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Science and Medicine


Jean-Christophe Thalabard


8 Sessions, each for 3 hours


Active individual participation at each session is the basis of the final mark. At each session, 2 or 3 groups of 2-3 students present an article. Each student is supposed to participate to at least 2 oral presentations and being actively involved in the discussion of the presentations from the others.


Each presenting group provides its supporting set of slides at the time of its presentation.

Overview of the course

In the land of the monolingual: «Translating a basic finding into a new therapy requires us to speak many languages – scientific, clinical, legal and financial. Yet most of us are hopelessly monolingual, a limitation that substantially slows translational research. Steps have been taken to address this problem, but a lot remains to be done». Nature Medicine, 15, 975 (2009). To achieve this goal, in addition to original articles, the major medical journals bring regularly to their readers updates on various aspects of basic research which could potentially be translated to humans. In addition research in humans raise specific issues, which are worth discussing per se. Articles will be selected in order to cover various aspects of clinical research, from early report of biotechnological and/or therapeutic advances, innovative designs to meta-analysis of published results when the time has come to globally evaluate previously promising approaches.

Course objectives

This excursion into major medical journals will help the students:

  1. i) to discover their contents, their target readership and how medically-oriented articles are structured and more importantly discussed;
  2. ii) to summarize and present the results of both original and review articles in the medical field.



No formal previous knowledge is required in this course, although an active reading of the proposed articles will take advantage of notions in biostatistics, experimental design, but also epistemology and various approaches to causality.


Suggested reading

Two series of short articles published in the Br. J. Medicine by T Greenhalgh (http://www.tcnj.edu/~library/gorman/How-to-read-a-paper.htm) and DG Altman (http://www.medcalc.org/literature_notes.php).