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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Freezer Failure

AP reports:
A freezer malfunctioned at a Harvard-affiliated hospital that oversees the world's largest collection of autistic brain samples, damaging a third of the scientifically precious specimens and casting doubt on whether they can be used in research.

The director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center said the loss was "devastating," particularly in light of the increasing demand for brain samples among scientists searching for the cause of autism and potential treatments.
"Over the last 10 years, the autism tissue program has been working very hard to get the autism community to understand the importance of brain donation," Dr. Francine Benes said. Now many of those samples have been compromised.
Apparently misunderstanding the last line, the headline writer for WLS in Chicago suggested that the problem is even worse than it is:

The reference to "10 years" is about the development of brain donations, not the extent to which this failure will set back research.

See here for another example of media inaccuracy.