Research

29 stories
Researchers rely on website that tracks illegal Rx sales
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StreetRx is a website that lets people who illegally buy prescription drugs post the prices they paid, and how much they got, in different parts of the country. But it's not something dreamed up by users themselves — this website is a project of Epidemico, a health-data tracking company founded in 2007 by people from Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and MIT. Researchers hope to use the crowd-sourced data on drug trasnsactions to learn more about addiction, assess whether public policy is effective, and track how the illegal drug market evolves. Cops also use the site to help them keep tabs on the street prices and flow of drugs, particularly for undercover work.

On Friday, someone in New Bedford paid a dealer $2 for a 5-milligram hydrocodone pill, a price deemed "cheap" in the busy black market for prescription opioids. That same day in Winchendon, a person spent $5 on a 30-milligram Adderall, rated "not bad" for the popular stimulant. The sales are illegal.

Read more at: www.bostonglobe.com

I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside
How do you measure a miserable winter? An MIT student might have the answer
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In the final, brutal days before Boston officially broke its record for snowfall in one winter, many people had the same thought: How could there possibly ever have been a winter worse than this? Surely, the snow-measurers had to be making some mistake. Ben Letham, a PhD candidate studying applied math at MIT, was in a rare position to double-check his gut reaction. “I thought, `Oh I’ll just download the data and figure it out myself,’" Letham said with a chuckle. Read More
Alcalde de Tweets
MIT's Twitter-backed research highlights Twitter use by small Spanish town
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Twitter can be used for a lot of things — a personal newswire, celebrity PR machine, or meme distribution system. It appears that one small town in Spain is taking advantage of Twitter's real-time conversation stream to replace the complaint line at City Hall. Read More
hit the books
TagNotate is the Rap Genius for researchers
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A psychology professor from Connecticut is offering students writing term papers, lawyers prepping for a case, and anyone challenged with thumbing through a stack of electronic documents a way to streamline their research. His solution: an app that can help them mark up electronic documents and arrange those sections by theme. Read More
running on fumes
$175,000 from MassDevelopment carries Dynamo Micropower into pilot tests
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Dynamo Micropower, a startup housed at Greentown Labs, will receive a $175,000 loan, the group announced Monday. The money, distributed by MassDevelopment's Emerging Technology Fund, adds to the $2.5 million in private investment and grant funding that the Somerville-based turbine maker has received over the last 18 months. Read More
Venture
Venture capital's diversity problem isn't just bad PR — it's bad for business
Ellen Pao, Therese Lawless, Alan Exelrod
Legendary venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers was cleared of any wrongdoing in last week’s sensational trial alleging gender discrimination against Ellen Pao, a former member of the firm. But there’s no question that the venture capital world suffers from a lack of diversity — a situation that persists even though researchers at the country’s top business schools have shown it’s bad for business, which should be the bottom line for any investor. Read More
Heart Beats
Music as medicine? The Sync Project will use big data to study the healing power of melody
Does your heart rate kick up with Taylor Swift comes on? A new app will measure the effect music has on health. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File
You may keep your Taylor Swift obsession hidden from your co-workers, but not from science. A new research initiative called the Sync Project aims to track how the brain and body respond to music through an app that collects biological data while your favorite jams stream on loop. So when a person plugs in their headphones and heads to work, their activity tracker on their wrist will be able to see how their heart rate changes when Swift’s "Shake It Off" transitions to One Directions’ "Steal My Girl." Read More
Smart science
Apple, Boston hospitals partner to launch ResearchKit for medical research
Family of healthkit apps
An ultra-thin Macbook laptop and the Apple Watch were the stars of Apple’s Monday media event in San Francisco. But the company also introduced a new suite of apps for the iPhone that could turn the device into a research tool and transform the way researchers study disease. Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were among the partners who worked with Apple on the five inaugural research apps. They will track asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and were built with Apple’s new tool, ResearchKit. Read More
Cambridge students study science with a CSI-inspired crime lab
Cambridge eighth graders Nellisha Leonce  and Patrina Eugene examined their fingerprints on a brushed plastic cup during a week-long forensics workshop at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge. (Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe)
A little after noon on Wednesday last week, two technicians from the Cambridge Police Department crime lab arrived at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, kits in tow. But the famed center was not the scene of a crime. Rather, it was hosting a four-day vacation science camp for middle-schoolers, and the two crime-lab techs were participating in a session called “Get A Clue” to introduce 22 adolescents to scientific skills such as microscopy and dissections. And to make the session all the more engaging for the kids, the Whitehead and its partner in the program, the educational group Science from Scientists, had cooked up a whodunit: the theft of a candy recipe they would solve using technical sleuthing taught by real-life CSI types. Read More