It’s that time of year again: the season in which the University of Rochester exchanges quick cash (for you and your whole family!) in exchange for research into why you feel so shitty. It’s a sweet deal, if you can stand going to a hospital four times in the next month.

The U of R has released a presser announcing that anyone who comes down with a flu virus who qualifies can get $25 cash money for showing up to the hospital to let a boffin poke them. If anyone else in your household is also sick, they want them too! Same deal, $25 per visit.

The research is part of a collaborative effort from the awesomely-named New York Influenze Center of Excellence, made up of researchers from the U of R, Cornell and quite inexplicably, the University of Tennessee.

Excellence!

the research is part of the NYICE’s broader mandate to analyze the pathogenesis of flu viruses. This means the route by which infection happens and the life-cycle of the flu while it is in an infected host.

Bonus Excellence:  The NYICE website also links to an article interviewing a “metaphysical healer” named Louise L. Hay who suggests that, if you’d like to avoid sneezing on boffins, your best defense is a positive attitude. I have no idea how this gets linked to from that website. But there you have it.

The recently-announced partnership between the @UofR and IBM is starting to bear fruit already. The National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health have awarded the school $4.7 million in funding – extensible for up to 7 years and as much as $50m – for continued research into the germs which cause various lung diseases.

The University press release cites the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (basically, a shit-ton of expensive computing power, aimed at crunching medical research numbers) that is the partnership between IBM and the University as the key factor in winning the grant. The State of New York has also awarded the U of R $5m in grant money for this project. The University expects to create as many as 250 jobs in Rochester for research assistants, nurses, info analysts and other support personnel.

Aims of the research include investigating the relationship and interaction between the beneficial germs that are native to our bodies and the harmful germs that cause the flu, research into better vaccinations for elderly patients against pneumonia and clinical trials of drugs and vaccines.

For more information on the research initiative and the federal grant money, see the below-linked press release:

University Lung Research Awarded $4.7 Million Contract to Establish a Respiratory Pathogens Research Center – News Room – University of Rochester Medical Center.

OK, I’m just going to say I’m fairly impressed with this. I wonder though about source material. How can we trust this thing to compute from credible sources and even if it does, how can we use it without knowing to whom we should attribute the original work?

I’m not half so concerned with copyright as I am with credibility. But it’s worth considering what the legal ramifications might be for this product and where it gets source material from.

A new Pew Research poll shows that Americans are paying a great deal of attention to the violence in the Middle East. Typically, what gets the most coverage seldom generates the most interest in these polls. Whether that’s a bias of the poll or a genuine reflection of the American opinion of the news, I’m not sure. But certainly, with that potential bias in mind, it seems heartening to see that Americans still have the strength after the last eight years to at least not tune out the violence in Gaza.

That’s good news for policy, bad news for probably Israel and Palestine, both. The research also shows a large number of people think that the media coverage has not been critical enough of either side’s role in the affair. That would seem to indicate that American’s patience with the stalled Middle East peace process is wearing thin as much as it is an indication that we’re sick or our media’s lack of coverage.