Sorry for the long delay between newsletters. Things have been a bit hectic, and they’re about to become even more so: Today I’m starting a six-month stint as a reporter for The New York Times health and science desk. I’ll mostly be helping cover the pandemic, but I hope to do some other stories, too, so feel free to send me all tips, leads, and story ideas.
I do plan to keep sending out this newsletter, though I suspect it may be shorter and less frequent in the coming weeks, as I get settled and re-awaken my daily-deadline-writing muscles. Please bear with me! I will, at the very least, send out an occasional roundup of links to my stories.
The Evolution of Clinical Trials
Speaking of which, I recently wrote a piece for the Times about how the pandemic is changing clinical trials, with potentially long-lasting consequences. As I explain in the story:
When the pandemic hit last year, clinical trials took a hit. Universities closed, and hospitals turned their attention to battling the new disease. Many studies that required repeated, in-person visits with volunteers were delayed or scrapped.
But some scientists found creative ways to continue their research even when face-to-face interaction was inherently risky. They mailed medications, performed exams over video chat and asked patients to monitor their own vitals at home.
Many scientists say this shift toward virtual studies is long overdue. If these practices persist, they could make clinical trials cheaper, more efficient and more equitable — offering state-of-the-art research opportunities to people who otherwise wouldn’t have the time or resources to take advantage of them.
“We’ve discovered that we can do things differently, and I don’t think we’ll go back to life as we used to know it,” said Dr. Mustafa Khasraw, a medical oncologist and clinical trial specialist at Duke University.
Read the full story for some interesting examples of how researchers are adapting to this challenging moment and more on what the long-term ripple effects could be.
A remarkable tale of the woes of the superwealthy residents of one of the tallest buildings in the world
This piece on the “secret, essential geography of the office” is so good: “I once worked for a few weeks at a big, busy company, and one day I asked, jokingly, ‘Where do I go to cry?’ An hour later, I was taken aside and told in seriousness about a specific stairwell.”
20,000 bees took over an empty office
Designing cities for birds
A preview of the “post-pandemic dream home”
The long quest for Lego bike lanes
The European Space Agency is recruiting “para-astronauts”: “We did not evolve to go to space so when it comes to space travel, we are all disabled.”
Ten years after two devastating earthquakes, nature is reclaiming parts of Christchurch, New Zealand
The true causes of urban collapse: “Pandemics, invasions, and other major calamities are not the usual culprits in urban abandonment. Instead, what kills cities is a long period in which their leaders fail to reckon honestly with ongoing, everyday problems—how workers are treated, whether infrastructure is repaired.”
Take one of these virtual walking tours of New York
Everything old is new again: “We’re Just Rediscovering a 19th-Century Pandemic Strategy: The first way to fight a new virus would once have been opening the windows.”
A “mesmerizing, meticulous” map of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bonus Interspecies Animal Content
Hang in there! There’s finally some light at the end of this tunnel.
The Great Indoors is out now! You can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, or your local independent bookstore. (And if you’ve already read the book, please consider leaving an Amazon rating or review!)