Newswise — LA JOLLA, CA –  Want to catch a criminal? Show a mugshot on the news. Want to stop HIV infections? Get the immune system to recognize and attack the virus’s tell-tale structure. That’s part of the basic approach behind efforts at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) to design an AIDS vaccine. This strategy may hinge on finding new ways to stabilize proteins called HIV-1 surface antigens and in designing HIV-like particles to prompt the body to fight the real virus. Now two new studies led by TSRI scientists advance these efforts. The first describes a strategy to stabilize an important HIV structure and potentially create HIV lookalikes for large-scale vaccine production. The second study engineers novel nanoparticles as vaccine candidates, using this new knowledge. “This is a big accomplishment in terms of engineering and design,” said TSRI biologist Jiang Zhu. Zhu co-led the first study with Ian Wilson, Hansen Professor of Structural Biology and chair of the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology at TSRI, and co-led the second with TSRI Associate Professor Andrew Ward. The findings were published June 28, 2016 in the journal Nature Communications. Stabilizing HIV In the first publication, Zhu and researcher Leo Kong (a study first author now at the National Institutes of Health) built on previous structural studies from the Ward and Wilson labs to investigate a trait called “metastability.” Metastability describes the tense state of the HIV Envelope glycoprotein (Env) trimer when it is poised like a loaded spring to undergo the dramatic changes that allow the virus to enter cells. Metastability poses a problem for scientists who want to create a precise image of this viral target and see what the human immune system is up against. Metastability also stands in the way of naturally occurring immunity and vaccine production. For the adaptive immune system to work in either case, it needs to recognize a functional, stable version of a virus’s proteins—a sort of mugshot—so it can produce antibodies and attack the actual virus upon encountering it. Unfortunately, because of the virus’s metastability, or shape-shifting tendency, structures of HIV’s proteins have proven difficult to establish for use in vaccine design. The Ward and Wilson groups at TSRI have previously determined cryo-EM and x-ray structures for other Env constructs; however, current methods to stabilize Env in one strain of HIV won’t necessarily stabilize it in another, making it hard to design an arsenal of Env proteins to help elicit “broadly neutralizing antibodies” that could fight many types of HIV. To advance the vaccine effort, TSRI researchers wanted to track down the root cause of metastability, and Jiang and Kong hypothesized that altering a key region of Env would improve its overall properties. They hypothesized that a region of the Env called HR1 could be linked to metastability. “The HR1 basically resembles a highly bent twig that is ready to spring back straight,” said Kong. “This small bend in the HR1 region is likely ground zero for metastability. In most published Env structures, this region appears disordered when mutated or loosely packed when in its native form. From these observations, it seemed reasonable that rewiring the HR1 bend could greatly stabilize Env.” Indeed, when the scientists tweaked HIV’s genetic sequence, they were able to shorten the HR1 region, preventing its transformation and keeping the rest of the structure stable. “We’ve figured out one of the fundamental reasons why HIV is metastable,” said Zhu. The researchers then demonstrated that their stabilized Env trimers also almost perfectly mimicked the structure of the real HIV trimer, suggesting they could be useful in vaccines. Since rewiring the HR1 should prevent Env undergoing its necessary shape-shifting changes to infect cells, the stabilization strategy also could lead to protein or DNA-based vaccines. Furthermore, the modified trimer also has the potential to be produced in reasonably large quantities and at high purity—important considerations in industrial-scale vaccine production. Finally, since many viruses contain metastable Env proteins with HR1-like regions, this TSRI-developed engineering approach may be applicable in the design of vaccines against other viral pathogens such as influenza and Ebola virus. New Vaccine Candidates In the second paper, the researchers looked into designing nanoparticles that could mimic HIV. Particles aren’t new in vaccine design. They provide the backbone of successful vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B and hepatitis E—“the most efficacious human vaccines ever made,” according to Zhu. These nanoparticles are called virus-like particles (VLPs) and are hollow shells of other proteins found in nature. Scientists have found that they can add viral proteins to the outside of a shell, creating a phony virus. The imposter then prompts the body to produce antibodies for long-term protection against the real virus. But as Zhu and his colleagues focused on creating HIV-like VLPs, the Env trimer, once again, presented a challenge. The trimer is made of three subunits that come together to form a base with a crown shape on top. The top of the crown is where the tips of the three subunits meet. Scientists have found that the immune system cannot produce broadly neutralizing antibodies when a vaccine contains only one part of the trimer. The immune system needs to see intact