Better Living Through Well Being
Presented by TMIS

Global Climate Change Research Group's President Discussed Climate Change with Pope Francis
Vatican City, Italy

Pope Francis hosted distinguished scientists and experts from various countries and disciplines at a private audience at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. The selected attendees were participants in the Three-day International Conference on 'Generative Artificial Intelligence and Technocratic Paradigm,' organized by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation (CAPP) - operating within the Secretariat of State of the Holy See and led by the esteemed Chairwoman, Dr. Anna Maria Tarantola.

Among the invited guests were Dr. A. Egon Cholakian, a National Security Expert, Washington D.C. Governmental Affairs Advisor to the Allatra International Public Movement, CAPP Foundation member; and Maryna Ovtsynova, President of the Allatra International Public Movement.

During the audience at the Vatican, the President of ALLATRA presented to Pope Francis a climate report 'On The Progression Of Climatic Disasters On Earth And Their Catastrophic Consequences.' In their personal conversation, she raised the issue of climate change as a global problem, emphasizing that it represents one of the most pressing challenges for humanity.

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Year Two MFGA Bird Survey Taking Off On the Wings of Soil Health
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Expert bird surveyors are putting their eyes and ears to work on nine regenerative agriculture-practicing farms as Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA)'s second consecutive bird survey wingspans across six different types of farming operations.

MFGA will once again join forces with the Manitoba Wildlife Branch and the Manitoba Important Bird Area (IBA) Program to survey and better understand the benefits of soil-focused, regenerative agriculture practices and intact natural habitats to birds -- with a target on species at risk such as Bobolink and Sprague's Pipit. An ongoing exchange agreement with Birds Canada remains in place to see some of the MFGA farms surveyed overlaid with a separate, ongoing Birds Canada initiative. View this short video about MFGA Regenerative Agriculture.

Four farms comprised of mixed, forage/beef, dairy and grain operations were surveyed in last year's MFGA survey. All have returned. MFGA has added bison, sheep and one more each of dairy, grain and mixed farms to this year's mix.

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As City Buses Turn Electric, IDTechEx Asks What Awaits the Electric Coach Market
Boston, Massachusetts

Electric buses are booming, with sales growing in Europe, America, India, and other key regions. Transport operators have shown themselves keen to electrify urban transport and cut greenhouse gas emissions. As emissions regulations tighten, city buses are likely to be all-electric within the next few years. IDTechEx's report, "Electric and Fuel Cell Buses 2025-2045: Markets, Players, Technologies and Forecasts", shows that over half of all city bus sales in Europe in 2023 were electric (battery and fuel cell) and that some regions are well ahead of the EU's target for 100% of new city buses to be zero emission by 2035. However, in the coach segment, only around 1% of sales were electric across the same period, so what is driving the excellent growth in the city segment, and will it be replicated for coaches?

Buses were one of the first transportation sectors to demonstrate that they could be completely electrified. In China, sales began at pace in the early 2010s and reached a peak in 2016 when almost 140,000 electric buses were sold in a single year. While the sales figures have since declined and then plateaued – the overall bus fleet is now over 77% electric. With over 3 quarters of buses electric, these are not pilot projects or early successes but established incumbent technology. Electric buses now have well over a decade of use, transporting millions of people safely and efficiently. But what are the unique aspects of city bus transport that have allowed electrification to outpace other bus sectors?

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Study reveals the mechanism of bio-inspired control of liquid flow, enlightening breakthroughs in fluid dynamics and nature-inspired materials technologies
Hong Kong, China

The more we discover about the natural world, the more we find that nature is the greatest engineer. Past research believed that liquids can only be transported in fixed direction on species with specific liquid communication properties and cannot switch the transport direction. Recently, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) researchers have shown that an African plant controls water movement in a previously unknown way -- and this could inspire breakthroughs in a range of technologies in fluid dynamics and nature-inspired materials, including applications that require multistep and repeated reactions, such as microassays, medical diagnosis and solar desalination etc. The study has been recently published in the international academic journal Science.

Liquid transport is an unsung miracle of nature. Tall trees, for example, have to lift huge amounts of water every day from their roots to their highest leaves, which they accomplish in perfect silence. Some lizards and plants channel water through capillaries. In the desert, where making the most of scarce moisture is vital, some beetles can capture fog-borne water and direct it along their backs using a chemical gradient.

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Chronic virus found in long COVID gut up to 2 years post-infection
Medford, Massachusetts

Research published in Science Translational Medicine and supported by the PolyBio Research Foundation shows that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can chronically persist in the gut of patients with long COVID for over 2 years. The findings, published by a UC San Francisco team known for previous innovation in HIV research, also documented T cell immune activation across the bodies and brains of people after COVID. This T cell activation was particularly elevated in the spinal cord and gut wall of participants with long COVID.

"Long COVID is not a mystery," says Michael Peluso MD, an infectious disease researcher in the UCSF School of Medicine who co-led the study. "Our findings provide clear evidence of virus persistence and sustained immune activation after COVID-19. We must use this information to test treatments that might get people better."

Two potential drivers of long COVID were identified. Tens of millions of people across the globe are sick with long COVID: debilitating chronic symptoms that can last for years after initial infection. The new study findings provide compelling evidence for two potential causes of long COVID: persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection and aberrant T cell activation.

More specifically, the team used an advanced imaging method called whole-body positron emission tomography with a special tracer injected by vein to map activated T cells throughout the bodies of study participants from 27 to 910 days following COVID infection. Post-COVID study participants showed increased T cell activation in sites across the brain and body, including the brain stem, bone marrow, cardiac tissues, and the gut wall compared to people who were never infected with the virus.

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Global Lifestyle Brand Announces Partnership with Global Environmental Non-Profit Kiss the Ground to Expand on Their Commitment to Regenerative Agriculture
Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniia

Anthropologie, the global lifestyle brand, has announced their partnership with Kiss the Ground, the leading voice of the regenerative agriculture and soil health movement. Through this exciting partnership, kicking off during Earth Month, Anthropologie hopes to improve awareness, education, and engagement around regenerative agriculture and how it contributes to a healthier planet for all.

Anthropologie's A Greater Good platform outlines the brand's priority of being a force for good in better service to our planet, its people, and its products and details their journey to becoming more environmentally responsible and socially conscious. Through conservation initiatives, partnering with a diverse array of non-profit partners, and working to ensure the products they sell are ethically sourced, the brand hopes to incite meaningful change.

"We are incredibly inspired by the work our friends at Kiss the Ground have been doing and are in awe of their ability to inspire millions of people across the country to participate in the regenerative movement," says Elizabeth Preis, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Anthropologie Group. "We're thrilled to kick off Earth Month by announcing this partnership, amplifying the essential work they are doing to protect our planet and combat climate change, and to motivate engagement across our community to do the same."

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Researchers Find the Link Between Human Activity and Shifting Weather Patterns in Western North America
Gwangju, South Korea

Western North America seems to be experiencing more extreme weather events more frequently. From scorching droughts to torrential floods, the climate is changing rapidly, with no signs of slowing down. From 2011 to 2015, California and neighboring states experienced extended periods of drought, while 2017 saw heavy rains trigger catastrophic floods.

These events are linked to specific weather patterns. The atmosphere is like a network of interconnected pathways that determine how weather systems move and interact across the globe. In the Northern Hemisphere, there are three such major teleconnection patterns that affect winter conditions: the Pacific North American pattern (PNA), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and the North American winter dipole (NAWD). However, the understanding of how these patterns change over time and their connection to climate change remains limited.

To better understand this phenomenon, a group of scientists led by Professor of Earth Sciences and Environmental Engineering Jin-Ho Yoon and including Ph.D. student Jueun Lee from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology recently conducted a study to examine the reasons behind changes in these patterns. Their findings have been published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science on 7 March 2024.

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Mechanism Found to Determine which Memories Last
New York, New York

Neuroscientists have established in recent decades the idea that some of each day's experiences are converted by the brain into permanent memories during sleep the same night. Now, a new study proposes a mechanism that determines which memories are tagged as important enough to linger in the brain until sleep makes them permanent.

Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the new study revolves around brain cells called neurons that "fire" -- or bring about swings in the balance of their positive and negative charges -- to transmit electrical signals that encode memories. Large groups of neurons in a brain region called the hippocampus fire together in rhythmic cycles, creating sequences of signals within milliseconds of each other that can encode complex information.

Called "sharp wave-ripples," these "shouts" to the rest of the brain represent the near-simultaneous firing of 15 percent of hippocampal neurons, and are named for the shape they take when their activity is captured by electrodes and recorded on a graph.  

While past studies had linked ripples with memory formation during sleep, the new study, published online in the journal Science on March 28, found that daytime events followed immediately by five to 20 sharp wave-ripples are replayed more during sleep and so consolidated into permanent memories. Events followed by very few or no sharp wave-ripples failed to form lasting memories.

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Taxiing For Takeoff: The Promise of eVTOLs, Reports IDTechEx
Boston, Massachusetts

Flying cars are very easy to hype. Most images of the future almost always include mass mobility in the air. It is one of the staples of any depiction of advanced modern societies and a trope of almost every science fiction movie or book (however dystopian). It is an exciting time where the level of technological advancement is reaching the stage of making electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft a feasible reality.

However, considerable advancements, such as in battery energy density and charging capabilities, distributed electric propulsion systems, composite materials, and mass aircraft manufacture, are still required to make widespread deployment a reality. There are also many challenges not related to the technical feasibility of making an eVTOL fly, which will also need to be addressed, including certification of aircraft and parts, regulation of operations, public acceptance, and the development of ground infrastructure. IDTechEx's new report "Air Taxis: Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Aircraft 2024-2044: Technologies, Players" is intended to help companies understand the exciting emerging urban air mobility (UAM) market. 

Many of the world's largest aerospace and automotive companies are ramping up their interest in eVTOL aircraft, recognizing it as a potentially disruptive new transport mode. The major aerospace suppliers, RTX Corporation, GE, SAFRAN, and Honeywell, are all investing in eVTOL-related technologies, including electric and hybrid-electric powertrain components, systems for autonomous flight, and advanced air traffic management systems. Furthermore, composite material manufacturers like Toray and Hexcel have been working with OEMs on the advanced lightweight materials required for several facets of eVTOL design. The automotive industry is also taking an interest, with Toyota, Hyundai, Stellantis, XPeng, Suzuki, and Honda all funding, collaborating on, or conducting their own eVTOL projects.

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The M Factor Film exploring menopause debuts October 18
Los Angeles, California

The film by Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker Jacoba Atlas and executive producers, Emmy Award-winning journalist Tamsen Fadal, Denise Pines, and Emmy Award-winning Joanne LaMarca athisen premieres on PBS October 18th, coinciding with World Menopause Day. Despite its universality, menopause has remained shrouded in stigma, silence and misunderstanding, contributing to the broader women's health crisis.

"The M Factor" features renowned doctors like Dr. Sharon Malone, M.D. FACOG, NCMP, and Neuroscientist Dr. Lisa Mosconi, leading advocates for women's health addressing timeless questions that have long plagued women, helping to enhance their quality of life. Women of all walks of life open up about the physical and mental anguish they live with every day. Doctors and policymakers speak out on the changes that need to be made, especially in the workplace where roughly 44% of women are over the age of 45. The film also sheds light on disparities faced by Black and Brown women as they assess their treatment options. 

Menopause represents a significant transition in women's lives that can have long-term consequences from cardiovascular disease and bone loss to dementia.  Despite its impact, the healthcare system inadequately prepares physicians to address menopause and its symptoms. That needs to change, and this is the beginning.

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Connected Climate Exchange Links Farmers to Companies Looking to Meet Sustainability Commitments
Westminster, Colorado

Technology company Trimble has announced the Connected Climate Exchange, a carbon marketplace to connect and aggregate verified data across the agriculture supply chain to enable a more sustainable future. To meet net zero commitments, Trimble offers new opportunities for industry stakeholders to quantify their sustainability efforts, scale their businesses with climate offerings and ultimately minimize the negative effects of climate change.

Trimble's Connected Climate Exchange creates a streamlined process for aggregating data across farm organizations and verifying this data for emissions reductions and removals buyers. By connecting an ecosystem of farmers, agronomists, ag retailers and carbon buyers in one marketplace, the Connected Climate Exchange enables participation in carbon markets and sustainability programs that were previously too time-consuming and complex.

"Farmers have long struggled to comprehensively report and tell their sustainability story in quantifiable and verifiable terms. They need a technology solution that brings greater value and helps bring structure to disconnected data," said Darren Howie, director, emerging digital and sustainability, Trimble. "As a trusted partner in the agriculture industry, Trimble is taking a farm-centric approach. While many carbon programs work by identifying a specific practice to implement and search for farms, Trimble is partnering with agronomy-focused, enterprise agriculture companies to optimize interventions at the farm level, then aggregate the impacts to support emission reduction programs for companies upstream in the agriculture value chain."

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IDTechEx Predicts Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles to be 4% of the Zero Emission Solution
Boston, Massachusetts

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have made monumental progress in the passenger car market, becoming a standard drivetrain option. The success in cars is also overflowing into other vehicle segments, such as vans, trucks, buses, 2-wheelers, and more. However, despite some key proponents, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have had a much tougher time getting to significant adoption. What are the major barriers, and where can FCEVs still be part of a zero-emission transport network?

IDTechEx's report on "Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles 2024-2044" examines the FCEV market with historic and current adoption, drivers and barriers, TCO analysis, model benchmarking, and forecasts for units, fuel cell demand, battery demand, and market value across cars, vans, trucks, and buses. IDTechEx predicts that fuel cell electric vehicles will account for just 4% of zero-emission vehicles on the road in 2044, but the opportunity is greater in certain market segments.

Dr James Edmondson, Principal Technology Analyst at IDTechEx and author of this article, will be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Thursday, January 18, 2024 - What Opportunities are Left for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles?

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Revving Up for Wellness: Report Shows Truck Drivers Seek Health and Wellness Learning Opportunities in 2024
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

A new report reveals that truck drivers are seeking improved health and wellness opportunities in 2024, as the industry continues to face retention challenges. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trucking industry lost 6% of its pre-pandemic workforce during the pandemic, about 91,000 workers. Carriers still feel strain hiring and retaining drivers. This report authored by Luma Brighter Learning, provides insights and a framework for building holistic wellness programs to support driver retention. Luma is an award-winning and evidence-based learning company with a proven track record of delivering better learning outcomes for improved safety performance.

"Drivers today want more than just physical fitness opportunities," said Dr. Gina Anderson, CEO of Luma Brighter Learning in the report titled "The Link Between Wellness and Retention: Luma's Framework for Building an Employee Health and Wellness Program." She explains: "They are asking for resources that support their complete mental, emotional, and social health."

In fact, Luma's platform data shows emotional intelligence, stress management, and relationship topics are most popular among drivers. Out of 86 available "wellness eNuggets," social-emotional lessons like Building Self-Confidence, Gratitude, and Staying Connected While on the Road rate highest for engagement.

Several carriers highlighted in the report have already begun responding to these needs. Chalk Mountain Services implements preventative care programs, biometric screenings, smoking cessation plans, and cash incentives for health milestones. Paschall Truck Lines offers gym memberships, "motivational Mondays," and ongoing messaging about mental health.

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How is Artificial Intelligence Changing Work?
Omaha, Nebraska

"It's hard to overstate what "work" means to humanity -- it's an integral part of what we do. A defining characteristic. From chariots to cathedrals, currency, jet planes, and colliders, our hunger for innovation is plain as day. But will our pursuit of technological advancements lead to further flourishing, or will we work ourselves out of a job?" -- Excerpt: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work.

AI is all around us and it's not new, but its capabilities have reached a stage of proficiency and usefulness that rivals human potential. From automating routine tasks to revolutionizing complex decision-making processes, AI's capabilities are reshaping industries and redefining professional roles.

Much could be said about the extent to which such advancements have and will impact industry at-large.

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AANP Spotlights Five Critical Health Care Trends to Watch
Austin, Texas

The nurse practitioner (NP) profession is looking ahead to a new year and new opportunities to advance access to high-quality health care for patients. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) has identified five critical health trends that will impact the delivery of patient-centered health care in 2024 and beyond.

"As health care continues to evolve, nurse practitioners are at the forefront of change, consistently adapting to meet the dynamic needs of patients and their communities," said AANP President Stephen A. Ferrara, DNP. "Patients deserve access to high-quality health care nationwide, and NPs are urging other health care leaders and policymakers to prioritize policies that make health care more efficient and effective by making 2024 the Year of Patient-Centered Health Care."

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Auburn University agriculturalists shaping the future of farming in Alabama
Auburn, Alabama

How challenging is it to farm sustainably? The answer is complex. While technological and scientific advancements have improved the resiliency of modern farms, there are challenges that today's farmers face in adopting conservation practices.

Enter the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Auburn University College of Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. A team of researchers from these entities comprise what is known as The Future of Farming Project, created to increase adoption of soil, nutrient and water conservation practices by establishing on-farm demonstrations. It's an effort with farmers, for farmers.

"We are helping farmers adopt digital technologies and sustainable agricultural practices," said Brenda Ortiz, Alabama Extension specialist and professor in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences. "My responsibilities are demonstrating, evaluating and training farmers and crop consultants on how to best use digital technologies to increase crop productivity while strengthening environmental sustainability."

Ortiz's specialty is in precision irrigation. She helps farmers adopt a sustainable approach that allows the application of water to the plant at the right time and place, and in measured doses, creating optimal growing conditions. This is a win-win for the farmer: less water wasted, plus better yields.

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Forest Fires & IOT: Spatial connectivity revolutionizes forest fire prevention thanks to early detection
Toulouse, France

New space technologies and the Internet of Things by satellite are contributing to better prevention in detecting forest fires and reducing their impact on the environment. French operator Kineis illustrates this application that could significantly reduce the ravages of fires worldwide.

Kineis global connectivity enables to track and monitor objects in remote areas without coverage by terrestrial networks. In addition, our frequencies used in the 400 MHz bandwidth have excellent signal penetration in the canopy-covered environment.

Thanks to its constellation of 25 nanosatellites and 19 ground remote stations, Kineis locates and connects objects through terminals, wherever they may be on the planet. Combining NewSpace's technological innovation with the IoT ensures narrowband, low-consumption, simple and reliable global connectivity.

With their very low power consumption, the terminals have an autonomy of several years, sending messages only when necessary.

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Masdar Launches UAE's first utility scale wind project with breakthrough low wind speed Innovation
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Under the directives of the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, HH Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, inaugurated the UAE Wind Program.

The 103.5 megawatt (MW) landmark project developed by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC -- Masdar, demonstrates for the first time the latest technology and innovation to capture low wind speeds at utility scale, adopting advances in material science and aerodynamics to make wind power possible in the country. The project marks the debut of cost-effective, large scale, utility wind power on the UAE's electricity grid, diversifying the country's energy mix and advancing its energy transition.

The UAE Wind Program is expected to power over 23,000 UAE homes a year. It will displace 120,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent of removing over 26,000 cars from the road annually. The development underscores the UAE's commitment to tackling climate change as it looks forward to hosting an inclusive COP that focuses on delivering results.

The project spans four locations including the picturesque Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, which is home to free-roaming wildlife. A 45 MW capacity wind farm plus 14 MWp (megawatt peak) solar farm has been developed on the island. The other wind farm locations include the historical pearl-diving center, Delma Island (27MW) in Abu Dhabi, Al Sila, Abu Dhabi (27MW) and Al Halah, Fujairah (4.5MW).

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IGEM 2023 Races Towards Net Zero
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The 14th International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM 2023), targeting RM4 billion in business leads and 40,000 visitors from 40 countries, was officiated by YAB Dato' Sri Haji Fadillah Haji Yusof, the Deputy Prime Minister on behalf of YAB Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, in the presence of cabinet ministers, ambassadors, international delegates and other dignitaries.

Organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) and co-organised by the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC), IGEM 2023, Southeast Asia leading trade event for green technologies and eco solutions, has an impressive track record of having delivered RM41 billion in business leads, over 530,000 visitors from over 112 countries since 2010.

Referring to the Prime Minister's speech YAB Dato' Sri Haji Fadillah bin Haji Yusof said, "Transitioning to a net-zero world calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about. A growing coalition of countries, cities, businesses, and other institutions are pledging to get to net-zero emissions. More than 70 countries have set a net-zero target."

"Without a doubt, IGEM 2023 plays a decisive leadership role in accelerating and delivering the region's Net Zero and just energy transition agenda. There are enormous opportunities to steer us to sustainability while ensuring robust economic and social progress. Something that is exemplified in the Malaysia Madani way of life that my government is strongly advocating and adopting," he added.

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Energy industry unites and demonstrates commitment to decarbonising at world's largest energy exhibition
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

ADIPEC 2023, the world's largest energy exhibition, closed with the global energy industry delivering a clear message that it is united in its commitment to decarbonise and to fast-track the energy transition, while continuing to meet global energy needs. The event achieved a record-breaking attendance of over 184,000, the largest edition of ADIPEC ever.

Building on its nearly 40-year legacy, ADIPEC has evolved, growing in size and reach, as well as reflecting an energy system in transition. Convening global energy leaders and elevating voices from adjacent industries -- including finance and technology -- to accelerate urgent, collective action and game-changing solutions to decarbonise quicker and future-proof the energy system.

COP28 President-Designate, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, opened ADIPEC 2023 by inviting industry leaders to use the event "to show the world that, in fact, you are central to the solution" of fast-tracking the energy transition, assuring energy security while urgently phasing out emissions. Over four days the entire energy value chain answered his call, with more than 1,600 ministers and executives sharing knowledge and developing strategies to future-proof energy systems during 350 curated strategic conference sessions.

As the last major energy industry milestone before COP28 takes place in the UAE next month, ADIPEC focused on the priorities like achieving near zero methane emissions by 2030 and scaling deployment of climate technology. to tackle the core challenges of building the energy system of tomorrow -- technology and innovation, investment, energy security and more -- enabling the industry to demonstrate its commitment to lowering emissions without sacrificing economic growth where it is needed most.

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Population Growth and Climate Change Vulnerability are Linked, and So Are Effective Interventions, New NGO Report Finds
Washington, DC

On the eve of World Population Day, the Washington, DC-based NGO Population Institute published a report on "Population and Climate Vulnerability" demonstrating important connections between population growth and society's ability to manage climate change impacts.

Climate vulnerability is a measure of how climate change will affect people and ecosystems. World Population Day is an annual UN observance highlighting the importance and urgency of population issues.

The new report finds that in the 80 most climate-vulnerable countries, population is growing on average at twice the global rate. The combination of severe climate impacts and faster growth strains governments' ability to provide basic services for climate adaptation and resilience, further aggravating climate impacts and vulnerability.

In many of the most climate-vulnerable countries, rapid population growth is linked to gender inequality, including lack of access to family planning and reproductive health services. The most climate-vulnerable countries suffer some of the worst gender inequality, undermining their capacity for adaptation and resilience in the short-term, and fueling population growth and climate vulnerability in the long term.

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COP28 President-Designate calls for holistic ecosystem to drive climate action during London Climate Action Week
London, England

During London Climate Action Week 2023, COP28 President-Designate, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, traveled to London to collaborate with British stakeholders to develop holistic ecosystems that connect policy, technology, finance, and people. During his visit, he collaborated with the UK Government on polices which enable greater climate investments, he galvanized investors to fund climate technology, and he consulted with youth climate advocates to help shape the COP28 agenda.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber met with a wide range of key stakeholders during a visit to London this week, including H.M King Charles III, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, the Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP, and Minister of State for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment, the Rt Hon. Lord Zac Goldsmith, as well as business leaders, university students and young climate advocates.

The COP28 President-Designate attended a roundtable on climate solutions joined by H.M King Charles III and attended by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Rt Hon. Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero; the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; and the CEOs of HSBC, AstraZeneca, OVO Energy, and Gridserve.

During London Climate Action Week, Dr. Al Jaber said, "If we are going to cut emissions by 43 percent in the next 7 years, we need a holistic ecosystem that connects policy, technology, finance and people. We need supportive policies to stimulate adoption of clean energies and incentivize decarbonization. We obviously need to apply the latest technologies rapidly and at scale. That will require finance and lots of capital across the world, and particularly in emerging and developing economies. And a critical success factor is people. We need capacity building, and skills development to train young people for the jobs of the future. Because we must deliver climate action and socio-economic opportunity at the same time."

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COP28 President-Designate calls on oil & gas industry to allocate capital to clean energy solutions
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

COP28 President-Designate, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, delivered a speech to the 8th OPEC International Seminar held this week in Vienna, in which he urged the oil & gas industry to allocate capital at scale to clean energy solutions. The theme of the seminar -- "Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive Energy Transition" – represents "one of the most complex issues we collectively face," the President-Designate told the gathering of energy producers and consumers. "Dramatically reducing emissions, while maintaining robust sustainable growth, is the critical challenge of this century."

To meet that challenge, COP28 will need to "leverage the skills, the project management experience, the project finance expertise and the technological knowhow of all relevant industries, including and in particular the oil and gas industry."

While the oil & gas industry has long been viewed "as the problem" the sector should "take this opportunity to step up, flip the script and show the world once again how this industry is an important part of the solutions we need," the President-Designate told the audience. "We need to rapidly build a new clean energy system, while comprehensively decarbonizing the system we rely on today," he said.

Dr. Al Jaber repeated his call for the oil & gas industry to "up its game, urgently decarbonize its operations and take collective action to eliminate operational emissions," based on three imperatives. These include the entire industry aligning to achieve net zero by 2050, accelerating the industry-wide commitment to zero out methane emissions, and monitoring, measuring and validating progress every step of the way.

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Guidehouse Insights Explores Solutions for Recycling End-of-Life EV Batteries
Boulder, Colorado

A new report from Guidehouse Insights explores the development of solutions for recycling end-of-life EV batteries.

While the automotive industry grappled with supply-chain disruptions in 2022, production and sales of battery EVs (BEVs) surged in all major markets globally. This surge coincided with substantial increases in prices for minerals critical to producing batteries, which led to price increases for both BEVs and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), collectively referred to as plug-in EVs (PEVs). According to Guidehouse Insights, plug-in EV (PEV) sales, which reached 10.4 million in 2022 worldwide, are projected to accelerate to 57 million vehicles by 2030, a global market share of 47% of all vehicles. An increasing number of PEV batteries will eventually reach the end of their useful life and require an alternative solution to being discarded into landfills, which violates environmental goals, policies, and regulations. The latest report by Guidehouse Insights focuses on recycling as a viable solution for end-of-life PEV batteries.

"Recycling is environmentally sustainable, and it meets broad government and industry strategic goals of mitigating international supply chain and geo-political risks by decreasing reliance on material extraction and refinement dominated by a handful of countries," says Adam Winston, research analyst with Guidehouse Insights. "For companies with established sustainability goals, sourcing battery materials globally generates additional emissions by transporting raw and refined materials, so localizing production will be key to meeting sustainability goals."

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The Electrifying Divide in Battery Chemistries for Construction EVs
Boston, Massachusetts

The success of electric vehicles in the construction industry will largely be determined by battery prices being low enough that the total cost of ownership is cheaper than diesel alternatives. IDTechEx's new report, "Electric Vehicles in Construction 2023-2043", shows that there is a battery price tipping point, under which it will be cheaper over the vehicle lifetime to operate an EV. Selecting the right chemistry then will be imperative for getting a low enough vehicle price. So why is a clear dichotomy seen between the batteries being deployed in China compared to Europe?

Electric vehicles in construction are an emerging market. Despite this, IDTechEx has built a database of more than 100 example makes and models across seven different construction vehicle categories. However, with lots of vehicles still yet to be released, only 49 database entries have confirmed chemistry information. With Europe and China being more established markets for electric construction vehicles, conclusions about battery chemistry trends from OEMs in these regions can be made. What is obvious at this early stage is that Europe heavily favors NMC, while China has chosen LFP.  

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Ignoring Trustees' Warnings is Not Standing Up for Seniors
Washington, DC

The Concord Coalition has said that this year's reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees demonstrate an urgent need for action to avoid severe benefit cuts by 2034 for Social Security's combined retirement and disability programs, and by 2031 for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance).

"Doing nothing to improve the financial outlook of Social Security and Medicare is not 'standing up for seniors.' It is political cowardice and fiscal malfeasance," said Concord Coalition executive director Robert L. Bixby.

"These two programs are enormously important for millions of American families who rely on them for current or future retirement income, disability benefits, and healthcare needs. Under current law, however, the only thing anyone can rely on is the certainty that Social Security and Medicare face sudden cuts if Congress and the president fail to act. It is deeply disappointing that lawmakers of both parties routinely ignore the trustees' warnings. With insolvency moving closer, they should make it a priority this year to find solutions that are both fiscally and generationally responsible," Bixby said.

As detailed in the reports, both programs contribute to steadily rising budget deficits while at the same time neither program can pay the full amount of scheduled benefits under current law. Ignoring the warnings in these reports will leave the public unprepared for changes that must inevitably be made to put these vital programs on a sustainable trajectory.

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Science Moms Launch $2 Million Campaign To Accelerate Clean Energy Transition
New York, New York

Science Moms -- a nonpartisan group of scientists who engage moms in tackling climate change -- announced the launch of a $2 million ad campaign. The campaign, dubbed "Cleanversations", seeks to spark conversations about the risks that dirty energy poses to kids' health and raise awareness of the resources now available to parents and local governments to help accelerate the transition to clean energy.

The new "Cleanversations" ads -- entitled "Smoking Bus" and "Game Show" -- will run through Earth Day on platforms like YouTube, Hulu, TikTok, Instagram, Out of Home, and several local TV and radio stations. This campaign is part of a consistent multi-million dollar media spend from Science Moms over the past two years to get moms off the sidelines and demand from their leaders a bold plan to stop big polluters. "Smoking Bus" dramatizes the connection between the toxic fumes found in diesel school buses and the same ones found in cigarettes, while "Game Show" taps into the over-the-top excitement a mom will feel when she discovers how huge the savings and health benefits of clean energy are for her children.

