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South Asia Initiative

first_imgSince its inception in 2003, the South Asia Initiative (SAI) continues the long tradition of collaboration between Harvard and South Asia’s nations. Learning from South Asia and contributing to its development have become vital given the salience of the region in contemporary times. Under the leadership of Tarun Khanna, faculty director of SAI and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, SAI has forged links and synergies across Harvard’s Schools and within South Asia, creating a nexus for interdisciplinary scholarship with shared aspirations to build the leading center of expertise on South Asia.This year, SAI has hosted a robust seminar series focusing on themes of social enterprise, urbanization, water, Pakistan, and climate change. Additionally, the Future of South Asia symposium engaged Harvard faculty, area experts, and government officials in discussions of energy and environment, architecture, health, governance, and water issues. SAI’s Mumbai, India, office plays a crucial role in supporting Harvard faculty and students in research, teaching, and field experience. This summer, aided by SAI, 24 undergraduates, 28 graduate students, and three faculty members have been funded to travel to all corners of South Asia to conduct research, perform fieldwork, participate in internships, and pursue South Asian language study.For more information about SAI.last_img read more

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A sound welcome

first_imgCurious passersby puzzled at the small crowd gathered on the steps of Memorial Church serenading a large red, white, and blue moving van early Monday (June 20) morning.But the singers, who sang a line from the hymn “O Praise Ye the Lord! Sing Praise in the Height” that included the words “loud organs, his glory forth tell in deep tone,” knew exactly what they were doing.Members of the church’s congregation and staff, along with members of the Harvard community, were welcoming the truck’s contents and the church’s newest member, the Fisk Opus 139 organ.“I thought the most appropriate way that we could welcome in this instrument is by singing to it,” said Edward E. Jones, Gund University Organist and Choirmaster, who led the voices. “This has been a long process and to actually see it arrive … it’s amazing.”The singing quickly gave way to more rigorous physical activity as the group helped move to the church the first of four deliveries of the 16-ton organ’s thousands of parts.“We are going to go slowly today,” said Greg Bover, the project manager and vice president of operations for C.B. Fisk Inc., the Gloucester, Mass., company founded by Harvard graduate Charles B. Fisk in 1961. “The most important thing is that nobody gets hurt and none of the organ parts get damaged.”Murray Forbes Somerville was supposed to be on a plane back to Nashville, but changed his ticket so he could greet the new organ.  The former organist and choirmaster at Memorial Church, Somerville plays a Fisk Opus 134 at a church in his hometown.“It’s the best organ I have ever played, anywhere, bar none, including Westminster Abbey and all the Baroque organs in Germany. … If this [new] instrument is even three-quarters as good as the instrument in Nashville, this is going to be absolutely glorious.”Over the next several weeks the new organ will be reassembled in the church’s second-floor rear gallery, completing a donor-funded $6 million renovation project. Last year, the church’s original Fisk organ, Opus 46, which had been housed in Appleton Chapel since 1967, was dismantled and shipped to a Presbyterian church in Austin, to make way for a 1929 Skinner Organ Co. instrument. The new Fisk organ will provide sound for the main body of the church, while the Skinner will serve the chapel space.As the group prepared to transport components such as poplar pipes and windchests (the wooden boxes that store the organ’s pressurized air), the man on everyone’s mind was the Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, who died on Feb. 28.“King of instruments, queen of our affections, for this we give thanks … for all the minds and hearts who have inspired this, and for Peter, and his loving grace and fortitude and faithfulness, who has brought this day to us, thanks be to God,” said Dorothy A. Austin, the church’s associate minister and chaplain to the University, during a brief blessing on the church steps.Gomes, the driving force behind the acquisition of the new organs, would have been thrilled to see his dream come true, agreed many in attendance.“I know that he is looking down and really smiling at us,” said Jones.Once the organ is installed, the work has just begun. Tuning the instrument for the church space will take about eight months. The organ’s debut is scheduled for Easter Sunday, 2012, and will be followed by a series of concerts, including a performance during the Arts First festival sponsored by Harvard’s Office for the Arts in May.A group of documentary filmmakers was also on hand to capture the arrival of the organ’s first parts for their film involving C.B. Fisk and the importance of the mechanical tracker organ in American music.“The film is going to be dedicated to both C.B. Fisk and Reverend Gomes,” said one of the filmmakers, Pam Pacelli Cooper.last_img read more