HIV proteins—also called antigens when they stimulate the immune system to create antibodies—in their native trimeric context. To construct an artificial virus, in the new study the researchers added HIV trimers to nanoparticles that naturally lock their own subunits together in clusters of three. As the three subunits come together, the researchers hypothesized, they could bring the HIV antigens together to form a trimer. “Our idea was to ‘fuse’ a trimeric HIV-1 antigen to a nanoparticle subunit, so when the subunits ‘self-assemble’ they bring three attached HIV-1 antigens together,” said TSRI Staff Scientist Linling He, who served as co-first author of the study with Natalia de Val, a researcher at TSRI at the time of the study. It was a feat of geometry and engineering—and it worked. “It has been really challenging to properly present HIV Env on nanoparticles while keeping its natural trimeric form—but we did it,” said Zhu, “Multiple copies of Env are now displayed on the nanoparticle surface, just like what a real virus would do.” The team then tested different nanoparticles and versions of the trimer, including one based on the stabilized Env in the first study, to find the best combinations. Six designs worked well in laboratory tests and now await trials in animal models. “We are still pushing hard to find new vaccine candidates to elicit a protective response in humans,” said Wilson. “The challenges going forward are to understand how to use these new vaccine candidates to induce a protective broadly neutralizing antibody response and to develop the appropriate regimens to initiative this response.” In addition to Zhu, Wilson, Ward, Kong, He and de Val, authors of the first study, “Uncleaved prefusion-optimized gp140 trimers derived from analysis of HIV-1 envelope metastability,” were Nemil Vora, Charles D. Morris, Parisa Azadnia and Bin Zhou of TSRI; Devin Sok of TSRI, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Neutralizing Antibody Center and Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD), and TSRI Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology & Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID); and Dennis R. Burton of TSRI, IAVI, CHAVI-ID and the Ragon Institute. This study was supported by the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) (grants P41GM103393, U54 GM094586 and AI084817), the NIH National Center for Research Resources (grant P41RR001209), the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center and CAVD (grants OPP1084519 and OPP1115782), CHAVI-ID (grant CHAVI-ID UM1 AI100663), the HIV Vaccine Research and Design (HIVRAD) program (grant P01 AI110657), and American Foundation for AIDS Research Mathilde Krim Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Research. Use of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) beamline 23ID-B and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) BL12-2 for this study was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science, under contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357 and the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research. In addition to the authors listed above, authors of the second study,"Presenting native-like trimeric HIV-1 antigens with self-assembling nanoparticles,” were Therese C. Thinnes and David Nemazee of TSRI. This study was supported by the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center and CAVD, CHAVI-ID (grant UM1 AI00663), the HIV Vaccine Research and Design (HIVRAD) program (grant P01 AI110657) and the Joint Center of Structural Genomics, funded by the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (grants U54 GM094586, AI073148 and AI084817) About the Scripps Research Institute The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including three Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information,
Newswise — The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a five-year, $1.225 million federal grant to discover progesterone-like compounds from commonly consumed botanicals and learn how the hormones can aid women’s health. Whether contained in birth control pills or emergency contraception, treatments for endometriosis or fibroids, or as hormone replacement therapy, progesterone will be taken by almost all women at some point in their lives. The hormone plays important roles in the menstrual cycle and in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy. But little is known about progesterone-like compounds in plants. Women are becoming increasingly dependent upon botanical extracts for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms and for women’s health issues in general, said Joanna Burdette, associate professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy, who along with Brian Murphy, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy, serve as co-investigators on the project. “The biomedical purposes that progesterone can be used for are vast,” Burdette said. An estimated $13.7 million is spent annually by Americans on alternative products, including women’s health related supplements. About 10 botanicals — hops, red clover, dogwood and wild yam, among others — have been selected by Burdette and Murphy to study. The list contains botanicals that women commonly use and that have been previously screened at the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research. “Reports on the ability of botanicals to modify progesterone receptor signaling is sparse and practically unavailable despite the impact this could have on women’s health,” Murphy said. The research will provide information for women to make better decisions about self-medicating and will improve safety by allowing them to understand if they are exposing themselves to progestins alone or in a combination with estrogen-like molecules, Burdette said. The grant is funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Newswise — New York, N. Y.  - Leading a busy life makes it tough for anyone to find the time to buy and prepare healthy fare, such as fresh produce and other nutritious foods. Add extreme financial stress, say New Yorkers telling their stories in the new, New York Academy of Medicine report “Food and Nutrition: Hard Truths about Eating Healthy,” and it can be nearly impossible to maintain a healthy diet. The latest and final report in the Academy’s “City Voices: New Yorkers on Health” series, “Food and Nutrition: Hard Truths about Eating Healthy” also shows that while food stamps and food pantries are critical resources, they are falling short when it comes to helping low-income New Yorkers maintain healthy eating habits. “A majority of the low-income New Yorkers we surveyed, 66 percent, told us they were concerned about affording healthy food. Another 36 percent said that healthy foods were seldom available in their communities, and while they wanted to eat healthy, this environment made it difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the preventable disparities in diet-related diseases and mortality between high- and low-income New Yorkers,” said Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, President of the Academy. “I spend all my money on food, all my social security. And … I’m not buying really good, nutritious food… the obstacle of having to work with food stamps, work with my rebate cash, sometimes I just need to put food in my mouth.” – City Voices Focus Group ParticipantSeeking Change in Available ResourcesThe challenges of balancing food costs and availability aside, low-income residents revealed a strong interest in adopting healthier diets, but many also reported that even local food pantries were stocked with foods that made it harder to eat right. Many of these seniors … can’t even afford to buy food, so they’re going from one pantry to the other to try to get sufficient foods. But as we know, canned goods, a lot of canned goods, are not good for our community. There’s a lot of salt in canned goods, and that’s what you get largely through the food banks. You get a lot of canned goods because their shelf life.” – City Voices Focus Group Participant The “Food and Nutrition: Hard Truths about Eating Healthy” focus groups and surveys include the voices of low-income adults from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The work is part of the Academy’s ongoing effort to give low-income city residents an opportunity to express their needs and viewpoints about what is needed to make their communities healthier places to live. Through the Academy’s Designing a Strong and Healthy New York (DASH-NY/NYC) initiatives and our partnerships with government and community organizations statewide, we work to advance policies and programs that address food insecurity and the lack of access to nutrition education in many economically distressed urban communities. One local organization that works hard to improve access to healthy foods in East Harlem is SCAN. The group was awarded $25,000 at the June 11, East Harlem Health in Action Summit, an project the Academy sponsored with several partners, to continue their work in East Harlem. SCAN runs the Get Healthy, East Harlem: Pop-Up Healthy Food Café events and intergenerational cooking labs. “Utilizing our longstanding relationships with New York City Housing Authority parents, children and seniors, SCAN has adopted a bottom-up organizing campaign to positively impact health and wellness in East Harlem. Our very first step is to listen to our children, parents and community. Through this activity, we hear and see what and how to impact our community folks. Such listening has produced an award-winning video The Healthy Dance as well as an East Harlem Cafe to be located at our SCAN Lehman Cornerstone,” said Lewis Zuchman, Executive Director of SCAN. Acknowledging the importance of allowing community members to lead efforts to address local health issues, “Food and Nutrition: Hard Truths about Eating Healthy,” includes personal narratives from New Yorkers, as well as observations from leading health advocates. It is based on a Community Needs Assessment that included nearly 3,000 New Yorkers and was translated into 10 languages. To read the entire series, visit About the AcademyThe New York Academy of Medicine advances solutions that promote the health and well-being of people in cities worldwide. Established in 1847, The New York Academy of Medicine continues to address the health challenges facing New York City and the world’s rapidly growing urban populations. We accomplish this through our Institute for Urban Health, home of interdisciplinary research, evaluation, policy and program initiatives; our world class historical medical library and its public programming in history, the humanities, and the arts; and our Fellows program, a network of more than 2,000 experts elected by their peers from across the professions affecting health. Our current priorities are healthy aging, disease prevention, and eliminating health disparities.    
