The story of the girl with pink sneakers

first_imgI did not expect to be overwhelmed in a van’s makeshift waiting room. I was on a reporting assignment for the Harvard Crimson involving the Family Van, a Boston mobile health clinic that provides free health screenings in the city’s rougher neighborhoods.Among the bustle of visitors — who talked with me about everything from insurance to the Kennedys to tattoos — was a young woman about my age, sporting hot-pink sneakers and hair dyed sun colors. She stepped onboard only briefly, hoisting her baby stroller and calling for the HIV-testing counselor “to pick up my letter.” I was overcome as I watched her vivacious smile: The Family Van only calls home for negative test results. How could I capture the challenges that she would face when she stepped off? How could I tell her story?Bridging the divide between medicine and its politics is the voice of the journalist. As a student of molecular biology and the history of science, this divide fascinates me. Half of my time in college is dedicated to biochemical research, and the other half to understanding the communication between scientists and the public. As a researcher, I work to emulate my lab-mates, the scientists who tirelessly question their results and the experimental procedures they use to obtain them. As a history student, I am challenged to take scientific facts that seem flat and give them depth. Indeed, straightforward scientific “facts” begin to look more complicated once historians trace them to their discoverers, who were bound to eras and geographies past.Journalists also trace facts to their sources — but in our era and across our geography. In her book trailer for “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Rebecca Skloot reflects on her decade-long journey threading the narrative of the Lacks family with long-forgotten Johns Hopkins medical records. On the process, she remarks, “Good science is all about following the data as it shows up, and letting yourself be proven wrong, and letting everything change while you’re working on it — and I think writing is the same way.”I discovered this exhilarating writing process by accident. In my nostalgia for earlier days as a ballet dancer, I decided to write for the Crimson about an art form that I hold dear. After a year of directing arts reporting with my fellow editors on the Crimson Arts Board — a group of vibrant, colorful students who laugh easily, learn in earnest, and always put the story first — I fell in love with the culture of the newsroom. This year, two fellow juniors and I have teamed up to develop the Crimson’s health and science coverage in a biweekly section called “The Cutting Edge.”The Crimson has been my second home since freshman year, but it was not until I worked at the Nieman Foundation last summer that I became hooked on health and science journalism. Charged with writing profiles of the Nieman’s past global health fellows, I heard the stories of 10 journalists reporting from Hanoi to Harare (and quickly realized that interviewing journalists was an interesting exercise). Hopewell Chin’ono and Ran An reflected on the dangers of reporting on health in the totalitarian regimes of Robert Mugabe and the Chinese Communist Party. Kalpana Jain recounted her struggle to report on AIDS in India during a time when the disease was still condemned as Western propaganda. And Harro Albrecht and Christine Gorman, who both investigated health in Malawi, taught me that stories about disease — though universal — are told best in local contexts. In my Boston locale, I found these kinds of stories in the waiting room of a bus.After coming across the writing of Tom Paulson, host of the NPR global health blog “Humanosphere,” I began to understand how I could capture the life of the smiling, pink-sneakered girl who would learn of her HIV diagnosis on the Family Van. In a February post, Paulson writes, “If we aren’t careful in how we ‘frame’ this story, we’re at risk of turning this into a story …  about us — rather than about how best to help those most in need.”Like medicine and science, journalism’s first obligation is to seek truth, and its first loyalty is to its citizens. In this light, I am drawn to health and science journalism for the opportunity to piece together each voice in the pursuit of health, from the laboratory to the street. It is a challenge — but it is also a privilege to chase these stories.Alyssa A. Botelho plans to intern this summer as a health reporter at The Washington Post.If you’re an undergraduate or graduate student and have an essay to share about life at Harvard, please email your ideas to Jim Concannon, the Gazette’s news editor, at [email protected]last_img read more