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Making the world a better place by giving the Japanese a voice

first_img Read Full Story From fertilizer plants in Turkmenistan to nickel smelting in the Philippines, Kanoko Kamata’s consulting work for Environmental Resources Management  (ERM) has taken her across the globe to provide a full spectrum of environmental and social assessments for Japanese and multi-national automotive, chemical, and electronic companies. Selected as one of the Ash Center’s two 2011-12 Roy and Lila Ash Fellows in Democracy, Kamata hopes her background at ERM as well as her interest in public deliberation will inform her future goals to motivate Japanese citizens to become more active in the policymaking process, especially as it relates to environmental and social sustainability.In the Philippines, Kamata performed a complete environmental and social assessment of a nickel mine transitioning into a smelting plant. As nickel mines typically cause deforestation and erosion, Kamata reviewed the company’s plans to revitalize the natural habitat while adhering to strict regulations such as water safety and the proper resettlement of the area’s native residents.“I am proud of my achievements and was engaged by my work,” said Kamata, “but I have become increasingly disillusioned by Japan’s inadequate laws and my country’s opaque policy process.” She believes that the Japanese business community wields too much power, aiding in the creation of diluted ecological regulations and policies that lack the necessary strength to truly reduce the country’s waste and emissions. “Japan’s future is bleak if we continue down this path of weak environmental and social regulations and an unengaged citizenry,” said Kamata.last_img read more