Newswise — Before your family heads to Mexico, Asia or beyond this summer, do a little planning to keep everyone healthy during their journey. Dr. Nava Yeganeh, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases and director of the Pediatric International Travel and Adoption Clinic at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, explains three important strategies. 1. Avoid infectious diarrhea. Diarrhea is the most common ailment when traveling abroad. You can help prevent diarrhea by:• Eating only foods that have been cooked, boiled or peeled. • Making sure your child washes his/her hands before eating. NOTE: If your child does develop diarrhea, the most important treatment is to keep him/her hydrated. You can do this by administering oral rehydration salts (purchased at any pharmacy) mixed with either boiled or bottled water or by giving a prepacked rehydration drink suitable for children (such as Pedialyte). • Seek medical attention if your child has blood in the stool, has a fever of 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, is vomiting so often that he/she cannot tolerate drinking or seems dehydrated. 2. Be up-to-date on vaccinations.Many foreign countries recommend, or require, certain vaccinations to prevent local illnesses such as yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis. • Visit a health travel specialist 4 to 6 weeks before your trip for guidance on what vaccinations are needed for your travel itinerary.• Remember, some vaccinations don’t offer full immunity until a few weeks after they’re administered. Don’t wait until the last minute to be immunized. • Make sure your child’s regular vaccinations – including those for measles, polio and hepatitis - are up to date. 3. Avoid mosquito-borne illnesses.Zika, dengue, chikungunya and malaria are just some of the diseases transmitted by mosquitos. Protect against mosquito bites by following these tips:• Cover skin with long pants, long sleeves and socks.• Use insect repellent with DEET. Wash off the repellent before going to bed.• At night, use a bed net treated with insecticide. “Traveling abroad with children can be a memorable adventure for the whole family,” Yeganeh says. “These strategies can help everyone enjoy the vacation and return home healthy.”
Newswise — WASHINGTON  — In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) are recruiting as many as 1,200 women to study, in real time, a smartphone app that calculates a woman’s chance for pregnancy on a daily basis. The app, called Dot™, (Dynamic Optimal Timing™), was created based on data from several published studies. Dot has been available for about a year and is increasingly being used globally. Dot is one of the few fertility tracking apps — there are estimated to be about 100 such apps — that is based on empirical evidence, says Victoria Jennings, PhD, director of IRH. In the current issue of the European Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, Jennings and a group of statisticians report the data upon which Dot is based. This includes a detailed fertility analysis of about 1,000 women in six geographical and cultural diverse settings. The World Health Organization provided most of the data, with additional data from clinical research in the U.S. The researchers say their analysis determined that Dot, from the beginning, would be 96-98 percent effective in women if used correctly. And as a woman continues to use it, the app increases its individual accuracy. Recognizing that each woman’s menstrual cycle can vary, the app allows for menstrual cycles that last as little as 20 days or as long as 40 days. It relies solely on a woman’s period start date to provide her with tailored, accurate information about her chance of pregnancy for each day of her cycle — and it alerts a woman if she is on a high or low risk day for the purpose of planning or avoiding pregnancy. “The more you use Dot — the more Dot gets to know you,” Dot’s creator, Cycle Technologies, says on its homepage. Now Jennings and her team at Georgetown’s IRH will study how women use the app. “To our knowledge this is the first prospective study on the effectiveness of a ‘fertility app,’” Jennings says.   They are recruiting study volunteers in the U.S. who have downloaded and are using Dot. “Our goal is to test the efficacy of Dot as a method to avoid unplanned pregnancy in a real-time situation,” says Rebecca Simmons, MPH, a senior research officer at IRH. Not only will the Georgetown researchers calculate how efficient and effective Dot is, they will collect social factors related to an individual woman’s use of Dot, such as how the app might affect a couple’s relationship and if a woman tires of using the app and why, among other questions. The participants will be interviewed four times in the yearlong study, and they will answer questions that pop-up in the app that are sent by the researchers. “We are all smartphone based, and this study will be conducted on the phone and the app — which is novel but quite appropriate,” says Simmons. To enroll in the study, women must download the app. When they use it as a means to avoid pregnancy, they will be invited to participate. More than 220 million women worldwide have an unmet need for family planning, says Jennings. “Our work has shown that simple fertility awareness messages are extremely attractive to a wide range of women and can address their family planning needs. A method that only requires a user to enter her period start date is likely to appeal to many women.” The study is being funded by a grant from