"Clean energy laws are good for our kids and the climate," said Dr. Lisa Patel, a pediatrician, the Executive Director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, and the newest member of Science Moms. "Kids are not just little adults -- they consume higher quantities of food, water, and air per pound of body weight, making them uniquely vulnerable to pollution and extreme weather events. Thankfully, there is an army of moms who have shown, time and again, that they are able to move mountains in the name of protecting our children's future. Who is more motivated to get school boards to switch from toxic diesel buses to clean electric vehicles than moms?"

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MIT Technology Review Insights' Green Future Index 2023 third annual ranking sees progress wavering as atmospheric carbon levels soar
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Produced by MIT Technology Review Insights in association with Kyndryl, Intel, and Iris Ceramica Group, the Green Future Index (GFI) is the third annual comparative ranking of 76 nations and territories on their progress toward developing a sustainable, low-carbon future for their economies and societies.

Based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted between June 2022 and January 2023, the interactive Green Future Index 2023 measures the extent to which countries and territories are moving toward a green future by reducing carbon emissions, developing clean energy, innovating in green sectors, and preserving the environment, as well as the degree to which governments are implementing effective climate policies.

The key findings of the Green Future Index 2023 report are as follows:

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Third Pole Darkening Affects Local and Remote Climates, Finds a Report from the Third Pole Environment
Beijing, China

The loss of land surface reflectivity in this region could impact glacier volume and the Asian monsoon rainfall.

Owing to global warming effects, the Tibetan Plateau (TP) region has experienced drastic changes in its land surface, characterized by melting glaciers, loss of snow cover, and vegetation greening. These, in turn, have led to a darkening of the land surface, characterized by a lower surface albedo and higher absorption of shortwave radiation. This has resulted in increased surface temperatures, contributing to the surface darkening. However, the climatic and glaciological effects of such darkening over the TP have not been assessed or quantified.

Against this backdrop, an international team of researchers, led by Prof. Shilong Piao from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the new Third Pole Environment (TPE) leader, set out to investigate how surface darkening over the TP would impact regional as well as remote climates in Asia. Their study was made available online on January 03, 2023, and published in Volume 14 of the journal Nature Communications. "Given that the darkening trend of the TP is likely to continue in a warmer future, it is critical to close the knowledge gap on how it will influence the climate and glacier volume in the TP as well as in other remote regions," explains Prof. Piao.

The team adopted a high-resolution land-atmosphere global climate model (LMDZOR) and an open global glacier model (OGGM) to study the impact of TP surface darkening under a high-emission scenario. With this setup, they conducted two "experiments" to track the changes. The first was a control experiment with the present albedo values, while the second was a scenario experiment with future albedo values over the TP. Furthermore, they used LMDZOR-simulated near-surface precipitation and air temperatures to drive the OGGM for predicting the albedo-induced glacier melting by the end of the century.

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NIBS Consultative Council Issues Report on Decarbonization of the U.S. Built Environment
Washington, DC

The National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council has issued its 2022 Moving Forward Report, looking closely at the climate emergency and the path toward decarbonization of the U.S. built environment.

The report specifically examines embodied and operational carbon and greenhouse gases in existing buildings and new construction, providing realistic and effective carbon-reducing recommendations directly to President Joe Biden and policymakers, as well as to industry stakeholders.

"Human-induced climate change is a threat to human life and society, and steps must be taken across economic sectors to reduce the adverse impact of carbon and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions," said AC Powell, JD, CPS, President and CEO of NIBS. "Progress has been made, but there is still far to go."

The building sector is a significant contributor to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both in the U.S. and globally. These GHG emissions contribute to the widespread and worsening impacts of human-induced climate change, and can have adverse effects on local environments and populations by compromising indoor air quality and exacerbating outdoor air pollution. Mitigating these effects by decarbonizing the building sector will take an economy-wide effort, but the need to achieve near- and long-term emissions reductions is critically important.

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United Nations Executive Secretary Talks with Protiviti: 'We Need Private Sector Engagement, Investment to Solve Environmental Crises'
Menlo Park, California
In an interview with VISION by Protiviti, the United Nations' (UN) Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification calls on global business leaders to take an active role in helping to solve the planet's biggest problems. "Businesses need to shift from a linear economy - extracting resources, using them quickly and discarding them as waste - to a circular economy where used products are repurposed and re-injected in the economy," said Ibrahim Thiaw in an interview with global consulting firm Protiviti while he was at COP27, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"Business has a huge role to play in shaping the consumption patterns of the growing middle class, as it will demand more land, water and other resources. There is a dire need for investments that, at once, match this huge consumer demand for change, and ensure we adapt to the multiple disruptions exacerbated by climate change and land degradation," stated Thiaw.

The interview, conducted by Protiviti's Baris Karapinar, ESG and Sustainability lead for the firm's operation in Switzerland, wrapped up Protiviti's six-month exploration of the business impact of sustainability in a content series titled "Future of ESG," the latest theme explored on the VISION by Protiviti online thought leadership platform.

Thiaw calls on the private sector to help solve Earth's environmental challenges, including climate change, drought, water scarcity, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Doing so will give people a chance to generate 50 percent more wealth over the next three decades, Thiaw says. "The world has a choice: Either we continue with the current nature-destructive path and lose up to half of the global GDP by 2050, or we take a sustainable land management approach to combat the current environmental crises we're facing."
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The interior design of our cells: Database of 200,000 cell images yields new mathematical framework to understand our cellular building blocks
Seattle, Washington
Working with hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images, the team at the Allen Institute for Cell Science, a division of the Allen Institute, put numbers on the internal organization of human cells - a biological concept that has to date proven exceptionally difficult to quantify.

Through that work, the scientists also captured details about the rich variation in cell shape even among genetically identical cells grown under identical conditions. The team described their work in a paper published in the journal Nature.

"The way cells are organized tells us something about their behavior and identity," said Susanne Rafelski, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Allen Institute for Cell Science, who led the study along with Senior Scientist Matheus Viana, Ph.D. "What's been missing from the field, as we all try to understand how cells change in health and disease, is a rigorous way to deal with this kind of organization. We haven't yet tapped into that information."

This study provides a roadmap for biologists to understand organization of different kinds of cells in a measurable, quantitative way, Rafelski said. It also reveals some key organizational principles of the cells the Allen Institute team studies, which are known as human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Understanding how cells organize themselves under healthy conditions - and the full range of variability contained within "normal" - can help scientists better understand what goes wrong in disease. The image dataset, genetically engineered stem cells, and code that went into this study are all publicly available for other scientists in the community to use.
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98% of Global Companies Making Progress Toward Stated Decarbonization Targets
New York, New York

ENGI Impact, a leader in sustainability transformation solutions, has announced the release of its 2023 Net Zero Report. Titled "Six Actions to Accelerate DecarbonizationSix Actions to Accelerate Decarbonization," the third annual report delves into corporate transformation readiness, challenges to implementation and the major decarbonization roadblocks companies   must overcome to reach Net Zero. Along with a summary of progress achieved, the report provides insights and strategies to accelerate decarbonization and increase return on investments by implementing an actionable roadmap.

ENGIE Impact's study involved more than 500 senior executives from the world's largest companies, each employing more than 10,000 people. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those surveyed this year said they have now made some form of public commitment or target to address carbon emissions reduction within their organization. While this rising percentage represents progress, only 12% rate their sustainability efforts as "extremely successful," and 75% say they have already achieved the "quick wins" in their decarbonization plan. Success will require more investment, strong leadership and sustained effort and commitment to reach decarbonization goals in time.

"Our research reveals signs of progress from corporations around the world, but the process must accelerate, and we've learned there are challenges along the way that many leaders don't anticipate at the beginning of this journey," said Mathias Lelievre, CEO ENGIE Impact. "Our report identifies the most common barriers to overcome and strategic actions to clear those roadblocks and accelerate decarbonization."

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Study Finds Global Business Leaders Anticipate Investment Cuts and Want Renewables As First Approach to Climate in Response to Europe's Energy Crisis, Economic Headwinds
St Louis, Missouri

As the world faces stiff economic headwinds and Europe grapples with a deepening energy crisis with global impacts, a recent survey conducted by FleishmanHillard found that business leaders around the world expect investment reductions in key areas while renewing desires for a balanced approach to climate and energy. They expect fossil fuels to be given a prolonged role given supply shortages in Europe and the UK.

The energy crisis and inflation are affecting consumers' cost of living and industries globally, creating both challenges and opportunities for business. FleishmanHillard's TRUE Global Intelligence wanted to learn more and surveyed nearly 900 business leaders in nine countries: China, France, Germany, India, Italy, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States to understand their perspective related to the European energy crisis and expectations for the coming year. 

Sixty-one percent of the executives said they were "very concerned" about inflation, followed by tensions between the West and Russia (53%) and the European energy crisis (51%). Concern about climate change and extreme weather was fourth at 42%, which was ahead of the frosty China-U.S. relationship (33%).

Some 61% of those surveyed also said inflation was having a large or very large impact on their business. Eight in 10 (79%) said they expected poverty to grow as a result of Europe's energy crisis and global increase in energy costs due to supply constraints, while nearly the same level expects the crisis to accelerate the growth of renewable energy production (76%).

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Survey Reveals 90% of Americans Used Telehealth in The Past Year
Los Angeles, California

Independa, an award-winning TV-based platform providing remote engagement, education and care, today announced the results of their latest commissioned survey examining behaviors and attitudes of smart TV users and their experiences surrounding telehealth.

Results from the November 2022 study found that over 90% of Americans used telehealth services in the last year, and that 90% enjoyed their experience. Some of these services included doctors appointments, teledentistry, and vision appointments.

Additionally, 71% of users accessed telehealth using their smartphones. Respondents said that the television is their preferred method of using telehealth. Last year, a survey of American adults over 70, also commissioned by Independa, revealed that older adults in particular prefer the ease of using the television for telehealth.

"We are thrilled to be on the forefront of telehealth adoption with the Independa Health Hub built into LG TVs," said Kian Saneii, founder and CEO of Independa. "Our research shows that for the 97% of Americans who own a smart TV, there is a preference for using familiar technology like the television to provide more ease, comfort, and accessibility to valuable health resources."

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New Rankings of America's Small Cities and Towns Offers Clues About How Local Economies Survive Global Disruptions
Bentonville, Arkansas
COVID-19 shocked the global economy, and the reverberations of that disruption were felt acutely in America's micropolitans, where resident populations number 10,000 to 50,000. How did some not only survive but thrive during the pandemic? That is the subject of Heartland Forward's most recent research report, Most Dynamic Micropolitans.

Researchers ranked and analyzed the economic dynamism of 536 micropolitan areas across the United States by studying changes in key economic conditions from 2015 through 2020, with special attention to the change in employment from September 2020 through September 2021 to better understand communities' ability to rebound from the early months of the pandemic.

Those micropolitans at the top shared certain characteristics, including access to outdoor recreation, industries that focused on food production or processing and specializations in oil and gas. The data suggests that the strongest way to ensure sustainable economic development is industry diversification. Micros that also provide natural amenities are among those that avoided economic ruin during the pandemic.
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Consensus in Costa Rica on the road to COP27: Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas reaffirm commitment to sustainability, warning that climate actions should be science-based, to safeguard productivity and prevent a deepening crisis
San Jose, California
There was overwhelming consensus among ministers and secretaries of Agriculture of 32 countries of the Americas that will support the action of these countries at COP27. All agreed that climate actions to boost the sustainability of agriculture should be science-based, as a means of safeguarding and boosting productivity and to avoid compounding the ongoing food crisis, which is already a cause for concern.

They also emphasized that farmers alone cannot shoulder the burden of the damages resulting from climate change or the sole responsibility for the necessary investment to transform the agriculture sector. Thus, it is imperative that developed countries honor their commitments to provide international financing.

These were some of the messages included in a consensus document arising out of a meeting that was also attended by representatives of multilateral credit agencies and global climate financing funds.

The two-day meeting was convened by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) at its headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica, to discuss the strategic role of the region's agriculture sector in tackling climate change, ahead of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in November, and to coordinate regional positions for this forum. The session also encouraged the sharing of information and experiences that will support the action of the countries.
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US and Iceland Government Officials, Business Leaders Strengthen International Cooperation to Achieve Climate Goals
Washington, DC

In September, The Atlantic Council, the Embassy of Iceland and Green by Iceland hosted the U.S.-Iceland Clean Energy Summit, Our Climate Future. The Summit convened Icelandic and U.S. government leaders, businesses, and civil society groups to discuss opportunities to strengthen international cooperation to achieve ambitious climate goals. Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir; Iceland's Foreign Minister Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir; U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree; Iceland's Ambassador to the U.S. Bergdis Ellertsdóttir; and officials from the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy, and State; joined top executives from companies including Microsoft, BlackRock, Carbfix, Carbon Recycling International, Landsvirkjun, HS Orka, ON Power, and Running Tide to discuss opportunities and challenges to accelerate public and private partnerships to advance the energy transition and achieve urgent climate goals.

"Politicians and big corporations carry the biggest accountability," said Jakobsdóttir. "We can do a lot as individuals – I can take my bicycle and go to work and all that. And that's very important to make those decisions as an individual. But it's us politicians who need to create a society where it is easy to make those decisions. Where it is actually easier to make climate-friendly decisions than climate-hostile decisions. For the big corporations, who are the biggest emitters, we have to hold them accountable."

The summit aimed to highlight recent advancements in clean energy, including geothermal and carbon capture utilization and storage, and to draw attention to technological solutions to accelerate the energy transition and seek ways to enhance cooperation and sharing of knowledge between Iceland and the United States. The need for greater ambition in decarbonizing the energy system while ensuring energy security stood out as another major theme throughout the day.

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The Global Methane Initiative and Climate and Clean Air Coalition Tour Maryland Bioenergy Center to Discuss the Methane Reduction Impact of Enclosed Anaerobic Digestion
Jessup, Maryland

Bioenergy Devco and its Italian subsidiary, BTS Biogas, hosted a group of policymakers, industry leaders, technical experts, and researchers from around the world at its state-of-the-art facility in Jessup, MD to view the largest enclosed food waste recycling anaerobic digester in the United States. Touring the international group from the EPA, Global Methane Initiative and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition was a unique opportunity to see first-hand the advanced capabilities of community-scale anaerobic digestion to reduce methane and other climate pollutants and to create renewable energy.

The Maryland Bioenergy Center – Jessup processes 110,000 tons of food waste annually, helping to decarbonize organic waste streams in the greater Baltimore and Washington regions. Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that naturally transforms food waste, such as fats, oils, food processing waste, proteins, and fresh-cut produce, into renewable energy and nutrient-rich soil products. Unlike most anaerobic digestion facilities in the United States, Bioenergy Devco operates enclosed food waste co-digestion facilities, allowing for multiple waste streams to coexist in the anaerobic digestion process while maximizing energy yield. This technology provides a non-fossil fuel source of energy to power our communities while reducing CO2 and methane emissions.

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Bank of the West Creates First Disappearing Billboard for a Disappearing Habitat
San Francisco, California

Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, is bringing awareness to the urgent need to protect kelp forests with its latest marketing campaign, "Before it Disappears." Bank of the West commissioned artist Andres Amador to create a sand billboard on Dillon Beach in Northern California to bring attention to the threat climate change poses to coastal ecosystems, and the role finance can play in advancing a more sustainable future.

Experience the full interactive Multichannel News Release here:

"When you deposit money in the bank, it goes out into the world to finance things," said Ben Stuart, Head of Growth & Transformation and Chief Marketing Officer at Bank of the West. "Putting your money into institutions that align with your values is one of the most impactful actions you can take as a consumer or business. Our Money Matters survey found only 23 percent of Americans know what their bank finances. We hope 'Before It Disappears' raises awareness about the connection between banking and the environment."

In some parts of California, more than 90% of kelp forests have disappeared over the past 10 years. Kelp forests play a critical role in protecting the planet by helping to sequester carbon and reduce the impact of climate change. Through Sustainable Surf's SeaTrees program, Bank of the West has helped fund the restoration of over 3,000 square feet of wild kelp forests along the Palos Verdes peninsula.

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Extreme precipitation threatens food security and drives up local food costs in the Pacific Northwest
Woodinville, Washington
As farmers face surging fuel and input costs, unseasonal cold weather and precipitation in Washington State throws a wrench into already complicated food pricing.

"The pathways are up to our boot tops with standing water," said Amy White of Bumblebee Farms. "Even cold-weather crops like spinach, arugula, radishes, peas, and kale are struggling because the soil is saturated with water."

Unseasonal flooding in the Pacific Northwest has meant a slow start to local food production. Over the past decade, small local farms have been adjusting to increasing heat by switching out tried-and-true seed varietals for more heat-hardy varieties. By contrast, spring of 2022 was unusually cold and wet -- Seattle experienced its coldest spring since 1955.

Many farms in the Greater Seattle area--Sammamish, Snohomish, and Snoqualmie valleys -- have high water tables. Seasonal flooding comes with the territory--but not usually this late in the season, when drier, heat-loving crops like tomatoes and squash are supposed to be in the ground already. Food safety rules dictate that fields cannot be planted again until 60 days after a flooding event -- meaning some varieties may not have any time to come to fruition.

Plus, when the soil is saturated, tilling can create compaction and disrupt soil ecosystems. For those on tiny margins, farmers are having to choose: Wait until the weather is more stable for heat-loving crops, or till anyway, which can create problems in the future.
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Squaring the Circle: An Innovation Barn, Urban Lumber, And Food Forests
Charlotte, North Carolina
Consensus Digital Media presents episode #6 of Made In America: American Innovators, featuring Envision Charlotte, a public-private partnership between the city of Charlotte, Cisco, Charlotte Center City Partners, Duke Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy. Come along and see the environmental impact, job creation, and economic competitiveness thriving in the heart of an innovation center making waves in the Tar Heel State and setting a national example.

In this episode, we meet Amy Aussieker, Executive Director of Envision Charlotte -- she's at the helm of the Innovation Barn. This retrofitted old barn houses entrepreneurs and innovators leading the way toward creating and sustaining a circular economy. The industrialists at the Innovation Barn offer new solutions and ways to scale composting, recycling glass, using fly larvae to reduce food waste, and fostering "volunteer" forests.

Between creating a circular economy and energy monitoring and efficiency, Envision Charlotte has already helped the city of Charlotte and local companies save millions of dollars while also having a significant impact on carbon reduction. From a Smart City building project to Carolina Urban Lumber and Crown Town Compost, we meet just a few leaders and entrepreneurs stepping up to find solutions with the help of Envision Charlotte.
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Animals vital to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals
Washington, DC
A new report calls on international policymakers to integrate principles of animal welfare and wildlife conservation in all efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Thriving Together: The Critical Role of Animals in Achieving the SDGs has been released by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and features case studies from around the world that clearly demonstrate the importance of animal and habitat health to overall human well-being.

Part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by United Nations members in 2015, the SDGs outline international priorities to achieve sustainable human development, including management of population growth, infrastructure plans, and longevity of our natural resources. However, to date they place limited emphasis on the value of the natural world.

"Our connection with the natural world has never been clearer than it is at this moment, as demonstrated by the unprecedented impact of global climate change, global pandemics and environmental degradation," said Mark Hofberg, Campaigns Officer at IFAW and lead author of the report. "It is therefore necessary that we acknowledge this vital relationship and include animals at the start of all decisions around sustainable development."

Effective welfare and conservation actions will contribute significantly to achieving the SDGs and improving people's lives at the pace that is required for the health of our planet. Acknowledging the role of animals can lead to greater food security, prevention of disease, and strengthened contribution of vital species to overall ecosystem health -- and thus increased resilience against the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
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National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors Statement on SCOTUS Decision in West Virginia v. EPA
Washington, DC
In their recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court greatly limited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by curtailing its long-standing authority under the Clean Air Act.

The National League of Cities (NLC) and The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) joined together in an amicus brief in West Virginia v. EPA supporting the Clean Power Plan.

Responding to this decision, Clarence Anthony, NLC CEO and Executive Director, and Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and Executive Director, issued the following statement:

"Local leaders are on the front lines of battling the climate crisis – but we can't do it alone. This announcement represents a major step back in our fight to keep our communities safe from the devastating effects of the climate crisis, including stronger and more frequent natural disasters, extreme temperatures, negative public health effects, and more. Many cities, towns and villages will continue to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but this decision leaves us working uphill against this threat."
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Acadian Plant Health California almond water use study delivers promising early results for growers
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Acadian Plant Health (APH) has announced the first results of its California almond water use study, which offers promising news for tree nut growers and the almond industry in the drought-affected growing region.

In 2021, the University of California study found that applications of Acadian Organic were beneficial for reducing plant stress under limited water conditions, and that when used properly, seaweed-based biostimulants have the capability to help combat drought induced changes in plants. Both findings represent a significant boost for growers looking for sustainable agriculture solutions in the face of drought challenges.

"Acadian Plant Health is focused on delivering solutions that perform in the field and offer increased survivability and productivity for growers in challenging environments," said Dr. Sarah Maude, Vice-President, Technology at Acadian Plant Health. "These trial results, which are fantastic news for growers, show that biostimulant treatments are a potential new way to aid growers in water management by increasing the plant system's resiliency and reducing crop productivity losses due to stress -- particularly where sustainable solutions to help crops thrive with limited water are key."
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LifeStance Survey Finds That 68% of Parents Have Seen Their Children Face Significant Mental and Emotional Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Scottsdale, Arizona
LifeStance Health, one of the nation's largest providers of outpatient mental health care, has released its State of Youth Mental Health Report, a nationwide survey by LifeStance with OnePoll that explores how parents are addressing their children's mental health. The survey of 2,000 American parents found that the majority are grappling with the mental health implications of the pandemic on their children and looking for solutions.

"When a child is experiencing a physical health condition, most caregivers don't think twice about reaching out to their pediatrician. Yet, emotional issues in children can be trickier to spot and, understandably, some parents may not know how or when to involve a mental health professional," said Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, Chief Medical Officer, LifeStance. "Mental health should be treated no differently than physical health -- they're incredibly intertwined, and both play a critical role in children's wellbeing and development."
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New clinical trial shows major and positive effect of food supplement in hospitalized patients with COVID-19
Brussels, Belgium
Belgium has a long history of excellence in clinical research. This is due to the quality of its research centres, the innovative and specialist expertise of its researchers and access to state-of-the-art medical infrastructure.

Turmeric, quercetin and vitamin D were already known to have antiviral, antibacterial and immunomodulatory properties. Therefore, the researchers wanted to know what positive effects the combination of these three substances could have - not only on the virulence of COVID-19, but also on the development of the associated pneumonia.

For this centrally organized study - which allowed for homogeneity - 49 covid patients were enrolled and randomly separated into two groups. All patients were over 18 years old and hospitalised with a severe form of the disease. In the first one, the 'Nasafytol group', 25 patients received Nasafytol, consisting of turmeric, quercetin and vitamin D, for up to 14 days in addition to standard treatment. In the second one, the 'Vitamin D group', 24 patients on standard treatment received vitamin D (equivalent dose of 800 IU) for up to 14 days. Both groups had similar demographic characteristics in terms of age, gender, height, weight, ethnicity and BMI[1]. In addition, both groups had a similar clinical score, based on the WHO[2] classification (4 vs. 4), and a similar CRP[3] level (57 vs. 58). Thus, the two groups were comparable. The only difference was their vaccination status, with a higher number of vaccinated patients (at least one dose) in the 'vitamin D group' than in the 'Nasafytol group' (9 vs. 2).

"For this study, we chose a combination of bioactive quercetin, a bioactive turmeric extract and vitamin D3, they help maintain the body's immune system and the effectiveness of the natural defences," says Prof. Yves Henrotin, founder and executive chairman of Artialis and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Liege. "By combining these three elements, we wanted to develop a natural preparation that would help patients with COVID-19. On the one hand, by reducing the risk of serious complications, and on the other hand, by reducing the number of transfers and avoiding overcrowding in ICUs as much as possible. These were the main factors we had to take into account during the pandemic. That is why we tested this combination (Nasafytol), as an addition to the standard treatment and in line with the WHO recommendations for clinical studies in relation to COVID-19."
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How Obesity Can Rewire the Immune System and the Response to Immunotherapy and How to Change That
San Francisco, California
When mice with atopic dermatitis -- a common type of allergic skin inflammation -- are treated with drugs that target the immune system, their thickened, itchy skin generally heals quickly. But scientists have now discovered that the same treatment in obese mice makes their skin worse instead. That is because obesity changes the molecular underpinnings of allergic inflammation, both in mice and humans.

For the new study, researchers at Gladstone Institutes, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and UC San Francisco (UCSF) teamed up. Their findings, reported in the journal Nature, shed light on how obesity can change the immune system and, potentially, how clinicians might be able to better treat allergies and asthma in obese people.

"We're living in an era when the rate of obesity is increasing around the world," says Alex Marson, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology and a senior author of the study. "Changes in diet and body composition can affect the immune system, so we have to think about how diseases that involve the immune system might differ between individuals."

"Our findings demonstrate how differences in our individual metabolic states can have a major impact on inflammation, and how available drugs might be able to improve health outcomes," says Ronald Evans, PhD, senior author of the study, and director of Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and the March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology at Salk.
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Sesame Workshop and Viatris Launch New Emotional Health and Wellbeing Resources for Families Grappling with Effects of COVID-19
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, is launching new bilingual resources made possible by Viatris Inc. to support the social and emotional needs of families and caregivers across generations as they collectively continue to adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Building on previous global resources addressing key emotions felt during the pandemic, launched in 2020, the new phase includes five new videos featuring beloved Sesame characters like Elmo and Grover, as they learn to handle big changes, hold mindful moments, take care of themselves and their loved ones, and so much more. In one video, Grover and Elmo learn the different ways families say goodbye as kids are going back to school and parents are returning to work, like giving each other big hugs or doing a special "goodbye dance." Additional videos and resources will be released on a rolling basis over the coming months.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people around the world are facing increased stress, pressure, and other challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health-related emergency department visits in the US rose 24% for children between the ages of five and 11 and 31% for those between the ages of 12 and 17 beginning in April 2020 in comparison to the year before.
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The BA.2 subvariant is a reminder that hygiene can't fall by the wayside
Parsippany, New Jersey
As cases of what the World Health Organization calls the "Omicron variant of concern," BA.2, increase the world must reinvigorate its hygiene efforts or else risk a springtime COVID-19 surge.

Since the start of the pandemic, handwashing, mask wearing, sanitizing, social distancing and social isolation have become commonplace in a bid to keep COVID-19 infections at a minimum. While certain countries, including the United Kingdom, have since relaxed the rules and regulations surrounding such measures, the latest variants and subvariants highlight the criticality of maintaining such hygiene habits.

"Over the past two years, people have become more aware of their hygiene habits in a way they probably weren't before. It's now extremely clear how important good hygiene is for our overall health and just because the COVID-19 rules have relaxed, it doesn't mean our hygiene habits should too," said Simon Sinclair, RGHI Executive Director, adding that with these improved hygiene behaviors the world is now far better equipped to stave off other illnesses and infections.
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Cracking the code for a new system of cell-to-cell signaling
Boston, Massachusetts
Control of most bodily functions depends on the ability of cells to talk to each other. We have long known about two routes for cell-to-cell communication: the nervous system and the secretion of hormones. Over the past five years scientists recognized an important third route of communication based on exosomes--tiny sacs or vesicles containing protein and RNA molecules that cells secrete into circulation where they can be taken up by other cells to regulate metabolism.

Many labs are focusing on exosomes carrying microRNAs. These are very short RNAs that can regulate the ability of other longer RNAs that make different cellular proteins and control cell function. Thus, microRNAs affect many aspects of cellular behavior in health and disease.

Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center now have discovered how cells pick a collection of microRNAs for their exosomes, said C. Ronald Kahn, MD, a Joslin senior investigator and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Our work offers a major insight into this new mechanism of cellular communication, because it breaks the code of why cells secrete some microRNAs and why they retain others," said Kahn, corresponding author on a Nature paper describing the work.
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SARS-CoV-2 vaccination creates a strong, persistent T-cell response
Memphis, Tennessee
Scientists have harnessed T cells to better understand the immune response to mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The findings from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis were published in Cell. The findings suggest that some aspects of the immune response to mRNA vaccines remain robust six months after vaccination.

Much of the research on immune response to mRNA vaccination has focused on antibody levels, which can be measured by a blood test. However, this is just one aspect of immunity. Researchers wanted to better understand the specificity and structure of the T-cell response to vaccination.

Researchers focused on a certain kind of T cells in the lymph nodes, which facilitate antibody development in vaccinated individuals. The team used samples from Washington University as well as from the St. Jude Tracking of Viral and Host Factors Associated with COVID-19 cohort. The cohort was established in 2020 with hospital St. Jude employees who volunteered to have their immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination monitored.

"Our study lays out a new way of discovering what the T-cell responses are directed against in SARS-CoV-2, and found a surprisingly large T-cell response that is likely shared by over half the world," said co-corresponding author Paul Thomas, Ph.D., St. Jude Department of Immunology. "If your immune system is putting this much effort into seeing that particular piece of the virus, we need a better understanding of that interaction to get a full picture of how the immune system reacts to vaccination."
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Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Demonstrates 85 Percent Effectiveness against Hospitalization in South Africa when Omicron was Dominant
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Johnson & Johnson has announced new preliminary results from the South African Phase 3b Sisonke study which showed that a homologous (same vaccine) booster shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S) demonstrated 85 percent effectiveness against COVID-19-related hospitalization. The study, conducted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), showed that the Johnson & Johnson booster reduced the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 among healthcare workers in South Africa after Omicron became the dominant variant. During the months studied (mid-November to mid-December) the frequency of Omicron increased from 82 to 98 percent of COVID-19 cases in South Africa as reported by GISAID, an initiative that provides COVID-19 data.

