Late Breaking News
- Categorized in: November 2009
THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS KICKED OFF a “Green Routine” campaign to commemorate Energy Awareness Month. The campaign is designed to increase the awareness among VA employees of their environmental impact as individuals and as members of the federal government. The campaign includes VA’s new “Green Routine” Web site devoted to helpful environmental tips, (www.va.gov/greenroutine), release of a video featuring the VA Chief of Staff educating employees on how to “green” their workplace, and a toolkit designed to help VA employees implement the Green Routine. Through VA’s Green Routine Web site, VA’s Office of Asset Enterprise Management and the Greening VA Working Group are providing tips and tools that help employees make the Earth a better place to live. It includes links to other VA and government-wide “green” resources. “ The video includes a challenge set forth from the VA Chief of Staff for all employees to do their part in reducing their environmental impact and contains examples from fellow VA employees on how to accomplish this. It also highlights success stories from VA facilities across the country. Additionally, a reference tool for managers and employees entitled the Greening Action Guide and Toolkit recommends actions such as selecting a “green champion” in each office to help promote environmentally friendly steps, including printing double-sided, holding electronic meetings without paper handouts, turning off cubicle lights when not in use, unplugging cell phone chargers, and recycling printer cartridges and other items.
UNDERSTANDING BREAST CHANGES: A HEALTH GUIDE FOR WOMEN, is an updated booklet on women’s health, was released last month by the National Cancer Institute. The guide addresses the concerns of women who notice a breast change or get an abnormal mammogram finding. It explains important next steps in testing, diagnosis, and treatment when breast changes are found. Use of screening mammograms, followed by timely treatment when breast cancer is diagnosed, can help reduce a woman’s chances of dying from breast cancer. According to NCI, not all women who would benefit from regular screening mammograms get them. In 2005, only 67% of women aged 40 and older had a mammogram within the past two years,and these rates represent a drop in screening since 2003. (Editor’s Note—It has been reported that the American Cancer Society is in the process of revising its screening guidelines) One reason some women may not undergo mammography is fear or misunderstanding of the screening process, results, or follow-up steps. Many women remain unaware that breast health issues are very common and most breast changes found on mammograms are not cancer. By including quotes from other women and questions to ask their health care provider, the booklet helps women better prepare themselves for discussions with their health care provider. These discussions are critical to learning more about breast health.
THE FOGARY INTERNATIONAL CENTER announced last month that it will award more than $9.23 million to eight global health informatics programs over the next five years. Fogarty’s Informatics Training for Global Health program is intended to increase informatics expertise in low- and middle-income countries by training scientists to design information systems and apply computer-suprereported management and analysis to biomedical research. Medicine and biomedical research are knowledge-based fields that depend upon the sharing of information. Informatics, the science of handling large volumes of information, can help link physicians and researchers around the world so that they can share knowledge ranging from the best care of patients to issues in collaborative research. Two of the awards will fund new informatics programs in South America. The first is a collaborative effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia, designed to build the capacity of individuals in the field of health informatics with an emphasis on clinical research. The second grant will allow Oregon Health and Science University to combine the existing strengths of its informatics and epidemiology program with that of the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires in Argentina, to develop a focus in clinical and translational research informatics. Another grant will support the creation of the Andean Global Health Informatics Research and Training Center, a regional center of excellence in global health informatics.
A RESEARCH PROGRAM TO ENHANCE NEWBORN SCREENING was established last month at the National Institutes of Health in memory of the son o fNational Football League Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Hunter Kelly died at age 8 1/2 years in 2005 of Krabbe disease, a rare,fatal genetic disorder affecting the nervous system. Newborn screening consists of performing routine diagnostic tests on newborn infants to identify serious, often fatal, disorders at birth, so that these disorders can be treated. The tests usually involve analyzing a sample of blood, taken from an infant’s heel. Under the provisions of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act, Congress established The Hunter Kelly Newborn Screening Research Program within the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The program is authorized to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening. The goal is to increase the number of conditions that can be diagnosed at birth, to understand the long-term effects of living with these conditions, and to foster the development of new treatments.
SIX NEW RESEARCH CONTRACTS TO DISCOVER AND CHARACTERIZE novel adjuvants, substances that can be added to vaccines to enhance the protective immune response they induce, were awarded last month by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Currently, the only vaccine adjuvant approved for use in the United States is an aluminum mixture known as alum. NIAID has awarded a total of approximately $60 million over five years for these contracts. The awardees will identify novel compounds with the potential to be vaccine adjuvants. All compounds will be tested in animal models and human cells to determine how well they stimulate the immune response. The investigators also will examine and describe the cellular reactions that the compounds induce. The awardees of the adjuvant contracts will work to identify and characterize novel adjuvants that trigger receptors of the inborn, or innate, immune system. They will also seek to identify the cellular receptor for each of the novel adjuvant candidates, determine how it triggers the innate immune response, and then make changes to the adjuvant to improve its ability to induce the innate immune response. Although a number of innate immune receptors already have been described, many more likely exist and are expected to be uncovered in the course of these projects.