U.S. Agency for International Development called the Fertility Awareness for Community Transformation (FACT) project. About the Institute for Reproductive HealthThe Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University Medical Center has more than 25 years of experience in designing and implementing evidence-based programs that address critical needs in sexual and reproductive health. The Institute’s areas of research and program implementation include family planning, adolescents, gender equality, fertility awareness, and mobilizing technology for reproductive health. The Institute is highly respected for its focus on the introduction and scale-up of sustainable approaches to family planning and fertility awareness around the world. For more information, visit About Georgetown University Medical CenterGeorgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR001409-01) from the National Institutes of Health.###
Newswise — While many people view college drinking as the norm, less understood is that how students drink can place them at a higher risk for multiple problems. Drinking on an empty stomach usually means that someone will get drunk faster, given that food helps to absorb alcohol, slowing down alcohol absorption into the bloodstream. A growing trend among college drinkers is called “drunkorexia,” a non-medical term that refers to a combination of alcohol with diet-related behaviors such as food restriction, excessive exercising, or bingeing and purging. “Drunkorexia refers to a complex pattern of drinking-related behaviors that take place before, during, and after a drinking event,” explained Dipali V. Rinker, a research assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Houston. “College students appear to engage in these behaviors to increase alcohol effects or reduce alcohol-related calories by engaging in bulimic-type or diet/exercising/calorie/restricted eating behaviors.” Rinker will present this research at the 39th Annual Research Society on Alcoholism in New Orleans June 25-29, 2016. Rinker said there are a number of consequences. “Potential outcomes may include less inhibition that could lead to more negative alcohol-related consequences,” she said. “Additionally, restricting caloric intake to those from alcohol could lead to vitamin depletion, as it may keep the individual from eating more nutrient-dense foods.” Rinker said her research is designed to flesh out the definition of drunkorexia as well as identify different types of “drunkorexic” behaviors. “Our information examines the association between these different types of drunkorexic behaviors and other predictors of problem drinking among college students, such as gender differences.” The association between gender and drunkorexia is a complex one, she noted. “While it is clear that college women who drink more are more likely than men to engage in bulimic-type behaviors, and with greater frequency, and to experience more alcohol-related problems as a result of these behaviors, there were no gender differences for engaging in drunkorexia to increase the effects of alcohol or engaging in bulimic-type behaviors to compensate for alcohol-related calories. In some cases, men were more likely to engage in bulimic-type and diet/exercising/calorie-restricted eating behaviors to reduce alcohol-related calories. Further research is needed to more fully understand these differences,” she said. “It is important to realize that, in addition to the amount and/or frequency of alcohol consumption, the manner in which college students drink puts them at greatest risk for experiencing problems,” emphasized Rinker. “Students who engage in compensatory dieting/exercise behaviors before, during, or after a drinking event to either increase the effects of alcohol or reduce alcohol calories by either engaging in bulimic-type or extreme dieting, exercise, or restrictive behaviors – such as skipping meals – are putting themselves at risk for serious negative consequences related to alcohol use. In addition to reducing risky drinking levels, college students should also make sure to stay well-hydrated and not drink on an empty stomach. Additionally, college students should make sure that they are eating healthily and engaging in healthy exercise behaviors, particularly if they choose to drink.” ###
Newswise — CHICAGO – Coffee is enjoyed by millions of people every day and the ‘coffee experience’ has become a staple of our modern life and culture. While the current body of research related to the effects of coffee consumption on human health has been contradictory, a study in the June issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, which is published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that the potential benefits of moderate coffee drinking outweigh the risks in adult consumers for the majority of major health outcomes considered. Researchers at Ulster University systematically reviewed 1,277 studies from 1970 to-date on coffee’s effect on human health and found the general scientific consensus is that regular, moderate coffee drinking (defined as 3-4 cups per day) essentially has a neutral effect on health, or can be mildly beneficial. The review was used to create an exhaustive list of the potential health benefits and risks of coffee consumption on the following health outcomes: - Total Mortality- Cardiovascular Disease- Cancer- Metabolic Health- Neurological Disorders- Gastrointestinal Conditions- Other Miscellaneous Health Outcomes The authors noted causality of risks and benefits cannot be established for either with the research currently available as they are largely based on observational data. Further research is needed to quantify the risk-benefit balance for coffee consumption, as well as identify which of coffee’s many active ingredients, or indeed the combination of such, that could be inducing these health benefits. Read the full article in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety here. ###