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Teaching the teachers

first_imgThey’re the sort of questions that keep public health officials up at night. How can the health care system balance the rights of someone with a potentially deadly disease against the rights of the public? Can the sick be detained, or even jailed, to avoid or limit outbreaks?They’re also the questions students in one global health class at Harvard are working to answer. As a teaching fellow (TF) looks on, students work in small groups to address the case of an American tourist who knew he’d been infected with drug-resistant tuberculosis, but insisted on flying from Rome to the United States, against the orders of public health officials.Despite appearances, the scene is not playing out in a regular classroom. Instead, it’s taking place at the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Called micro-teaching, each “class” is actually made up of teaching fellows, each of whom takes a turn at the head of the class, followed by a discussion with Bok Center staff and experienced teaching fellows about what parts of their lesson worked, and how they might improve.Established to enhance the quality of undergraduate education in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), the center annually hosts dozens of programs, seminars, and events that bolster the teaching and learning priorities articulated by FAS Dean Michael D. Smith, John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences.“I’ve used the resources of the Bok Center since was I graduate student,” said Evelynn M. Hammonds, dean of Harvard College and Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies. “The teaching techniques and good advice I got there have stayed with me all these many years, especially the invaluable lessons about teaching sections.”“For me, the Bok Center is absolutely critical,” Donner Professor of Science John Huth said. “I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for their feedback and help. It’s tremendously important to have a resource like that if you really care about your teaching, because no matter how intrinsically good you are, they can make you better.”Huth came to Harvard in 1993, following five years conducting research at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab, and sought out the Bok Center for assistance with his lectures because, he said, “I felt like I was bombing.” Their solution was to videotape a lecture and have him to view it with center staff.“Just 10 minutes of filming and sitting down with the staff there for 30 minutes vastly improved my lectures,” he said. “To this day, I remember the tips they suggested to me, and I still practice many of those same habits.”Huth regularly turns to the center with a variety of questions. Most recently, he worked closely with staff to develop his popular “Primitive Navigation” class, and he insists that all teaching fellows in his courses take part in at least one micro-teaching session before the start of the year to ensure they have some experience leading a class.Caroline Light, lecturer on studies of women, gender, and sexuality and director of studies, stumbled onto the Bok Center four years ago, while searching for information about creating multimedia assignments. She has tapped the staff’s expertise many times since.“Looking back, I wish it was one of the first places I had gone to when I landed at Harvard,” Light said. “Certainly, I feel as though I’m a much better teacher than I was before encountering the Bok Center, but I’ve also discovered it has been a wonderful resource, in my role as director of studies, to direct our visiting faculty to for support.”Though it may be more widely recognized as a resource for graduate students and teaching fellows at the start of their classroom career, the Bok Center has much to offer to those, like Light, who have more experience in the classroom.As an example, Light cited an assignment in which students created their own version of “makeover” reality shows as a reflection on the complexities of contemporary citizenship. Before giving the assignment to her students, however, she had extensive conversations with Bok Center staff on how to make the assignment more interesting to students, as well as how to ensure they understood what was expected of them, how to get help if they needed it, and what she wanted them to learn.“Students today are so ensconced in media and have access to resources that I never dreamed of when I was an undergrad,” she said. “The question for me is: How can I adapt my pedagogical approach to these changing conditions? I have to learn to be more creative so my students will find it more challenging and interesting to learn from me.”“The Bok Center is an invaluable resource for all those involved in undergraduate teaching,” Smith said. “Whether it is helping faculty members enrich their classes with new materials, methods, and technologies, researching innovative pedagogies and assessment tools, or notifying faculty of important developments in higher education instruction, the Bok Center continues to offer and develop core programs and services that foster the fundamentals of good teaching. Harvard’s faculty bring extraordinary creativity and zest to the development of new courses for undergraduates, and the support they receive from the Bok Center plays a critical role in that work.”To underscore the importance of that support, this fall Smith is launching a search for the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Together with the executive director of the center and his colleagues, the faculty director will be responsible for articulating the teaching mission of FAS and elevating its profile on campus, as well as managing the center’s growth and collaborating with staff to develop programs and courses on innovative pedagogies, course and programmatic assessment, and development of teaching skills among FAS instructors.As a way for teaching fellows to hone their skills and to ease their nervousness before stepping into a Harvard classroom, micro-teaching sessions are a valuable tool, but they’re only part of what the center does. It also sponsors conferences on teaching in the fall and winter, and offers services that range from videotaping classes for faculty to holding workshops on teaching in English for international teaching fellows and faculty. Each year it recognizes outstanding teachers with certificates of excellence.Now in the final year of work on her Ph.D. in human evolutionary biology, Katie McAuliffe first came to the Bok Center four years ago to attend a two-day introductory seminar for new teaching fellows. Over the years, she has taken part in micro-teaching, relied on the center to interpret midsemester feedback from students, and had an entire class videotaped to improve her teaching.“One important message I got from the Bok Center early on was that I was doing a better job than I thought I was doing,” she said. “For instance, when you’re teaching and you ask a question and wait for a response, typically a TF will wait for about one second for an answer, and they think, ‘Oh my God, no one is answering it!’ But when I saw myself on video, I realized that I could have waited much longer for an answer. I also realized that my section was actually going much better than I thought, and I don’t know what I was so stressed about.”McAuliffe’s experience at the center has been so positive that, as head teaching fellow in several classes, she encouraged other fellows to take part in programs — particularly micro-teaching — as a way to gauge whether they may need additional support over the course of the semester.“The Derek Bok Center does so much to support teaching’s central role in our mission,” said Allan M. Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. “Teaching closes the circle from one generation of students and scholars to the next. Great teaching is at the core of what makes Harvard great. So it is critical that this community respect, and nurture, and honor great teaching.“I have always said that our graduate students are not just excellent scholars; they are some of the best teachers at Harvard,” Brandt added. “Through their teaching, our graduate students make vital contributions to the outstanding educational experience offered by Harvard College to its undergraduates. Our best graduate student teachers, the ones nominated each term for the Bok Center’s teaching awards, are innovative in their lesson planning, their classroom style, and their embrace of technology, and they are devoted to finding creative ways to elucidate the toughest concepts. The Bok Center supports them in all of that.”“We are at a turning point in how we think about teaching and learning,” said Terry Aladjem, executive director of the center and a lecturer on social studies. “We have wonderful scholars at Harvard who are the leaders in their fields, but as a University we haven’t yet engaged as fully as we might in a common discussion about teaching. I believe faculty members are eager to have that conversation, and our role is to become a place where that conversation can happen.”last_img read more

