Global Health

Humanosphere
1:51 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Rio+20: Will it help save the planet or just be another useless meeting?

Earth's population, as demonstrated by this image, certainly needs something to come out of this global meeting.
Michael Free Jazz Faster Flickr

The threats to our well-being (well beyond climate change now) are quite real. The goals of Rio+20 – to arrive at consensus on what’s needed to avoid continuing this massive fouling of our nest – are perhaps more important to our future than any other meeting we could hope to hold.

So you’d think there would be some urgency to achieve something. Don’t hold your breath.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Shots - Health Blog
11:13 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Know The Enemy: Scientists Use Genetics To Get Ahead Of Malaria

A micrograph shows red blood cells infected by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
John C. Tan AP

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 11:20 am

Like the proverbial mosquito that buzzes in your ear but won't die, a lasting solution to malaria has been maddeningly elusive to health experts.

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Humanosphere
5:37 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Can spiders fight malaria? UW students think so

Univeristy of Washington student propose using native African spiders to prey on mosquitoes who transmit malaria.

By Cyan James, Humanosphere correspondent

A fresh crop of Changemakers has been identified by the Washington Global Health Alliance’s Be the Change student competition. Among the three first place winners was a group of UW students who want to enlist a spider to fight malaria ...

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
1:30 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

How a passing comment on an old medical test won a $100K grant

Gates Grand Challenges award winner Kathleen Bongiovanni demonstrates how a simple idea may save the lives of millions of premature babies.
Tom Paulson KPLU

Earlier this week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the latest 100 winners of $100,000 grants from its Grand Challenges Exploration program aimed at supporting high-risk, creative approaches to improving health and fighting poverty in poor countries.

Celebrated for funding “wild” and “wacky” ideas, this year’s batch of Gates Grand Challenge winners included proposals to develop, as the AP reported, unmanned drones to deliver vaccines, tattoos for monitoring pregnancy and a “tuberculosis breathalyzer.”

Read more on Humanosphere.org

Humanosphere
1:40 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Can organic farming feed Africa?

“This is not an argument that organic can or cannot feed the world,” said John Reganold, regents professor of Soil Science and Agroecology at Washington State University in Pullman. “No one system can feed the world.”
CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture

By Lisa Stiffler, special correspondent

When you consider that one in seven people worldwide will go to bed tonight hungry, it does seem fair to ask: Can organic deliver the goods for the developing world?

New research says yes – but not everywhere and not for everything.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
1:10 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Prof. says Africa can feed itself, and the world, through science

Calestous Juma, center, jokes with one of his leading critics, Phil Bereano, at left
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

The Harvard University professor of international development is author of “The New Harvest,” a book (free online) in which he makes his case for how agricultural reforms offer the most promise for positively transforming African economies.

Juma, though entertaining, doesn’t mince words — “Africa is already doing organic farming … and it isn’t working very well.” He describes himself as a bit of ‘techno-optimist,’ a believer like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the fundamental power of science and technology to transform agriculture in poor countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
4:30 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Smallpox eradicator, Medal of Freedom winner - Bill Foege talks with KPLU

Bill Foege discusses his address to the 3rd plenary session of the 53rd World Health Organization's General Assembly in 2000.
The Associated Press

One of the northwest’s best kept secrets is a person. He’s Bill Foege, a physician and Northwest native, who recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Foege went to Nigeria and figured out how to eradicate smallpox – the only human disease ever wiped off the planet. He also ran the nation’s top public health agency, the CDC. More recently, he helped shape the mission of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Tom Paulson, of KPLU's Humanosphere blog, sat down with Bill Foege at his Vashon home to learn more about why people from Seattle are such a force globally. Click the listen button above to hear the interview.

Read Tom Paulson's first-person take on Bill Foege's life and work on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
10:56 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Infectious hope: When getting malaria makes sense

Now in its 36th year, Seattle BioMed grows its own mosquitoes, investigates malaria in mouse models, runs a series of research labs, and recruits volunteers for human trials.
Cyan James

By Cyan James, Humanosphere correspondent

Despite the potential annoyances—hours spent being screened , frequent health checks, irritating bites, painful twice-daily blood draws for weeks, not to mention the slamming headaches and vicious chills of malaria itself—people like Rasberry say being a malaria trials volunteer is worth it.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Global Health
4:49 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Seattle's William Foege wins Presidential Medal of Freedom

William Foege at home in the Northwest.
Tom Paulson

President Obama has announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among the honorees is William Foege. The Vashon Island doctor developed a vaccination plan that wiped out small pox.

