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Top 5 Reads of the Week

As Cancer Research Funding Spikes, Scientists Worry About Lack of Collaboration: There’s been major cash flow into cancer research in 2016. Two cancer moonshots were launched, one national and one semi-private, led by Vice President Joe Biden and by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, respectively. Research in immunology (recently ranked as the most promising disruptive technology in cancer research by Partners at the World Medical Innovation Forum) is experiencing especially heavy funding— earlier this month Sean Parker announced a $250 million funded Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and in March Johns Hopkins announced a $125 million Immunology Center. This influx of cash has scientists worried; there appears to be a striking lack of coordination and collaboration between public and private initiatives, with data hoarding and duplicated research presenting particular challenges. (Nature)

The Abuse of Mentally Ill Inmates: At the Transitional Care Unit at the Dade Correctional Institution in Florida, mentally ill inmates have allegedly been starved, tortured, and in one case scalded to death in a shower by corrections officers. New Yorker contributor Eval Press follows the stories of these prisoners, and the well-meaning social workers employed by the prison who observed the abuse yet remained silent for fear of retaliation. (The New Yorker)

With The Help of Storytellers, Researchers Develop a Semantic Brain Map: Scientists have developed an interactive atlas of the brain that pinpoints where in the cerebral cortex different words are processed. The study behind the semantic brain map, published this week in Nature, placed seven people in fMRI scanners and played them two hours of the popular storytelling podcast The Moth Radio Hour. Researchers noticed that related words activated similar areas of the brain, and they saw consistent patterns between participants. (STAT News)

Harvard’s New Happiness Center: The Harvard School of Public Health announced a $21 million investment in a Happiness Center. The center, which aims to promote “positive psychological wellbeing,” will foster collaboration between the university’s psychologists, biologists, anthropologists, physicians, and epidemiologists. The hope is to learn more about the relation of psychological health to long-term physical health, determine the effects of interventions, and develop a happiness index. (The Atlantic)

Tech to Keep an Eye On: Many doctors lament the ways in which physician-patient communication has changed in the digital age. “An increasing number of patients can recount the story of going in to see their doctor and it appears that the doctor is taking care of their computer and not the patient,” said Dr. Robert Wachter in an interview with MedTech Boston last fall. “The doctor is not making eye contact anymore.” San Francisco startup Augmedix is looking to solve this issue using Google Glass. The RockHealth alum raised a $17 million round of funding this month (bringing total funding to $40 million), for their technology that claims to “rehumanize the interaction” between patients and doctors by collecting and recalling EHR information via the Google wearable. (TechCrunch)

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