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An artful perspective

first_imgIn Harvard Business School’s (HBS) popular elective course “The Moral Leader,” students use great literature to explore ethical decision-making and leadership.Writings as diverse as “A Man for All Seasons,” the play about Sir Thomas More, the adviser to King Henry VIII who refused to accept him as head of the Church of England, and the autobiography of Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal, help students to understand the reasoning behind difficult ethical choices.They also study abstract artist Jackson Pollock.In collaboration with Harvard Art Museums’ education department, the students rove the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum’s galleries during a workshop for the course, observing, discussing, and writing about the work they encounter, like a provocative piece by Pollock or a somber self-portrait by German painter Max Beckmann.“It’s a method to help people to distance themselves from their immediate moral judgments and allow them to truly engage with the context that they need,” said M.B.A. Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice Sandra Sucher, who teaches the HBS class in the fall.Like the literature, the pictures, paintings, and sculptures help students to tap into a different way of conceptualizing leadership. The process of examining an abstract work of art together, then discussing reactions and interpretations, acts as a powerful pedagogical tool, said Sucher, since a core skill for future leaders is the ability to listen carefully to other points of view.“You can never really assume what you are thinking about a given situation is exactly what someone else is … and if you can’t see the differences among other people, there is no way you can lead them.”For Ray Williams, former museum director of education, using art collections to help students learn is a vital part of any University’s teaching mission. He developed the collaborative program to help Harvard-affiliated groups look with an artistic lens at a range of issues. Building on Williams’ work, the museum’s education staff consults with professors and educators to create tailored workshops that reflect the goals of their particular course.“Our job as museum educators is to try to design learning experiences that make sense in this environment, that draw on the museum’s special qualities as an environment for teaching and learning, and help people make connections with works of art,” said Corinne Zimmermann, senior museum educator.The department’s work extends well beyond the business community. In 2009 it created a program that helps immigrants to enjoy Harvard’s collections, develop their English skills, and connect to important lessons in history and democracy. It also works closely with local medical professionals, using art to explore areas like compassion and the challenges of communicating with patients.Ricardo Wellisch, a physician in internal medicine and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, has long been interested in how to teach young doctors, lost in the daily crush of information overload, the concept of empathy. He turned to the education department for help in conceiving a workshop at the museum that would use art “as the vehicle that helps residents talk a little bit more freely.”Six to 10 times a year, he brings his current group of third-year residents to the museum. where they “let their guard down and speak about things that they feel, not just what they know.”In one gallery, an ancient Greek funeral stone carved with the figure of a little girl prompts emotional discussions about mortality. Residents use the work as a springboard to talk about their own experiences, like telling a patient he has cancer, or delivering the news that a chemotherapy treatment isn’t working.“Just stopping to think about things that we experience every day really makes you see the experience at a deeper level,” said chief resident Laila Khalid. “This reflection together reminds you of your humanity.”On a recent afternoon, about 20 HBS administrators took part in the program to explore issues of leadership and creativity. During the session, they broke into smaller groups and fanned out across the gallery to examine and discuss various pieces on display.Ann Cichon, managing director, Division of Research and Faculty Development at HBS, and her group decided on an unsettling sculpture by the American artist Robert Gober. His work “Untitled” depicts an eerie sink made of plaster, beeswax, human hair, cotton, leather, aluminum pull-tabs, and enamel paint. The viewer’s gaze is drawn, not by the sink, but by the curving legs topped by a child’s blue socks and white sandals that emanate from its drain and faucets. In analyzing the sculpture and trying to understand the artist’s perspective, Cichon and her group made a connection to their own work.“We realized we were wrestling to figure it out, just like we do in our own jobs.”last_img read more

