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NIH Record  
Vol. LX, No. 15
July 25, 2008
Program Helps Mothers Give Babies Strong Start in Life
VRC Launches Mobile Clinic
NIDA’s Premo Races to Raise Awareness About Leukemia
Small Business Office Holds Monthly Outreach
NIDA Studies Exercise as Addiction
Prevention Tool
NCRR Workshop Links Translational Medicine, Community Engagement
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Plumbing the ‘Behavioral Sink’
Medical Historian Examines NIMH Experiments in Crowding
  Dr. Edmund Ramsden
  Dr. Edmund Ramsden
What happens to people who have to live in cramped quarters? From the mid-1950s to the late 1980s, a noted NIH ecologist and experimental psychologist developed a theory on crowding. To prove it, he built a community of rodents. But could his animal studies tell us anything about human populations? A recent NLM History of Medicine lecture, “Finding Humanity in Rat City: John B. Calhoun’s Experiments at NIMH,” explored concepts—and controversies—raised by his research.

Space, the Final Frontier

Calhoun wasn’t the first scientist to wonder about the effects of overcrowding, said Dr. Edmund Ramsden of the University of Exeter and the London School of Econo- mics. As early as the 1920s—when the number of people in American cities first outpaced population in rural areas—scientists began examining “density-dependent mechanisms.” By 1930, sociologist Louis Wirth had described urban life as one of continuous aggression, frustration, interference and conflict as a consequence of an overload of social interaction leading to depleted social relations, personal grief and personality disorders.

Conflict of Interest in Grand Rounds Spotlight

Recently, Ethics Grand Rounds called on NHLBI’s Dr. Nancy DiFronzo and the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Arthur Caplan to tackle, in microcosm, a topic of intense current importance to NIH at large—how to manage conflict of interest in the grantee community. The subject drew a full house in Lipsett Amphitheater.

“Questions about financial interests,” said Dr. David Wendler, head of the unit on vulnerable populations in the Clinical Center’s department of bioethics, “are becoming more and more prominent.”

He described how, within the last decade or so, more than 70 percent of drug trials have shifted from academic settings to the private side. In this context, NIH’s response to CoI is important to the scientific community.