A second, separate analysis of the immune response to different vaccine regimens, conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), demonstrated that a heterologous booster (different vaccine) of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who initially received the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine generated a 41-fold increase in neutralizing antibody responses and a 5-fold increase in CD8+ T-cells to Omicron by four weeks following the boost. A homologous boost with BNT162b2 generated a 17-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies and a 1.4-fold increase in CD8+ T-cells by four weeks following the boost. Both neutralizing antibodies and CD8+ T-cells were higher four weeks after the boost with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine than with the BNT162b2 vaccine.

The increase in CD8+ T-cells generated by the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may be key to explaining the high levels of effectiveness against severe COVID-19 disease and hospitalization in the Sisonke 2 study, as the Omicron variant has been shown to escape neutralizing antibodies.1
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Breakthrough Discoveries on Novel Features of Omicron Variant and An Anti-Omicron Antibody JMB2002
Shanghai, China
Joint research results from Biologics of Jemincare and Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has confirmed that JMB2002, an anti-SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody (NAb) discovered by Biologics of Jemincare is still effective against the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Su-Jun Deng from biologics of Jemincare R&D Center, and another team of scientists from SIMM of CAS, led by Professor H. Eric Xu and Dr. Wanchao Yin, not only confirmed the binding and pseudovirus neutralization activity of JMB2002 against Omicron variant, but also solved the structures of Omicron spike protein in complex with ACE2 and JMB2002 respectively. Joint research efforts revealed the mechanisms of increased infectivity and immune escape of the Omicron variant at molecular level, and demonstrated the unique binding mechanism of JMB2002 differing from all reported NAbs. Detailed findings of novel features of Omicron variant and JMB2002 have been published on bioRxiv preprint website (Reference 1).

The latest research results indicated that JMB2002 had high binding activity to the Omicron variant and showed potent Omicron pseudovirus neutralization function. It is encouraging considering that most approved and clinical-stage SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody drugs have lost their neutralization activity or have shown significantly reduced neutralizing potency due to multiple mutations of the spike protein in Omicron variant.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Multiple Actions to Expand Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
Silver Spring, Maryland

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to:

* Expand the use of a single booster dose to include use in individuals 12 through 15 years of age.
* Shorten the time between the completion of primary vaccination of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and a booster dose to at least five months.
* Allow for a third primary series dose for certain immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age.

This action expands the use of a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include its use in individuals as young as 12 years of age.

The agency has determined that the protective health benefits of a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to provide continued protection against COVID-19 and the associated serious consequences that can occur including hospitalization and death, outweigh the potential risks in individuals 12 through 15 years of age.

The FDA reviewed real-world data from Israel, including safety data from more than 6,300 individuals 12 through 15 years of age who received a booster dose of the vaccine at least 5 months following completion of the primary two-dose vaccination series. These additional data enabled the FDA to reassess the benefits and risks of the use of a booster in the younger adolescent population in the setting of the current surge in COVID-19 cases. The data shows there are no new safety concerns following a booster in this population. There were no new cases of myocarditis or pericarditis reported to date in these individuals.

The FDA is also authorizing the use of a single booster dose five months after completion of the primary vaccination series of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

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US Farmers and Ranchers in Action Partners US and Global Thought Leaders with US Farmers to Benefit the Food Systems of the Future
Chesterfield, Missouri
U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action (USFRA) is one of -- if not the only -- organization that has successfully connected farmers and ranchers to food and agriculture stakeholders to co-create sustainable food systems through four tremendous back-to-back events in two weeks' time.

Beginning with the third annual USFRA Honor the Harvest Forum which brought together farmers and ranchers with agricultural value chain leaders in food, fiber, and energy to address the needs of the next #DecadeofAg. The more than 120 participants brought together 100% of the food and ag value chain for three full days of identifying and addressing specific actions to further innovation and investment that will be necessary to unlock the full potential of climate-smart agriculture nationwide.

Several key themes and action areas emerged during the plenary sessions, breakout discussions, presentations, and leadership talks including collaboration is key to moving the industry forward and ongoing dialogue and relationships must start with the farmers. USFRA Chairman and Nebraska farmer Anne Meis said of the Forum, "The leadership we've seen, the insight and tough questions we've heard, and the focused conversations must continue."

From meaningful investment to data privacy to elevating producers to educating consumers, the Forum focused on breaking old stereotypes and meeting this critical critical moment with a sense of urgency. "In this pivotal time, we can be leaders in tackling the climate crisis -- to be effective, we must work for and with farmers, ranchers, and landowners," said U.S Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who addressed the participants on the first day.
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Global Healthcare Leader Commits to Reducing Malnutrition Globally with Launch of Abbott Center for Malnutrition Solutions
Abbott Park, Illinois
Abbott has announced the creation of the Abbott Center for Malnutrition Solutions, an innovation hub focused on reducing malnutrition around the world. The center, a collaboration between Abbott and external nutrition experts and partners, will focus on the identification, treatment and prevention of malnutrition for the most vulnerable populations in the world, including mothers, infants and young children; aging adults; and people without access to good nutrition.

The work of the center will contribute to Abbott's 2030 Sustainability Plan ambition to transform care for malnutrition, chronic disease and infectious diseases, with a goal to improve the lives of more than 3 billion people by decade's end.

''Malnutrition affects 1 in 3 people around the world, and it's not only a result of extreme poverty," said Daniel Salvadori, executive vice president of Abbott's nutrition business. "It affects people of all ages, all geographies and all socioeconomic classes. Progress to address malnutrition is slow and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Abbott has long been focused on improving nutrition through our innovations. The creation of the Abbott Center for Malnutrition Solutions will enable us to apply our science and expertise in collaboration with others to improve systems and ensure good nutrition is accessible to more people around the world."
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Threats to Employee Wellbeing Intensify as Pandemic Wears On, Study Finds
Boston, Massachusetts
Threats to employee wellbeing continue to intensify well over a year into the pandemic, as evidenced by a 21% rise in burnout and a 17% increase in somatic stress symptoms, a new study found. The study examined changes in overall wellbeing among 5,474 meQuilibrium members from a broad range of industries representing managers and individual contributors.

"Employee wellbeing continues to be under threat 18 months into the pandemic," says Brad Smith, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, meQuilibrium. "Our data shows that workers continue to feel the cumulative mental health impacts of the crisis in the form of increased stress symptoms, burnout, and diminished motivation. We need to take action now to protect employee wellbeing before the clock runs out."

The study also revealed a particularly large burnout risk increase among younger workers of 64%, which was nearly three times the increase for employees over 30 (22%). The increase in burnout symptoms is especially high among managers (+54%), hospitality (+48%), health care (+32%) and finance (30%) industry workers.

When it comes to gender differences, meQuilibrium found that although men and women are experiencing about the same rate of increase in burnout (+24% in women and +25% in men), men's somatic stress levels are rising at a faster rate than women's (+9% for men vs +3% for women).

No matter what job title, gender or industry, a key factor in wellbeing risk is employer support. Employees who felt strongly supported by their employers reported the highest levels of wellbeing and were less likely to report turnover intent.
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Pure Farmland Celebrates Summit Community Gardens With $10,000 Donation As Part Of Its Pure Growth Project
Smithfield, Virginia
Pure Farmland has recognized Summit Community Gardens in Park City, Utah for its positive impact in the area with a check donation of $10,000. The contribution is part of the Pure Growth Project, an initiative launched by Pure Farmland in 2020 to ensure community gardens and farms continue to thrive and help increase access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables nationwide. Summit Community Gardens was selected a 2021 grant recipient to support its mission to empower the local community to gather and garden at high altitude and provide a neighborhood haven of native plants, flowers and trees.

After receiving 103 applications from community gardens and farms across 29 states, 55 organizations were carefully selected to receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, providing a total of $125,000 in financial support to nurture these unique neighborhood spaces. In the spirit of continued growth, Pure Farmland increased its financial commitment by 25% this year in hopes of positively supporting as many green spaces as possible.

Pure Farmland joined Summit Community Gardens to celebrate the local green space's achievements and highlight the amazing impact their hard work has on the neighborhood. The event included a check presentation of $10,000 to help fund the garden's free Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which delivers fresh-grown produce directly to families in need. By creating a weekly delivery option, the garden has been able to break down barriers so neighbors with lack of transportation or busy work schedules can still have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. In an especially difficult time for families facing food insecurity, this grant will allow Summit Community Gardens to double the number of recipients receiving food baskets.
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"Choose Fairtrade. Choose The World You Want." Campaign Raises Awareness Of Fairtrade's Positive Impacts on People and the Planet
Washington, DC
In honor of October as Fair Trade Month, Fairtrade America is launching its second annual, national campaign to generate broader awareness for how a simple action, like purchasing a Fairtrade certified product, can be a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of the almost 2 million farmers and workers participating in Fairtrade across the globe.

The 'Choose Fairtrade. Choose the world you want.' campaign features murals in three major U.S. cities -- Austin, Minneapolis, and Tacoma, Washington --that connect stories of the people who produce the things we enjoy every day, such as cocoa, bananas, coffee and more, to the positive impacts of Fairtrade. Now in its second year, this campaign brought inspiring murals to Denver, Los Angeles and Nashville in 2020. Throughout October, consumers can participate in online giveaways and learn more about Fairtrade via educational resources at When shoppers see the Fairtrade America label on a product, it means farmers were fairly compensated and the ingredients were sourced in compliance with Fairtrade's rigorous gender equality, fair wage, climate change and child labor standards.

Fairtrade America partnered with notable mural artists and key retailers in three major metropolitan cities where mural art is already a prominent part of the culture. Each mural features real farmers and a key benefit of choosing Fairtrade. While consumer awareness and purchase intent of Fairtrade products is increasing in the U.S., this campaign is intended to reach more Americans and educate them about the value of purchasing Fairtrade certified products. Visit Fairtrade's new Product Finder to easily identify and purchase thousands of certified products.

"We are thrilled to continue a campaign that beautifully celebrates and honors the hardworking farmers and workers who produce the goods we enjoy everyday, while overcoming tremendous challenges to do so," said Peg Willingham, Executive Director of Fairtrade America. "We hope this positive expression of Fairtrade's mission inspires shoppers to give more thought to the people behind the foods they purchase, and opt for Fairtrade certified products when possible. Choosing Fairtrade certified products actively supports initiatives that fight poverty, foster gender equality and more across the globe."
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Chasing the Cells that Predict Death from Severe COVID-19
San Francisco, California
While vaccines are doing a remarkable job of slowing the COVID-19 pandemic, infected people can still die from severe illness and new medications to treat them have been slow to arise. What kills these patients in the end doesn't seem to be the virus itself, but an over-reaction of their immune system that leads to massive inflammation and tissue damage.

By studying a type of immune cells called T cells, a team of Gladstone scientists has uncovered fundamental differences between patients who overcome severe COVID-19 and those who succumb to it. The team, working together with researchers from UC San Francisco and Emory University, also found that dying patients harbor relatively large numbers of T cells able to infiltrate the lung, which may contribute to the extensive lung deterioration that is a hallmark of fatal COVID-19.

The findings, published in the scientific journal Cell Reports, could pave the way for new treatments. Currently, patients who are hospitalized for severe COVID-19 mostly receive dexamethasone, a drug used to reduce inflammation. "Dexamethasone has been a life saver for many patients," says Gladstone Associate Investigator Nadia Roan, PhD, a senior and corresponding author of the study. "But it is not always sufficient. Our study suggests that it may also be beneficial to directly prevent excess immune cells, including inflammatory T cells, from entering the lung and causing further damage. This approach could be a good complement to anti-inflammatory treatments for COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit."
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Vaccination and education toolkit helps companies join the fight against COVID-19
Geneva, Switzerland
Widespread misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines has generated public mistrust, resulting in vaccination hesitancy around the world. In an effort to promote protective behavior and maximize the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines that are now coming on stream, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has partnered with the University of Brighton, the International Social Marketing Association, and Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) to publish a series of toolkits designed to support public authorities and private companies in their COVID-19 vaccination communication strategies.

"All actors, including those in the private sector, can play a role in the fight against COVID-19 by bringing their expertise to the table," said Estrella Merlos, Global Head for the Road Safety Training Initiative at UNITAR. "The challenges we now face with respect to vaccines are diverse, from how to ensure the vaccine reaches all corners of the world (and not only developed nations) to how to convince populations of its efficacy and benefits. We must overcome these obstacles to advance, as a global community, in the fight against COVID-19."

Private companies can meaningfully contribute to increasing vaccine uptake around the world if they work in close collaboration with government actors and local public health organizations. UNITAR's latest toolkit provides companies wishing to contribute to vaccination campaign efforts with guidance on how to work with local, national, and international public health organizations and government stakeholders to develop effective COVID-19 communication strategies. This is especially relevant given that trust in companies has been shown to have risen significantly during the pandemic, favorably positioning businesses to make a difference in public education efforts.
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Intranasal COVID-19 vaccine demonstrates single-dose efficacy in preclinical studies, in parallel with achievement of Phase 1 clinical milestone
Farmingdale, New York
Codagenix Inc., a clinical-stage synthetic biology company pioneering a novel platform for vaccines and oncolytic virus therapies, today announced preclinical data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) supporting the potential safety and efficacy of COVI-VAC, the company's intranasal live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccine. The publication coincides with the completion of dosing for the vaccine's Phase 1 clinical trial, where it was demonstrated to be safe and well-tolerated. The data underscore the promise of Codagenix' novel vaccine platform, which combines codon deoptimization technology with a proven live-attenuated vaccine approach, to build rational, safe, effective and readily deployable vaccines capable of addressing pressing global health needs.

"We are very pleased to see our novel vaccine approach validated in both preclinical and clinical environments, demonstrating safety in humans and preclinical efficacy against multiple strains of COVID-19 in animal models," said J. Robert Coleman, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Codagenix. "We look forward to the anticipated immunogenicity data from our Phase 1 clinical trial later this year and continued clinical development of a safe, effective and importantly accessible option for global vaccination to contribute to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Codagenix' COVI-VAC vaccine was developed through the company's novel platform, which leverages machine learning and computational biology to decode the genome of naturally occurring, wild-type viral targets and determine which codon changes will produce a rationally deoptimized version of the virus without changing its amino acid sequence. The new viral genome is delivered through a live-attenuated vaccine, which presents not just spikes, but all proteins of the virus to the immune system, enabling a broad response capable of variant protection. Live-attenuated vaccines can also plug and play in existing manufacturing infrastructure for rapid scaling and global distribution.
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Positive New Data for Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine on Activity Against Delta Variant and Long-lasting Durability of Response
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Johnson & Johnson has announced data that demonstrated its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine generated strong, persistent activity against the rapidly spreading Delta variant and other highly prevalent SARS-CoV-2 viral variants. In addition, the data showed that the durability of the immune response lasted through at least eight months, the length of time evaluated to date. The two preprint study summaries have been submitted today to bioRxiv.

"Today's newly announced studies reinforce the ability of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the health of people globally," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson. "We believe that our vaccine offers durable protection against COVID-19 and elicits neutralizing activity against the Delta variant. This adds to the robust body of clinical data supporting our single-shot vaccine's ability to protect against multiple variants of concern."

"Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time. In addition, we observe a persistent and particularly robust, durable cellular immune response," said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson. "With each new dataset, we build on our solid foundation of evidence that our single-shot COVID-19 vaccine plays a critical role in ending the pandemic, which continues to evolve and pose new challenges to global health."
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Verde Resources Provides An Unconventional Approach To Carbon Sequestration
Seattle, Washington
According to data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, 20.6 million tons of empty fruit bunch (EFB) was discarded by the palm oil mills of Malaysia in 2019. In Indonesia, the estimate was higher, at 59.5 million tons of discarded EFB. Most often, the waste is left to decay.

Verde Resources intends to recycle the organic waste into renewable resources. The Company recently raised $3.1 million seed funding, a significant commitment towards the green initiative. The initiative involves establishing a business office in Seattle, and a processing facility in Missouri. Verde Resources understands the importance of converting palm biomass as part of a progressive approach towards carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gases.

Earlier this year, Verde Resources announced the acquisition of BioFraction technology. This technology involves an advanced proprietary, modified catalytic vacuum pyrolysis, and temperature controlled thermochemical process which converts palm waste into four renewable byproducts; biochar, bio-oil, bio-syngas and wood vinegar.

When wood vinegar is applied to biochar, it activates the biochar, and when reintroduced back into the earth, the biochar becomes a sustainable form of carbon sequestration and an economical way to improve cropland. Research conducted with activated biochar during Verde Resources' pilot project in Borneo, displayed impressive results, successfully converting an acre of wasteland into an eggplant producing farm. Biochar is regarded as a resourceful soil amendment that improves soil pH, reduces erosion, improves water retention, provides a host for microbial activity and improves crop size. Environmental experts such as Mark Hertsgaard, mentions in an article published at the Yale School of The Environment, advocates that adding biochar to 10% of global croplands could sequester the equivalent of 29 billion tons of CO2.
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Buck HR survey finds U.S. workforce 'sharply divided' on COVID-19 vaccination
New York, New York
Buck, an integrated HR and benefits consulting, technology, and administration services firm, released findings from its survey report indicating that nearly one-third (30%) of U.S. employees plan to take a "wait and see" approach to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, with members of the same group describing it as "not worth the risk."

The report, "Talking to employees about vaccine hesitancy" surveyed 820 full time workers at U.S. companies between February 25 and March 1. Leading Indicator Systems, which provides human capital research, conducted the study.

According to the report, approximately two in five American workers have at least some "anti-vaxxer" sentiments and 40 percent "don't trust the government's oversight of this vaccine." Brand preference based on perceived effectiveness was also a concern: More than half (52%) say they are "waiting for their preferred choice of vaccine" from among the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J options.

The study also identified misconceptions about the perceived cost of the vaccine, which is provided at no out-of-pocket charge to the recipient. The majority (55%) believe there is an out-of-pocket cost for getting vaccinated, with the median cost estimated at $7. Fully one-quarter (25%) believe this cost will be more than $60.
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Blood Clotting Needs to Be Watched with All COVID Vaccines, States the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
Tucson, Arizona
More than a dozen countries worldwide temporarily stopped administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, notes the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), because of deaths from blood clotting disorders, with either clots or excessive bleeding. Some patients experienced the extremely rare event of clots in the veins that drain blood from the brain (venous sinus thrombosis).

Most countries resumed use after a short pause, when the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said the shot isn't associated with an increase in the overall risk of developing blood clots, and the benefits of using the vaccine continue to outweigh its possible risks:

"The number of reported events exceeds those expected, and causality although not confirmed, cannot therefore be excluded. However, given the rarity of the events, and the difficulty of establishing baseline incidence since COVID-19 itself is resulting in hospitalizations with thromboembolic complications, the strength of any association is uncertain," the Agency stated.

In Germany and other countries use has now been suspended for persons under age 55 or 60.

The U.S. has not yet granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the AstraZeneca product. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna products being rolled out here, it does not use mRNA. Instead, it uses a chimpanzee adenovirus whose DNA has been genetically engineered to code for the spike protein on the surface of the COVID-causing virus. The chimpanzee virus is able to enter human cells and uncoat its DNA but cannot replicate.

All three vaccines cause human cells to manufacture the spike protein, which then induces the immune system to make antibodies to that protein. If the person is then exposed to the virus, the immune system will recognize the threat and mount a defense that should at least minimize symptoms, AAPS explains.
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Control Over Personal Data Developing as Key Concern with Vaccine Passports
Wilmington, North Carolina
With the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations well underway, many organizations in the United States are now turning their attention to vaccine passports -- a way for individuals to prove they've received the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes the White House, which in March, suggested vaccine passports come in both a physical and digital form, include a scannable code, and are designed to protect an individual's private data and information.

While many companies are scrambling to build such a product, one North Carolina-based company has been providing COVID-19 vaccination IDs since January that not only match this description, but also ensure an individual's data is never sold, abused or misused. Known as the Real Vaccination ID, these driver's license-sized cards feature a scannable QR code, provide verified physical and digital proof of vaccination and have protections in place to ensure individuals maintain complete control and ownership over their personal data.

The originator of the cards, CastleBranch, is an infectious disease screening company with 20+ years of experience reviewing over 35 million medical documents and vaccine records, as well as an accredited consumer reporting agency with strict processes in place to protect sensitive personal information from abuse and misuse. Real Vaccination ID has been endorsed by both the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the nation's two largest nursing healthcare associations, representing over 80 percent of nursing education in the country.
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Hackensack Meridian Health's Center for Discovery and Innovation Develops Advanced Test to Track and Diagnose COVID-19 Variants
Nutley, New Jersey
Experts at the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI) have developed a high-throughput test that can detect multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in two-and-a-half hours, a major advance in tracking the virus and in treating patients.

The test can detect the known UK, Brazil, and South African variants, as well as others containing the key E484K mutation, which are gaining prominence as the virus evolves. The global health community is in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible as variants threaten to create new surges. The study, which was co-authored with scientists from the New York Genome Center, was published online in medRxiv.

"The Center for Discovery and Innovation is again leading the way in creating breakthroughs that will help defeat this pandemic,'' said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, the chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. "The CDI was created for this purpose – to deliver effective solutions in real-time that will benefit patients, our communities and well beyond.''

The results likely indicate that variants are increasing in prevalence in hospitals and communities across New Jersey – and that mass vaccination is more important than ever, since the vaccines remain effective against all forms of SARS-CoV-2 to date.

"Certain virus variants are concerning because they are resistant or less responsive to current first-line treatments involving monoclonal antibody cocktails," said David Perlin, Ph.D., the chief scientific officer and senior vice president of the CDI. "Our rapid through-put test allows doctors to treat those with COVID-19 who have specific variants with more effective therapies."

The CDI's test, which assessed samples from New Jersey patients from December 2020 through February 2021, found the virus variants increasing in prominence. Among 435 nasal swab samples at eight hospitals and other care sites across the Hackensack Meridian Health network, the E484K variant was found at a rate of 12 percent of all samples in February 2021. The N501Y variant followed in prevalence in 2021 with 11 percent.

These findings are from a variety of care settings within Hackensack Meridian Health and located throughout New Jersey. Since the variants were detected in multiple locations, it's highly likely that the variants are going undetected in other parts of the state.

These "immune-escape" variants carrying the E484K mutation are also concerning because they have been linked in other countries with re-infection.
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Blackbaud Data Highlights the Impact of Healthcare Philanthropy During COVID-19
Charleston, South Carolina
Blackbaud, the world's leading cloud software company powering social good, has released data that illustrates the impact of philanthropy on the healthcare industry during 2020.

Analysis of Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT data from U.S. healthcare organizations that raised more than $1M in at least one of the past three calendar years shows that:

* Healthcare organizations raised $4.9B in cash in 2020, a year-over-year increase of 2.7%
* In-kind donations to healthcare organizations increased by 61% in 2020
* Healthcare cash-giving increased by 2.7% in 2020, but total transactions decreased by 6.7% indicating that larger gifts are coming from fewer donors

"With health systems and hospitals already operating on thin margins at the onset of the pandemic, pausing elective surgeries to enter the fight against COVID-19 made philanthropic dollars more important than ever," said Page Bullington, president and general manager, Healthcare and Foundation Solutions, Blackbaud. "Healthcare organizations experienced an outpouring of public support in 2020, and with healthcare currently universally top of mind, we're witnessing an inflection point in history that is providing exponential opportunity for healthcare philanthropy."

COVID-19 prompted many fundraising changes, especially in the healthcare sector. Community hospitals experienced a surge in goodwill, resulting in an influx of in-kind donations ranging from meals for healthcare workers to personal protective equipment (PPE). In Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT, healthcare organizations recorded more than $170M in in-kind donations in 2020, compared to a 28% decline in in-kind donations in all other sectors combined over the previous three years. This increase in donations was largely coordinated by hospital foundation staff who stepped up to help in any way possible.

Healthcare fundraisers were among the first to be shifted to remote work and may continue to rely on virtual meetings and donor tours in the future, accelerating the idea of e-philanthropy—a full strategy shift to a virtual mindset. In addition to online cultivation and stewardship, healthcare organizations saw an increase of 11.7% in online giving according to the Blackbaud Institute's 2020 Charitable Giving Report.
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Research Centers of America Expedite Broad Study on Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine
Hollywood, Florida
Research Centers of America (RCA), a CenExel Center of Excellence, joined nearly 100 other clinical research facilities across the United States to test the safety and efficacy of Moderna's mRNA-1273 vaccine against COVID-19. The published results in The New England Journal of Medicine showcased that the trial enrolled 30,420 volunteers and found an overall vaccine efficacy rate of 94.1%. Although moderate, short-lived reactogenicity occurred more often in the mRNA-1273 group, these reactions are typical for vaccinations. Severe adverse events were rare and occurred roughly as often between both the placebo and mRNA-1273 groups.

Dr. Howard Schwartz, Chief Medical Officer and Principal Investigator at RCA and a widely-published author, contributed the Center's findings to the study as part of his authoring partnership for the article. "The data demonstrated strong safety and efficacy results from a novel mRNA COVID-19 vaccine," he said. "These welcome and extremely positive indications are a breath of fresh air after a turbulent year."

RCA and the entire 5-site CenExel network were uniquely positioned to move this study forward by relying on their profound experience in vaccine research and on-site labs for working with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Professional, full-time staff at these clinical trial facilities have conducted extensive research on vaccines for many viruses already, including seasonal and pandemic influenza, Ebola, smallpox, West Nile Virus, and Zika. The PBMC labs allow for the isolation, cryopreservation, and shipping of PBMC, which is essential for accurate results in a vaccine trial.

"Our whole site network has been able to participate in key studies in Operation Warp Speed," said Tom Wardle, CenExel CEO. "In the past several years, our Centers have supported over 100 vaccine trials and surpassed recruitment goals by 110%. We have enrolled over 5,000 patients in six of the seven Operation Warp Speed studies, with 40% of the patients representing diverse minority groups. Throughout these efforts, we maintained the strictest safety measures and the highest quality of work."
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Rapid breath test for Covid-19 detection to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccines including the Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine
Tel-Aviv, Israel
NextGen Biomed Ltd. reports that Scentech-Medical received approval from the Shamir Medical Center (Asaf Harofe) Review Board (Helsinki committee) for a new clinical trial. Scentech-Medical has initiated this trial, which to the best of the company's knowledge is the first of its kind in the world, to demonstrate the company's ability to monitor the antibody levels and type of antibodies developed by the population of subjects getting vaccinated for the coronavirus.

As part of the research, Scentech-Medical will test subjects getting vaccinated to map biomarkers specifically related to antibodies of type IgM and IgG. The test to monitor antibody levels and type (which is being developed concurrently with the rapid breath test for coronavirus detection) will be able to provide a quick indication as to the efficacy of all vaccines available on the market, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Moreover, such a test has the potential to indicate the immune system's response to various types of vaccines.

In light of the knowledge gained so far on the coronavirus, which has been active all year, there is a clear need for a diagnostic tool that can provide information regarding the immunity levels and efficacy durations of those immunized. Monitoring antibody levels and type of antibodies is of utmost importance due to the fact that there are multiple coronavirus vaccines available on the market and even more expected to come to market in the near future.
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FDA Issues Alert Regarding SARS-CoV-2 Viral Mutation to Health Care Providers and Clinical Laboratory Staff
Silver Spring, Maryland
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that the FDA is monitoring the potential impact of viral mutations, including an emerging variant from the United Kingdom known as the B.1.1.7 variant, on authorized SARS-CoV-2 molecular tests, and that false negative results can occur with any molecular test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 if a mutation occurs in the part of the virus's genome assessed by that test. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can mutate over time, like all viruses, resulting in genetic variation in the population of circulating viral strains, as seen with the B.1.1.7 variant. The FDA is taking additional actions to ensure authorized tests remain accurate by working with test developers and conducting ongoing data analysis to evaluate all currently authorized molecular tests. The FDA believes the risk that these mutations will impact overall testing accuracy is low.

"The FDA will continue to monitor SARS-CoV-2 genetic viral variants to ensure authorized tests continue to provide accurate results for patients," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. "While these efforts continue, we are working with authorized test developers and reviewing incoming data to ensure that health care providers and clinical staff can quickly and accurately diagnose patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, including those with emerging genetic variants. At this time, we believe the data suggests that the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines may still be effective against this strain. The FDA will continue to keep health care providers and the public informed of any new information as it becomes available."
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COVID-19 Brings Crisis of Access for Millions Living with Diabetes
Arlington, Virginia
According to a new nationwide survey, the 34 million Americans living with diabetes face unique, acute and intensified challenges to their health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – challenges that may increase their COVID risk for complications. The study, released by the American Diabetes Association in partnership with Thrivable and the Diabetes Daily community, shows that the financial and economic toll of the pandemic has left scores of Americans with diabetes without access to the drugs, devices, insurance, and food that they need to properly manage their diabetes or even survive during this time.

While the data focus on the circumstances faced by people with diabetes during the pandemic, the effects of the trends uncovered by the study may last well beyond the crisis, creating what may be dangerous long-term repercussions for the health of this community and placing new strains on the health care system.

"For months we have known that people with diabetes are at heightened risk during COVID. Yet what this data show is that the level of adversity facing our community from this crisis is at an even more critical point," said Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. "As many as 40 percent of the COVID fatalities -- 120,000 Americans -- have been people with diabetes, and more in our community may be at risk of the worst of the virus' effects because so many are now unable to manage their diabetes effectively. Now we must be even more mindful that our community, which includes an outsized portion of people of color and those of lesser means, must be a priority for relief efforts, including prioritized access to the COVID vaccine."
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Landmark human study is first to reveal strong links between specific gut microbes, diet and health, including weight
Boston, Massachusetts
A large scale international study published in Nature Medicine on January 11, 2021 demonstrates the clear link between specific gut microbes and the foods we eat on health and disease, and also reveals newly discovered microbes. For the very first time, scientists have studied a large enough sample to begin to understand the microbes that impact many of the health conditions we are faced with today: obesity, cardiovascular disease, visceral, insulin resistance and weight gain.