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A shoe thing

first_imgEarlier this week, Corey Lewis boarded a MegaBus from Philadelphia to Boston.With his folding chair and camping equipment, he was likely the oddest-looking passenger. But Lewis, 25, wasn’t headed into the great outdoors. Rather, he was coming to sleep in Harvard Square — all in the name of a pair of shoes.He wasn’t the only one. This week, a line of mostly men snaked around Brattle and Church streets to ensure their chance at buying the limited-edition “Three Lies” Asics sneaker — a collaboration between Asics and the Harvard Square shoe store Concepts — that honors the legacy of the University and has fun with the three falsehoods surrounding Harvard Yard’s famed John Harvard Statue. (The statue is not a likeness of John Harvard himself but of a model, and Harvard did not actually found the University that bears his name. In addition, the statue lists the founding year as 1638, which is two years late.)“My love for sneakers brought me here,” said Lewis, who learned about the shoe from social media. “I have friends with over 500 pairs of shoes. I have about 35 or 40 pairs myself. My closet’s pretty full.”Opened in 1996, Concepts has a history of collaborations that regularly draw a fashionable crowd willing to brave the region’s infamously dicey weather to score a pair of cult sneakers. Only 800 pairs of the new sneaker were made and they went on sale at 10 a.m. today.The most covetable feature of “Three Lies” is its gold toe — a perfect homage to the bronze statue that’s purported to bring good luck with a rub of its foot.“This shoe is so serious,” said Kamal Malik, 20, of Cambridge.Malik was the first person to arrive bright and early Monday morning and he served as the store’s gatekeeper of sorts, keeping a numbered list of campers. “This is the only store selling this shoe,” he said. “But the shoes are for Cambridge, and that’s why I’m out here.”Malik said he has camped out at Concepts “dozens of times” for sneakers. His passion for shoes runs so deep that he and some of his family launched a business called Sneakergreet, a website that connects “sneakerheads” interested in meeting and buying or trading shoes.Echoed friend Robin Brown, 23, “If you’re from Boston or Cambridge, you have to get these shoes.”Not even the $150 price tag could deter freelance Web designer Derek Houston, 19. “You either live high fashion or you don’t,” he said. “These sweatpants cost $300.”All week, the campers bonded but were sometimes tortured by the side effects of their sneaker quest. With unseasonably chilly temps rolling in, the men turned to the nearby 24-hour Market in the Square to “warm up, grab tea,” said Malik.“It’s boring, but the anticipation is killing me,” admitted Malik, who rushed off Thursday evening to take a shower. Lewis held his place in line.“My need for bodily hygiene is outweighed by the need for these shoes,” Lewis said.Friends Kevin “Kev-Cash” Robles, Bidhan Roy, Alex Velazquez, and David Medrano drove up from New York City to purchase the sneakers. “We came for the seafood too,” said Medrano.Their numbers in line were somewhere in the 30s, and the same went for their sleeping time: “I’ve slept like 35 minutes,” said Velazquez, 25.But with luck, he would be one of the few walking around New York City in rare Boston shoes.last_img read more