Precancerous state found in blood

first_img <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMI-msIAI84″ rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/WMI-msIAI84/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), and Harvard-affiliated hospitals have uncovered an easily detectable, “premalignant” state in the blood that significantly increases the likelihood that an individual will go on to develop blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, or myelodysplastic syndrome.The discovery, which was made independently by two research teams affiliated with the Broad and partner institutions, opens new avenues for research aimed at early detection and prevention of blood cancer. Findings from both teams appear this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.Most genetic research on cancer to date has focused on studying the genomes of advanced cancers, to identify the genes that are mutated in various cancer types. These two new studies instead looked at somatic mutations — mutations that cells acquire over time as they replicate and regenerate within the body — in DNA samples collected from the blood of individuals not known to have cancer or blood disorders.Taking two very different approaches, the teams found that a surprising percentage of those sampled had acquired a subset — some but not all — of the somatic mutations that are present in blood cancers. These individuals were more than 10 times likelier to go on to develop blood cancer in subsequent years than those in whom such mutations had not been detected.The “premalignant” state identified by the studies becomes more common with age; it is rare in those under the age of 40, but appears with increasing frequency with each decade of life that passes, ultimately appearing in more than 10 percent of those over the age of 70. Carriers of the mutations are at an overall 5 percent risk of developing some form of blood cancer within five years. This “premalignant” stage can be detected simply by sequencing DNA from blood.“People often think about disease in black and white — that there’s ‘healthy’ and there’s ‘disease’ — but in reality most disease develops gradually over months or years. These findings give us a window on these early stages in the development of blood cancer,” said Steven McCarroll, senior author of one of the papers. McCarroll is an assistant professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of genetics at the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research.Benjamin Ebert, co-director of the HSCI Cancer Program, associate member of the Broad, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is the senior author of the other paper.The mutations identified by both studies are thought to originate in blood stem cells, and confer a growth-promoting advantage to the mutated cell and all of its “clones” — cells that derive from that original stem cell during the normal course of cell division. These cells then reproduce at an accelerated rate until they account for a large fraction of the cells in a person’s blood. The researchers believe these early mutations lie in wait for follow-on, “cooperating” mutations that, when they occur in the same cells as the earlier mutations, drive the cells toward cancer. The majority of mutations occurred in just three genes; DNMT3A, TET2, and ASXL1.“Cancer is the end stage of the process,” said Siddhartha Jaiswal, a Broad-associated scientist and clinical fellow from Massachusetts General Hospital who was first author of Ebert’s paper. “By the time a cancer has become clinically detectable it has accumulated several mutations that have evolved over many years. What we are primarily detecting here is an early, premalignant stage in which the cells have acquired just one initiating mutation.”The teams converged on these findings through very different approaches. Ebert’s team had hypothesized that, since blood cancers increase with age, it might be possible to detect early somatic mutations that could be initiating the disease process, and that these mutations also might increase with age. They looked specifically at 160 genes known to be recurrently mutated in blood malignancies, using genetic data derived from approximately 17,000 blood samples originally obtained for studies on the genetics of type 2 diabetes.They found that somatic mutations in these genes did indeed increase the likelihood of developing cancer, and they saw a clear association between age and the frequency of these mutations. They also found that men were slightly more likely to have mutations than women, and Hispanics were slightly less likely to have mutations than other groups.Ebert’s team also found an association between the presence of this “premalignant” state and risk of overall mortality independent of cancer. Individuals with these mutations had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and ischemic stroke as well. However, additional research will be needed to determine the nature of these associations.In the related paper, McCarroll’s team discovered the phenomenon while studying a different disease. They, too, were looking at somatic mutations, but they were initially interested in determining whether such mutations contributed to risk for schizophrenia. The team studied roughly 12,000 DNA samples drawn from the blood of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as healthy controls, searching across the whole genome at all of the protein-coding genes for patterns in somatic mutations.They found that the somatic mutations were concentrated in a handful of genes; the scientists quickly realized that they were cancer genes. The team then used electronic medical records to follow the patients’ subsequent medical histories, finding that the subjects with these acquired mutations had a 13-times elevated risk of blood cancer.McCarroll’s team conducted follow-up analyses on tumor samples from two patients who had progressed from this premalignant state to cancer. These genomic analyses revealed that the cancer had indeed developed from the same cells that had harbored the “initiating” mutations years earlier.“The fact that both teams converged on strikingly similar findings, using very different approaches and looking at DNA from very different sets of patients, has given us great confidence in the results,” said Giulio Genovese, a computational biologist at the Broad and first author of McCarroll’s paper. “It has been gratifying to have this corroboration of each other’s findings.Jaiswal will present the findings on Dec. 9 at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Francisco.All of the researchers involved emphasized that there is no clinical benefit today for testing for this premalignant state; there are no treatments currently available that would address this condition in otherwise healthy people. However, they say the results open the door to entirely new directions for blood cancer research, toward early detection and even prevention.“The results demonstrate a way to identify high-risk cohorts — people who are at much higher than average risk of progressing to cancer — which could be a population for clinical trials of future prevention strategies,” McCarroll said. “The abundance of these mutated cells could also serve as a biomarker — like LDL cholesterol is for cardiovascular disease — to test the effects of potential prevention therapies in clinical trials.”Ebert agreed: “A new focus of investigation will now be to develop interventions that might decrease the likelihood that individuals with these mutations will go on to develop overt malignancies, or therapeutic strategies to decrease mortality from other conditions that may be instigated by these mutations,” he said.The researchers also say that the findings show just how important it is to collect and share large data sets of genetic information: Both studies relied on DNA samples collected for studies completely unrelated to cancer.“These two papers are a great example of how unexpected and important discoveries can be made when creative scientists work together and with access to genomic and clinical data,” said Broad Deputy Director David Altshuler, one of Ebert’s co-authors. “For example, Steve’s team found stronger genetic relationships to cancer than they have yet found for the schizophrenia end point that motivated their original study. The pace of discovery can only accelerate if researchers have the ability to apply innovative methods to large data sets.”last_img read more