Diets rich in certain plant-based foods are linked with the presence of gut microbes that are associated with a lower risk of developing conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to recent results from a large-scale international study that included researchers from King's College London, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), University of Trento, Italy, and health science start-up company ZOE. The study uses metagenomics and blood chemical profiling to uncover a panel of 15 gut microbes associated with lower risks (and 15 with higher risks) for common illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease (short introductory video).

The PREDICT 1 study analyzed detailed data on the composition of participants' gut microbiomes, their dietary habits, and cardiometabolic blood biomarkers. The researchers found evidence that the microbiome is linked with specific foods and diets, and that, in turn, certain microbes in the gut are linked to biomarkers of metabolic disease. Surprisingly, the microbiome has a greater association to these markers than other factors, such as genetics. Their report, authored by Dr. Francesco Asnicar (University of Trento) and Dr. Sarah Berry (King's College London) and coordinated by Tim Spector (King's College London) and Nicola Segata (University of Trento), appears in Nature Medicine.

Dr. Sarah Berry, Reader in Nutrition Sciences at King's College London said, "As a nutritional scientist, finding novel microbes that are linked to specific foods, as well as metabolic health, is exciting. Given the highly personalized composition of each individuals' microbiome, our research suggests that we may be able to modify our gut microbiome to optimize our health by choosing the best foods for our unique biology."

For example, the findings reveal that having a microbiome rich in Prevotella copri and Blastocystis species was associated with maintaining a favorable blood sugar level after a meal. Other species were linked to lower post-meal levels of blood fats and markers of inflammation.

Professor Tim Spector, Epidemiologist from King's College London, who started the PREDICT study program and is scientific founder of ZOE explains, "When you eat, you're not just nourishing your body, you're feeding the trillions of microbes that live inside your gut."
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Johnson & Johnson Announces European Commission Approval of Agreement to Supply 200 Million Doses of Janssen's COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Johnson & Johnson has announced that the European Commission (EC), acting on behalf of the European Union (EU) Member States, has approved an Advance Purchase Agreement in which the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies will supply 200 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to EU Member States following approval or authorization from regulators. The EU Member States also have the option to secure up to 200 million additional doses.

"The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten communities worldwide and we have a responsibility to ensure access to our COVID-19 vaccine as soon as we can. We appreciate the Commission's and the Member States' support for our COVID-19 vaccine candidate and development efforts," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson.

This contract follows the conclusion of exploratory talks with the EC. The Company is in ongoing discussions with other stakeholders, including national governments and global organizations, as part of its efforts to meet its commitment to make its vaccine candidate accessible globally, provided the vaccine has a good safety profile, is efficacious and receives approval or authorization from regulators.

Separate to the agreement with the EC, as part of the Company's larger commitment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has also announced plans to allocate up to 500 million vaccine doses toward international efforts to ensure access for lower income countries, with delivery beginning mid next year following approval or authorization from regulators. Recognizing the unique global demand for COVID-19 vaccines, the company is working tirelessly to further expand the number of available doses.
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Exogenesis Surgical Mask Reaches Primary Endpoints in COVID-19 Deactivation Challenge Trials
Billerica, Massachusetts
Exogenesis Corporation has announced that a series of challenge tests for the Exogenesis Surgical Mask (ESM) achieved its primary endpoints of trapping and deactivating COVID-19 viral particles in simulated real-world exposures. The Exogenesis Surgical Mask (ESM) is designed to provide protective nose and mouth covering for healthcare workers and patients involved in medical and surgical procedures. The masks are indicated in any procedure or situation where there is a risk of exposure to microorganisms and body fluids. The Exogenesis Surgical Mask (ESM) is not approved for commercial distribution. Management anticipates premarket regulatory filings soon.

Exogenesis proposes combining ANAB technology with colloidal or nano-copper. ANAB is understood to create a nanotopography which results in a significantly increased surface area, 33% more surface area on each fiber. This newly formed nano-surface allows for colloidal (nano particle) copper to bind to the surface and a second ANAB treatment strengthens this bond. This increase in surface area, therefore, results in an increased barrier area in which viruses could interact with colloidal copper ions. Colloidal copper is spray-coated using a fine-mist sprayer onto the exterior surface of the ANAB-treated mask material. This results in a much greater area of coverage, using less copper than weaved fabric. Face masks and respirators treated with Exogenesis' ANABCu would result in the trapping and inactivation of viral particles both to the healthy person breathing in, as well as the infected patient breathing out.
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Association for Molecular Pathology Releases Preliminary Results to Second 2020 Nationwide SARS-CoV-2 Molecular Testing Survey
Rockville, Maryland
The Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), the premier global, molecular diagnostic professional society, has released the preliminary results of its August 2020 SARS-CoV-2 Testing Survey for clinical laboratories. The anonymous survey was created and administered to monitor, understand, and collect real-time data on laboratories' efforts and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic response. Compared to the previous April 2020 survey, respondents are experiencing continued supply chain interruptions and are now also facing significant staffing shortages, all while demand for molecular diagnostic testing continues to increase. Survey results are being used to help inform AMP's advocacy and clinical practice programs related to improving future pandemic responses.

AMP's 100-question survey assessed many important aspects of SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostic testing, including sample types, patient populations, methodologies, validation, performance, supply chain, public health reporting, laboratory workforce, and reimbursement. The preliminary results included feedback from 113 representatives from US-based academic medical centers, commercial reference laboratories, public health laboratories, and community hospitals. Overall, 54% of the respondents indicated testing demand was currently higher than capacity due to the reopening of local businesses and schools across the country. These laboratories are also anticipating further increases in SARS-CoV-2 testing demand over the next few months with the fall and winter influenza season, as well as the need for more surveillance and screening testing.
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Unprecedented Global Movement 'Count Us In' To Mobilize 1 Billion People To Act on Climate Change launches in India
Mumbai, India
A diverse coalition of individuals and groups spanning culture, sport, entertainment, business and civil society in India has announced their participation in Count Us In, an unprecedented global campaign to inspire one billion people to take practical steps to reduce carbon pollution and challenge leaders to act more boldly on climate. Count Us In is being launched at TED Countdown, a global initiative powered by TED and Future Stewards to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.

Count Us In features an unparalleled array of promoters, including Indian actor, producer and activist, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Nobel laureate and American politician, Al Gore, Prince William, His Holiness Pope Francis, and Lisa Jackson, environment and social VP at Apple. Count Us In aunched in India with a diverse community of partners and individuals such as Dia Mirza, Accenture, BT Group, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), India Climate Collaborative, The Better India, Yuvaa, FC Goa among others.

There is an urgent need to move beyond the activist community and engage citizens with a significant carbon footprint across the world to combat the threat posed by climate change. Pollution, extreme weather and rising sea levels derived from climate change will increasingly threaten communities and economies around the world, including India, unless we drastically reduce emissions and push leaders to take action. Count Us In answers this call by building the most ambitious citizen-led effort to avert the impacts of climate change. The movement focuses on engaging individuals who are not currently active on climate issues.

Count Us In sets out 16 practical and high impact steps individuals can take to protect the planet from carbon pollution before it is too late. These 16 steps, derived from experts and research at the UN Environment Programme and other partners, provide a practical way for us all, to understand how we can play our part in tackling what can otherwise feel like an overwhelming challenge. The steps include reducing plane travel, walking or cycling short distances, using electric modes of transportation whenever possible, and reducing our food and water wastage.
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Breakthrough study confirms global food production poses an increasing climate threat
Auburn, Alabama
study published in Nature and led by an Auburn University researcher has found that rising anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions are jeopardizing climate goals and the Paris Accord. The significant use of nitrogen fertilizers in the production of food worldwide is increasing concentrations of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. which remains in the atmosphere longer than a human lifetime.

This finding is part of a study co-led by Professor Hanqin Tian, director of the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research at Auburn University's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. The study was published in Nature, the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal. Tian co-led an international consortium of scientists from 48 research institutions in 14 countries under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project and the International Nitrogen Initiative. The objective of the study, titled "A comprehensive quantification of global nitrous oxide sources and sinks," was to produce the most comprehensive assessment to date of all sources and sinks of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide.

Tian's Auburn colleagues including Professor Shufen Pan, postdoctoral fellows Rongting Xu, Hao Shi and Yuanzhi Yao and graduate student Naiqing Pan served as co-authors among an international research team of 57 scientists. The study points to an alarming trend affecting climate change: Nitrous oxide has risen 20 percent from pre-industrial levels, and its growth has accelerated over recent decades due to emissions from various human activities.
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New IHME Forecasts Show More Than 200,000 US Deaths by November 1 but High Levels of Mask Wearing Could Reduce Forecasted Deaths by Over 45,000
Seattle, Washington
In its first projections of COVID-19 deaths out to November 1, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington is forecasting more than 200,000 deaths in the United States. The forecast shows 208,255 deaths (with a range of 186,087 to 244,541). Those numbers drop to 162,808 (157,217 to 171,193), if at least 95% of people wear masks in public.

"We can now see the projected trajectory of the epidemic into the fall, and many states are expected to experience significant increases in cases and deaths in September and October," said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. "However, as we all have come to recognize, wearing masks can substantially reduce transmission of the virus. Mask mandates delay the need for re-imposing closures of businesses and have huge economic benefits. Moreover, those who refuse masks are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk."

IHME's new projections include the re-imposition of strong social distancing mandates when deaths per day reach a level of 8 per one million people, comparing that with a forecast if no action is taken, and a forecast if social distancing mandates are combined with at least 95% mask wearing in public spaces. Florida and Massachusetts 17,472 (11,275 to 32,577) and 12,906 (11,017 to 16,873), respectively, are expected to reach 8 per million deaths by November 1. The forecast for Florida, which is expected to reach 8 per million deaths on October 1, differs by 6,173 deaths if the state does not re-impose social distancing mandates. If mask wearing reaches 95%, that number drops to 9,849 (7,921 to 14,052).

The projections may increase if the current surge in infections spreads more widely in at-risk populations. Current data from states reporting the age breakdown of cases suggest that more cases are being detected in young people, who have a lower risk of death.
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Top US Scientists First To Report Data On New Biodefense Technology Proven To Eliminate Airborne Transmission Of SARS-CoV-2 To Control Spread Of COVID-19 Indoors
Houston, Texas
As evidence showing a real risk of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus responsible for COVID-19) continues to mount, Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) has announced the publication of a peer-reviewed paper detailing a novel biodefense indoor air protection technology. The novel, heated HVAC filter has been proven to destroy 99.8% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. In addition, this technology offers protection against other biological pathogens on contact using a propriety biodefense technology. The breakthrough studies were conducted at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at University of Houston (TcSUH) & Galveston National Laboratory, the nation's premier facility for biodefense research.

The first of its kind results confirmed this breakthrough technology to be 99.8% effective at killing the SARS-CoV-2 and 99.9% effective at killing anthrax spores in a single pass, making this technology protective against other potentially dangerous bio pathogens. The scientific research behind this biodefense indoor air protection technology has been published in the highly respected, multi-disciplinary journal Materials Today Physics.

Replicative studies on the biodefense filter system recently validated original findings from the Galveston National Laboratory, this time with the addition of non-ozone producing UVC-light. Even though a 270-fold higher concentration of aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) was used in these experiments, the biosampler was unable to detect any active virus, proving an enhanced first pass kill of 99.999% by this novel biodefense filter.

"We now know that SARS-CoV-2 is an airborne pathogen, capable of traveling through the air at greater distances than first thought. The virus can survive for hours, suspended in the air, resulting in COVID-19 spread through the air we breathe, necessitating the urgent need for an indoor air protection system," says Dr. Faisal Cheema, Associate Professor of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at University of Houston College of Medicine. According to Dr. Cheema, "This novel biodefense indoor air protection technology -- endorsed by leading national and international scientists including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Argonne National Laboratory amongst others -- offers the first in line prevention against environmentally mediated transmission of airborne SARS-CoV-2 and will be on the forefront of the armamentarium of technologies available to combat current COVID-19 pandemic and any future airborne biothreats indoors."
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Aegis Living Debuts New COVID-Era Future for Senior Assisted Living
Bellevue, Washington
Aegis Living, a national leader in assisted living and memory care, unveiled a series of company-wide commitments for advancing resident care, safety and wellness during the COVID-19 era. The comprehensive commitments -- which are debuted in a short, animated video -- span all aspects of the organization from leadership to operations, research, resident care and more.

"Families are facing unprecedented challenges as they work to care for their loved ones during this uncertain time," said Kris Engskov, Aegis Living President. "Our number one priority is to apply our 23 years of experience and deep clinical expertise to continue to innovate well ahead of this virus to ensure we are the safest place for our seniors and also a place where they can thrive – physically, mentally and emotionally – now and well into the future."

Aegis Living commitments were driven by insights and experience gleaned over the past four months navigating the pandemic, coupled with medical expertise and direct feedback from residents, families and staff.

At the center of these new advancements is building the most qualified team to drive this work forward. Appointed as Infection Control & Safety Officer, Tom Laborde has a 22-year tenure at Aegis, most recently as their Chief Operating Officer. In his new position, Laborde will work closely with Aegis' senior management team to assess, develop and implement new infection control technologies and measures across all of Aegis' properties.
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Northeast-Based Design Firm Launches New Enterprise To Redesign Companies' Workspaces Post-COVID-19
Brooklyn, New York
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the way people work, and therefore has consequences for the ways companies need to look at workspaces and how employees work in them. Northeast-based design firm Stewart-Schäfer, a multidisciplinary architecture and interior design studio led by James Veal and Christine Stucker, announces the launch of a second enterprise to address office health and safety issues and create sustainable solutions for the future. DistanceDesigns will provide services and resources to create agile workspaces that help prevent disease spread and promote health, while also increasing creativity and productivity through data-driven design. In a recent survey, they found more than 69 percent of respondents would like to see design changes in their offices beyond health and safety measures. Pioneering the design-led concept of agile working, DistanceDesigns' goal is to create lower density hybrid workspaces that are optimized for specific tasks, empowering employees to work where, when and how they choose and enhance their performance and do their best work.

"We solve problems through design. We believe that instead of simply reacting to the crisis by adding policies and procedures and placing desks six feet apart, there is a real opportunity to redesign the space and foster long-term productivity and creativity through activity-based spaces," said Veal. "We want to bring together health and safety with the psychology of cultural change."

Veal and Stucker bring decades of high-profile commercial and retail design experience, where they designed for the customer in mind, to respond to the immediate need for workplaces in transition. Now they apply this model to the modern workspace and design around the employee, the tasks they accomplish, and how they interact with their work environment to increase their productivity and ensure health and safety measures. DistanceDesigns' proprietary model can be found in a detailed white paper on their website,
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Farmer sentiment rebounds amidst ongoing COVID-19 concerns
West Lafayette, Indiana
Farmer sentiment improved in June for the second month in a row, rebounding from sharp declines that took place in both March and April, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index was up 14 points from May to a reading of 117. The Ag Economy Barometer is based on responses from 400 U.S. agricultural producers with this month's survey conducted from June 22-26, 2020.

Ag producers became more optimistic about both their current and future farming operations compared to a month earlier. The Index of Current Conditions rose 19 percent from May to a reading of 99, and the Index of Future Expectations climbed 12 percent from May to a reading of 126. Over the last two months, farmers' perspective regarding making large investments in their farming operations improved markedly. The Farm Capital Investment Index recovered to a reading of 60 in June, compared to just 50 a month earlier and a reading of 38 in April. Although much improved since bottoming out in April, the recovery still left the Farm Capital Investment Index 12 points below the 2020 high established in February, before coronavirus impacted markets.

"This month's survey was conducted after the USDA announced details regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)," said James Mintert, the barometer's principal investigator and director of Purdue University's Center for Commercial Agriculture. "A more favorable spring planting season combined with assistance from CFAP help explain this month's improvement in farmer sentiment, yet a majority of producers believe additional economic assistance will be needed in 2020."

Despite their concerns, when asked about the impact of the virus on their farms' profitability, 64 percent of respondents indicated they were "very worried" or "fairly worried", down from 71 percent in May. The June survey provided the first opportunity to survey farmers after details about the CFAP were made available. Sixty percent of surveyed farmers indicated that CFAP "somewhat" (53 percent) or "completely" (7 percent) relieved their concerns about the impact of the virus on their 2020 farm income while just over one-fourth of respondents (26 percent) responded "not at all." However, 64 percent of farmers surveyed indicated they think it will be necessary for Congress to pass another bill to provide more economic assistance to U.S. farmers.
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Family Physicians Write "Prescription for America" to Stop Spread of COVID-19
Leawood, Kansas
The U.S. now has the highest number of known COVID-19 cases in the world with projections showing that U.S. deaths may soon surpass other countries as well. As the rate of transmission grows exponentially, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has shared a new campaign calling on all Americans to protect themselves, their communities and health care workers by staying home.

The Prescription for America campaign demonstrates how improper social distancing quickly leads to new infections, while offering a very simple action everyone can take to stop the spread: staying home. The video released by family physicians around the country highlights how common scenarios that seem harmless, such as going to a friend's house for game night or going for a walk with a neighbor, can accelerate the spread of the deadly virus. Family physicians urge everyone to follow doctor's orders to stop the spread and save lives with a "prescription to stay home."

"Staying home saves lives," said AAFP President Gary LeRoy, M.D. "The number of deaths we've seen from COVID-19 is devastating. Our patients, our friends and family, and our fellow health care workers are dying. In times of a pandemic, we depend on the public to stay off the streets to help keep us healthy so we can keep everyone else healthy. We are doing our best to treat our patients, but we need every American to help us out and stay home."

New data out of Seattle show evidence of the effectiveness of strict containment strategies. In the absence of a national lockdown, physicians are appealing directly to their fellow citizens to do their part and stay home.
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Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia: New Study Reveals COVID-19 is Having an Impact on Americans' Mental Health
Stamford, Connecticut
Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), a national not-for-profit philanthropic organization that operates 15 mental health clinics nationwide, has revealed findings of its America's Mental Health COVID-19 Pulse Study, which looked at the mental health of Americans during the pandemic. With more than 90 percent of the U.S. population under some form of stay-at-home order, and social distancing in place until at least April 30, the situation is beginning to impact the mental health of many Americans. The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults offers a comprehensive snapshot of the mindset of Americans surrounding mental health during the pandemic.

"We are beginning to see a significant impact on the mental health of everyday Americans as a result of the pandemic," said Cohen Veterans Network President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Anthony Hassan. "Before the pandemic, there was already a mental health crisis in America, with high demand and relatively limited resources, the pandemic appears to be making it worse. And we know isolation can have negative consequences in terms of anxiety, depression, and suicidality."
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HMA Model Provides Forecast of COVID-19 Impact on Medicaid, Marketplace, Uninsured
Lansing, Michigan
A model developed by Health Management Associates (HMA) assesses COVID-19's potential impact on health insurance coverage for each state and forecasts Medicaid enrollment could increase by 11 to 23 million across all states over the next several months.

A team of HMA Medicaid experts, health economists, and data analysts calculated the approximate change in health insurance coverage by state as a result of the economic disruptions primarily driven by COVID-19. With COVID-19 having the potential to cause unemployment rates to climb to anywhere from 10 to 25% of the population, HMA utilized three unemployment rate scenarios to estimate the impact on Medicaid, the ACA Marketplaces, employer provided insurance, and the uninsured.

All three scenarios result in a significant shift from the number of Americans covered by employer provided insurance to some form of Medicaid or a Marketplace plan. The number of people uninsured is estimated to reach 30 million in the lowest unemployment rate scenario and could climb to 40 million if the country experiences a 25% unemployment rate.
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New Study of Americans At Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness Shows More than a Quarter Lack Access to Adequate Intensive Care Resources
San Francisco, California
Castlight Health, Inc. has announced the results of a new report examining claims data from more than 6 million commercially-insured individuals to identify geographic populations at high-risk for COVID-19 illness relative to local capacity for intensive care. The study found that more than a quarter--28.4 percent--of high-risk Americans would likely have challenges accessing critical care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the study found that the metro areas surrounding Washington D.C., Detroit, New York City, Seattle, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Dallas are more likely to face scarcity of intensive care units and have high pre-COVID ventilator use, suggesting high-risk patients in these areas could see shortages of these critical resources.

"We know people at-risk for severe illnesses are dispersed across the U.S., and we know that ICU beds and ventilators are in short supply. This study allows us to project areas of highest need as the pandemic evolves," said Maeve O'Meara, CEO of Castlight Health. "Some of the most vulnerable populations are in cities that have yet to hit peak incidence of COVID-19, and this study can help provide the head start they need to prepare."

The study found 22.8 percent of the evaluated population had at least one clinical risk factor for severe illnesses with a COVID-19 infection, such as asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure. Age was highly associated with an increasing number of risk factors. The study also found that 19.2 percent of at-risk patients live in metropolitan areas with lower ICU bed availability, and more than ten percent live in areas with no ICU beds.
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SPARK, the largest study of autism families in the U.S., announces findings on effects of COVID-19
New York, New York
When COVID-19 arrived in New York, Dr. Wendy Chung, principal investigator of the SPARK study and a physician in New York City, knew that this was a singular moment in time. She wanted to understand how the pandemic was affecting families with autism across the country -- in real time -- and then share what she found with the community. She sent SPARK study participants a quick but important survey. SPARK, the largest study of autism families in the United States, was designed to allow for this kind of rapid data collection and sharing of information.

"SPARK provides the infrastructure for the autism community to learn from each other and immediately share those lessons learned, even at times as challenging as this coronavirus crisis," says Chung. "We are learning at the community level, and scientists are partnering with us to understand the fundamental differences in the mind, brain, and behavior of individuals with autism. Even though we are apart in space, we are together in spirit."

Before SPARK, many families had never participated in autism research, and scientists struggled to find participants for their studies. SPARK fills this gap with over 230,000 participants currently enrolled, and counting. To date, SPARK has matched over 65,000 families with 60 outside studies on topics like services and treatment patterns, anxiety, and social skills. Importantly, SPARK also maintains, and is still recruiting for, the largest genetic data set of autism families to date. The purpose of this data set is to identify genes that are linked to autism. SPARK is currently analyzing DNA data from approximately 30,000 people who have autism and will share the findings sometime this year.

To learn how COVID-19 is affecting the autism community, on March 20, SPARK launched a massive online survey to almost 70,000 families, and within two weeks, received responses from over 8,000. The results show that many families are coming up with innovative and successful strategies to navigate therapies, education, and daily life, whereas others are struggling to handle the new challenges.
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The 2020 Early Warning Forecast of Urgent Global Humanitarian Crises
Baltimore, Maryland
Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health have released the 2020 Early Warning Forecast of regions they are monitoring for potential or worsening humanitarian crises over the coming year: Casualties of Conflict: 7 Urgent Humanitarian Crises. Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard, president & CEO, noted that "the humanitarian outlook for 2020 and beyond forecasts a situation that is both complex and insecure, even as global development gains bring millions out of extreme poverty. "The causes and conditions of extreme poverty are rarely limited to a single factor," he said. "Rather, the world's most vulnerable people live in a complex context, often in fragile or failing states, where political and social systems that might offer protection have broken down. And increasingly, the common underlying denominator is violent conflict."

Working in these complex humanitarian contexts presents a number of challenges for international NGOs working to eliminate poverty and ease human suffering. "We will need to employ new, imaginative and innovative approaches if we hope to make an impact," Speckhard said. "We are going to have to build our capacity to work in conflict-ridden, hostile environments, because that's where the extremely poor who most need assistance are going to be.
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Hemp-based Products to Grow in Popularity in 2020
New Delhi, India
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis plant whose stalk and seeds can be utilized to make paper, garments, sugars, bundling material, and a lot of other things but opposite to the popular misconception, it can't get an individual 'high'.

Recently, Indian government has legalized the production of industrial hemp in Uttrakhand, due to which the hemp business have soared and hemp-based products have gained popularity. Looking at the current consumption rates, it is only logical to say that hemp industry is likely to rise in the year 2020. This will be easier as hemp industry start-ups like that of the Health Horizons have started to educate people about the facts and misconceptions. The company's main aim is to enlighten people about the differences between hemp and marijuana, and introduce them to the benefits of this non-psychedelic variety.

Rohit Shah, one of the directors at the Health Horizons explained that marijuana (a.k.a pot/ganja/weed) and hemp are cousins. These are two types of Cannabis Sativa and not the same thing. The part of cannabis that causes uncanny happiness or a drifting inclination/ euphoria is THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is heavily present in marijuana. But, hemp does not have any critical measure of THC, just approximately 0.3 percent, which is insufficient to cause a high. Rather, it comprises of various other parts that are valuable economically and health-wise.

The hemp business is undoubtedly on the ascent. Its reputation in the market has improved as the advantages of the plant have become better known. An ever increasing number of organizations and individuals are becoming aware of how hemp is different from marijuana. Further, with the legalization of producing industrial hemp, a number of business-oriented individuals are looking at it as viable business. Rohit also shed light on their expansion plans to add hemp-based clothing into their product line. He told us that the Health Horizons witnessed a significant increase in the sales of hemp seeds by the end of the year and this has given them hope that their efforts to shatter the stigmas around hemp consumption have been fruitful.
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Holistic Pet Experts Kick Off 2020 With West Coast Educational Tour
Tampa, Florida
Thousands of animals lose their lives every year from over prescribing of toxic and often unnecessary prescription medications. In an effort to stop this needless suffering, three trusted holistic pet care experts are joining forces to sponsor a FREE educational tour of the West Coast from Jan. 2 through Feb. 10.

The tour marks the launch of the alliance between Angela Ardolino, medical cannabis expert and founder of CBD Dog Health, Deb Gwynn, certified herbalist, founder of Glacier Peak Holistics, and Julie Anne Lee, DCH, founder of Adored Beast Apothecary. Together, these pet-care powerhouses plan to save as many animals as possible by producing educational programming to empower pet parents about healing their pets with natural and proven methods. The tour includes sessions throughout California and Nevada with the CBD Dog Health education team, which includes Ardolino, CBD Dog Health co-owner, Hernando Umana, and director of education Carter Easler.

"We have traveled the East Coast educating as many people as possible on how to care for their pets naturally," says Ardolino. "It seemed only right to band together to bring natural relief to as many animals as possible. We will teach the power of cannabis, safe use of essential herbs and oils for pets, and will share information about earth elements and minerals."
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Persistent organic pollutants in maternal blood linked to smaller fetal size, NIH study suggests
Bethseda, Maryland
Pregnant women exposed to persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, had slightly smaller fetuses than women who haven't been exposed to these chemicals, according to an analysis of ultrasound scans by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. The researchers also found that the women in their study had lower levels of POPs than women in the 2003-2004 U.S. Health and Nutrition Survey, the most recent comprehensive study of these compounds in U.S. pregnant women. The latest findings suggest that the chemicals, which are no longer produced in the United States but persist in the environment, may have lasting health effects even at low levels.

The study appears in JAMA Pediatrics and was conducted by Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch at NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and colleagues.

Persistent organic pollutants are chemicals once used in agriculture, disease control, manufacturing, and industrial processes. They include the pesticide DDT and dioxin, a byproduct of herbicide production and paper bleaching. POPs are slow to break down, may persist in water and air, and may be passed through the food chain. Their health effects vary, but some compounds have been linked to reproductive disorders and a higher risk of birth defects.
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Duke Energy, North Carolina regulators and environmentalists reach agreement to permanently close all remaining ash basins in North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
In a major achievement that puts the coal ash debate to rest in North Carolina, state regulators, community groups and Duke Energy have agreed to a plan to permanently close the company's remaining nine coal ash basins in the state, primarily by excavation with ash moved to lined landfills.

The agreement announced by Duke Energy, North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) details a reasonable and prudent plan for basin closure that continues to protect people, communities and the environment with a keen focus on investing for the future and our shared clean energy vision. This plan is consistent with the approach Duke Energy is taking to close ash basins in South Carolina and benefits customers and communities in both states.

"This agreement significantly reduces the cost to close our coal ash basins in the Carolinas for our customers, while delivering the same environmental benefits as full excavation," said Stephen De May, North Carolina president, Duke Energy. "We are fully focused on these important activities and building a clean energy future for the Carolinas."
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Cities: a 'cause of and solution to' climate change
New York, New York
World leaders convened at United Nations headquarters in New York for the Climate Action Summit on September 23rd. UN-Habitat is supporting one of the nine action tracks designated by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action" under the leadership of the Governments of Kenya and Turkey. UN News asked the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Ms. Sharif, what role cities should play in slowing down climate change, and why are cities an important part of tackling climate change?

Over half of the world's population lives in cities, and this is likely to increase to over two thirds by 2030. Cities use a large proportion of the world's energy supply and are responsible for around 70 per cent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions which trap heat and result in the warming of Earth.

Levels of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, are at the highest levels ever, mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy.

The huge carbon footprint created by our cities results from poor planning and layout. Low-density suburban sprawl with little public transport and homes far from work and shops means more cars on the roads emitting carbon dioxide. In addition, most of the ever-increasing number of buildings still use fossil fuels for their energy needs.

Cities, while being the main cause of climate change, are also the most affected. Most cities are situated near water putting them at risk from rising sea levels and storms. However, given their role as hubs of innovation and creativity, we also look to cities to provide us with answers. Energy, building, mobility and planning solutions and innovations in cities have the potential to deliver major emission cuts.
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World Leaders Receive Pens With Carbon Dioxide Ink as a Call to Climate Action
Helsinki, Finland
With the hottest July of recorded history behind us, Finnish news media Helsingin Sanomat has created a bespoke gift pen with carbon dioxide ink and given it to G20 leaders as a call for climate action. The news media wishes to highlight the importance of political decisions in tackling climate change and encourage policymakers to take action. Climate change was expected to be high up on the world leaders' agenda as they gathered to discuss concrete plans to move forward with the Paris Agreement in the UN Climate Action Summit.

"While our main responsibility is to primarily report on pressing matters like climate change, it seems that climate coverage has so far moved individuals more than decision-makers. We hope this gift will remind policy makers of their responsibility. As journalists we know first-hand that a pen can be a powerful tool in changing the world," says Kaius Niemi, Senior Editor-in-Chief of Helsingin Sanomat.