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Collaboration in innovation

first_img 1Marissa Suchyta ’14 (left) and graduate student Alana Van Dervort study salamander regeneration in a lab at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. 4Graduate students Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon perform a pre-flight lab inspection of the RoboBee (framed by an orchid) at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory. 19Broad Institute automation engineer Christian Soule (left) and research associate Hoang Danh perform high-throughput screening and compound management investigating cancer, infectious diseases, pesticide, and bacteria. 14Graduate student Daniel Bediako (left) and Zamyla Chan ’14 cut a silicone sample in the Nocera Lab. 16Staff engineer-mechanical Stacey Fitzgibbons (from left), and electrical staff engineers Amanda Wozniak and Crystal Knodel test a medical device developed at the Wyss Institute for treating infant apnea. On the table is a plastic infant used for calibrating the equipment. 18Senior staff scientist Daniel Levner manipulates a robot used for research while working on the organs-on-chips project at the Wyss Institute. 5Slava Arabagi works on soft sensor fabrication at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory. 10Ranjana Sahai, research associate in materials science and mechanical engineering, assembles robotic insect wings inside the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. 8Michael Tolley works with an origami-inspired gripper folded from a single plastic sheet in the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. 9Views of mural artwork dappled with natural light in the modern spaces of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. 3Florian Block (from left, in reflection), a research associate in computer science, Chia Shen, a senior research fellow in computer science, and Xi Chen, a visiting scholar in computer science, use an interactive software called FloTree, which offers Harvard Museum of Natural History visitors the opportunity to use their hands as barriers to separate virtual populations of organisms. 12Zamyla Chan ’14 (from left), postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and chemical biology Christopher Gagliardi, and chemistry and chemical biology research assistant Robert Halbach work in Harvard’s Nocera Lab. Many experiments run in this lab require the rigors of oxygen and water at the level of “parts per billion,” or at even lower ratios. To perform them, students must have expertise in manipulating compounds and solutions under high-vacuum manifolds. 11Harvard Microrobotics Lab Manager Michael Smith works on a Denton sputtering chamber for disposition of thin metal onto various surfaces and materials. 13Graduate student Andrew Ullman performs research in the Nocera Lab. 2Belinda von Niederhaeusern, a former fellow in stem cell and regenerative biology, works in the Sherman Fairchild Building, which is LEED Platinum certified. Through the Harvard Green Labs Initiative, Harvard is committed to reducing energy and conserving resources in laboratories. 15Visiting graduate student Anne Louise Kodal works in the laboratory of Will Shih, associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at the Wyss Institute. The Shih Lab explores design principles for self-assembling molecular machines. 6Postdoctoral researcher Mike Wehner reflected in a molding of soft robot materials made in the Harvard Microrobotics Lab. 7Michael Tolley (right), postdoctoral fellow in materials science and mechanical engineering in the Wyss Institute, seen here with lab manager Michael Smith, holds a large-scale model of the Harvard Monolithic Bee — a robot insect that is actually the size of a quarter. 17Senior staff scientist Daniel Levner displays research materials and illustrations for the organs-on-chips project at the Wyss Institute. The thrill of discovery just isn’t the same when you’re alone. That’s one of the myriad reasons why collaboration is central to research at Harvard. Here, students, fellows, and researchers are common presences in Harvard’s laboratories, where they work together to make discoveries, further their studies, and co-author papers with professors. The labs are also groundbreaking environments in which robotic insects take flight and the study of energy conversion in the Nocera Lab makes inexpensive, clean energy. “Eureka!” just doesn’t have the same ring without someone else there to share the celebration. 20Cassandra Elie and Kevin Joseph, both process development associates, perform whole genome sample sequencing inside the Broad Institute.last_img read more

