviour and emotion. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting up to 90% of people with dementia.

The Irish Alzheimer's Society has a wide range of resources, both for Alzheimer's sufferers themselves and for those living with people with Alzhemeir's. The website includes information on topics such as planning for the future, knowing your rights, important contacts and practical tips on day to day living with Alzheimer's.

RCSI Library has  access to a number of resources on Alzheimer's and dementia. Searching UpToDate for 'Alzheimer's Disease' will give you basic information about Alzheimer's, including clinical features, diagnosis, information for patients as well as a summary and recommendations section. You can access UpToDate through the 'Clinical Summaries' section on the library website.

Searching the Clinical Key database for 'Alzheimer's Disease' yields useful information, including relevant book chapters from a number of different texts including Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016 and  Conn's Current Therapy 2015. You can access Clinical Key through the 'Databases' section of the library website.

For systematic reviews on Alzheimer's and dementia, use the Cochrane Library. The Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group has over 150 reviews which can be accessed here.

The World Health Organization  (WHO) published 'Dementia: A Public Health Priority' in 2012. The report includes case studies and best practice from around the world, as well as a comprehensive collection of data and statistics relating to Alzheimer's and dementia. The report estimates that in 2010 there were 35 million people worldwide living with dementia and that each year there are almost 8 million new cases. The accelerating rates of dementia are cause for immediate action, especially in low and middle-income countries where resources are few.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reference rot: an emerging problem in academia

Newly published research by RCSI library staff has highlighted the emerging problem of reference rot.

The sourcing of the original references of scholarly articles is an integral part of academic learning. The increased use of on-line resourcing and the referencing of same has resulted in the emerging phenomena of 'reference rot'. This relates to the combination of two elements which are commonly found when attempting to access web pages which are:

1. Link rot - the article or webpage resource identified by the URL no longer exists or has moved to another site, resulting in the ubiquitous '404 not found' error message.

2. Content drift - where the resource identified changes over time and may evolve into a resource that bears no resemblance to the content originally referenced.

Research by RCSI library staff, published by Emergency Medicine Australasia (EMA), found that over 34% of URL references between 2010-2014 in the journal EMA suffered from reference rot and were no longer accessible 1 . This is in the midrange of previous studies which found rates of reference rot ranging from 20% to 70% 2,3,4 .

The problem of reference rot is a serious one. URL references are becoming more prevalent; the number of URL references in the journal EMA increased each year between 2012-2014. A continuance of this trend allied to the problem of reference rot will mean ever more references will become inaccessible. Academic scholarship relies on references to support the claims made by authors; reference rot makes academic papers vulnerable to references which no longer support these claims.

Some solutions to the problem of reference rot have been suggested. The use of DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) rather than URLs is one,  these may provide a more reliable and robust mechanism for citing digital, scholarly articles 5 . Archiving websites, which attempt to archive portions of the web in order to ensure future access , such as the Internet Archive and Webcite, provide an alternative solution. Neither of these solutions are flawless however and both have their own problems 6 . The original paper can be viewed at

1. O'Connor, C. & O'Connor A. (2015), 'Reference rot': A developing problem in Emergency Medicine Australasia. Emergency Medicine Australasia. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12459

2. Klein M, Van de Sompel H, Sanderson R, Shankar H, Balakireva L, Zhou K, et al. Scolarly Context not Found: One in five articles Suffers from Reference Rot. PloS one. 2014; 9(12):e115253

3. Gul S, Mahajan I, Ali A. The growth and decay of URLs citation: A case of an online Library & Information Science Journal. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science. 2014;19(3):27-39.

4. Zittrain J, Albert K, Lessig L. Perma: Scoping and addressing the problem of link and reference rot in legal citations. Legal Information Management. 2014; 14902):88-89

5. Keele BJ, Pearse M. How Librarians Can Help Improve Law Journal Publishing. Law Library Journal.  2012; 104:383

6.  Klein M, Van de Sompel H, Sanderson R, Shankar H, Balakireva L, Zhou K, et al. Scolarly Context not Found: One in five articles Suffers from Reference Rot. PloS one. 2014; 9(12):e115253