Spike of the Opioid Crisis, Science Prizes and Tree Species Puzzle


The pingan the fruit of the tree (left) is distinct from the lumok tree (right), but Western scientists misclassified the two trees as a single species for nearly two centuries.Credit: left, Elias Ednie; on the right, Elliot Gardner

The Iban people knew from the beginning that one tree is actually two

Western science has long considered an Asian tree with the scientific name Artocarpus odoratissimus be a single species. But a genetic study (E. M. Gardner et al. Running. Biol. 32, R511–R512; 2022) now confirms that the trees that the researchers grouped as A. odoratissimus actually belong to two species – as evidenced by the names used by the local Iban, each referring to a distinct variety of the tree.

Artocarpus odoratissimus was first incorporated into Western taxonomy in 1837. In 2016, scientists working in the Malaysian state of Sarawak noticed that local botanists used two names for the tree. These botanists, who were members of the indigenous Iban people of Sarawak, called the trees with large fruits and leaves lumokand those with smaller, less sweet fruits pingan (Photo, pingan fruit).

To test whether the trees’ DNA reflected this distinction, the researchers compared the genetics of lumok and pingan. The team found that the two types of trees were related but genetically distinct enough to be considered separate species. Lumok keep the name A. odoratissimus and pingan received the scientific name Artocarpus mutabilis.

Awards named after men are less likely to go to women

According to a study, women are more likely to win prizes that don’t have a person’s name on them than to win prizes with a man’s name.

The study, presented on May 25 at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, reviewed nearly 9,000 winners from nearly 350 prizes in the fields of earth sciences and environment and cardiology, as well as prizes awarded by national scientific bodies. in the United Kingdom and the United States. The study has not yet been published (S. Krause and K. Gehmlich EGU General Assembly EGU22-2562 https://doi.org/hzn2; 2022).

Winners by gender: Graph showing that out of 345 science awards, only 15.4% of winners were women.

Source: Krause, S. & Gehmlich, K. EGU General Assembly EGU22-2562 https://doi.org/hzn2 (2022)

He found that women received only about 15% of these awards, dating back to the 18th century. Of the 214 prizes named after men, only 12% are women (see “Laureates by gender”). But women were the winners 24% of the time for the 93 prizes that don’t bear anyone’s name – a trend that was consistent over time, says Stefan Krause, an earth and environmental scientist at the University. from Birmingham, UK, who presented the research at the EGU Meeting.

The findings suggest there may be a connection between the name of an award and who receives it, he says. “If the prizes are not named after a person, the gender balance in the prizes is more balanced,” he adds.

A homeless man holds a piece of aluminum foil he used to smoke fentanyl on March 13, 2022 in Seattle, Washington, USA.

A man holds up a piece of tin foil he used to smoke the powerful opioid fentanyl.Credit: John Moore/Getty

U.S. opioid overdose deaths hit peak

An opioid crisis in the United States could soon peak and then begin to abate, according to one model (TY Lim et al. proc. Natl Acad. Science. UNITED STATES 119, e2115714119; 2022).

Since 1999, some 760,000 people nationwide have died after overdosing on prescription and illicit opioids, including the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl (pictured, sheet used to smoke fentanyl) Treatments such as injections of the drug naloxone, which reverses overdoses, are helpful. But the number of deaths continues to rise each year.

Mohammad Jalali, a systems scientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his colleagues collected data on opioid use and deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2020. They built a model that incorporates factors that have changed over the past 20 years, such as the prevalence of fentanyl and the distribution of naloxone. The model relied heavily on feedback loops: an increase in fatal overdoses due to the presence of fentanyl, for example, could raise concern in a community and decrease overall use.

The researchers then projected future scenarios. In all of these cases, they found, overdose deaths are expected to peak before 2025 and then decline. In an “optimistic” scenario, 543,000 people would die between 2020 and 2032, while a “pessimistic” scenario would see 842,000 deaths over this period.


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