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The threat from superbugs

first_imgAs government and health officials voice growing alarm over the spread of drug-resistant bacteria around the world, a panel of experts on Wednesday recommended steps to address the problem in hospitals, in communities, and across businesses.Experts appearing at the Forum at Harvard School of Public Health recommended a mix of hospital-stewardship programs and community education to fight antibiotic misuse, as well as legal changes that allow pharmaceutical companies to profit longer from new antibiotics to provide economic incentives to develop new drugs.“We’re not coming to the end of the antibiotic era, but we’re in danger of not being able to save lives we should save. We should be able to cure bacterial infections and viruses,” said Stuart Levy, a physician at Tufts University School of Medicine and president of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics.Levy took part in a forum discussion called “Battling Drug-Resistant Superbugs: Can We Win?” in the Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) leadership studio in Kresge Hall; it was webcast live. It also featured HSPH epidemiology Professor Marc Lipsitch, director of the HSPH Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics; Aaron Kesselheim, director of the Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Beth Bell, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.The event, produced by the forum in collaboration with WGBH broadcasting and the Public Radio International program “The World,” was moderated by David Baron, health and science editor of “The World.”Since the first alarms were sounded over rising drug resistance in the 1970s, the problem has grown more deadly. Two million people are infected with drug-resistant bacteria each year, and 23,000 die, according to CDC statistics.The problem has a significant economic impact as well, with an estimated $20 billion in excess medical costs and perhaps $30 billion in lost productivity from ailments caused by drug-resistant bugs.It wasn’t always this way. Penicillin, the first antibiotic, revolutionized medical care when it was introduced in the early 1940s, giving physicians a powerful tool to fight infections and ailments caused by bacteria. Other antibiotics arrived, ushering in an era when infection control was seen as routine.But with reproduction times as short as 30 minutes, bacteria are resilient, Lipsitch said. Survivors from an antibiotic treatment rapidly reproduce, passing their resistant genetic makeup to future generations and spreading it in the population. Bacteria also can take up DNA from dead relatives and swap DNA with other living bacteria, giving them an ability to acquire resistance that they didn’t have before.“This is evolution in action,” Lipsitch said.As this process has taken place, economic considerations have caused several major drug companies to stop research into new antibiotics, panelists said. Compared with cancer drugs or health-maintenance drugs like statins, which either have high costs or are taken for long periods of time, antibiotics are inexpensive and typically used for just days or weeks. That means they don’t provide similar financial returns.“It was a rational business decision, but it left a lot of investment and innovation in antibiotic development to smaller companies and academics working in the field,” Kesselheim said.The result is today’s stagnant arsenal of antibiotic drugs, even as more organisms develop resistance to them. Organisms have emerged that are resistant to not just one drug but several, forcing physicians to resort to treatments that are toxic to the bug but also can hurt the patient.Last spring, the CDC sounded the alarm over drug resistance, highlighting three organisms whose threat was urgent: Clostridium difficile, which causes intestinal infections and kills 14,000 people annually; Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhea, strains of which are resistant to any antibiotic; and carbapenem–resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which causes bloodstream infections and kills 600 annually. The CDC report also highlighted a dozen other resistant bugs that it termed serious, and others of concern.Resistant bacteria are often found in settings where both bacteria and the drugs to fight them are abundant, such as hospitals. But they are increasingly common in the community, with instances of heartbreaking cases of seemingly routine infections growing to life-threatening proportions.The panelists agreed that over-prescribing antibiotics has to stop. Antibiotics are often improperly prescribed, sometimes for infections caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics. This over-prescription exposes populations of bacteria to antibiotics unnecessarily, fostering drug resistance. Over-prescription occurs even in hospital settings, and Bell said that as much as 50 percent of antibiotic prescriptions in hospitals are unnecessary.Another problem is lack of adherence to prescriptions. When a patient doesn’t complete the entire course of antibiotics, it leaves a small population of hardier bacteria alive to reproduce, which also fosters drug resistance.Antibiotic overuse also extends to agriculture. The drugs are routinely given to livestock, even when healthy, so they grow more quickly. Some 65 percent of chickens and 44 percent of ground beef tested had bacteria resistant to tetracycline, Levy said.To fight problems in usage, panelists suggested establishing stewardship programs at hospitals to raise awareness and foster proper handling and prescribing of antibiotics. In the community, the panelists suggested enhanced monitoring for drug-resistant infections and more education so consumers are aware of the dangers from drug resistance, and also that the solutions are in their hands.Levy said he considers antibiotics “societal drugs” because one person’s improperly taken antibiotic can create another person’s drug-resistant bacterial infection.Consumers can help by not pestering physicians for unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, panelists said, by completing the drug regimens they do receive, and by taking simple steps, such as washing their hands, to stay healthy in the first place.The other half of the solution, panelists said, is to increase the supply of antibiotic drugs. Because financial incentives to develop antibiotics are poor, the pipeline of new medications to fight bacteria resistant to existing drugs is drying up. Kesselheim suggested extending the time that a pharmaceutical company has exclusive rights to profit from a discovery. This would let them make money on a new drug longer so they can recoup the research and development dollars that go into creating a new antibiotic.“This is a complicated problem, and we need to attack it at different levels,” Bell said. <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMh9Y7gFR2I” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/IMh9Y7gFR2I/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a>last_img read more