Humanizing the humanities

first_imgWhen Harvard Dean of Arts and Humanities Diana Sorensen steps down this summer to return to full-time teaching as the James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature, she leaves a legacy of innovation and championing one of the most celebrated and valued parts of undergraduate education.“She has created a foundation for a new and uniquely Harvard approach to melding academic inquiry with artistic practice,” said Drew Faust, president of Harvard University and Lincoln Professor of History, at a celebration for Sorensen on April 20. “Diana has started and given momentum to developments that will extend well beyond her own tenure as the dean of arts and humanities.”Equal parts diplomat and straight shooter, Sorensen’s is a voice that is always gracious even when having difficult conversations or challenging the status quo, according those who have worked with her.“I don’t know if any other administrator at any institution I’ve been at is so beloved,” says Shigehisa Kuriyama, chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History. “She’s extremely receptive and a great listener and adjudicator among a diversity of opinions. She has a very gentle knack for shepherding people — not in any direction she’s determined, but in harmonizing different points of view.”“At a time when the public narrative on the humanities was framed in terms of crisis, Diana took a completely different approach,” said Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “With passion, commitment, and a barn-raising style of leadership, she engaged our faculty in making an affirmative case for humanistic study. The evidence of her success is clear, with over-subscribed new curricular initiatives and growing concentrator numbers here at Harvard. But just as importantly, she also reminded us all of the value of understanding historical context, of surfacing ethical consequences and tensions, and of looking deeply for meaning.”In the 10 years since being appointed, Sorensen has used her deft touch to enable nearly a dozen new and enhanced curricular and outreach efforts. These include the undergraduate Summer Humanities Arts and Research Program (SHARP), the expansion of the Standing Committee on Ethnicity, Migration, Rights, and a new Theater, Dance & Media concentration (TDM). In asserting the fundamental centrality of the arts and humanities in such a rapidly changing world, she established the Humanities Project, a two-year research project that led to undergraduate courses Humanities 10a and 10b courses, and the Framework classes “The Art of Looking,” “The Art of Listening,” and “The Art of Reading.”“TDM is the biggest initiative in my time here. New concentrations don’t come around so often, and it was going a little bit against the tide,” said Martin Puchner, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature and chair of the Committee on Theater, Dance & Media. “I can also say that Humanities are great courses that wouldn’t exist without her. There is something tenacious about her. She never gave up and was never flustered.”Sorensen’s composure is matched by an elegant sense of style that is well-known among her colleagues. “Her general presentation is the envy of many men and women on the campus,” said Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of Humanities and the director of the Mahindra Humanities Center. “But she has a deeper elegance of spirit and character.”Bhabha likens Sorensen to his favorite yoga instructor in India, a teacher who says there is no point in doing a yoga pose without having the critical ability to see oneself doing the particular movement.“She looks at herself as others would see her. She is great at putting herself in the position of other people, and she’s very attentive to detail. When you are a colleague in an administrative position, it’s a tricky terrain to be in,” he said. “Even in tough decisions she has to make, she has an unfailing sense of sensitivity and courtesy.”Beyond the fortified arts and humanities curricula, Sorensen has been instrumental in working to engage the humanities in the entrepreneurial sphere. She took the lead, partnering with Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria to create the Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge at the Harvard Innovation Lab.Sorensen also recognized the importance of building community outside the classroom. To that end, she focused some of her time as dean on the Silk Road, Arts @ 29 Garden, an ongoing series of Student Faculty Dinners, and the renovation of Barker Arts Café. One of her most creative initiatives, the café regularly hosts poetry slams, personal storytelling, readings, and music, and is beloved by undergraduates.When she leaves her post in June, she will hand the divisional reins to Robin Kelsey, the Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography and chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, and return to her areas of specialty, namely 19th- and 20th-century Latin American literature and culture, comparative literature, cultural theory, and gender theory.Said Kuriyama: “As dean, one has influence not only on policy, but the atmosphere of a place. The large part of the willingness of people to engage and contribute and collaborate in our division has been because of her leadership.”last_img read more