The carbon dioxide ink was produced in collaboration with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd - a research, development, and innovation company operating under the mandate of Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The company was responsible for transforming carbon dioxide into carbon black, the ink's key ingredient.

"By subjecting the carbon dioxide molecules to sufficient heat, we are able to decompose them back to carbon and oxygen atoms. That leaves us with carbon black which can then be used as color pigment in the ink," says VTT Principal Scientist Pekka Simell.
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Field Trip Ventures Inc. Partners with the University of the West Indies to Create the World's First Legal Research and Cultivation Facility for Psilocybin
Toronto, Canada
Field Trip Ventures Inc. ("Field Trip" or the "Company"), the world's first integrated company in legal psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, has announced entry into a strategic partnership with the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica ("UWI") to create the world's first legal research and cultivation facility dedicated to psilocybin-producing mushrooms (the "Facility").

Under the terms of the strategic partnership, Field Trip Natural Products Limited (Field Trip's Jamaican subsidiary) will construct, fund and operate a state-of-the-art research and cultivation facility on UWI's Mona campus. In consideration, UWI will lease to Field Trip the land to build the Facility as well as make available leading biology, mycology and chemistry researchers to assist Field Trip's research and cultivation efforts.

The focus of the Facility will be broad-ranging, from genetics, breeding and cultivation work on the 180+ plus species of psilocybin-producing mushrooms, to developing methods and analysis for extractions and formulations, to identification of novel molecules for drug development purposes.

"Field Trip's mission is to advance the science and understanding of psychedelic compounds, and to develop their therapeutic and wellness applications, through an integrated business model," said Mujeeb Jafferi, Field Trip's President. "Although psilocybin, as a molecule, has been well-studied, there is great opportunity to create impact by developing a better understanding of the fungi that produce psilocybin and other tryptamines. This is why we are so pleased to be partnering with UWI, a leading global academic institution, in building this facility in Jamaica."

Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Professor Michael Taylor, welcomed the opportunity for expansion of capacity and skills that this partnership will provide for both faculty and students, "We look forward to working with the team at Field Trip. Their experience and accomplishments in building plant-based therapeutics industries, such as medical cannabis, along with their thoughtful vision for advancing mental health treatments, make Field Trip a great partner for UWI. Moreover, we are confident that this partnership will further advance our mission to create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean and the wider world."
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U.S. Fertility Drops to Historic Low in 2019
Washington, DC
Fertility in the United States dropped to the lowest level in recorded history, with women having an average of 1.7 births in their lifetime. This is according to the 2019 World Population Data Sheet, released by Population Reference Bureau (PRB), the nonprofit that uses data to inform policy decisionmakers around the world.

Produced by PRB annually since 1962, the Data Sheet provides a unique snapshot of the demographic trends reshaping our world today and in the future by charting the most critical population, life, and health indicators for more than 200 countries and territories. With more than 50 countries, including the United States, scheduled to conduct a census in the coming year, this year's Data Sheet also provides a look at the history of census-taking going back thousands of years.

"Today, more than ever, objective data and analysis are vital to helping decisionmakers and global leaders develop policies and programs to meet the needs of people around the world," said PRB President and CEO Jeff Jordan. "For more than 50 years, PRB's World Population Data Sheet has been doing just that by identifying trends with important implications for economic growth, resource allocation, and health policies globally."
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Centene Corporation And Feeding America Partner To Launch 'Food For Today And Food For Tomorrow' Initiative
St Louis, Missouri
Centene Corporation and Feeding America have announced the launch of the 'Food for Today and Food for Tomorrow' resource development initiative, a program that will equip network food banks and Centene health plans with best practice guidelines for meeting the needs of individuals experiencing food insecurity.

The initiative leverages the screen and intervene model that screens individuals for food insecurity and connects them with access to healthy food to improve nutrition and health outcomes. In the first phase, Centene and Feeding America will create guidelines for medically tailored food boxes and for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) application assistance in health care settings. The cross-sector partnership will enable impactful collaboration on food security initiatives within communities across the country.

"Centene is proud to partner with Feeding America to establish best practice guidelines for meeting the needs of residents identified as food insecure," said Marcela Manjarrez-Hawn, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Centene. "Food insecurity is one of the most critical social determinants of health, and has a direct impact on health outcomes. These efforts support our commitment to ensuring our communities and our members have access to nutritious, healthy food."
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Earth Overshoot Day 2019 is July 29, the earliest ever
Oakland, California
On July 29, humanity will have used nature's resource budget for the entire year, according to Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability organization that has pioneered the Ecological Footprint. The Ecological Footprint adds up all of people's competing demands for biologically productive areas - food, timber, fibers, carbon sequestration, and accommodation of infrastructure. Currently, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel comprise 60% of humanity's Ecological Footprint.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity's annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth's ecosystems can regenerate in that year. Over the past 20 years, it has moved up three months to July 29, the earliest ever. This means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet's ecosystems can regenerate, equivalent to 1.75 Earths. Humanity first saw ecological deficit in the early 1970s. Overshoot is possible because we are depleting our natural capital, compromising the planet's future regenerative capacity.

Ecological overspending costs are becoming increasingly evident: deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events.

"Ultimately, human activity will be brought in balance with Earth's ecological resources. The question is whether we choose to get there by disaster or by design - one-planet misery or one-planet prosperity," said Mathis Wackernagel, co-inventor of Ecological Footprint accounting and founder of Global Footprint Network.
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A New Toolkit To Accelerate Ocean Conservation: Ocean Genomics Horizon Scan
Sausalito, California
The world's oceans are in great peril. To help conservation and to reverse the trends of oceanic degradation, we must innovate and employ every available tool. More help is on the way. Revive & Restore, a California-based non-profit conservation organization, has announced the release of an "Ocean Genomics Horizon Scan." This report provides a first-of-its-kind assessment of genomic and biotech innovations to complement, enhance, and accelerate today's marine conservation strategies.

Revive & Restore is raising $15 million to fund ten "Big Ideas" that demonstrate the power of these technologies and address a significant conservation challenge. Each of these Big Ideas is led by a team of passionate scientists and identifies a clear technology development path with achievable milestones on a two- to three-year timeline.

Oceans face a myriad of threats, including overharvesting, pollution, habitat degradation, and climate change. Conventional marine conservation measures are critically important, but the pace of change in the oceans requires the consideration of transformative innovations.

Biotechnology has great potential to help solve pressing conservation challenges by identifying potential vulnerability or resilience to climate change and by driving innovation (e.g., synthetic replacement of wildlife products) to directly remove threats to both wildlife and ecosystems.
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Collaboration Crucial to Solve Global Food and Environmental Challenges
St. Louis, Missouri
The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is igniting efforts to connect the agriculture and food industries to solve one of humankind's greatest challenges: How to nourish an unprecedented population while protecting and enhancing the world in which we all live.

"There is no 'or' in this equation. We must grow and raise healthy foods to feed billions of people and we must do so in a way that positively contributes to the environment," said Erin Fitzgerald, CEO, USFRA. "There is no other sector that can provide nourishment for our communities while drawing down carbon into our soils and enhancing ecosystem services like the food and agriculture sector."

According to American Farmland Trust, agricultural land in the United States disappears at a rate of 175 acres per hour due to business and residential expansion. That loss of land, combined with climatic changes and a growing global population, is forcing farmers and ranchers to protect and optimize the environment while increasing the amount of food they produce per acre.
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Industry-Led Coalition Calls for Recycled Content Minimum in Plastic Bags
Ottawa, Canada
Twenty-seven organizations call for urgent government action to help deal with the global plastic problem. The industry-led Recycle More Bags coalition proposes using legislative action and procurement policy to drive demand for a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled content in some types of plastic bags by 2025.

The United States and Canada have been largely dependent on foreign markets for recycling plastic bags and similar plastic grades, like plastic wrap. Foreign demand for these products has decreased markedly in recent years, primarily as a result of China's "National Sword Policy," which banned the import of many recyclables. The North American recycling industry is now more dependent than ever on the health of domestic plastic film recycling end-markets. However, these domestic markets have long been impeded by the continued expansion of domestic oil and gas activity and the low-cost virgin plastic resins that are produced as co-products.

According to More Recycling, a company that tracks plastic recycling year over year in the United States and Canada, the amount of bags and wrap collected through at-store recycling programs has grown, but that growth is expected to slow or reverse if the dynamics in the marketplace continue. There is a need to recognize the value of using recycled resin in new products to mitigate plastic pollution and to encourage the expansion of the North American circular economy.
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Maryland Smith Expert Weighs PG&E Strategy to 'Unplug in a Crisis' and a 'Corporate Decision it got Right'
College Park, Maryland
California utility giant PG&E is putting to work a new strategy to keep its power lines from sparking the kinds of wildfires that have killed dozens across the state and leveled home after home. When fire risks are high, PG&E officials will simply pull the plug, cutting the power altogether until the danger subsides. But should they? "It's a pretty amazing solution, but for a lot of people it probably sounds crazy," says Charles E. Olson, visiting associate professor of logistics, business and public policy, and director of the Honors Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The new strategy follows a tough stretch for the San Francisco-based utility. PG&E says its equipment was likely to blame for last November's massive Camp Fire, which created a wide swath of destruction and scorched the entire town of Paradise, killing 85 people.

"It is sensible, though mostly unprecedented," Olson says. "Things have never gotten so extreme that any utility would consider routine shutdowns of a service that has been considered to be essential to our lives and to the economy for close to 100 years."

Olson is a nationally recognized expert on public utility regulation, energy economics, and the cost of capital to public utilities. He has testified in hundreds of utility cases. Before coming to Maryland Smith, he was president of Zinder Companies, a public utility consulting firm. He has shared his expertise with more than 100 utilities, as well as industrial companies, state agencies, trade associations and environmental groups.
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From The Ground Up!
Los Angeles, California
Kiss the Ground, the leading organization committed to the healthy soil movement, has announced their newly launched Regenerative Sourcing and Supply Training Course in conjunction with Terra Genesis International, a regenerative design consultancy that works to bring solutions that regenerate soil, increase biodiversity and boost businesses. The program aims to teach brands, entities and consumers how to take steps towards healthy soil solutions through purchasing and developing relationships in their supply systems.

Starting April 18th and running biweekly through July 11th, organizations can join the course via a live webinar to improve their sourcing and supply strategies and participate in live discussions with their peers and instructors. Connor Stedman, a nationally recognized designer and teacher of carbon farming systems, will lead the discussions while providing valuable information for participants to instantly incorporate in their business strategies, so that they can play a role in fighting climate change.

"We wanted to provide access to knowledge and strategies that give businesses the internal ability to engage with agriculture, climate change, and all of their stakeholders," says Connor Stedman, lead ecological designer and supply consultant of Terra Genesis. "Working with Kiss The Ground was a natural fit for engaging more businesses in regenerative agriculture.

Participants in the course will learn how their companies can respond to global warming's effects on agriculture and their supply system, how to evaluate the differences between organic, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, and how to design investments in regenerative agriculture."
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Ocean Visions: Leading Institutions Come Together to Cultivate Innovative, Scalable, Science-Driven Solutions to Ocean Challenges
Atlanta, Georgia
Leading ocean science and engineering institutions are joining forces to create Ocean Visions, an innovative scientist-driven ocean conservation venture that fosters collaboration between top researchers, conservationists and entrepreneurs committed to solving some of the biggest challenges facing ocean health.

The endeavor's first summit --OceanVisions2019 -- Climate -- was held April 1-4 at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta. The summit highlight edocean-based science and engineering successes that promote solutions addressing human, climate and ecological pressures.

Ocean Visions represents the nation's leading organizations in ocean science and engineering -- Georgia Tech, The Smithsonian Institution, Stanford University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography University of Georgia, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, The Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Birch Aquarium at Scripps -- coming together under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on scientifically sound, scalable, impactful and viable ocean conservation solutions.

The ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth and provides food and jobs valued at $2.5 trillion dollars each year - making the ocean the seventh largest economy in the world. Unfortunately, ocean health has been declining as a result of climate change, overfishing and pollution. Climate change is making our ocean warmer and more acidic, threatening critical ocean ecosystems including corals, shellfish, and plankton. Thirty percent of the world's fisheries are overfished and nine million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. Fertilizer and sewage runoff are creating massive "dead zones" - waters with such low oxygen levels that fish can't survive. Coastal dead zones have increased tenfold since 1950. Finding solutions to these pressing challenges is more urgent than ever.
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I.E.S. Develops Technology to Mine Sea Water Without Harming the Environment
Osnabrueck, Germany
The German scientific research company I.E.S. made a breakthrough after 19 years of research inventing a technology that makes sea mining possible without harming the environment.

The first objective of the invention was to find an inexhaustible source of drinking water for humanity, which in turn solves the global water shortage.

The second objective this technology has made possible is sea mining where industries and agriculture can finally extract unlimited quantities of precious minerals, such as potassium and magnesium from the sea.

The third objective achieved by this technology is eliminating the pollution resulting from the desalination plants.
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Report Uncovers Prevalence of Glyphosate in Restaurant Foods
Unionville, Connecticut
Nonprofit organization GMO Free USA today published the report, "Eating Out: A Date with Glyphosate." The report details the results of food tests for glyphosate residue, across fifteen popular fast food and casual restaurants in the U.S.

A sample from Panera Bread, whose primary marketing claim is, "100% of our food is 100% clean," had the highest level of glyphosate of all 44 restaurant foods tested. Other restaurants tested include Chili's Grill & Bar, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, IHOP, Le Pain Quotidien, McDonald's, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger, Subway, Taco Bell, and Whole Foods Market.

Dr. Mark Hyman, Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine and bestselling author said, "The unregulated use of GMO seeds and the herbicide glyphosate is a significant uncontrolled experiment on the human population. Glyphosate is being used in increasing quantities and shows up in our food and water. It has been linked to cancer, disturbances in the microbiome and the depletion of our bodies' ability to detoxify."
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Report suggests that food banks are a "green" hunger-relief solution
London, England
Food banks operating in 57 countries around the world mitigate an estimated 10.54 billion kg of CO2-eq annually -- equivalent to nearly 2.2 million passenger vehicles, according to the Waste not, Want Not - Toward Zero Hunger: Food Banks -- A Green Solution to Hunger study. This newly released study focuses on the contributions of local food bank organizations in achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The report, published by The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), also found that the food bank networks of GFN, the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) and Feeding America serve 62.5 million people and prevent approximately 2.68 million metric tons of safe, edible surplus food being wasted.

The study was released ahead of the Food Bank Leadership Institute (FBLI), a three-day conference in London held on 25-27 March 2019, where Tesco CEO Dave Lewis delivered the keynote address on food waste. The event, now in its 13th year, is an opportunity for food bank leaders to stay abreast of the latest trends and best practices in hunger relief, as well as accessing proven training and growth techniques.

GFN is also calling for food producers, retailers, and governments to adopt simplified label recommendations, as currently 20 percent of safe, edible food is wasted over confusion with "best by," "best before," "use by," and "sell by" dates on packages.

These measures should help improve the current paradox, where one-third of all food produced for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes) is being lost or wasted, whilst one in nine people (821 million) go hungry.
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Global Earth Repair Conference to Be Held May 3-5 in Port Townsend, Washington
Port Hadlock, Washington
The Global Earth Repair Conference will bring together an international coalition of 100+ presenters and 500+ attendees May 3-5, 2019 at the Fort Worden Conference Center in Port Townsend, WA. It will be an international symposium focused on the grassroots level of regenerative agriculture and ecosystem restoration. "Together we'll explore the cutting edge of bio remediation, envision a thriving planet for our descendants seven generations from now, and strategize the many steps it will take to get there," says Michael "Skeeter" Pilarski of the Friends of the Trees Society, organizer of the event.

One of the goals is an event where voices can be heard that aren't heard at the big climate negotiations such as grassroots movements, small-holder farmers, indigenous people, local conservation groups and nature intelligences.

A first-of-its-kind event, the Global Earth Repair Conference will bring over 500 people from around the world to unite for three exhilarating days of learning, celebration, and collective action. The Conference will focus on the grassroots level of restoring the vitality of our world. More than 70 presenters will weave together their expertise in various fields, including restoration ecology, agroforestry, permaculture, carbon sequestration, and myco-remediation. Together we'll envision a thriving planet for our descendants seven generations from now, and strategize the many steps it will take to get there.

The Global Earth Repair Conference is for people who have devoted their lives to Earth repair or who wish to. Restoration efforts in the world are already substantial and there is a lot of experience and knowledge to draw on. It will be an exchange of information between earth repair practitioners. The conference addresses both the technical and social aspects of planetary regeneration. There will be international participation via internet.
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Green catalysts with Earth-abundant metals accelerate production of bio-based plastic
Tokyo, Japan
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed and analyzed a novel catalyst for the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethyl furfural, which is crucial for generating new raw materials that replace the classic non-renewable ones used for making many plastics.

It should be no surprise to most readers that finding an alternative to non-renewable natural resources is a key topic in current research. Some of the raw materials required for manufacturing many of today's plastics involve non-renewable fossil resources, coal, and natural gas, and a lot of effort has been devoted to finding sustainable alternatives. 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) is an attractive raw material that can be used to create polyethylene furanoate, which is a bio-polyester with many applications.

One way of making FDCA is through the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF), a compound that can be synthesized from cellulose. However, the necessary oxidation reactions require the presence of a catalyst, which helps in the intermediate steps of the reaction so that the final product can be achieved.

Many of the catalysts studied for use in the oxidation of HMF involve precious metals; this is clearly a drawback because these metals are not widely available. Other researchers have found out that manganese oxides combined with certain metals (such as iron and copper) can be used as catalysts. Although this is a step in the right direction, an even greater finding has been reported by a team of scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech): manganese dioxide (MnO2) can be used by itself as an effective catalyst if the crystals made with it have the appropriate structure.
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What is the Cause of Breast Cancer? A New Paper in a Medical Journal Presents a Surprising Answer
Valley Cottage, New York
The Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease (CBCD) announces the publication of a new paper [1] in the science journal 'The Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences.' Dr. Hanan Polansky's new paper is titled "How latent viruses cause breast cancer: An explanation based on the microcompetition model." The paper is important since it answers the biggest question in breast cancer research today: What causes breast cancer in most patients?

Scientists know that certain genetic mutations in genes, such as the famous BRCA1, can cause breast cancer. However, "only a small proportion of breast cancer, 5-10%, has a hereditary cause." This means that only a small number of patients have a mutation in their genes. Most patients don't have any mutations. The factor that causes breast cancer in the majority of breast cancer patients has been unknown. The paper identifies this factor. According to the paper, certain latent, or hidden viruses can disrupt the expression of certain genes, including the BRCA1 gene, and cause breast cancer. These viruses interact with a unique human factor called GABP, which turns on the BRCA1 gene. The virus prevents GABP from turning on the gene, which causes a decrease in the BRCA1 expression, which can lead to breast cancer.
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Sepsis Kills More People Than Heart Attacks; New Tests in AACC's The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine Could Help Rein In This Deadly Condition
Washington, DC
In this special Sepsis Issue, AACC's The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine highlights the cutting-edge clinical tests that laboratory medicine experts are developing to combat sepsis, a life-threatening condition that kills more people in the U.S. than heart attacks every year.

Sepsis develops when the immune system has an extreme reaction to an infection such as the flu, pneumonia, or even a urinary tract or skin infection. Every year, 1.7 million Americans get sepsis and about 270,000 die from it - and some data suggest that this death rate is climbing due to factors such as increasing antimicrobial resistance. The most effective way to combat sepsis is to catch and treat it as quickly as possible - the survival rate is relatively high for patients in the earliest stages of the condition, but within hours of onset septic shock can kick in, at which point the mortality rate rises to 40-70%. Physicians still struggle with identifying sepsis early, however, because many clinical conditions exhibit the same symptoms as sepsis in its initial stages.

The clinical laboratory plays an integral role in detecting sepsis, and advances in laboratory tests will be crucial to improving diagnosis of this condition and bringing the sepsis mortality rate down. This special issue of The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine features research on two such advancements: One study in the issue shows that a new test for an immune-system signaling receptor predicts risk of mortality for sepsis patients, which could enable physicians to treat patients at the highest risk of death more aggressively. A second study shows that a test for a protein central to sepsis onset could detect the development of sepsis before symptoms even manifest.
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New Harvard Study Finds That Parental Warmth in Childhood is Associated with Subsequent Flourishing Across Multiple Domains
Cambridge, Massachusetts
A childhood with loving parents can lead to life as an adult with flourishing in multiple domains, a new study from the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences has found. The study, Parental Warmth and Flourishing in Mid-Life, marks an important advance in the study of flourishing. The paper reveals that people's childhood relationship with their parents has a positive influence on their emotional, psychological, and social well-being in adulthood.

While prior research on parental warmth has analyzed its influence on individual aspects of well-being, considered separately, the Harvard study's new contribution to the literature is its holistic examination of parental warmth in relation to multiple measures of well-being.

"Much of the past research on childhood antecedents of health has focused on identifying risk factors for illness such as parental neglect and parental abuse. In contrast, positive factors that help promote health and well-being later in life are relatively understudied," said lead author Ying Chen.
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Life on Earth - Creating a Planet in Balance: The National Geographic Society and Google Join Forces to Advance Human Understanding and Action on Global Conservation of Nature
Washington, DC
Building upon 12 years of collaboration, Google and the National Geographic Society have announced the launch of a major new partnership that will address the myriad threats impacting the Earth at this critical juncture in ways only the two organizations can. Over the next two years and beyond, Google and the National Geographic Society will work together to leverage the power of Google's technology and National Geographic's world-class science and storytelling, as well as National Geographic Labs' innovations, to build a first-of-its-kind, dynamic, four-dimensional digital representation of the vital signs of Earth's natural ecosystems. This living rendition of the globe will allow users to monitor the world's species and ecosystems over time, understand threats to the natural world and realize solutions to help achieve a planet in balance.

The two organizations will source and generate new data on ecosystems, biodiversity, urban growth, migrations and extreme environments to inform insights and inspire action by educating consumers and decision-makers about the critical importance of protecting at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030. National Geographic Society's Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist Dr. Jonathan Baillie and Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Dr. Ya-Ping Zhang highlighted the need to achieve this critical biodiversity target in a recent editorial in the journal Science.

"There is finite space and energy on the planet, and we must decide how much of it we're willing to share," Baillie and Zhang wrote. Wildlife populations have decreased over 50 percent since the 1970s, while humans' impact on the landscape is becoming more and more visible in satellite imagery. For decades, decisions about protecting critical ecosystems have been made using very limited data. In 2020, the world's governments will meet in Beijing, China, to set targets that aim to protect current levels of biodiversity and the ecosystems that support food and water security as well as the health of billions of people. The Google-National Geographic Society partnership will create tools to help this decision-making.
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Maker of Premium Supplements Seeks Ban on Use of Glyphosate as a Desiccant Through EPA Petition
Washington, DC
MegaFood, an award-winning dietary supplement brand and pioneer of vitamins and supplements made with real, whole foods, together with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and several additional food and nutrition brands, including Ben & Jerry's and Stonyfield, has petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the use of glyphosate as a desiccant before harvest. With this petition, alongside a supporting petition to invite all consumers to play a role, MegaFood underscores its commitment to improving lives as the first supplement brand to have its entire line certified Glyphosate Residue Free by The Detox Project, and aims to raise awareness of the potentially unsafe levels of glyphosate residue found in our foods today.

Glyphosate is the number one herbicide used in the world and has been classified by the World Health Organization as "probably carcinogenic in humans." With the support of the EWG and several like-minded brands, MegaFood is on a mission to keep farmers from conducting "pre-harvest application" of the harmful pesticide on conventionally-grown crops to ultimately reduce dietary exposure amongst consumers. Using glyphosate as a desiccant allows food to be harvested quickly but in turn, increases the likelihood that consumers will be directly exposed to the pesticide through the foods they eat, even after processing. This year alone, glyphosate was targeted as the cause for significant health ailments in the Dewayne Johnson vs. Monsanto Company verdict, and concerning levels of glyphosate residue have been traced to household names in oat cereal, such as Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that glyphosate use on our farms can lead to significant threats to both their health and that of our environment. With these growing concerns about the incredibly harmful effects of exposure to glyphosate, the EPA has a duty to put an end to the pre-harvest use of glyphosate," said Robert U. Craven, MegaFood CEO. "As citizens, we should feel protected by the rules and regulations set forth by the federal government, and the petition filing brings us one step closer to cleaning up the supply chain to support the longevity of our planet and the health of our people."
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Air Pollution, Not Greenhouse Gases, Is the Main Cause of Global Warming
San Diego, California
In a recent article in the Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International, Transdyne Corporation geoscientist J. Marvin Herndon makes the startling claim that climate scientists, including the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have been chasing the wrong culprit for global warming and climate change.

"Time series of global surface temperature presentations often exhibit a bump coincident with World War II (WW2)," the Herndon article explains, "as did one such image on the front page of the January 19, 2017 New York Times." Intrigued by the front-page New York Times graph, "Bernie Gottschalk of Harvard University applied sophisticated curve-fitting techniques and demonstrated that the bump," which shows a global burst in Earth temperature during WW2, "is a robust feature showing up in eight independent NOAA databases, four land and four ocean."

Inspired by Gottschalk's data, Herndon considered "the broader activities of WW2," especially those capable of "altering Earth's delicate energy balance by particulate aerosols." Herndon then "generalized [these] to post-WW2 global warming." The geoscientist used relative-values of pollution-causing proxies to demonstrate "the reasonableness of the proposition that increases in aerosolized particulates over time is principally responsible for the concomitant global warming increases."

These proxies for global particulate pollution -- increasing global coal and crude oil production, as well as aviation fuel consumption -- rise in strikingly parallel fashion to the rise in global temperature as shown in the accompanying figure.

"The World War II wartime particulate-pollution," the Herndon article asserts, "had the same global-warming consequence as the subsequent ever-increasing global aerosol particulate-pollution from (1) increases in aircraft and vehicular traffic, and the industrialization of China and India with their smoke stacks spewing out smoke and coal fly ash," as well as from recently documented studies that show "(2) coal fly ash [is being] covertly jet-sprayed into the region where clouds form on a near-daily, near-global basis."
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Timber Grown Among Crops Shows Promise for Timberland Investors: Agroforestry Can Address Environmental Concerns While Potentially Improving Returns
Boston, Massachusetts
Corn, coffee, cattle, and other crops can be raised on land that also supports cultivated timber. This symbiotic approach, known as agroforestry, has clear ecological benefits -- and it could become a new asset class for timberland investors. The opportunities and obstacles to expanded agroforestry are explored by the Global Agroforestry Review, a new report from RISI, the leading information provider for the global forest products industry.

"Public concern about environmental impact is mounting on agribusinesses, and on the pension funds and others who invest in them," said John North, RISI International Timber Economist and co-author of the report, along with RISI Director of International Timber Bob Flynn. "Timberland investment management organizations (TIMOs) and other investors should recognize the risks of current 'monoculture' approaches, and the potential for agroforestry to mitigate those risks."

"Agroforestry is not a panacea, but it offers tangible benefits," said North.

The Global Agroforestry Review is the first study of its kind from RISI. The report combines a survey of agroforestry methods with in-depth analysis of their potential value for investors and the forest products sector.

Agroforestry is an accepted practice throughout much of the world. Important cash crops, such as corn and rice, are planted in rows among eucalyptus trees in Brazil, India, and other major agricultural exporters. Coffee and cacao are harvested from timber-producing forests in Latin America and Asia, and cattle graze among cultivated pines in Argentina -- a practice called "silvopasturing." Researchers and landowners in the US and Brazil, among others, are exploring how agroforestry methods can be scaled up worldwide.
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Genetic Testing: Thinking About An At-Home Test for Alzheimer's Risk Gene? -- What You Need to Know First
New York, New York
Persons wishing to learn their genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease -- by way of an at-home genetic test -- should first consider consulting with their doctor and a genetic counselor, according to a commentary authored by AFA's Medical, Scientific & Memory Screening Advisory Board, among other recommendations aimed at physician-scientists, policymakers, and the commercial genetic testing industry. The article was published online by the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Before pursuing any kind of genetic testing, it is essential that consumers are fully informed and understand the benefits, limitations and other implications of learning one's personal health information," says Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA). "This includes having insight on how a test result might impact the individual and their family emotionally, particularly in the case of Alzheimer's in the absence of a cure, or an effective treatment."

The number of consumers accessing their genetic information has exploded, since the April 2017 FDA approval of direct-to-consumer testing for genetic disease risks. Among the genetic tests available is one to determine APOE status—apolipoprotein-E, a "susceptibility" gene for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. And with effective and sustained marketing campaigns by commercial testing entities, the sales of the tests (and presumed use) have already skyrocketed as evidenced by the following reports: [1]  [2].

"To begin with, people may wrongly confuse genetic risk with genetic certainty -- or a diagnosis; the distinction between risk and causation must be made clear to consumers. APOE genes affect the probability of developing Alzheimer's, but APOE does not by itself cause the disease," cautions J. Wesson Ashford, MD, PhD, Chairman of AFA's scientific advisory board. "It is important to understand that many individuals who have the APOE susceptibility gene never get Alzheimer's. At the same time, not having an APOE susceptibility gene doesn't mean that person will never develop Alzheimer's in their lifetime."
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Northwestern University: Fighting Cancer With A Famous Poison
Evanston, Illinois

Some of the most potent cancer drugs ever made include metals and other inorganic compounds." Chemist Tom O'Halloran is a world-renowned expert on inorganic compounds -- metals, specifically -- and how these compounds function in the body. He believes certain inorganic elements and compounds could be used more broadly to kill cancer.

Like arsenic. Arsenic is known more for its use as a poison than as a cancer drug. Arsenic poisoning is said to have killed Napoleon Bonaparte and Simon Bolivar. And paradoxically, arsenic exposure is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Yet low doses of arsenic trioxide have shown a 95 percent remission rate in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a type of blood cancer. Arsenic can shut down the growth of other cancers as well, O'Halloran says, but conventional arsenic delivery methods have not been successful in solid tumors in the breast, lung, ovaries and elsewhere.