Newswise — Residents on the South Side say cancer, violence prevention and sexually transmitted infections are among their top health concerns, according to the latest comprehensive assessment conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine. The 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), published online in mid-June, also identifies diabetes among adults, pediatric asthma and pediatric obesity as other critical health issues faced by South Siders. In addition to uncovering the community’s health needs, the report also includes a plan to advance outreach, prevention and education in those six health areas. “This assessment is our strategic compass that guides us to support programs and initiatives that will better meet the community’s health needs,” said Brenda Battle, vice president of care delivery innovation and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “Fortunately, much of the work under way points us in the right direction, but we have more work to do.” UChicago Medicine plans to address the six health concerns in the following ways: • Violence prevention. Develop a comprehensive trauma program that includes linking affected individuals to post-trauma services and training community leaders to help provide counseling and other support. This program will build on the current Level 1 pediatric trauma center and include the forthcoming Level 1 adult trauma center, which is expected to open in early 2018.• Sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Promote STI/HIV screenings among high-risk populations and link HIV-positive patients to care and support services. UChicago Medicine will take advantage of programs that have been advancing HIV testing and improving the lives of those living with HIV and other infections in disproportionately affected populations in Chicago.• Cancer. Conduct breast and colorectal screenings, and promote educational sessions about screenings in the community. The plan will leverage current programs, community relationships, and research and expertise at UChicago. • Diabetes. Find ways to formally educate patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes and promote health lifestyle habits among this population. Coordinators will continue to use UChicago Medicines’ South Side Diabetes Project and Kovler Diabetes Center to improve the health and quality of life for people with diabetes.• Pediatric asthma. Deploy staff throughout the community to increase awareness of asthma and potential triggers and improve the management of the condition at home through the Asthma Care Coordination program.• Pediatric obesity. Promote regular physical activity, healthy eating and nutrition education in community settings — with a focus on schools — using current and new programs. The assessment and an action plan that addresses the health concerns are requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The report, conducted every three years in partnership with other organizations, examined health status, barriers to care, demographics and socioeconomic factors that affect children and adults living in 12 ZIP codes from 35th Street to 199th Street and east of Western Avenue. This area spans 31 locally defined communities and has a population of about 640,000 people. 2013 CHNA Report and Action Plan The 2016 CHNA builds on the findings from the 2013 report, which identified access to care, cancer, diabetes, and pediatric asthma and obesity as the community’s primary health concerns. UChicago Medicine tackled those health needs by: • Providing direct health or wellness services using UChicago Medicine resources and partnering with community health centers and community-based clinical services.• Supporting grants to community organizations that have relevant programs within UChicago Medicine’s service area.• Promoting community-based learning and educational forums on wellness and better health self-management.• Fostering medical education and engagement on the South Side through medical students who serve at community health centers, participate in service-learning projects, and engage in scholarship and mentorship.• Forming partnerships to help UChicago Medicine engage residents and improve their health. RESULTS FROM THE 2013-2016 CYCLE HEALTH CONCERN # OF PROGRAMS # OF ENCOUNTERS # OF PARTNERSAccess to care 17 70,789 57Diabetes 11 2,143 17Cancer 17 702 mammograms N/A189 colonoscopies N/APediatric asthma 6 4,281 30Pediatric obesity 7 702 39 To read the latest Community Health Needs Assessment and for more information about how UChicago Medicine provides services and other benefits to the community, visit