Glen Cove, Massapequa Home Invasion Suspect Nabbed

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Hempstead man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly committing two home invasions, including one in Massapequa last year and another two weeks ago in Glen Cove during which a man was shot, Nassau County and Glen Cove city police said.Darrin Sims was charged with burglary and robbery for the Massapequa case and attempted second-degree murder in the Glen Cove case, authorities said.“The Glen Cove detective division and the Nassau County homicide detectives diligently worked the case together to arrest the alleged shooter in this violent home invasion,” Glen Cove police Det.Lt. John Nagle said.The 28-year-old suspect and a 20-year-old former Glen Cove resident, David Shuler, were arrested for their role in the Sept. 29 Glen Cove home invasion. A 22-year-old victim was shot and critically wounded in that case, police have said.In the Massapequa case, Sims knocked on the door of a Jackson Avenue home and when a 29-year-old man opened the door, Sims allegedly grabbed the victim’s hand and forced his way inside on Dec. 23, 2014, police said.The victim and a relative complied with Sims’ demands for cash, police said. Sims fled with money, two cell phones and a set of headphones, police added.Sims was ordered held on $2 million bail following his arraignment Wednesday.last_img read more

Are you in business or busyness?

first_imgThere are 168 hours in a week, 730 hours in a month, and 8,760 hours in a year. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Jeff Bezos or the CEO of a credit union; everyone has the same amount of time. The difference between successful and unsuccessful leaders lies in how they choose to use that time.According to Cassie Holmes, an associate professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, most people tend to look at time from a ground-level perspective, which means that instead of looking at a broad overview of time, they only think about things in light of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That’s a problem. When making decisions with this limited view, every activity incurs a short-sighted opportunity cost.For example, performance reviews are coming up, and you have to work on those right now. This means having to set aside that project that would allow you to expand your membership opportunities or delay working on the new loan product that would result in a huge opportunity for your credit union and your members. Or in another instance, spending an evening or weekend catching up on email equals the inability to spend intentional time with your family and friends. There’s always a trade-off.As part of every strategic planning session I’ve lead over the last few years, we help clients build a game plan for successfully executing their strategy by asking “What can hold you back from accomplishing these goals?” Can you guess the number one answer for almost every project? “Task saturation.” Today’s credit union leaders are stretched thin. Overseeing numerous compliance issues while managing day-to-day operations leaves them feeling overwhelmed, ineffective, drowning in busyness. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Proposed GSE refinance fee should be withdrawn

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr CUNA continued its strong opposition to a recently announced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fee increase for certain purchased refinanced mortgages. CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle wrote to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria Friday, a day after CUNA joined a broad a coalition of organizations representing housing, financial services industries as well as public interest groups to issue a statement calling for the fee, scheduled to begin Sept. 1, to be withdrawn.“This late night, peremptory proclamation by the GSEs threatens to undercut the mortgage market for borrowers who are benefitting from refinancing in an environment of historically low interest rates,” Nussle wrote. “Given the serious challenges faced by American families due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 emergency, we are unable to understand why the GSEs would be encouraged or allowed to undermine the mortgage refinancing market, one of the few bright spots in our economy at the moment…Not only will this decision raise costs for credit union members and other borrowers, it may ultimately price some of our most vulnerable potential homeowners out of the market.”Nussle noted that the credit union mission to meet the credit and savings needs of consumers, especially persons of modest means, has “never been more critical than now,” and that the substance and timing of the fee “makes these challenges more difficult to overcome.”last_img read more

More W1 surplus space

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Wireless security: Sign language