"What limits arsenic's broader application in cancer is its toxicity," O'Halloran says. "So, we asked whether we could control that toxicity but still allow its destructive effect to manifest only in cancer cells."

To do this, O'Halloran and his team put insoluble particles of arsenic into a liposome, a tiny droplet of fat about one-hundredth the width of a human hair, creating what they called a "nanobin." These nanobins, when injected into the bloodstream, release arsenic only once they reach cancer cells. Healthy cells remain unscathed. But how?

To understand how nanobins work, O'Halloran says, it's necessary to understand tumor biology. Cancer cells need to recruit a source of oxygen and nutrients in order to survive and grow. Through a process called angiogenesis, tumors send out signals that stimulate blood vessels to grow toward, in and around the tumor. Those new vessels, unlike others throughout the body, are leaky, with gaps and holes several hundred nanometers in diameter. These new vessels don't leak red blood cells, which are too big to move through nanometer-sized holes, but nanobins can slip through the gaps to collect in the tumor.

"The tumors start collecting the nanobins in ways that normal tissue doesn't, building up the concentration of these arsenic-loaded liposomes in the tumor," O'Halloran says.
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Largest Old-Growth Coast Redwood Forest in Private Hands Now Permanently Protected by Save the Redwoods League
San Francisco, California

Save the Redwoods League, celebrating their centennial year as the only nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and stewarding coast redwood and giant sequoia forests in California, has announced that it has acquired the 730-acre Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve in Sonoma County to permanently protect hundreds of old-growth redwoods and provide future public access to them. The property is the largest old-growth redwood forest remaining in single private ownership, owned by the Richardson family for generations.

"It's as if we've discovered an ancient civilization; an oasis of towering redwoods hidden from public view for over a century," said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. "We are grateful for the Richardson family's foresight in stewarding this forest with such care and allowing us the opportunity to save it. The League envisions stewarding this property as a public park in the future for all to enjoy -- the first new old-growth redwood park in a generation. Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve, named to honor the legacy of the family's patriarch, will be the newest gem on California's crown of redwood parks, providing inspiration, recreation, and clean air and water."

Located fewer than 100 miles north of San Francisco and just a few miles inland from the Sonoma coast, the Richardson Reserve looks much as it did thousands of years ago when it was part of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians' territory. The property is 30 percent larger than Muir Woods National Monument, and it contains 47 percent more old-growth redwoods. More than 300 old-growth redwoods stand over 250 feet tall, with many over 300 feet -- as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The oldest known coast redwood south of Mendocino County and the largest diameter (widest) coast redwood south of Humboldt County has been discovered on the property; it is estimated to be 1,640 years old with a trunk diameter of 19 feet (as wide as a two-lane street).

This rare old-growth forest provides habitat for the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, foothill yellow-legged frog, Townsend's big-eared bat, Pacific giant salamander, red tree voles, steelhead trout, and coho salmon. The League's science-driven Vibrant Forests Plan scores the Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve as a 99 out of 100 for redwoods conservation values because of its large, high-quality redwood forest, proximity to other protected forests, and riparian habitat along a tributary to the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River. These factors made it the League's highest conservation priority in the coast redwood range to protect it from development, fragmentation, and stream sedimentation. If left unprotected, it could have been commercially harvested for its valuable old-growth timber.
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Eden Green Technology, a Next-Generation Farming Company, Debuts Crisply, a Freshly Picked, Pesticide-, Herbicide- and Chemical-Free Produce Line
Dallas, Texas

Eden Green Technology, a next generation vertical farming company, has unveiled Crisply, a locally grown, freshly picked produce line. 

Eden Green Technology's Crisply produce, which is non-GMO and pesticide-, herbicide- and chemical-free, can be found in Walmart stores beginning in Texas next month. Eden Green Technology is believed to be the first vertical future farm able to scale to meet the produce needs of existing regional food distribution systems. Eden Green Technology will be the first company to offer freshly picked produce, grown locally at next-generation vertical farms, on a large scale. 

"We are elated to make fresh, handpicked greens available to everyone who wants to eat high quality, nutrient-rich produce without spending an entire paycheck," said Jaco Booyens, co-chair of Eden Green Technology, a privately held Dallas-based company, which has been in stealth mode for two years.

"We pick our produce, package the same-day, and stamp the date when they are harvested on the package so consumers know exactly how fresh their salads are. We also make it possible for our retail partners to put our produce on their shelves immediately after they've been harvested, in some cases that same day. No other company does that," Booyens added.

Eden Green Technology's Crisply produce grows in greenhouses in proprietary vine-like systems. The company's technology encloses each plant in a medium less (no soil), microclimate bubble, which is monitored and optimized for growth and mitigating contamination. Engineers Jacques and Eugene van Buuren, who initially built their first greenhouse in South Africa, created the novel technology.

Eden Green Technology expects to grow 10 to 15 harvests a year, compared to an average of two harvests for conventional, soil-based farms. The company's technology enables plants to feed on a continuous flow of nutrient-filled water and natural sunlight instead of LED lights; this enables the company to save on energy and optimize produce growth and nutrients. The greenhouse also captures carbon gas, which the plants absorb for fuel. With the use of sunlight, Eden Green Technology facilities use less electricity so that their energy cost is one-eighth the cost of cooling regular greenhouses. 

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Nature's Path Leaves Organic Trade Association as Protest to Save Organic
Richmond, BC

Nature's Path Foods, North America's Largest organic breakfast company, has announced its resignation from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) citing concern the OTA is shifting its commitment from supporting and representing the core principles of the organic food movement, to begin pushing a non-organic agenda which threatens the future of organic. Recent actions by the OTA that have driven the company's decision include misrepresenting organic food companies and US consumers to support a vague and misleading national GMO labelling law, and allowing hydroponics to fall under the organic certification label where there is no organic agriculture nor soil present.

"Our departure from the OTA is an act of protest to raise awareness of our concern that the important role organic plays to support the health of consumers and our planet is being compromised," says Nature's Path founder and co-CEO Arran Stephens. "We believe giant food corporations, that also happen to own small organic brands, use the OTA to influence policy decisions to protect the best interest of their large, non-organic food portfolios."

In 2016, the OTA actively worked to pass the first-ever national, GMO food labelling law in the US (Stabenow-Roberts Bill) that pre-exempted strong, state-led GMO labelling laws. The OTA support of the new mandatory bill was without the knowledge or expressed consent of many organic members like Nature's Path. Having been open to public comments until July 3, 2018, the new law could exclude almost three-fourths of products with genetically engineered ingredients and use confusing new GMO terminology and symbols for on-pack disclosures.  

"We believe organic can protect and enhance the health of people and planet. Organic can build a better world, free from food with chemical residues, free of toxic environments for farmers, and free of catering to big business at the expense of real people," adds Stephens. "We're alarmed the new bill works against our basic human right for food transparency which exists in 64 other countries around the globe with clear GMO labels."

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National Resilience Strategy Blueprint Launched to Raise Awareness of and Offer Solutions for Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Crises
Oakland, California

A new web-based blueprint designed to help communities deal with the drug, alcohol and suicide crises has been launched. 

In November of 2017, Trust for America's Health (TFAH)and Well Being Trust (WBT) released Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Crises and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy. The report detailed the growing number of "despair deaths" — deaths due to drug and alcohol misuse and suicide — and more than 60 evidence-based programs proven to help fight contributing factors and save lives.

This companion piece, the Pain in the Nation: National Resilience Strategy website, will help policy-makers and community leaders access critical data and prevention-oriented programs and policies — including promotion of responsible opioid prescribing practices, enforcement of underage drinking laws, and anti-bullying and social-emotional learning programs in schools, among others.

The website also provides state level data on how the drug, alcohol and suicide crises are impacting lives across the country and includes case studies describing community and school-based prevention programs that work.

"The numbers of these deaths are staggering and tragic. They are also preventable," says John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America's Health.  "As a nation, we need to apply what we know about prevention to address the root causes of this epidemic of substance abuse and suicide. The time to act is now."

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Researchers Find New "Organ" Missed by Gold Standard Methods for Visualizing Anatomy and Disease
New York, New York
Researchers have identified a previously unknown feature of human anatomy with implications for the function of all organs, most tissues and the mechanisms of most major diseases. Published March 27 in Scientific Reports, a new study co-led by an NYU School of Medicine pathologist reveals that layers of the body long thought to be dense, connective tissues -- below the skin's surface, lining the digestive tract, lungs and urinary systems, and surrounding arteries, veins, and the fascia between muscles -- are instead interconnected, fluid-filled compartments. This series of spaces, supported by a meshwork of strong (collagen) and flexible (elastin) connective tissue proteins, may act like shock absorbers that keep tissues from tearing as organs, muscles, and vessels squeeze, pump, and pulse as part of daily function.

Importantly, the finding that this layer is a highway of moving fluid may explain why cancer that invades it becomes much more likely to spread. Draining into the lymphatic system, the newfound network is the source of lymph, the fluid vital to the functioning of immune cells that generate inflammation. Furthermore, the cells that reside in the space, and collagen bundles they line, change with age, and may contribute to the wrinkling of skin, the stiffening of limbs, and the progression of fibrotic, sclerotic and inflammatory diseases. The field has long known that more than half the fluid in the body resides within cells, and about a seventh inside the heart, blood vessels, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels. The remaining fluid is "interstitial," and the current study is the first to define the interstitium as an organ in its own right, and as one of the largest of the body, say the authors.
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Nationwide Celebrations and Tree Planting Opportunities Announced for Arbor Day, America's Oldest Environmental Holiday
Lincoln, Nebraska
April 27, 2018 marks the 146th celebration of Arbor Day. A holiday established in 1872 in Nebraska City to inspire people to plant trees, it became a national holiday in 1972. To help people across the country get more easily involved in celebrating the country's first environmental holiday, the Arbor Day Foundation has launched People can visit the website to see what's going on in their local communities as well as to get information on how to plant trees and plan their own Arbor Day celebrations.

"Arbor Day is that one day every year reminding us to think about all that trees do for us -- a day for reflection and for action," said Dan Lambe, president, Arbor Day Foundation. "On April 27, communities across the country will to come together to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. We encourage everyone to set differences aside, grab a shovel and make a positive impact in your community by planting a tree."

Not only can visitors learn about celebrations in their area, people across the United States can sign a pledge signifying their commitment to planting a tree during the month of April as well as purchase a tree to be planted in their yard or a national forest. Visitors to can watch the number of trees planted increase on the website's "Treemometer." This commitment to plant 1 million trees by 2025 with the Arbor Day Foundation is part of the One Earth program.
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High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol Associated with Noisy Jobs
Atlanta, Georgia
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are more common among workers exposed to loud noise at work according to a CDC study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Researchers at CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also found that a quarter of U.S. workers – an estimated 41 million people -- reported a history of noise exposure at work. "

Reducing workplace noise levels is critical not just for hearing loss prevention – it may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "Worksite health and wellness programs that include screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol should also target noise-exposed workers." High blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol are key risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. Loud noise is one of the most common workplace hazards in the United States affecting about 22 million workers each year.

NIOSH researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions within U.S. industries and occupations. They also looked at the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease. The analysis showed:
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Natural Grocers customers pledge to protect the ladybug this Earth Day
Denver, Colorado
Throughout the month of April, and in celebration of Earth Day on April 22, Natural Grocers will invite the community to pledge to protect one of nature's beneficial insects – the ladybug. Shoppers will vow to never use chemicals that harm ladybugs or other beneficial insects and pledge to support 100 percent organic produce. Customers will also learn how to make a natural, do-it-yourself weed killer at a free, educational class hosted by Natural Grocers.

"We are dedicated to protecting the environment -- because the health of the environment is directly linked to the health of the economy, and the health of all people," said Heather Isely, Natural Grocers' Executive Vice President. "This Earth Day, Natural Grocers selected the ladybug as its mascot because it symbolizes the importance beneficial insects play in the overall health of the economy and environment."

It's estimated that insects, like the ladybug, contribute at least $57 billion to the U.S. economy every year by controlling pests, pollinating crops, as part of the food web and processing waste. In addition, beneficial insects prevent $18.77 billion in damages to U.S. crops every year, supporting a healthy economy, a healthy environment and human health – the triple bottom line.
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Valent Group Helps Launch "No Taste for Waste" Campaign
Washington, DC
The Valent Group of Companies is partnering with the CropLife Foundation and Meredith Agrimedia to launch the "No Taste for Waste" campaign, an initiative to reduce food waste and loss. The campaign, which includes an interactive website, special edition "bookazine" and social media messages, is a resource for consumers interested in reducing household food waste, while educating the public on how farmers take steps to fight food loss in their fields.

The Valent Group and other partners, including Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN, the American Farm Bureau Federation and FLM Harvest, collaborated with the CropLife Foundation and Meredith Agrimedia to launch the "No Taste for Waste" campaign. The campaign connects consumers to real farmers, like Washington state apple growers Mike and April Clayton, who work hard to operate in a sustainable manner and act as good stewards of the land, while reducing food waste.

"It's an honor to be able to partner with the CropLife Foundation. Land O'Lakes, and the American Farm Bureau Federation in support of this important campaign," said Andy Lee, President and CEO of the Valent Group of Companies. "We're hoping that by understanding how much the ag community does to minimize food waste, consumers will be encouraged to extend those efforts into their own pantries and kitchens."
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National Geographic Announces 2018 Year of the Bird Campaign, a Year-Long Effort Dedicated to Celebrating and Protecting Birds
Washington, DC
This year 2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, National Geographic, the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and BirdLife International will join forces with more than 100 other organizations and millions of people around the world to celebrate 2018 as the "Year of the Bird."

This effort aims to heighten public awareness of birds because of their wonder and beauty, and because they symbolize nature's interconnectedness and the importance of caring for our shared planet. To get started, visitors to will discover simple but meaningful steps that anyone can take to help birds each month and join a pledge to participate.

Through 12 months of storytelling, science research and conservation efforts, Year of the Bird will examine how our changing environment is driving dramatic losses among bird species around the globe and highlight what we can do to help bring birds back.

Participating organizations include nonprofit and conservation groups, state and federal agencies, zoos, nature centers, and ornithological societies that are working together to raise the visibility of birds and inspire action through #BirdYourWorld throughout 2018. The campaign will also utilize National Geographic's portfolio of media platforms reaching millions of people around the world with engaging bird content that will educate, inspire and raise awareness about the challenges that birds are facing and what people can do to help.
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Largest City in Maine Joins City-Wide Shift to Organic Land Management, Banning Pesticides
Washington, DC
Joining the national movement to require organic land management of its public and private property, the City Council of Portland, Maine has voted unanimously to restrict hazardous pesticides from its jurisdiction. The legislation is similar to an ordinance passed by the City of South Portland in 2016 and adopted by ballot initiative by the Town of Ogunquit, Maine in 2014. The law will take effect on July 1, 2018.

Outside of Maine, the City of Portland now joins other jurisdictions in the state of Maryland (Montgomery County and the City of Takoma Park), which have taken similar action. Twenty-eight jurisdictions throughout Maine have restricted pesticides in various ways, including on public property, but the comprehensive Portland-style ordinance stops virtually all hazardous pesticide use in the community, on private and public property.

Maine is one of seven states that has not, by state legislative action, taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state. However, the chemical industry is working to take away local authority in those states and last year tried unsuccessfully to push statewide preemption legislation in Maine.

Leading the effort in Portland is the group Portland Protectors, which led a 3-year effort to advance the new law. In support of the legislation, the Council received a letter from 31 medical and science professionals, who said, "As health professionals, it is our contention based on the molecular and microbiologic actions of these synthetic land care pesticides that the continued use of them must be challenged, banned, and replaced by practices and products that are not harmful to people and the environment."
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Research Unravels the Puzzle of Obesity in January's Clinical Chemistry
Washington, DC
Laboratory medicine experts are using genomics, metabolomics, and other cutting-edge clinical testing methods to advance the understanding of obesity. A special issue of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC)'s journal Clinical Chemistry, "Obesity: Innovative Approaches to Overcome Obstacles," highlights the latest innovations in the field that could lead to more effective public health policies to curb this epidemic.

Obesity has become one of the greatest health concerns of our time, with one-third of the world's population now considered to be overweight or obese. This condition raises the risk for serious health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers, with the average medical spending for obese individuals coming in at $3,271 per year compared with $512 per year for non-obese individuals. Even more worryingly, no country since 1980 has experienced a decline in obesity in spite of public health efforts aimed at reversing the upward trend in its prevalence.

One factor hindering the development of a successful public health strategy is that experts are still unsure of what dietary factors are fueling this epidemic. A novel study in this special issue now provides compelling evidence in support of the theory that processed carbohydrates are the culprit. The roles that other factors play in the development and management of obesity, such as physical activity, genetics, and neurohormonal mediators, are also topics of much debate and are central to research in this special issue of Clinical Chemistry. Papers in this issue examine the efficacy of treatments such as dietary change, exercise, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery. In addition to showcasing research that could influence future public health policies, the issue overviews the impact of current public health initiatives to prevent obesity and promote dietary change, and explores in detail whether a sugar tax would be beneficial.
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BAR FIGHT: Popular/Lucrative Snack Bars Come Under Fire
Cornucopia, Wisconsin
A new report, Raising the Bar, Choosing Healthy Snack Bars versus Gimmicky Junk Food, and its accompanying scorecard expose misleading marketing practices by food industry giants that market candy-like snack and energy bars as wholesome and nutritious.

The report details how snack bar quality varies widely among brands, even among the many brands that market themselves as "made with" organic ingredients. It further exposes USDA National Organic Program regulation loopholes allowing use of conventional, hexane-extracted ingredients in "made with" organic products.

Issued by The Cornucopia Institute, a national food and farm policy research group, the report further exposes leading natural/organic brands for including cheap, conventional ingredients instead of creating products that qualify for the USDA organic label.

"The highly profitable snack bar industry is rife with gimmicky substitutes, such as protein isolates, sweetener syrups, and flours, instead of whole food ingredients," says the report's lead author, Linley Dixon, PhD, Cornucopia's chief scientist.

"With the exception of certified organic bars, many products add protein isolates processed with the neurotoxin solvent hexane, a byproduct of the gasoline refinement industry," added Dixon. "Hexane-extracted ingredients, like conventional soy protein isolate, are common in products that are labeled 'made with' organic ingredients. An intentional loophole in the USDA organic standards allows use of ingredients that are extracted using volatile solvents in 'made with' organic products (a process explicitly prohibited in products qualifying to display the USDA organic logo)."

Raising the Bar also explains how, in many other ways, consumers find safer and higher-quality products in USDA certified organic brands over conventional, mass-market brands that contain long ingredient lists including questionable gums and synthetic preservatives, colors, or flavors.
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Survey Finds Divided America Agrees on One Thing: Saving the Planet
Knoxville, Tennessee
Despite a country deeply divided along social and political lines, a new survey finds most Americans agree on at least one thing: We need to save the planet. The national survey, part of a special Eco Pulse report by Shelton Group, found the majority of Americans believe we deserve a clean planet, climate change is occurring and we all have a responsibility to take concrete steps to reduce our environmental impact.

"Despite all of the fighting, anger and frustration in the United States today, Americans can find common ground when it comes to the environment," said Suzanne Shelton, President and CEO of Shelton Group, the nation's leading marketing communications agency focused exclusively on energy and the environment. "We all want the same thing, a cleaner planet, and we agree that we must do our part to make that happen."

The new findings confirm a fundamental shift among Americans. A full 40 percent of Americans now believe "buying and using eco-friendly products is an important part of my personal image."

"Sustainability is becoming a much stronger part of how Americans identify themselves. It's clear that consumers want to be on the right side of this issue,and they expect the companies they buy from to be as well," Shelton said. "This presents significant opportunities for companies doing things the right way, and a threat to those that aren't."
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Fluoride Warnings Issued by International Group of Dentists
Championsgate, Florida
October is Dental Hygiene Month, but not all dentists will be touting the alleged benefits of fluoride. In fact, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) is using this month to raise awareness of the health risks associated with fluoride. This is especially timely because of recent news about a study linking fluoride exposure in utero with lower IQs.

The IAOMT is an organization of over 800 dentists, physicians, and research professionals in more than 14 countries, and the non-profit organization has been dedicated to its mission of protecting public health since it was founded in 1984. Since that time, the group has continually collected, examined, and reviewed studies and research articles about fluoride and other dental materials and practices.

"IAOMT and its members have been independently studying the toxicity of fluoride for decades," Matthew Young, DDS, President of the IAOMT, explains. "For dentistry, as an ethical profession, it is imperative to uphold the concepts of 'do no harm.' Fluoride has traditionally been seen as a panacea for dental disease without the knowledge of its inherent harm to the human body. We need to seek less toxic alternatives and work to improve human health with the safest approach."

This week, the IAOMT is officially releasing a variety of new fluoride awareness resources available for free on their website. The materials were developed based on the group's new Position Paper against Fluoride Use in Water, Dental Materials, and Other Products. Hundreds of scientific studies and research articles were analyzed to create this detailed document, which includes over 500 citations supporting the potential for fluoride to cause adverse health outcomes.
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Study Shows Topical Analgesics Reduce Chronic Pain, Lessen Need For Opioids
Austin, Texas
Clarity Science, a division of Safe Harbor Compliance and Clinical Services LLC, report results of the Institutional Review Board (IRB)- approved Optimizing Patient Experience and Response to Topical Analgesics (OPERA) Study which evaluated patients with chronic pain who were treated with topical analgesics. Overall results, published today in the Journal of Pain Research, suggest that topical treatments may provide an effective and safer treatment alternative to opioids and prescription NSAIDs for the management of chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability in the United States. It affects over 100 million Americans and is one of the most frequent reasons people seek medical care. Despite a wealth of treatment options, as many as 40% of patients treated for chronic pain do not attain adequate relief.

Further compounding this problem, patients who report chronic pain often suffer from multiple conditions and take multiple medications such as opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are associated with adverse effects including abuse, addiction, and death.

The FDA and CDC have recognized that opioid misuse and overdose have reached epidemic proportions. The number of prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances increased dramatically in recent years and deaths associated with opioids continue to grow. Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics reports over 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016 -- a faster rate than the HIV epidemic, car crashes, and gun deaths at their respective peaks.
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Almost 9 out of 10 American Adults Lack Skills Needed to Manage Health and Prevent Disease
San Antonio, Texas
TAVHealth, an organization that connects healthcare providers, payers, community, and philanthropic organizations to help solve the Social Determinants of Health with its collaborative, cloud-based platform, has announced the importance of recognizing National Health Literacy Month in October. According to the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using and understanding routine health information. In an age where we are trying to improve health outcomes and reduce unnecessary hospital visits, understanding the importance of health literacy is crucial.

"With the transition to value-based care it is imperative the post-discharge patient understands their care plan when they leave the hospital. Today, nearly one third of American adults struggle with basic or below basic health literacy. In order to improve health we need to meet individuals where they are and make sure they can understand and follow their plan," commented TAVHealth Founder and CEO, Jamo Rubin, M.D.

Increasingly, providers, payers, and community organizations are collaborating to make sure individuals and families understand complex instructions. Failing to adhere to post-acute care instructions is a key factor in hospital readmissions and increased healthcare costs. On average, adults with low health literacy experience 4 times higher healthcare costs, 6% more hospital visits, and 2-day longer hospital stays.
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Iconic wild animals in Amazon suffering for selfies
New York, New York
Demand for selfies has changed the lives of wild animals forever: the explosive trend on social media is driving the suffering and exploitation of some of the world's most iconic animals in the Amazon, says international charity World Animal Protection.

Focusing on two gateway cities of the Amazon --Manaus, Brazil and Puerto Alegria, Peru -- World Animal Protection's investigators reveal in a new report, "A close up on cruelty: The harmful impact of wildlife selfies in the Amazon" that animals are snatched from the wild, often illegally, and used by irresponsible tour operators who cruelly exploit and injure wildlife to entertain and provide harmful photo opportunities for tourists.

In public view and behind the scenes, investigators uncovered evidence of cruelty being inflicted on wild animals, including:
* Sloths captured from the wild, tied to trees with rope, not surviving longer than six months
* Birds such as toucans with severe abscesses on their feet
* Green anacondas wounded and dehydrated
* Caiman crocodiles restrained with rubber bands around their jaws
* An ocelot (a type of wild cat) kept in a small barren cage
* A manatee held in a tiny tank in the forecourt of a local hotel
* A giant anteater, manhandled and beaten by its owner

Steve McIvor, CEO at World Animal Protection, says: "The wildlife selfie craze is a worldwide phenomenon fueled by tourists, many of whom are unaware of the abhorrent conditions and terrible treatment wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo. Behind the scenes, wild animals are being taken from their mothers as babies and secretly kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing severe psychological trauma."
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Iterum Therapeutics reveals new US maps highlighting antibiotic resistance 'hotspots'
Dublin, Ireland
Research presented this week by Iterum Therapeutics provides, for the first time, detailed maps by zip code showing the prevalence of bacteria in the US that are resistant to many newer antibiotics. These heat-maps document the prevalence of common gram-negative bacteria that cause urinary tract infections in the community, as well as more serious hospital onset infections. These are increasingly resistant to quinolones, as well as to penicillins and cephalosporins, as a consequence of the production of extended spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs).

The findings were released at the Infectious Disease Week conference in San Diego, CA. Data collected from 571 hospitals and other health facilities across the United States show regional differences in resistance rates, with quinolone resistance exceeding 30 per cent and ESBL prevalence over nine per cent (Poster #400). Hotspots of resistance include southern California, Louisiana, Texas and New Jersey. The maps and more details are at

The Infectious Disease Week poster also compared prevalence within hospitals. Rates were highest for in-patients (more than three days after admission or soon after discharge), compared to new admissions (fewer than three days after admission) and out-patients. "Wherever possible, avoidance of hospitalization for infections caused by these organisms is much better for patients and the healthcare system," said Dr. Michael Dunne, one of the research authors. "Outpatient care is much less expensive and protects against the dissemination of resistant pathogens within the hospital. But such care requires new antibiotics that are safe and effective and can be taken orally, rather than intravenously."
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"Killer Summer Heat" Report: 14,000 Americans Could Die Annually by Mid-Century Without Paris Climate Pact Protections
Washington DC
President Trump's plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement could seriously harm public health for decades, worsening summer heatwaves that could kill 13,860 Americans each year by mid-century, and as many as 29,850 a year by the end of the century, a recent report released shows. That translates to about 150 Americans dying daily in the 2040s and about 325 dying each climate-fueled hot summer day in the 2090s in 45 of the nation's largest cities. This all could unfold if the United States doesn't move, and soon, to slash the key driver of climate change, carbon pollution from power plants and vehicles, according to the report "Killer Summer Heat, Paris Agreement Compliance Could Avert Hundreds of Thousands of Needless Deaths in America's Cities," released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The top 15 cities in order of potential annual deaths by the 2090s are: New York City (7,370); Philadelphia (5,040); Chicago (2,440); Boston (1,340); Baltimore (1,010); Detroit (870); Providence, RI (670); St. Louis (640); Buffalo (620); Rochester, NY (600); Cincinnati (580); Cleveland (570); Washington, DC (560); Los Angeles (540); Louisville (530).

"This report carries a dire warning: Reneging on our climate commitments could cause tens of thousands of Americans to die," said Juanita Constible, special projects director in NRDC's Climate & Clean Air program. "If carbon pollution isn't reined in, climate change will continue superheating summer with terrible consequences for public health in some of our biggest cities.

"Congress and President Trump should act, and soon, to protect Americans from these needless summer deaths. That's starting with supporting, not gutting, the Environmental Protection Agency and re-instating our international commitments to fight climate change."
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Featured Book - "An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back"
New York, New York
In "An American Sickness How Healthcare Became Big Business & How You Can Take It Back" an award-winning New York Times reporter Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal reveals the dangerous, expensive, and dysfunctional American healthcare system, and tells us exactly what we can do to solve its myriad of problems. It is well documented that our healthcare system has grave problems, but how, in only a matter of decades, did things get this bad? Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn't just explain the symptoms; she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. Rosenthal spells out in clear and practical terms exactly how to decode medical doublespeak, avoid the pitfalls of the pharmaceuticals racket, and get the care you and your family deserve. She takes you inside the doctor-patient relationship, explaining step by step the workings of a profession sorely lacking transparency. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate a byzantine system and also to demand far-reaching reform.

Breaking down the monolithic business into its individual industries, the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, drug manufacturers, that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal tells the story of the history of American medicine as never before. The situation is far worse than we think, and it has become like that much more recently than we realize. Hospitals, which are managed by business executives, behave like predatory lenders, hounding patients and seizing their homes. Research charities are in bed with big pharmaceutical companies, which surreptitiously profit from the donations made by working people. Americans are dying from routine medical conditions when affordable and straightforward solutions exist. Dr. Rosenthal explains for the first time how various social and financial incentives have encouraged a disastrous and immoral system to spring up organically in a shockingly short span of time. The system is in tatters, but we can fight back. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a healthcare system that no longer has our well-being at heart.
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Michael R. Bloomberg Announces $200 Million American Cities Initiative To Help U.S. Cities Innovate, Solve Problems, And Work Together In New Ways
Miami, Florida
In an address at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Annual Meeting in Miami, Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the American Cities Initiative, a suite of new and expanded investments that will empower cities to generate innovation and advance policy that moves the nation forward. In an era of unprecedented challenges – from rapid technological change to Washington D.C.'s deepening disengagement on urban issues to the climate crisis – cities need new tools that will allow mayors to do what they do best: innovate, solve problems, and work together to move the needle on the issues that matter to citizens and America's future.