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Japanese Tsunami
1:18 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Things you'll find from the Japanese tsunami on NW beaches

Anna Pietz and her daughter examine debris at Rialto Beach in La Push, Wash., on Saturday. The two had volunteered with Washington Coastsavers. Pietz said they did find a Japanese float believed to be from the tsunami.
Anna Pietz

If you visit a Northwest ocean beach this summer, you’ll likely run across objects from last year’s Japanese tsunami.

The things you’ll likely see include milk jugs, detergent bottles, tooth brushes and bottles for water, pop or juices with Japanese stamps, marks and labels. Perhaps a soccer ball or a volleyball -- two that washed up on an Alaskan island have been claimed by their Japanese owners.

The things you are highly unlikely to see are human remains, refrigerators or anything else that would have to be sealed to float or can come apart, like bigger parts of houses. Months on the ocean will breakup anything with parts, experts say.

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Global Health
5:12 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Study: Many girls in U.S. will have shorter lives than their mothers

In this screen grab from the IHME website, you can see some lifespan comparisons of women in 2009. Go to the Institute’s website to interact with this and other graphics to learn more.

By Claudia Rowe, special correspondent

Despite living in a country with one of the best health-care systems in the world, thousands of American girls will have shorter lives than their mothers, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

In 661 areas of the country life expectancy for women has stagnated or decreased since 1999.

“It’s tragic,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, who lead the team of researchers evaluating American health and mortality trends across the country.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
1:08 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Your pets, other 'species gaps' exist in hunt for diseases that can jump to humans

Animal disease experts examine a pig on a farm in Yunlin County, central Taiwan.
The Associated Press

By Lisa Stiffler, Humanosphere correspondent

HIV, West Nile virus, swine flu, ebola – all are human diseases that are traced to livestock, wild creatures and insects from locations scattered around the globe. It can be harder to think of infectious ailments that didn’t start in animals, and in fact these so called “zoonotic pathogens” are to blame for more than 65 percent of emerging infectious disease events over the past 60 years, according to research.

Yet experts in the field say we’re still doing a crummy job watching for new disease outbreaks in animals that could jump to humans.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Seattle research
10:22 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Seattle council moves to strengthen research in 'life sciences'

Alex Flickr

The Seattle City Council hopes fewer government regulations and lower taxes on federal research dollars brought into the city will save lives, here and abroad.

The council introduced legislation last week it hopes will strengthen the growing  life science industry in Seattle.

Read more
Humanosphere's Changemakers
1:18 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Hooked on science by accident, Kimberly Choi puts it to work in the global community

Quick BIO: Kimberly Choi, 23, is a research technician at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (Seattle BioMed) and a University of Washington graduate.

By Lisa Stiffler, Humanosphere correspondent

Kimberly Choi wound up testing malaria vaccines on mice quite by accident.

“I thought I was going to study Spanish literature,” Choi recalled.

But in 2006, Choi was encouraged by a high school biology teacher to participate in Seattle BioMed’s outreach program, BioQuest, which gives students a chance to do hands-on research.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
2:11 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Changemakers: Ines Tucakovic puts humanitarian goals to work doing TB research

Quick BIO: Ines Tucakovic, 27, senior clinical research assistant with Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute

By Lisa Stiffler, Humanosphere correspondent

Ines Tucakovic was only a child when she and her family fled the war in their native Bosnia. But her job at Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute has a connection to home.

As part of the research team in the institute’s clinical immunology lab, Tucakovic prepares protocols for clinical trials being conducted internationally. The trials are for vaccines for tuberculosis and a parasite called leishmaniasis. Tucakovic also processes the samples taken from patients in Venezuela, Peru, India, Columbia and Sudan.

Read more on Humanosphere.

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