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Omnibus bill could hurt labor, environmental protections: World Bank

first_imgShe said the bill “is basically not helping Indonesia,” as it proposed loosening environmental protection requirements, which could negatively affect the livelihoods of those that depended on the country’s natural assets.Read also: Businesses push for acceleration of omnibus bill deliberations despite concernsThe omnibus bill seeks to revise 79 prevailing laws and more than 1,200 articles, from labor and mining regulations to business license and environmental laws, to cut red tape and attract investment to the country.However, observers have criticized the stronger role of the central government in the bill while environmentalists have warned that less stringent environmental impact analyses and building permit requirements will result in unsustainable growth. Labor unions also oppose the draft as they fear it will jeopardize labor rights. The proposed reform was aimed at reducing delays in obtaining environmental permits, yet the World Bank report noted that these delays were caused by “cumbersome processing and arbitrary and corrupt implementation, rather than the protection enshrined in the environmental law”.“The omnibus bill has the potential to turbocharge economic recovery, but some reforms could be detrimental to the economy and some pitfalls should be avoided,” World Bank lead economist for Indonesia Frederico Gil Sander said during the same event.“The bill also includes reforms that could be detrimental to the environment, health and safety and incomes of Indonesians – dropping them or modifying them will ensure the bill brings maximum benefits to everyone.”Read also: Govt expects deliberations on job creation omnibus bill to finish in AugustThe World Bank report noted that the bill had the potential to support post-COVID-19 recovery in the near term, while setting the foundations for faster long-term growth.The government is struggling to attract investment to help spur recovery of the virus-hit economy. Indonesia’s GDP is expected to shrink 0.4 percent this year in the worst-case scenario, or grow only 1 percent in the baseline scenario as the coronavirus outbreak paralyzes business activity.The World Bank, based in Washington, DC, projects the Indonesian economy to book zero percent growth this year or even contract 2 percent if mobility restrictions are imposed again in the future as COVID-19 cases soar.Kahkonen said the bank would like to see a clear plan for unemployment, the benefits system and the adjustment of severance pay.The bill’s proposed revisions to the Manpower Law could reduce protections for workers, a particularly problematic proposition at a time when unemployment is soaring, the report reads.Read also: Most Indonesians who are aware of job creation bill support it: Survey“Right now the omnibus bill is somewhat vague,” she noted. “This [modification] is something that can be done and we hope it can be done before the omnibus bill is passed by the House,” she said.Businesspeople, however, are pushing the government and the House to accelerate the deliberation, saying the regulation would help them stay afloat amid the pandemic.“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the bill even more relevant and essential to support economic recovery,” Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) deputy chairwoman Shinta Kamdani said on Wednesday.“We need structural reform and a greater amount of investment to offset the job losses caused by the pandemic.”Topics : The World Bank has expressed strong criticism toward the omnibus bill on job creation, arguing that the proposed reform currently under deliberation at the House of Representatives could adversely affect the environment and labor rights.World Bank Indonesia and Timor Leste country director Satu Kahkonen said the bill was very much needed so Indonesia could attract foreign investors. However, she expressed concerns about the environmental and labor aspects of the bill.“It’s going to move Indonesia’s environmental legislation further away from the implementation of best practices,” Kahkonen said during a virtual launch of the Indonesia Economic Prospect report on Thursday.last_img read more

Three units have sold at Mermaid Beach’s luxury development Elysium

first_imgElysium, 19 Seashell Ave. Ron London.Stone bench tops, porcelain wall tiles and feature tap-ware add to the luxury design. London Estate principal, Ron London has sold three of the apartments already with one under contract. “All three buyers so far are from the Gold Coast, and two are actually from Mermaid Beach,” Mr London said.“Not many developments like this pop up on Mermaid Beach, it is a triple block and you really can’t find space like that in this suburb anymore.” Elysium, 19 Seashell Ave. Ron London.CONSTRUCTION on Mermaid Beach’s luxury tower, Elysium, has officially begun. With apartments priced from $1.795 million, the nine-level tower is Howard Groups latest development. Roughly 65 steps to the sand, Elysium, is located at 13 Montana Rd and compromises nine three-bedroom and four-bathroom apartments. Ron London from London Estate Agents and Sotheby’s agent Kerry-Jayne Broad are marketing the development. More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North7 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day agoElysium, 19 Seashell Ave. Ron London.Residents will be able to move into their news homes next year in April. Designed by BDA Architects, the project offers expansive views over the park to Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise. The apartments will also feature three metre high ceilings, space for three cars and an expansive balcony that is finished with timber decking. last_img read more