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Posts from the ‘Health’ Category


A Major Increase in Our Response to the Ebola Outbreak

On Tuesday, during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, President Obama spoke on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and announced a major increase in our efforts to help the international community fight the outbreak.

While starting off by reiterating that the chances of an Ebola outbreak happening in the U.S. are extremely low, he made clear that West Africa faces “a very different situation,” especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea — the countries that have been hardest hit by the current outbreak.

President Obama noted that the outbreak is a national security priority, and that the government has “devoted significant resources in support of our strategy” with four main goals:

  • Controlling the outbreak
  • Addressing the ripple effects of local economies and communities to prevent a truly massive humanitarian disaster
  • Coordinating a broader global response
  • Urgently building up a public health system in these countries for the future

You can read more at the White House Blog or by clicking on this fact sheet.



New Research Toward Cure for Ebola

At a moment when researchers on both sides of the Atlantic are hard at work on anti-viral therapies, especially in response to the Ebola outbreak, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a new family of proteins could become part of a possible cure.

Shan-Lu Liu, MD, PhD, associate professor in the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, and coauthor of the study said, “This is a surprising finding that provides new insights into our understanding of not only HIV infection, but also that of Ebola and other viruses.”

Read more at the School of Medicine website.



US and UK Work to Stop Ebola

The United States and the United Kingdom are taking an active role in dealing with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

On July 31, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), delivered a press release in which Director Tom Frieden announced his intention to send 50 disease control experts to West Africa in the next 30 days. “This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Far too many lives have been lost already. It will take many months, and it won’t be easy, but Ebola can be stopped. We know what needs to be done.”

Leading experts in the UK Peter Piot, who discovered Ebola in 1976, David Heymann, the director of the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and Jeremy Farrar from the Wellcome Trust have said there are several drugs and vaccines that could be used to combat the disease and are encouraging the World Health Organization (WHO) to make these drugs available to African governments.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal  the three experts said that: “There are antiviral drugs, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines under study that have shown varying degrees of effectiveness in animals that have been infected with or exposed to the Ebola virus.”

During the last week, two American aid workers who contracted the virus have been brought back to the US for treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Both patients were given doses of an experimental drug called ZMapp, developed by a private biotech firm in San Diego, while medical researchers continue to work to try to find a cure for the disease.




Global Health and Security Agenda

The Global Health and Security Agenda launched on Thursday in Washington, D.C. despite a foot of snow falling in the area. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco teamed up and wrote an OpEd for CNN on why global health security is a national priority.

“The United States has made addressing infectious disease threats a priority. On Thursday in Washington and Geneva, we are convening 26 countries to launch a Global Health Security Agenda that will accelerate progress on addressing a wide range of global health security threats.” Read the rest of the article here.

The three main goals of the Agenda are to prevent avoidable epidemics, detect early threats, and respond rapidly and effectively to biological threats of international concern.

Global Health Security Agenda


G8 Science Meeting in London


On June 12, UK Science Minister David Willetts hosted the G8 science ministers and heads of national science academies at the Royal Society in London, in the first meeting of its type to be held since 2008.  The U.S. was represented by Dr. Patricia Falcone, Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy.  

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World Health Day 2013: Control Your Blood Pressure

WHD2013Many people do not know they have high blood pressure because it does not always cause symptoms. As a result, it contributes to more than nine million deaths every year, including about half of all deaths due to heart disease and stroke. Cut your risk of developing high blood pressure by: cutting down on salt; eating a balanced diet; avoiding harmful use of alcohol; doing regular physical activity; and avoiding tobacco use. Read more »


US Highlights – NASA, EPA Advancements, and NIH Updates

LDCM Prelaunch First Images Released From Newest Earth Observation Satellite: Turning on New Satellite Instruments is Like Opening New Eyes

 As we noted in last month’s blog the Landsat Data Continuity Mission was launched on February 11. In mid-March the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) released its first images of Earth, collected at 1:40 p.m. EDT on March 18. The first image shows the meeting of the Great Plains with the Front Ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado.

The two LDCM sensors collect data simultaneously over the same ground path. OLI collects light reflected off the surface of Earth in nine different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, including bands of visible light and near-infrared and short-wave-infrared bands, which are beyond human vision. TIRS collects data at two longer wavelength thermal infrared bands that measure heat emitted from the surface. By looking at different band combinations, scientists can distinguish features on the land surface. These features include forests and how they respond to natural and human-caused disturbances, and the health of agricultural crops and how much water they use. Data from LDCM will extend a continuous, 40-year-long data record of Earth’s surface from previous Landsat satellites, an unmatched, impartial perspective that allows scientists to study how landscapes all across the world change through time.   Read more here.

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UK Highlights – Conference Season

With UK party conference season over for another year, here is a round-up of key speeches relating to environment, science, technology and health issues.  

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U.S. Highlights: Clean Energy Job Growth, New Nuclear R&D, Solar at Record High, Green Pricing

This week’s U.S. highlights begin with Secretary Clinton’s remarks at the United Nations last week where she emphasized the importance of multilateral clean water initiatives.  Next, there have been noteworthy gains in U.S. home energy efficiency upgrades and increased investment in nuclear energy research at American universities.  The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) released several reports showing growth in U.S. solar production and American green pricing program participation during 2011.   The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published research in September rebutting claims that large-scale, high altitude wind production adversely impacts climate.   Finally, I wrap up by highlighting several non-federal, state programs showing new growth in jobs associated with clean energy programs in California, the Midwest, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.


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UK Highlights – Reshuffle

On September 4, Prime Minister Cameron announced a significant reshuffle of his government.  Since then, NGOs, industry and other observers have been carefully scrutinizing whether the changes at the departments for energy, environment, communities, transport and health signal any significant change in Coalition policy priorities.   With Party Conference season upon us, speeches by new Ministers will offer an important early read on how they intend to proceed on critical UK ESTH issues including electricity market reform, the UK’s low carbon agenda, renewable energy, airport expansion and planning regulations.        

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