As the first investment as part of the American Cities Initiative, Michael R. Bloomberg invited mayors to participate in a new U.S. edition of the Mayors Challenge, which will help hundreds of mayors develop, test, and implement innovative solutions to the emerging challenges they face. Bloomberg also announced a new grant to the U.S. Conference of Mayors today that will help position mayors and local governments at the forefront of the country's most pressing debates.

The American Cities Initiative builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies' extensive existing efforts to strengthen cities through its arts and culture, education, environment, government innovation, and public health programs, as well as world-class consulting services through Bloomberg Associates.

The American Cities Initiative focuses on three core areas:

•Promoting bold leadership and effective problem-solving in city halls;

•Advancing critical policies and legislation in areas ranging from education to climate change to opioid abuse; and

•Empowering citizens - including artists, volunteers, and entrepreneurs - to solve problems and strengthen social cohesion.
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Vaccines, not Diet, are Causing Epidemic of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes According to New Paper from Classen Immunotherapies
Manchester, Maryland
A newly published paper in June's Journal of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, 5(3): 1107, by immunologist J. Bart Classen, MD of Classen Immunotherapies provides further proof of the dangers of vaccines. The paper reviews the growing evidence that many cases of obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are inflammatory conditions and that vaccine induced inflammation is the cause of the epidemic of these diseases. Upon receiving a vaccine some individuals' immune system becomes hyper active leading to autoimmune destruction of insulin secreting cells and the development of type 1 diabetes. Many other individuals produce increased cortisol and other immune suppressing molecules, to suppress the vaccine induced inflammation. This increased production leads to type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. The new paper reviews evidence supporting vaccines, not diet, as a cause of the epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. "

The new paper reviews proof that vaccines are much more dangerous than the public is lead to believe. Adequate testing has never been performed to indicate that there is an overall improvement in health from immunization. One major problem with vaccines is the one dose fits all approach. In order to induce protection to infection in the 1% of the population with the weakest immune system, vaccines are over stimulating the immune system of the remaining 99% of the population and this is leading to epidemics of inflammatory diseases," states Dr. J. Bart Classen.
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Kannalife Sciences Participates in 27th Annual International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) Symposium
New York, New York
Kannalife Sciences, Inc. ("Kannalife"), a bio-pharmaceutical and phyto-medical company, presented its findings at the 27th Annual ICRS Symposium on the Cannabinoids held in Montreal, Canada from June 22-27, 2017. The Company presented one of its published bodies of science titled the "Effect of KLS-13019 and Cannabidiol On Neuroprotection from Oxidative Stress in Hippocampal Cultures: Mechanism of Action" and two posters at the Symposium.

The publication and two posters Kannalife presented at the Symposium, titled "Neuroprotective and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of KLS-13109 and Cannabidiol in IN VITRO and IN VIVO Models of Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain" and "Discovery of Side-Chain Modified Cannabidiol-Derived Neuroprotective Agents with Improved "Drug Likeness," highlighted the Company's recent research of CBD and CBD-derived molecule target drug candidates to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

"When we set out to design a better molecule and keep much of the pharmacological properties of CBD such as neuroprotection and reducing oxidative stress, we hoped to come up with an answer to the limitations of CBD," said CEO of Kannalife, Dean Petkanas. "We believe we've answered that problem with KLS-13019. Accordingly, we were honored and grateful to be given the opportunity by the ICRS to present our Company's most recent research and progress in the field of cannabinoid-based therapeutics. The ICRS is dedicated to promoting the exchange of scientific information and perspectives about the use of cannabis, cannabinoid therapeutics, in the regulation of receptors, neurotransmitters and homeostasis of the endocannabinoid system. Their involvement in sponsoring an annual event that pushes forth the field of scientific discovery in cannabinoid therapeutics is unparalleled."
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National Survey Taps Over 1,700 Dietitians to Predict Top 2017 Food Trends
New York, New York
Pollock Communications and leading nutrition trade magazine, Today's Dietitian, has released the results of their fifth annual "What's Trending in Nutrition" national food trend survey, which polled over 1,700 registered dietitians (RDs) across the country on the new year's big trends in food and eating. Results reveal a decline in consumers' interest in dieting. Instead, many are choosing clean and mindful eating as their path to healthier living.

"Year-to-year, our unprecedented connection with Registered Dietitians - the authorities on all matters of food and nutrition - has enabled us to document the movement towards mindful eating," said Mara Honicker, publisher of Today's Dietitian. "This annual increase in attention to eating with purpose and care is also reflected in the top 10 superfood trends. There has been a consistent focus on foods that are nutrient-rich - like seeds, avocados and nuts - along with those that have health-promoting qualities, like fermented foods and green tea."

Dietitians are attributing the latest shift in consumer food perception to the growing trend of "mindful eating," a slower and more thoughtful approach to eating. Based on the survey, 49 percent of RDs say that consumers will choose mindful eating over dieting. In addition, 59 percent say consumers will choose to "eat clean," by looking to consume foods that are less processed and more whole foods such as veggies, fruits, ancient grains and green tea, as well as plant-based proteins like nuts and seeds.
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In 2017, Saving the Planet Starts in Your Kitchen
Boston, Massachussetts
It is easy to feel powerless in the face of environmental problems such as climate change and health problems such as obesity and chronic disease. We might wonder if there is anything we could do as individuals that would make a difference in solving these dire problems. Yet there are five powerful steps individuals can take in the new year (and years to come) to significantly impact their own health, the health of other people, and the health of our environment. So says Ellen Moyer, Ph.D., an environmental consultant and author of the book Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: How to Thrive While Creating a Sustainable World.

She says, "Whether we like it or not, or know it or not, our small actions repeated day after day add up to huge impacts. Consumers inescapably weigh in on a vast array of issues every day. We make a difference with each bite we take, and by reducing food waste because food is a basic way we fit into the web of life and interact with our world. By choosing whole, real, organically grown food, preferably favoring plant foods, we vote for everyone's health, including our own. We also help the economy by reducing expenditures on health and environmental damage control."
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Blue Light is Adversely Affecting Our Sight & Health, According to an Eye-Opening New Survey by the Vision Council
Alexandria, Virginia
Sleep disruption, increased risk of depression, long-term vision issues and retinal damage - these are all potential side effects of a hidden culprit: blue light. Also known as high energy visible (HEV) light, blue light -according to a new nationwide report released by The Vision Council - is emitted from digital devices, contributing to eye strain. These findings arrive as thousands flock to the annual Consumer Electronics Show, the modern mecca for the latest gadgetry designed to improve individuals' lifestyles, but not necessarily their vision.

Blue light is a type of light with short wavelengths that emits higher energy. Aside from sunlight, digital screens - on computers/laptops, smart phones, tablets and TVs - are the most common source of blue light exposure. Blue light penetrates deep into the eye, and exposure may result in: exposing the eye to hidden spikes in light intensity; age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts; and suppression of the body's natural release of melatonin. With an increase in digital technology, there has been an increase in blue light exposure. In turn, many individuals suffer from the physical eye discomfort felt after screen use for longer than two hours at a time, also known as digital eye strain.

As part of its ongoing efforts to educate the public about the effects of digital devices on the eyes, The Vision Council commissioned its new survey of 9,840 American adults nationwide, which found that more than 87% use digital devices more than two hours per day, and over 52% regularly use two digital devices simultaneously.

However, according to Dr. Justin Bazan, OD and medical adviser to The Vision Council, the eyes are not built to stare at digital screens all day, as the modern world demands. "Patients underestimate how their technology use may be contributing to eye strain and do not consider ways to reduce this stress," he says.
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Remarks for the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change to the Toronto Region Board of Trade
Toronto, Canada
Thank you, everyone, for the warm welcome. It's great to be back. The Board of Trade is a longtime pillar of the Canadian business community and a cornerstone to the success of this great city.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land we are on is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee (HO-Dehn-Oh-show-knee), the Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

Indigenous peoples are the first stewards of our water, air, and land, and we must work in partnership to protect our environment.

Our world has come a long way since the Board of Trade was created in the 1850s, on the dusty streets of Toronto. First of all, we live, on average, four decades longer than we did in 1850. We travel across our country in hours rather than weeks or months. And today, we carry all the libraries of the world in the palms of our hand.

If you ask me, I'd say we've done pretty well. Together, we've overcome countless challenges - from war, to recession, to disease.

Here in Canada, our curiosity, intelligence, and determination have led us to create thriving cities and to come up with innovations that our ancestors would not have believed. But today - after so much progress - we confront an urgent challenge. A challenge that will alter the course of our future if we don't act now - and will affect how and where we live, our quality of life, and our collective prosperity.
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Animal Health Community Collectively Redefines Antibiotic Use on the Farm
Washington, DC
The FDA  has announced the full implementation of new policies redefining how antibiotics are used to treat food-producing animals. Beginning January 1, antibiotics similar to those used in human medicine that are medically important are no longer to be used to promote growth in animals. All remaining uses of these antibiotics in farm animals will be for the purpose of fighting disease under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

Antibiotics are one of the key disease-fighting tools used by farmers to keep animals healthy. U.S. livestock producers utilize antibiotics in a responsible manner to manage diseases in their animals and to preserve their effectiveness. Because of the research-defined relationship between healthy animals and safe food products, it is important that farmers have a range of effective tools available to keep food animals healthy.

"The cooperative approach used by FDA to bring about this significant change has worked," said AHI President and CEO Alexander S. Mathews. "The fully implemented changes  that have been announced represent an enormous effort by the animal health industry, veterinarians and farmers to align with the FDA policy and enhance the responsible use of antibiotics."

With these changes, veterinarians will be more involved in the decision to use antibiotics on the farm. All uses of medically important antibiotics in feed and water now require the approval and supervision of a licensed veterinarian. A veterinarian must sign a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to allow the use of these antibiotics in feed and a prescription if used in water. While a veterinarian must approve the use of the antibiotic, the other directions on the label regarding dose and duration must be followed. Any other feed uses of antibiotics not listed on the label is illegal.
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Taking Action: Global Animal Protein Leaders, Public and Private Organizations Outline Future Path for Combatting Antimicrobial Resistance
Washington, DC
More than 250 global food and health leaders representing the public and private sector gathered in Washington, D.C. at the One Health Summit, and declared priorities to help combat antimicrobial resistance as part of efforts to produce a sustainable food supply. The One Health Summit explored the following three core areas and created outcomes to help animal agriculture deliver on their commitments to combat antimicrobial resistance:

1. Increasing veterinary oversight: Veterinarians play a critical role in maintaining animal health and making the appropriate treatment decisions. Further, veterinarians are a critical link in preventing disease and antimicrobial resistance spread. However, there is a significant gap in veterinary availability and training in some countries, and even in parts of the United States. Outcome: Summit participants formed a working group to establish a pilot project to develop and test a model for increasing veterinary capacity and training. The World Veterinary Association (WVA) has agreed to chair the working group. The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has offered to convene stakeholders to explore funding opportunities and build capacity. Finally, the Gates Foundation stated they will work with stakeholders to build connections and consider funding support in countries aligned with the Foundation's strategy.

2. Improving antimicrobial resistance monitoring and reporting: The lack of effective global measures and transparent reporting processes hinder the ability to track responsible antibiotic use, determine where progress against antimicrobial resistance is occurring, and where improvements are needed. Outcome: The Summit participants agreed to continue working together to develop a process to collect and harmonize data on global antibiotic use and resistance across all livestock sectors.

3. Accelerating innovation: Innovation is a critical pathway to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. Summit participants recognized there are significant barriers across regulatory, legislative and marketplace segments. Outcome: A cross-functional working group formed to advance innovation and build public confidence in innovative solutions.
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Millennials and Organic: A winning combination
Washington, DC
America's 75 million Millennials are devouring organic, and they're making sure their families are too. Parents in the 18- to 34-year-old age range are now the biggest group of organic buyers in America, finds a new survey on the organic buying habits of American households released today by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Among U.S. parents, more than five in 10 (52 percent) organic buyers are Millennials. And this influential and progressive generation is stocking their shopping carts with organic on a regular basis.

"The Millennial consumer and head of household is changing the landscape of our food industry," said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. "Our survey shows that Millennial parents seek out organic because they are more aware of the benefits of organic, that they place a greater value on knowing how their food was grown and produced, and that they are deeply committed to supporting a food system that sustains and nurtures the environment."

OTA has partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct surveys of the organic buying patterns of households since 2009. This year's survey marks the first time that generational buying habits have been studied. The survey looked at Millennials (born between 1981-1997, currently age 18-34 years), Generation-X (born between 1965-1980, currently 35-50 years old), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964 and currently 51-69 years old).

Compared to Millennials who account for 52 percent of organic buyers, Generation X parents made up 35 percent of parents choosing organic, and Baby Boomers just 14 percent.

OTA's U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2016 Tracking Study, a survey of more than 1,800 households throughout the country with at least one child under 18, found that more than eight in ten (82 percent) U.S. families say they buy organic sometimes, one of the highest levels in the survey's seven-year lifetime. The number of families never buying organic has steadily decreased, going from almost 30 percent in 2009 to just 18 percent today.
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Eight in Ten Americans Say Appearance is At Least Somewhat Important When Shopping for Fresh Produce
New York, New York
No matter how many times we've been told not to judge a book by its cover, waiting to pass judgement on something until after we get past its outside has never been an easy task for people to accomplish. Whether it's what we're reading or who we're meeting, people have a tendency to set expectations based on surface assessment. But does the same hold true for what we eat? According to a recent Harris Poll, about eight in ten Americans (81%) confirm that appearance (i.e., not blemished or misshapen in any way) is at least somewhat important to them when shopping for fresh produce (i.e., fruits and vegetables), with 43% saying it is very or extremely important.

When listed alongside other fresh produce descriptors, appearance proved to be more important than provenance (i.e., locally grown or sourced), the retailer's food waste practices, and organic. However, the price and seasonality are more likely to be important to a purchaser than appearance.

"Whether 'ugly' or not, produce is on the rise, up 5% in U.S. dollar sales in the latest 52 weeks ending July 30, 2016," said Jen Campuzano, Director Fresh Perishables at Nielsen. "Choosing healthier and more natural products has become a priority for households across the country. For some, this means transparency in labeling, opting for foods with basic ingredient lists or embracing fruits and vegetables, blemishes and all."

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,025 U.S. adults aged 18+ and surveyed online between August 10 and 12, 2016. Complete results of this study can be found here.
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Just add water: Biomolecular manufacturing 'on-the-go'
Boston, Massachusetts
Even amidst all the celebrated advances of modern medicine, basic life-saving interventions are still not reaching massive numbers of people who live in our planet's most remote and non-industrialized locations. The World Health Organization states that one half of the global population lives in rural areas. And according to UNICEF, last year nearly 20 million infants globally did not receive what we would consider to be basic vaccinations required for a child's health.

These daunting statistics are largely due to the logistical challenge of transporting vaccines and other biomolecules used in diagnostics and therapy, which conventionally require a "cold chain" of refrigeration from the time of synthesis to the time of administration. In remote areas lacking power or established transport routes, modern medicine often cannot reach those who may need it urgently.

A team of researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has been working toward a paradigm-shifting goal: a molecular manufacturing method that can produce a broad range of biomolecules, including vaccines, antimicrobial peptides and antibody conjugates, anywhere in the world, without power or refrigeration.

Now, in a new paper published September 22 in Cell journal, the team has unveiled what they set out to deliver, a "just add water" portable method that affordably, rapidly, and precisely generates compounds that could be administered as therapies or used in experiments and diagnostics.

"The ability to synthesize and administer biomolecular compounds, anywhere, could undoubtedly shift the reach of medicine and science across the world," said Wyss Core Faculty member James Collins, Ph.D., senior author on the study, who is also Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Department of Biological Engineering. "Our goal is make biomolecular manufacturing accessible wherever it could improve lives."

The approach, called "portable biomolecular manufacturing" by Collins' team, which also included Neel Joshi, Ph.D., a Wyss Core Faculty member and Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), hinges on the idea that freeze-dried pellets containing "molecular machinery" can be mixed and matched to achieve a wide variety of end-products. By simply adding water, this molecular machinery can be set in motion.

Compounds manufactured using the method could be administered in several ways to a patient, including injection, oral doses or topical applications. As described in the study, a vaccine against diphtheria was synthesized using the method and shown to successfully induce an antibody response against the pathogen in mice.
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Data Confirms U.S. Voters Find Emotional Intelligence Deficit at Top of November's Election Ballot
Toronto, Canada
As the United States looks to conclude one of the most controversial general elections in history, new data from Multi-Health Systems Inc. (MHS), an international leading publisher of scientifically validated assessments, demonstrates that the two primary candidates simply do not measure up when it comes to critical leadership characteristics.

MHS set out to define which emotional intelligence characteristics voters looked for in presidential candidates, as well as where this year's candidates stand. The company polled 2,000 adults in the U.S., which were fairly evenly divided among Republican, Independent and Democratic voters. A group of 1,000 adults were asked to rate the emotional intelligence skills of their ideal presidential candidate. The second 1,000 adults were asked to rate their perception of the emotional intelligence skills of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The ratings were done on a five-point scale.

Overall, voters identified the following as the top three key characteristics they look for in a presidential leader:
* Stress Tolerance (4.62): The ability to remain calm and focused and to constructively withstand adverse events and conflicting emotions without caving in.
* Problem Solving (4.59): The ability to find solutions to problems where emotions are involved, using the right emotion at the right time and level.
* Reality Testing (4.58): The ability to see things as they actually are, rather than the way they wish or fear they might be.
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Seed Matters Campaign Launches Provocative Animated Short Film that Challenges Big Ag's Chemical Addiction
Emeryville, California
Seed Matters, a five-year-long initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, has launched "Mr. Seed," a provocative, animated short film with a clear message: our food production system has been hijacked by the big agrichemical companies and organic farming is a key to taking it back. The film makes the case for organic seed and challenges the myth of chemical companies that only they can feed the world without negative impacts. It was produced for Seed Matters by The Butler Bros, a brand design studio in Austin, Texas, and brought to life by renowned Los Angeles-based animation company, Buck.

Experience the interactive Multimedia News Release here:

The film opens on an animated commercial for a fictional company called Pharm Foods. The shot pans across idyllic farmland and a family at the dinner table, except ominous cues - including dead birds - hint that something isn't right in the Pharm Foods world. Enter the hero: Mr. Seed, a clean-living (but dirty-mouthed) organic seed with human characteristics voiced by celebrity and comedian Pete Holmes. While concocting manure-based smoothies, and emasculating "GMO seed bros" ingesting "performance-enhancing" chemicals at the gym, Mr. Seed emphasizes the benefits of organic seed compared with the chemical-dependent alternative.
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Guiding Stars Updates Nutrition Guidance to Reflect Evolution In Nutrition Science and Changes in US Dietary Guidelines
Portland, Maine
Guiding Stars, North America's leading nutrition guidance program, has announced that the organization has updated its approach to factoring dietary cholesterol into its ratings system in response to evolving scientific evidence and changes reflected in the latest 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Guiding Stars' patented nutrition rating algorithm no longer imposes debits on foods that contain dietary cholesterol. Under the new algorithm, only foods with the very highest amounts of dietary cholesterol, 300 mg or more per 100 calories, will not earn stars.

The new algorithm allows nutritious yet cholesterol-containing foods like eggs and shrimp to earn stars. The inclusion of eggs in particular is a positive development for consumers who are looking for affordable, nutrient-dense sources of high quality protein. Classified by many as a "nutritional powerhouse," eggs are rich in essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. In the past, the scientific consensus among many nutrition and medical experts was that people should limit their intake of eggs due to the food's high cholesterol levels, but current research finds no significant link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease or stroke.
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Acting Together, We Can Preserve Our Natural Heritage for Benefit of All, Secretary-General Says at Wildlife Conservation Society Event
New York, New York
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Gala, in New York in June:

I thank the Wildlife Conservation Society for inviting me to speak tonight. Over its proud 120-year history, the WCS has significantly helped to advance wildlife conservation around the globe in partnership with Governments and local communities.

New York would not be New York without the Bronx Zoo, and the cause of wildlife conservation would not be what it is without your efforts. I might add that I have been trying to do my part personally.

During a visit to Mongolia, the Government gave me a horse. In Kenya, I adopted a lion, named Tumani. And in South Sudan, I was given a bull. They named it Ban Ki-moo.

As I have seen again and again in my travels around the world, people from all walks of life derive pleasure and meaning from our planet's natural treasures. Some are privileged to experience them first-hand. But, immeasurably more are exposed to wildlife through documentaries and films.

So, tonight, I am delighted to be with you to celebrate the lifetime achievement of Sir David Attenborough. He has brought the incomparable magic of wildlife into the homes of millions of people through his mesmerizing documentaries.

I am also honored to pay tribute to the outstanding contribution of the Walt Disney Company towards wildlife conservation through its stunning movies and its conservation fund. The work of Sir David and the Walt Disney Company highlights two fundamental truths. First, wildlife is a fascinating, immensely valuable and indispensable part of our natural and cultural heritage. Second, it is increasingly under threat.

Essential habitats are being degraded and lost. Many species, both charismatic and lesser known, are being driven towards extinction by poaching and illegal trafficking.
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Company Demonstrates Commitment to Climate Action by Participating in 2016 U.S.-China Climate Smart/Low Carbon Cities Summit in Beijing
Beijing, China
Johnson Controls, a global leader in building and energy management solutions today joined in the 2016 U.S.-China Climate Smart/Low Carbon Cities Summit highlighting solutions to reduce energy consumption in new and retrofit buildings. The Summit was established in November 2014 by President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama to bring together public and private sector leaders to share best practices in building low carbon, climate-resilient communities. This year's Summit brought State Counselor Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry together with U.S. and Chinese state and local governments and private sector and civil society leaders to discuss optimized energy usage, air quality and accelerating the development of low- carbon cities in China and the U.S.  Multiple memorandums of understanding to address low-carbon solutions and best practice sharing were signed by U.S. and China leaders, including an MOU signed by Trent Nevill, president, Asia Pacific, Johnson Controls on behalf of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program (ECP).

"Buildings are responsible for up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and Chinese cities are expected to contribute nearly 40 percent of global growth in residential and commercial floor space demand by 2025," said Trent Nevill. "If systems and products that reduce energy are integrated into a building's design, it can result in up to 50 percent energy savings. Energy efficiency remains the lowest cost and cleanest energy resource."

Johnson Controls is focused on efforts to improve energy efficiency and address China's climate problems. From a district level, Johnson Controls' expertise uses industrial energy, such as waste heat recovery, to increase capacity for low-carbon district energy systems. "Optimized district energy systems provide centralized heating and cooling to urban areas with efficiency gains of up to 40-60 percent over conventional solutions," said Wu Song, vice president and managing director of Johnson Controls China. "District heating solutions are one way to help China achieve its carbon emission reduction target of 40 to 45 percent during the 13th Five Year Plan period." Waste heat recovery was one of the solutions presented during the Summit's Expo, where Mayor of Beijing, Wang Anshun and NDRC Vice Chairman Zheng Young visited and commented on the solution's applicability in China.
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Global Green Cement Market Growth Forecast at 14.95% CAGR to 2020
Pune, India
Analysts forecast global green cement market to grow at a CAGR of 14.95% during the period 2016-2020 with increased use of waste as alternative fuels (AF) playing major role in this growth story. The use of wastes such as used tires, solid recovered fuels, used oils, animal meal, sewage sludge, foundry sands, fly ashes, and filter cakes as AF in cement kilns helps reduces CO2 emissions during the cement production process. Waste is burnt in an incinerator with energy recovery facilities. The power generated is passed to the national electricity grid system.

Complete report on green cement market spread across 76 pages, analyzing 5 major companies and providing 48 data exhibits is now available at

Developing innovative methods for use in the cement business could minimize the cement market waste and pollution to a large extent. Many options such as energy efficiency, AF, and clinker substitution are anticipated to reduce air pollutants emanating from cement plants. By investing in R&D and involving modeling techniques such as designing of processes, the cement market will minimize air pollution and comply with existing regulations for protection of the environment in the future.

According to the 2016 report, a key growth driver for green cement market is the rise in urbanization. A number of countries are observing the large-scale migration of the population from rural areas to urban areas. The present growth rate of the population of India (1.55% YoY basis) is more than double the growth rate of China's population (0.66% YoY basis). It is likely that the population in rural areas will be moving to urban areas rapidly during the forecast period. So, with an increase in urban population, problems such as traffic congestion, shortage of housing, and increasing passenger traffic will arise. To meet the needs of such a large scale migration, countries around the world are focusing on developing infrastructure.
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From Disease Treatment to Health Creation, International Congress for Integrative Health & Medicine, to Meet in June 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart, Germany
More than 1,000 healthcare practitioners, researchers and policy experts are expected June 9-11, 2016, in Stuttgart, Germany for the International Congress for Integrative Health & Medicine (ICIHM) to discuss the latest research, promising clinical approaches, and successful integrative care models from around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO)'s call to action on chronic diseases and antibiotic resistance will be a focus of the conference.

For most people in Europe, naturopathy, acupuncture and Far Eastern treatment methods, phytotherapy and homeopathy are seen as complementary to conventional medicine. As surveys in Europe show, patients are asking for a combination of complementary and conventional medicine. Integrative Medicine is one answer to that call. For advocates of the field, Integrative Medicine is more than an evidence-informed combination of conventional and complementary treatment methods - it is a complete system that focuses on the patient as a whole person and the self-healing properties of the body. Integrative Medicine focuses on quality of life and is based on an equal doctor-patient partnership. As expressed by conference planning committee member, David Riley, MD, "Simply put, integrative medicine offers best practices for optimal health and healing. It is holistic, considering the patient's bio-psycho-social dimensions as determinants of health."

Experts consider Integrative Medicine particularly useful for patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and mental health diseases. NCDs have garnered attention of policy makers in over 190 countries as a global health priority, as demonstrated by the WHO's 2013-2020 Global Action Plan on NCDs. The Congress will highlight how an Integrative Medicine approach with an emphasis on prevention, high-level collaboration between professionals and integration of complementary treatments and professions is part of the solution to the global NCD challenge. Speakers will also discuss how an Integrative Medicine approach could reduce antibiotic use, one of the key objectives in WHO's Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance.
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Drugging of Americans Resembles Brave New World, Suggests Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
Tucson, Arizona
Recalling Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World, where the totalitarian government kept citizens happy with a drug called "soma," Marilyn Singleton, M.D., warns about "The Soma-tizing of America" in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. "Nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug," Dr. Singleton notes. And "20 percent are on five or more prescription medications (polypharmacy)." The use of psychoactive drugs is extremely common. "About one in 10 Americans aged 12 and over and nearly one-quarter of women between ages 50 and 64 take antidepressants." And sales of opioid or narcotic painkillers have quadrupled since 1999.

Illicit drug use is an enormous problem, with 7,800 new users per day. And so is misuse of prescription drugs: "Fifty-two million people age 12 and over have used prescription drugs nonmedically at some point in their lives."

Medical use of drugs to control behavior is shockingly high. According to one government study, one-third of nursing home patients with dementia were prescribed an antipsychotic medication as an off-label use to treat behavioral symptoms - despite black-box warnings of an increased risk of death. Psychotropic drugs that affect brain function are given to children on Medicaid at a rate four times higher than other children, and to children in foster care at a rate three times higher than to other children. As many as 10,000 toddlers may be receiving psychostimulant drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin).
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Earth Day Network launches petition to pressure world leaders to sign Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day
Washington, DC
Earth Day Network has launched a petition imploring President Obama to sign the Paris Climate Agreement this upcoming Earth Day, April 22nd. The official signing ceremony is to be held April 22nd at the UN in New York. All world leaders have been invited to the ceremony, planned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a staunch supporter of the agreement. The Climate Agreement - created by representatives of more than 190 UN members - calls for nations to decrease their greenhouse-gas emissions and to keep the global average temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - the point where humanity will begin to feel the most destructive and dangerous effects of climate change.

In order for the Agreement to become binding, 55 countries - representing 55 percent of global emissions – need to sign. With less than two months until the Paris Agreement opens for signing, several countries have already pledged they will sign. However, too many countries that greatly contribute to global CO2 emissions have not. Without them, the agreement may never officially go into effect.
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An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments
Geneva, Switzerland
An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly one in four of total global deaths, according to new estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO). Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries. Noncommunicable diseases contribute to largest share of environment-related deaths.

The second edition of the report, Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks, reveals that since the report was first published a decade ago, deaths due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), attributable to air pollution (including exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke), are amounting to as much as 8.2 million of these deaths. NCDs, such as stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, now amount to nearly two-thirds of the total deaths caused by unhealthy environments.

At the same time, deaths from infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and malaria, often related to poor water, sanitation and waste management, have declined. Increases in access to safe water and sanitation have been key contributors to this decline, alongside better access to immunization, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and essential medicines.
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Gut Microbiota: A New Kind of Biomarker?
Miami, Florida
The composition of the gut microbiota provides a huge potential of new biomarkers for indicating intestinal conditions. Experts presented new findings at the Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit 2016. The gut microbiota composition is significantly altered in patients with metabolic conditions. Prof. Max Nieuwdorp (University of Amsterdam / The Netherlands) presented studies that showed that an enrichment of Lactobacillus gasseri and Streptococcus mutans in the gut serves as a good predictor for the development of insulin resistance. Equally important is the observation that the amount of bacteria that produce short chain fatty acids such as Roseburia and Faecallibacterium prausnitzii is reduced in patients with Type-2 diabetes. Prof. Nieuwdorp said that connecting different types of microbial composition with classical clinical biomarkers may provide diagnostic patterns that help to assess disease risks and select the measures that are best suited for the individual patient.

