Year: 2020

Oxford’s diversity drive extends to PhDs with applications to include class background

The pilot for PhD applications is the latest in a series of attempts by Oxford to boost diversity in its postgraduate intake
The pilot for PhD applications is the latest in a series of attempts by Oxford to boost diversity in its postgraduate intake

Oxford’s diversity drive is extending to PhDs, it has emerged, with the university launching a trial where class background is included in applications.

Tutors will examine information about students’ socio-economic background as well as their academic credentials as part of a pilot which will run next autumn.

The university has long encouraged dons to make use of “contextual data” during the undergraduate admissions process in a bid to increase its intake of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

However, this is the first time a similar approach is employed for the selection of PhD candidates. Admissions tutors in five doctorate training programmes run by the science and medicine faculties will be given a series of indicators of a student’s class background to consider alongside their application. 

This will include whether

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Illinois launches online system to track rape kits in new cases. But not every hospital is on board.

Sexual assault survivors in Illinois now have the ability to track evidence in new cases.

The Illinois State Police, which runs state laboratories that analyze DNA evidence, launched a long-awaited tracking system for rape kits in August. Survivors will receive a case number in a hospital emergency room that allows them to access location information.

Many survivors had been anticipating tracking their kits, but the system is not retroactive; tracking numbers are assigned only for new cases, according to ISP.

Beth Hundsdorfer, a spokesperson for Illinois State Police, said survivors with cases before Aug. 14 should check with the investigating agency for more information. She noted that lab work on all previous sexual assault cases should be completed within six months.

Efforts to create the tracking system, which advocates say can boost accountability and support survivors, have long been underway; the system was initially supposed to launch in 2019 but

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The stress of COVID-19 on pregnant women and new mothers is showing

<span class="caption">COVID-19 has drastically changed the hospital experience.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Daniel Berehulak via Getty Images">Daniel Berehulak via Getty Images</a></span>
COVID-19 has drastically changed the hospital experience. Daniel Berehulak via Getty Images

Pregnancy is stressful, to say the least, but COVID-19 brings new challenges to parents of newborns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified pregnant women as a vulnerable population. If infected, they are more likely to be hospitalized and require ventilation and their risk of preterm birth goes up.

Economists predict that the U.S. may have at least 500,000 fewer births because of the pandemic. Deciding not to become pregnant during a pandemic is understandable, particularly in the U.S., as it is one of five countries worldwide and the only country classified as high-income by the World Bank, that does not mandate paid maternity leave for non-federally employed workers.

As scholars who study prenatal and postnatal stress, maternal nutrition and the brain development of children, we can tell you the pandemic has dramatically changed the pregnancy

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Parents are wary of giving kids a Covid-19 vaccine. What if schools require it?

Michelle Vargas of Granite City, Illinois, has always vaccinated her 10-year-old daughter, Madison. They both typically get flu shots. But when a vaccine for the coronavirus eventually comes out, Vargas will not be giving it to her daughter — even if Madison’s school district requires it.

“There is no way in hell I would be playing politics with my daughter’s health and safety,” said Vargas, 36, an online fitness instructor. If the public school Madison attends and loves says the vaccine is mandatory, “we would find other options,” she said.

As pharmaceutical companies race to manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine, many people are wary of a shot that is working its way through the approval process at record speed during a highly politicized pandemic. While some professions could require employees to get the vaccine, experts say schools almost certainly will require students to — potentially setting the stage for a showdown

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Pinterest lures lifestyle influencers with its own version of Stories

Likewise, creator profiles allow influencers to highlight their projects — via Story Pins — not just the content they’ve already pinned. And users who follow creators can comment and react to their stories. 

Pinterest is introducing 'creator profiles' for influencers.


Despite being one of the last social platforms without a dedicated space for vertical video, it makes sense that Pinterest would want to adopt the format. Many of the creative endeavors people most associate with Pinterest — recipes, crafting, decorating — lend themselves to casual, first-person video. For example, a food blogger may want to offer a behind-the-scenes look at their latest recipe, while a fitness buff may want to show off a workout. 