    The New England Journal of Medicine Taenia solium infects humans who have eaten contaminated pork. Larvae migrate to tissues, which can lead to neurocysticercosis, a major cause of seizures in developing countries. Can transmission be stopped on a population level? New research findings are summarized in a new NEJM Quick Take video. Learn more at Newswise — ATLANTA— The transmission of Taenia solium, a pork tapeworm species that infects humans and causes late-onset seizures and epilepsy, can be stopped on a population-wide level with mass treatments of both pigs and humans, researchers have shown. Researchers from several institutions, including Georgia State University, contributed to the study and published their findings in The New England Journal of Medicine. Humans can become infected after eating contaminated pork or through fecal-oral exposure. This study was aimed at eliminating Taenia solium from the villages of Tumbes Province in Peru, a highly endemic region for the disease. Researchers screened and treated pigs and humans in the first two phases of the program. In the final phase, mass treatment was given to 81,170 people in 107 villages, and 55,638 pigs received treatment and vaccination. Mass treatment included chemotherapy with niclosamide in humans and with oxfendazole in pigs, in combination with pig vaccination. The researchers found only three of 342 pigs had live, nondegenerated cysts, but no infected pigs were found in 105 of 107 villages. The researchers showed the transmission of Taenia solium infection can be interrupted on a regional scale in a highly endemic region.The researchers say they expect this effect will only be temporary if it is not bolstered by additional activities. Read the study →
Newswise — She no longer recognizes a Van Gogh, but can tell you how to prepare a watercolor palette. She can’t recall a single famous composer, but knows the purpose of a viola’s bridge. She hasn’t flown a plane since 2007, when viral encephalitis destroyed her hippocampus, the part of the brain used to form new memories and retrieve old ones. And she couldn’t describe a single trip she’s ever taken. But in detail, she’ll list the steps needed to keep a plane from stalling and where to find the rudder controls. Johns Hopkins University cognitive scientists say the sharp contrasts in this patient’s memory profile — her inability to remember facts about pursuits once vital to her life as an artist, musician and amateur aviator, while clearly remembering facts relevant to performing in these domains — suggest conventional wisdom about how the brain stores knowledge is incorrect. Conventional wisdom about memory firmly separates declarative knowledge, or memories about facts, from memories for skills, or “muscle memory.” For instance, a severe amnesiac with muscle memory might never forget how to ride a bike, but probably couldn’t recall anything about the Tour de France. But because skilled performance, like playing music or flying airplanes, requires much more than mere muscle memory, and because this patient retained it despite losing most other aspects of her declarative memory, researchers conclude this type of skill-related declarative knowledge is different. “There is such a contrast between her not being able to tell us anything about her former life and not being able to tell us anything about many aspects of art and music that she once knew well, but when we ask her to tell us how to do a watercolor, she is articulate and full of detail,” said Barbara Landau, the Dick and Lydia Todd Professor of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins. “How can you talk about this knowledge of “how to” as distinct from declarative knowledge? It is declarative knowledge.”The findings, now online, are due to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Cognitive Neuropsychology. Before her illness, Lonni Sue Johnson, 64, was an accomplished artist whose portfolio included six New Yorker magazine covers. She was also an amateur violist who played in orchestras and chamber groups and a licensed single-engine airplane pilot who flew more than 400 flights and owned two planes. Her illness left her with severe brain damage and catastrophic memory impairment, including severe losses of memory about her previous life and severely restricted ability to learn new facts. She has very little memory of her past — not even of her wedding day. She forgets having done something immediately after doing it. She also has very little memory for general world knowledge, including facts about the fields in which she once excelled. To determine whether Johnson’s “skill-related” memory was preserved despite extensive losses in memory for general world knowledge, the team tested her on her memory for facts related to performing four of her former top skills — art, music, flying and driving. They gave the same tests to people of similar age and experience in those areas, as well as to people with no experience in them. The oral tests, of about 80 questions each, covered information about the techniques, equipment and terminology involved in performing the various skills. They included queries such as “How might one remove excess paint when painting with watercolor?” and “How should one touch the strings of an instrument to produce a harmonic?” In art and driving, Johnson scored nearly as high as experts taking the test. In music and aviation, she did not perform as well, but knew considerably more than the novices. “Although Johnson had not created watercolors, had not flown a plane, and had not driven since her illness, she could still describe how one would go about carrying out these activities,” said Johns Hopkins cognitive scientist Michael McCloskey. “These findings suggest that skill-related knowledge can be spared even with dramatic losses in other kinds of knowledge.” The team also included first author Emma Gregory, a former Johns Hopkins post-doctoral fellow, and research assistant Zoe Ovans, also of Johns Hopkins. This research was supported by the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins. ###