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A transformative TV role

first_img“There’s a lot to Laverne Cox,” said the actress Monday afternoon when asked to describe her upbringing.In an interview with Brianna Suslovic ’16 and Maddie Studt ’16, Cox, one of the breakout stars of the acclaimed Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” spoke about everything from her Southern roots to her activism and rise to fame as a transgender African-American actress.“Growing up in Alabama, I didn’t have the language, but I knew I was feminine,” she said. “I was bullied as a kid from preschool on, chased home from school everyday.”Being transgender and black has made her work harder to be taken seriously in her craft, Cox said.“I’ve sometimes overcompensated out of insecurity, or fear that I’ve not been good enough, or people are going to make these assumptions about me anyway,” she said. “Now I’m learning that I am enough as I am. When we hustle for worthiness, we don’t believe inherently that we deserve that worthiness. I’m trying to be authentically myself, while remaining teachable in the process.”On “Orange Is the New Black,” Cox portrays Sophia Burset, an imprisoned transgender woman. The show has been lauded for showcasing marginalized voices and bringing transgender issues to the forefront of popular culture.“Our characters are written with such depth and humanity and such multidimensionality,” said Cox.Before joining the show, Cox produced and starred in VH1’s “TRANSForm Me” and was a contestant on VH1’s “I Wanna Work for Diddy.” But with the popularity of “Orange Is the New Black,” said Cox, “everything has changed.”“I can’t walk through the airport now,” she said. “And I love all of you, but if you see me in the airport, I am not ready to talk!”The biggest life change, she divulged, is having a broader platform to be an activist for transgender people. “I’ve been talking about this for years, and now people are listening,” she said. Cox has been an outspoken supporter of CeCe McDonald, an African-American transgender woman who was jailed in 2012 for stabbing and killing an attacker, and regularly speaks about violence against transgender people of color.Delving into life on the set of “Orange Is the New Black,” Cox said that while filming season two, the cast bonded more than during season one. “We sing a lot on set,” she said. “Mostly Beyoncé!” The new season premieres on Netflix on June 6.As far as plot spoilers go, Cox was mum, allowing only that Lorraine Toussaint comes onboard to play a character named Vee, and that viewers are in for a shakeup. “It’s major,” she promised.When asked whether she believed Hollywood would ever cast transgender actors in nontrans roles, Cox was positive. “I do believe that,” she said.In her own career, Cox said she wants to keep acting, work with great directors on great projects, and “continue to be challenged.” In discussing the “sensationalized, trivialized” ways that transgender stories are presented in the media, Cox said, “There’s a focus on transition and surgery, and I believe that objectifies trans folks, and that becomes the only takeaway.”Discussing how to combat ignorance about transgender people, Cox said, “It’s up to each and every one of us to have those conversations and spark those conversations. You can even use ‘Orange Is the New Black’ as a jump-off. I believe if we approach people with love and empathy, I think that can be the beginning of a wonderful revolution.”At the end of the conversation — which was sponsored by the Harvard Foundation, Office for the Arts at Harvard, Harvard College Women’s Center, Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus, Queer Students and Allies, and Office of BGLTQ Student Life — Cox was overwhelmed by an impromptu Harvard Veritones performance of the show’s theme song, “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor.“I want a copy of that for the cast!” she said. “They’d love that!”last_img read more

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Young adults report better health following Affordable Care Act

first_img Read Full Story According to a new survey, young adults are reporting better health since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. .in 2010, which allowed them to be covered on their parents’ plans through age 26. The study, co-authored by Kao-Ping Chua, a health policy Ph.D. student at Harvard and a pediatrician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and Benjamin Sommers, assistant professor of health policy and economics at Harvard School of Public Health, also found that young adults are paying less out of pocket for their medical care since passage of the health care law.The study appeared online June 17 in JAMA.The researchers used survey data from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to compare the experiences of young adults ages 19 to 25, who were eligible for coverage under the law, to those 26 to 34, who were not. The study covered the eight years before passage of the health law and one year after.Insurance coverage increased markedly among the young adults, while declining slightly among the older group. At the same time, young adults’ annual out-of-pocket medical expenses declined, while those for the older group increased. The number of those in the younger group reporting that they were in excellent physical health rose from 27% to 31% after the passage of the law, while those in the older group reporting excellent physical health declined by 2%.last_img read more

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