At the same time, it’s difficult to imagine that influencers would choose Pinterest over YouTube (where they can monetize their videos directly), Instagram (where their following is more established) or TikTok (where the right clip can go viral much more quickly with

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‘Do not book overseas holidays’, pleads Sturgeon

The Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides, could be one of Scots’ few overseas travel options this half term - Getty
The Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides, could be one of Scots’ few overseas travel options this half term – Getty

Nicola Sturgeon has told Scottish families not to book overseas holidays for October half term, as the nationwide shutdown begins. 

“Please think of the October break as an opportunity to further limit social interaction,” she urged in Tuesday afternoon’s Scottish Parliament address.

“And, given that this is a global pandemic, please do not book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential.”

Though Scotland’s borders remain open, and the First Minister’s comments are not enshrined in law, tourism businesses have warned the remarks are a “nail in the coffin” for the “entire” travel sector. 

Mike Tibbert, vice president of the Scottish Passenger Agents Association, issued a damning statement in response to Sturgeon’s plea: “We seem to have government announcements actively designed to destroy travel jobs and

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J&J has started its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial

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Today in healthcare news: GoodRx is making its stock-market debut after pricing shares at $33 apiece just after midnight. At that price, the company is valued at $12.7 billion. What a time to be in the digital health/online prescription drug coupon business. 

Also: Johnson & Johnson has started a 60,000-person coronavirus vaccine trial, coronavirus deaths passed 200,000, and your ultimate guide to reading through vaccine data. 

Speaking of vaccines (and when are we not!):  Our biotech reporter Andrew Dunn is moderating a conversation on October 5 at 2 p.m. ET on the coronavirus vaccine race with 3 top experts:

  • Maria Elena Bottazzi, co-director of Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development

  • Art Caplan, bioethicist and

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Violence mounts against Iraqi doctors as COVID cases spike

By Amina Ismail

NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi doctor Tariq Al-Sheibani remembers little else beyond cowering on the ground as a dozen relatives of a patient, who had just died of COVID-19, beat him unconscious.

About two hours later the 47-year-old director of Al-Amal Hospital in the southern city of Najaf woke up in a different clinic with bruises all over his body.

“All the doctors are scared,” said Sheibani, speaking at his home in Kufa a few weeks after the Aug. 28 attack. “Every time a patient dies, we all hold our breath.”

He is one of many doctors struggling to do their job as COVID-19 cases rise sharply in Iraq.

They are working within a health service that has been left to decay through years of civil conflict and underfunding, and now face the added threat of physical attack by grieving and desperate families.

Reuters spoke to seven

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Prestigious British university rocked by online allegations of sexual misconduct

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — One of Britain’s most prestigious universities, which has educated a future king, has been rocked by dozens of anonymous online allegations of rape and sexual misconduct.

The University of St. Andrews has been confronted with more than 100 posts on an Instagram account alleging incidents including sexual assault, harassment, rape as well as physical and emotional abuse. Most, but not all, of the testimonies appear to be connected to life at the Scottish university, but some of the posts suggest the incidents may have happened elsewhere.

The university said Tuesday that it had received one “actionable” report of alleged sexual misconduct since the St. Andrews Survivors account was set up in July, but a spokesperson said they could not comment on any individual case.

A general view of St Andrews University. (Matthew Lewis / Getty Images file)
A general view of St Andrews University. (Matthew Lewis / Getty Images file)

The #MeToo movement has inspired similar social media accounts

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Nick Cordero’s widow, Amanda Kloots, on his death from COVID-19

Nick Cordero’s widow, Amanda Kloots, believes her husband’s situation might have had a different outcome if he were to get sick today. She feels the hospital where he was admitted in March, after he fell ill, treated him well, but she notes that health professionals and scientists know so much more about COVID-19 today than they did six months ago.

“It was a different time, and Nick just got trapped,” Kloots told the New York Times in an interview published online late Tuesday. “I think it would be different if he went to the hospital now.”

The 41-year-old Broadway actor died on July 5, after having faced multiple complications in his struggle with COVID-19. He was placed in a medically induced coma, from which he eventually awakened. He also had is leg amputated because of a blood clotting issue.

Kloots was asked whether she thought Cordero’s situation might have turned

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