A study presented by Dr. Kishore Vipperla, focussed on connections between diet and colon cancer risk factors. The study compared two groups: 20 African Americans (a population with high risk of colon cancer) and 20 participants from rural South Africa, where the disease occurs very rarely. The two groups swapped diets for two weeks: Americans were given a 'traditional African' diet, while Africans were given a western diet. Within two weeks the food swap dramatically increased the colon cancer risk In the African participants, indicated by inflammation and the proliferation rate of mucosal epithelial cells that count as important biomarkers for this condition. This was associated with altered metabolic interactions between the intestinal bacteria leading to raised levels of beneficial bacterial metabolites in the guts of the American participants while the opposite was true for the Africans.
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Climatologist receives award for demonstrating the global warming impact of other gases and particles and showing that means are available besides limiting CO2 to achieve short-term progress against the clock
The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Climate Change category goes in this eighth edition to Indian climatologist Veerabhadran Ramanathan for discovering that human-produced gases and pollutants other than CO2 have a huge power to alter the Earth's climate, and that by acting on them it is possible to make a short-term dent on the rate of global warming.

Ramanathan's work "has inspired him to propose and test practical actions to mitigate climate change in a way that also improves air quality and human health, especially in more impoverished regions of the world," in the words of the jury, which also highlighted the centrality of the scientist's contributions in "assessing the strategies being proposed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement."

The citation also commends Ramanathan's "vision and dedication" in "communicating the risks posed by climate change and air pollution," which has commanded the attention of world leaders and helped "shape public awareness." Ramanathan is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in recent years has played a key role in advising Pope Francis and other religious leaders on climate-change-related matters.

Ramanathan (Madurai, India, 1944), a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California, San Diego) since 1990, declared himself optimistic in conversation: "We have the huge task before us to slow down climate change, and this recognition just one month after the summit agreement energizes me to work even harder and to do my best to raise public awareness of the problem. I consider the award a great honor and also an opportunity."
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Call to Action for "Age of Food Efficiency" Delivered at World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Waste
Making a bold declaration at its World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Waste in Singapore last month, Carrier, a world leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions, delivered a call to action to begin "The Age of Food Efficiency." The conference, which was held for the first time in Asia, convened 131 delegates from 33 nations, including global leaders in the supply chain private sector, academia and government to discuss and develop scalable, sustainable solutions to expand and improve the cold chain to reduce food loss and waste. Carrier is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Keynote speakers at the two-day conference included Dr. Joseph Mpagalile, Agro-food Industries officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Didier Coulomb, general director of the International Institute of Refrigeration; and Clementine O'Connor, sustainable food systems consultant, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

"One third or more of the food we produce each year is never eaten, yet more than 50 percent of the wasted food can have its shelf life extended by the cold chain," said David Appel, president, Carrier Transicold & Refrigeration Systems. "Only 10 percent of worldwide perishable foods are refrigerated today, so there is immense opportunity to cut food waste and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions by implementing or improving the cold chain. As a leader in high-technology refrigeration solutions, Carrier actively contributes to the development of the cold chain by providing a communication platform, like this Summit, where all stakeholders have the opportunity to share, learn and build sustainable cold chain solutions to reduce food waste."

"We know there are many reasons why food is lost or wasted -- but among them is the lack of or the underdevelopment of the cold chain," said John Mandyck, UTC Chief Sustainability Officer and co-author of Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change. "Refrigeration is the best technology to ensure food safety for perishable goods and prolong its shelf life. That's why this Summit is so important, as it helps connect a global dialogue on how we can sustainably grow the cold chain -- which in turn, can reduce food waste and feed a growing population with fresh foods containing necessary micronutrients for good health and development.
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Mayors' Hunger and Homelessness Report Cites Increased Demand in Emergency Services as Economic Recovery Lags
Washington, DC
The 33rd annual assessment of hunger and homelessness, conducted by The U.S. Conference of Mayors and released in Washington, D.C., shows low wages leads the list of causes of hunger citied by officials in the cities surveyed, and lack of affordable housing is seen as the chief cause of homelessness for both families with children and unaccompanied individuals. 

The report was released in a telephone press conference by the co-chair of the Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, Santa Barbara (CA) Mayor Helene Schneider. The Mayor was joined on the call by the Conference's CEO and Executive Director, Tom Cochran, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Executive Director, Matthew Doherty and Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Legal Director Ellen Vollinger.

"This report reflects what we already know to be true. Cities and their partnering agencies, along with local charities and volunteers, have worked extraordinarily well together to respond to the needs of those who are hungry and homeless. Yet, despite their efforts, these challenges persist in an economy that, while on the mend, is still lagging," said Mayor Schneider. "We want to underscore that even with exemplary local programs in place to help those in need, the effects of hunger and homelessness are still felt by many families across the nation. Our federal policies must respond to the growing pressure that the national economy has placed on many localities."

"Without question, the nation's economy is in recovery. However, the slow pace of the recovery has put additional stress on cities and made it much more difficult to respond to the growing needs of hungry and homeless Americans," said USCM CEO and Executive Director Cochran. "Every year, we report on these challenges and, every year, we reiterate the need for more services and greater capacity to help growing numbers of families in need. This year is no different."
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Low-income communities more likely to face childhood obesity
Ann Arbor, Michigan
For a long time researchers have tracked high rates of obesity among black and Hispanic kids, but a closer look at communities shows family income matters more than race in predicting which kids are overweight. Using a model created from data on 111,799 Massachusetts students, the University of Michigan Health System showed that as poverty rises, so does the rate of obesity among children in 68 of its public school districts.

Although obesity rates were higher among African-American and Hispanic kids, the relationship disappeared when factoring in family income, according to the study published in the journal Childhood Obesity.

Authors concluded that fewer resources like recreational programs and parks and access to full service grocery stores appear to have a greater impact on the nation's childhood obesity rate than race.

"The findings reveal differences in the inequalities in the physical and social environment in which children are raised," says senior author Kim A. Eagle, M.D., a cardiologist and director at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. "It illustrates that race and ethnicity in communities may not have a significant connection to obesity status once the community's income is considered."

In low-income communities where places to play and supermarkets may be scarce, it can promote consumption of low nutrition and fast food and little to no physical activity, authors say.
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Annual Survey of Nutrition Experts Predicts What's In and Out for 2016
New York, New York
New food and nutrition trends from food like kale or cauliflower, gluten-free or no additives, to diet plans like Paleo or vegan, there's only one way to know what to look for and eat in 2016: ask 450 nutrition pros. The fourth annual "What's Trending in Nutrition" Survey from Pollock Communications and Today's Dietitian does just that and tells us what consumers will seek and avoid in the coming year.

"When it comes to forecasting nutrition trends, there are no better experts than registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). They are at the forefront of everyday eating habits and purchasing decisions of people from all regional and economic environments. With almost two decades of working on behalf of dietitians, we know they have their finger on the pulse," says Today's Dietitian publisher Mara Honicker.

For 2016, the survey, conducted by the nutrition trade magazine Today's Dietitian and a leading food, health, and wellness public relations agency, Pollock Communications, revealed that clean eating is where it's at, ancient grains stay strong, low fat moves out, and seeds steal the show. Not to mention that shoppers will seek more seafood, read more blogs, buy based on antibiotic-free claims, and continue to favor gluten-free. Whether they're in, out, or staying the course, the following are the top 10 findings for 2016:
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"Evidence-Based Medicine" Compared with Prussian "Enlightened Absolutism" in Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
Tucson, Arizona
"Evidence-based medicine" has been elevated to the status of an obligatory "gold standard" of medical care. Physicians who deviate from the EBM "standard of care" are likely to be marginalized and face malpractice liability or even the ruin of their careers. In the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Hermann W. Borg, M.D., draws some historic parallels to medicine in Prussia at the time of the Enlightenment.

"There are striking similarities between the culture of the early Enlightenment and today's post-modern digital revolution," he writes. There was rapid change, with empowerment of new groups, as knowledge became more widely available. This threatened the existing power structure. Outright suppression by force backfired. So the political aristocracy outwardly seemed to embrace the new ideas while covertly sabotaging and subverting them.

The Prussian model shows most clearly the effects of injecting political power into medical practice, Borg explains. The Prussian system conferred the title Geheim Rath (secret or confidential counsel) on persons of recognized professional achievement, who had great influence both inside and outside academia. "The main stated objectives were to improve the quality, effectiveness, and affordability of medical care throughout the kingdom," Borg writes, just like today. "This was supposed to be done by elimination of 'nonscientific' treatment methods through leveraging the expertise of accomplished physicians."

The guiding principle of EBM is also the old Prussian principle of "one elegant formula can solve all the problems," Borg states. Enlightenment theorists could not understand why medicine did not achieve spectacular advances like those in industry and agriculture. "Perhaps the idea that treating patients cannot be compared to making machines or farming did not occur to them," he suggests.

Instead of improving medical care, the Geheim Rath system caused chaos, fostered corruption and exploitation of young physicians, and promptly became fossilized and interfered with any innovations, especially those contradicting government dogma, he states.
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Organic Trade Association targets organic opportunities with state agricultural directors
Washington, DC
Organic Trade Association Executive Director and CEO Laura Batcha has told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) that state agriculture directors are critical in the creation of much-needed policies that provide more choice and opportunity, including the organic option, in today's U.S. agricultural system. "This is a great time for farms of all sizes to look at how organic might fit into their operation," Batcha said. "The State Departments of Agriculture play a key role in developing and delivering sound public policy that supports diversity in agriculture, including the organic choice for farmers and ranchers of all sizes and backgrounds."

Batcha noted that organic farm-gate prices are in some cases two to three times higher than that for their conventional counterparts, and that combined with forecasted long-term growth for organic demand and the opportunity for stable contract and supply chain relationships, the organic option has never looked better. "The greatest challenge facing the $39.1 billion organic industry is how to meet the burgeoning demand for organic food with adequate supply of crops, ingredients, and feed. Imports of organic products outpaced exports, amounting to nearly $1.3 billion in 2014. This amounts to a 'Help Wanted' message for American farmers. Please support them when they answer this call," Batcha told the agricultural officials.
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Could a vaccine prevent cancer from spreading after surgery?
Toronto, Canada
A researcher in Ottawa has received a grant from the Canadian Cancer Society to investigate whether a vaccine could stop cancer from spreading after surgery. Dr Rebecca Auer, a scientist and surgical oncologist at The Ottawa Hospital, received a $450,000 grant to study this promising new therapy. Appreciating the potential impact of this study, a group of cancer organizations, the Canadian Cancer Society, the National Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation (NPCCF), Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society and the QEII Foundation, have teamed up to co-fund this work.

The main treatment for many types of cancer is surgery. In fact, more than half of all people with cancer will have some type of surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible. But it can be challenging to find and remove all cancer cells. Unfortunately, sometimes cancer is more likely to spread after surgery, which is the problem that Dr Auer is addressing for pancreatic cancer. The trauma of surgery can weaken the immune system, rendering it less able to detect and destroy any leftover cancer cells. "The immune system is in a constant battle with the cancer," says Dr Auer, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. "While surgery itself does not cause cancer to spread, it can lower immunity, giving any residual cancer cells a fighting chance to grow back and spread."

"I am delighted that the NPCCF is partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society, Craig's Cause and QEII Foundation in funding this innovative research for pancreatic cancer. Creating a vaccine that prevents cancer from spreading after surgery is very encouraging to those of us in the pancreatic cancer world," says Betty Aldridge, founder and past president, National Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation.

Currently there is nothing being done routinely to boost a patient's immune system to prevent cancer from spreading after surgery. To tackle this problem, Dr Auer has developed a vaccine containing oncolytic (or cancer-killing) viruses. This type of vaccine is intended to outsmart cancer cells, which often trick the immune system and escape detection. Oncolytic viruses are designed to safely travel through the body to seek out and destroy cancer cells while leaving normal cells intact. At the same time, the viruses can be engineered to strengthen the immune system to mount a powerful attack on cancer cells. It is this 2-pronged approach that makes the vaccine so promising.
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Female Doctors in Leadership Roles Report More Job Satisfaction Than Non-Leader Colleagues, According to New Medscape Survey
New York, New York
Female physicians, particularly those in leadership positions, report a higher degree of happiness in their professional and personal lives than non-leaders, according to results of Medscape's newly released "Women as Physician Leaders" report. The survey results, released during Women in Medicine Month and available to the public on, run counter to recent trends pointing to widespread professional dissatisfaction among physicians, and a presumption that work-life balance and gender bias concerns dissuade female physicians from valuing and aspiring to leadership roles. In fact, the results show that female physicians place high value on attaining a leadership role at work, and once there, report being "very happy" at work, even more often than non-leaders.

The results also suggest that female doctors pursue leadership roles more for altruistic reasons, such as effecting change and inspiring others, rather than strictly for career advancement.

The "Women as Physician Leaders" survey reflects responses from 3285 practicing female physicians about the challenges and opportunities they face in their careers. The poll was designed to measure similarities and distinctions between leaders (i.e., those who hold top positions in their practice or within a professional association or academic department) and non-leaders. More than half of respondents have held, or currently hold at least one leadership post.
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New Study Shows Only High-Powered Near-Infrared Light Regenerates Damage from Traumatic Brain Injury
Centennial, Colorado
Hailed as a "breakthrough" treatment for people suffering from the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), researchers have found a unique method of applying high-powered near-infrared light (NIR) that can penetrate the skin and skull to reach the damaged portions of the brain, and effectively accelerate regeneration of the brain cells' functionality with minimal skin irritation.

Published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, the study "Near-infrared photonic energy penetration: can infrared phototherapy effectively reach the human brain?" was conducted and authored by Theodore Henderson, MD, PhD and Larry Morries, DC, both based in Denver, Colorado and co-founders of the Neuro-Laser Foundation. The study compared penetration levels of low-power NIR, such as that from light-emitting diodes (LED) with high-power NIR on skin, bone, tissue and brain.
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How Sustainable Water Use Can Boost Food Security Worldwide
Chicago, Illinois
Amid growing public awareness that water is not an unlimited resource, scientists and policy makers alike are working to reduce the water footprint of food production and ensure a safe ocean habitat for future supplies of fish and seafood.

Less than 3 percent of the Earth's water is fresh, and its distribution is far from even throughout the world. In fact, nine countries harbor 60 percent of the available fresh water, reports the World Business Council for Sustainable Development: Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Indonesia, Russia and the United States. As climate change and expanding populations put more stress on local water supplies, it will become even more crucial to maximize available water resources for agriculture, which accounts for 70 percent of all water use, according to the latest series of interviews from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 publishing initiative. FutureFood 2050 explores how increasingly sophisticated science and technology will help feed the world's projected 9 billion-plus people in 2050.

"I think we are in a very early stage of the water scarcity debate. We still really need to do something because the water footprint is increasing," says Water Footprint Network founder Arjen Hoekstra, who coined the term "water footprint" in 2002 as a way of describing and comparing how much water consumers use. "The fact that food and beverage companies are talking about it is positive,but in the end, you have to recognize that talking doesn't change the world," he adds.
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Organic is bee-friendly, shows new report
Washingtron, DC
An important and timely report just released by The Organic Center shows that organic farming practices are effective in maintaining the health and population of important crop pollinators, predominantly bees, which have been declining at an alarming rate in the past decade and threatening global food security.

Titled "The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health," the report reviewed 71 studies detailing current threats to our pollinators and the impact of organic practices. It found that organic methods not only reduce risks to bees, but actively support the growth and health of populations of bees and other pollinators. The paper outlines pollinator-friendly techniques used by organic farmers that can also be incorporated into conventional farming systems.

"Our paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by honey bees and other pollinators, and we look at organic as a model for supporting pollinator populations," said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. "We hope this report acts as a tool to educate policymakers, growers and consumers. Bee-friendly practices being used by organic farmers can be adopted by all producers to foster healthy pollinators."

Seventy-five percent of all crops grown for food rely on pollinators, mostly honey bees, for a successful harvest. But over the past decade, the bee population has plummeted. Since 2006, beekeepers have lost over a third of their bee hives. More than $16 billion worth of crops in the United States alone benefit from pollination every year. Without pollination from honey bees, many favorite fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots and onions would not be on our grocery shelves.
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Risks and Opportunities for the World's Economy When 'Carbon Bubble' Bursts
Berlin, Germany
A week after the G7 Summit and in advance of COP21 (the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in late 2015), renowned experts met at the first-ever Berlin Investment Forum. Organized by Der Tagesspiegel newspaper and Wermuth Asset Management around the theme of "Climate Change and Global Asset Allocation ", 150 delegates discussed the impacts of climate change as well as financial opportunities and risks posed by the worldwide energy transition.

Speakers included leading scientists Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Prof. Klaus Topfer as well as Rainer Baake, Undersecretary at the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The global investor community was represented by impact investors from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Willows Investments and Wermuth Asset Management, among others. Partners include the European Climate Foundation, ResponsAbility and Germanwatch.

"When the carbon bubble bursts, it will negatively impact the global financial system and the world economy," said Jochen Wermuth, founder and CIO of Wermuth Asset Management, a family office. The term 'carbon bubble' means that only about 20 percent of the world's known fossil-fuel reserves such as coal, oil, and natural gas (and as reported in balance sheets) may be exploited in order to meet the climate-policy targets reaffirmed at the G7 Summit. The remaining 80 percent of fossil fuels cannot be used and are thus worthless in the balance sheets of oil, natural-gas, and coal companies. Even if no agreement is reached at COP21 in Paris, tremendous adjustments in value will be necessary.
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The Cancer List Keeps Growing Among Athletes on Synthetic Turf Environment and Human Health, Inc. Releases Its Study Conducted at Yale on Carcinogens in Synthetic Turf
North Haven, Connecticutt
Cancer cases among athletes who have played on synthetic turf fields are being gathered in a ever lengthening list, reports Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), an organization of physicians and public health professionals.

Because there is still no government agency collecting data on the cancer cases among athletes who have played for a number of years on synthetic turf fields, the collecting of the cancer data has been left to Amy Griffin, Associate Head Soccer Coach at the University of Washington.

There are now 153 cancer cases reported, and of those, 124 are soccer players with 85 being soccer goalies. Many of them are student athletes. One would expect the soccer goalies to be the first to be affected because they are the ones who are always diving into the fields and therefore are the most exposed to the carcinogens in the crumb rubber.

The crumb rubber infill is loose and flies up in the faces, eyes and ears of the goalies as they dive for balls. There are 40,000 ground-up rubber tires in each field. Although there is no conclusive proof that the crumb rubber infill is causing the athletes to get cancer, there is new circumstantial evidence that must be taken seriously.
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"Doc2Doc" Consultation Service to Combat Unwanted Medical Treatment Crisis Free
Washington, DC
Responding to reports that millions of older Americans receive unwanted medical treatment, Compassion & Choices today launched a new, free "Doc2Doc" consultation service to ensure patients receive the end-of-life care they want. According to a 2014 poll conducted by Purple Insights, nearly one out of four Americans (24%) aged 50 or older, the equivalent of about 25 million people, say that either they or a family member have experienced excessive or unwanted medical treatment.

Better and more frequent doctor-patient communication could help prevent this excessive and unwanted medical treatment, according to a 2014 report by the Institute of Medicine, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.

To improve doctor-patient communication, Doc2Doc is specifically tailored to offer practicing physicians a free, confidential and readily available telephone consultation from a seasoned medical director with decades of experience in end-of-life medical care.
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Feed a Bee Commits to Grow 50 Million Flowers and Acreage for Bee Forage in 2015; Initiative Will Provide Pollinators with Needed Food as They Work Harder to Help Feed a Growing World Population
Triangle Park, North Carolina
Bayer CropScience is launching Feed a Bee., a major initiative to increase forage for honey bees and other pollinators, including growing 50 million flowers and providing additional forage acreage in 2015. By collaborating with organizations and individuals throughout the United States, Feed a Bee will help to provide pollinators with the food they need not only to survive, but to thrive. This is particularly important as the world population is expected to grow to over 9 billion people requiring 70 percent more food by 2050. As the world's most heavily traveled livestock, bees are transported to pollinate crops where resources are challenged to sustain large bee populations. Bees are working harder and need more food and more food diversity. Lack of adequate food is a significant stressor on honey bee health.

"Reduced bee habitat has decreased food options for bees at a time when agriculture and apiculture must work together to feed more people than ever," said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP North America. "The Feed a Bee initiative provides opportunities for everyone to be a part of creating more forage for these amazing creatures."

The Feed a Bee initiative will work with people across the country to grow 50 million flowers and to increase bee forage areas. People can join this initiative by visiting and requesting a free packet of wildflower seeds to plant on their own or by asking the Feed a Bee initiative to plant on their behalf, or by committing to grow bee-attractant plants. Each campaign packet contains about 200 seeds. As a result, for either seed packet planting action, a supporter will help provide honey bees with 200 additional flowers for forage. Visitors to the site can also commit to growing their own bee-attractant plants. The site features a ticker so supporters can view campaign progress and a collection of shareable facts about bee health and gardening tips.
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Glyphosate Classified Carcinogenic by International Cancer Agency, Group Calls on U.S. to End Herbicide's Use and Advance Alternatives
Washington, DC
A national public health and environmental group, Beyond Pesticides, is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop the use of the country's most popular herbicide, glyphosate, in the wake of an international ruling that it causes cancer in humans. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released its finding, concluding that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity based on laboratory studies.

Glyphosate is touted as a "low toxicity" chemical and "safer" than other chemicals by EPA and industry and is widely used in food production and on lawns, gardens, parks, and children's playing fields. However, IARC's new classification of glyphosate as a Group 2A "probable" carcinogen finds that glyphosate is anything but safe. According to IARC, Group 2A means that the substance is probably carcinogenic to human based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. The agency considered the findings from an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel report, along with several recent studies in making its conclusion. The agency also notes that glyphosate caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells. Further, epidemiologic studies have found that exposure to glyphosate is significantly associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL).

"With the cancer classification on top of the documented weed resistance to glyphosate and water contamination resulting from its use, continued reliance on glyphosate is irresponsible from a public health and environmental perspective," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "We have effective sustainable organic management systems that do not utilize glyphosate and it's time that EPA and USDA recognized its responsibility to move away from hazardous and unnecessary pesticides," he continued.
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First Lady: Mental Health First Aid "Really Gives You The Skills You Need to Identify - And Ultimately Help - Someone In Need."
Washington, DC
As First Lady Michelle Obama said today, "The National Council for Behavioral Health will be training three million people in Mental Health First Aid. I went through some of this training a few weeks ago and I saw just how useful it is. It really gives you the skills you need to identify, and ultimately help, someone in need. Because you never know when these kinds of skills might be useful."

We have to change the conversation around mental health. Addressing an audience of government, business and nonprofit leaders, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about how we must flip the script in how we support and care for people with mental health and substance use needs, and exemplified Mental Health First Aid as a strategy to do just that.

Mental Health First Aid introduces people to risk factors and warning signs of mental health and substance use problems, and teaches them a five-step action plan to help people get the care they need in their community. This pioneering program gives people a tangible way to help others. It recognizes the resilience and strength of all of us fosters understanding, compassion and engagement in the community.
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Consumer Reports Examines Pesticide Use On Produce To Help Consumers Reduce Exposure Risk Guide for 48 Fruits and Vegetables from 14 Countries: Choosing Organic Always the Safest Choice but in Many Cases Conventional Can Be As Low Risk
Yonkers, New York
Fresh produce is an important part of a healthy diet. A new study by Consumer Reports looks at the risks of pesticide residues for 48 fruits and vegetables from around the globe to come up with guidelines to help consumers reduce their exposure to these toxic chemicals.

The full article, "Eat the Peach, Not the Pesticide: A Shopper's Guide," is featured in the May 2015 issue of Consumer Reports and at An accompanying 40-page report, "Pesticide Use in Produce," from Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center provides a closer look at the consequences of pesticide use for those who produce food, wildlife, and the environment.

Related to the study are results from two recent surveys each of more than 1,000 people by Consumer Reports National Research Center. In the survey conducted in April 2014, 89 percent of Americans noted that protecting the environment from chemicals such as pesticides is critical when purchasing food. In a related survey from November 2014, 85 percent of Americans said they are concerned about pesticides exposure in food; and a third of respondents to this same survey believe there is a legal limit on the number of different pesticides in food. But there isn't a legal limit on the number of different pesticides allowed on food. Consumer Reports analyzed data from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and found that a third of the produce the agency tested had residues from two or more pesticides. And while for the most part these levels fell within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerance levels, these tolerance levels are calculated for individual pesticides. The effects of these pesticide combinations are untested and unknown notes Consumer Reports. The report by the Food Safety and Sustainability Center discusses the health effects from the use of pesticides that have been documented in farmworkers.
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As States Legalize Marijuana, Study Finds Uneven Pesticide Use Restrictions on Growing Practices, Safety Concerns, and Ecological Options
Washington, DC
Marijuana may be legal in your state for medicinal and recreational use, but are toxic pesticides used in its production? A study released today of the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana finds a patchwork of state laws and evolving policy that define allowed pesticide use and management practices in cannabis production. This variety of state law is occurring in the absence of federal registration of pesticide use for cannabis production because of its classification as a narcotic under federal law. The investigation, Pesticide Use in Marijuana Production: Safety Issues and Sustainable Options, evaluates the state laws governing pesticide use in cannabis production where it is legalized.

"The use of pesticides in the cultivation of cannabis has health implications for those growing the crop, and for users who are exposed to toxic residues through inhalation, ingestion, and absorption through the skin," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "The good news is that five states and DC have adopted rules that require marijuana to be grown with practices that prevent the use of pesticides. State officials have an opportunity to restrict all pesticide use at the front end of a growing market, require the adoption of an organic system plan, and set a course to protect health and the environment," Mr. Feldman continued. The USDA certified organic seal will not be found on marijuana products because of their federal status.
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Craftsmanship Magazine Re-examines Farming In An Age Of Climate Change
San Francisco, California
The drought that hit the American West in 2014, and its threat to our food supply, puts the future of agriculture in an entirely new light, Craftsmanship, a new online magazine, reports. For this reason, the magazine has chosen to devote its first issue (available for no charge at to examining one of farming's most often touted principles, sustainability. "Sustainability means making a food system that's built to last," said Todd Oppenheimer, a noted author and magazine writer who is founding editor and publisher of the magazine. "Building things that are meant to last is what craftsmanship is all about, making the topic an ideal focus for our first issue."

Craftsmanship examines a range of issues that rarely get discussed in the world of farming and food. These include:

* A profile of Paul Kaiser, a controversial farmer in California who is exploring an entirely new way of dealing with the West's likely future of continued droughts. Kaiser and his wife, Elizabeth, run Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol. Kaiser today is generating amazing results, but skeptics warn he may be creating some real environmental dangers.
* The shortcomings of common organic agriculture practices as seen through the lens of sustainability - and some ideas of what Organic Farming 2.0 might look like.
* What the tiny island of Cuba might teach U.S. agribusiness (now that relations have resumed between the two countries) about how to become more productive, and more sustainable.
* How a master composter in Oregon is raising the art of compost tea brewing to a new level.
* An expert's guide to the confusing world of non-conventional farming "camps," from the ultra-organic to the ultra-high tech.
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Make 2015 an Organic Year: Ten New Year's Resolutions from The Organic Center
Washington, DC
It turns out that 2014 was the year of science supporting the benefits of organic food and farming: for human health, pollinator health, and the health of the environment.

To help you ring in the new year and truly turn over a new healthy leaf, The Organic Center has transformed the top ten studies of 2014 into New Year's resolutions that show how to improve the state of your diet and the state of our planet by choosing organic.

One: Be health-minded. Eat organic. A review of the latest research on the effects of organic agriculture and crops on public health found a clear health advantage in consuming organically produced food instead of conventionally produced. Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the findings concluded the lower pesticide residue levels in organic produce were a significant factor in helping account for these benefits.

Two: Get pesticides out of your life. Pesticides, linked to numerous health problems, are still found on conventional produce in the grocery store. A study showed that eating an organic diet for just seven days can significantly reduce your exposure to pesticides. The research found pesticide metabolite levels in a group of individuals who ate a diet of at least 80 percent organic for a week were cut by up to 96 percent.

Three: Load up on antioxidant-rich foods. A key study of 2014 showed organic fruits and vegetables have higher levels of antioxidants. Researchers found that if you choose organic rather than conventional fruits and vegetables, you can get an average of 20-40 percent increase in antioxidants! Antioxidants protect our cells against the effects of free radicals, which can damage cells in the body and trigger disease.
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E2 Report: North America's Advanced Biofuel Industry Produced 800 Million Gallons In 2014
Washington, DC
North America's advanced biofuel industry reached a production capacity of more than 800 million gallons in 2014, up from the previous year and almost double the capacity in 2011, according to a new market report unveiled today by the national nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

This is the highest capacity since E2 released its first advanced biofuels market report in 2011, and it's more than the 787 million gallons produced in 2013. It's roughly enough to fill an entire lane of Interstate 5 from Seattle to San Diego with nothing but large tanker trucks filled with advanced biofuel.

The report, "E2 Advanced Biofuel Market Report 2014," projects that by 2017, as many as 180 companies are expected to produce 1.7 billion gallons of advanced biofuel, doubling current capacity. The report shows how advanced biofuels are on track to meet targeted emission reductions for clean fuels standards in both California and Oregon, according to E2. It also offers the latest evidence that Washington state should quickly move forward with a clean fuels standard of its own, something Gov. Jay Inslee indicated he was prepared to do in his recently announced carbon plan, according to E2.

The complete report is available at or directly through this link. E2 members on the West Coast, biofuel industry executives, and E2 Western states advocate/report co-author Mary Solecki said, "The advanced biofuel industry is meeting the growing demand for cleaner-burning transportation fuels.  Americans who want more local jobs, cleaner air, and more homegrown energy should demand elected officials enact policies, right now, that will promote the growth of advanced biofuel."
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New Scientific Report: Unnecessary Medical Interventions in Labor and Delivery May be Putting Mothers, Babies at Risk
Washington, DC
The country's maternity care system is missing opportunities to provide better care and use resources more wisely by routinely intervening in labor and delivery in ways that interfere with, instead of promoting, supporting and protecting, innate biological processes that result in healthier outcomes for women and newborns. That is the conclusion of a major new report, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. The unprecedented synthesis of scientific research on how hormone systems function from late pregnancy through the early postpartum period concludes that commonly used maternity interventions, such as labor induction, epidural analgesia, and cesarean section, can disturb hormonal processes and interfere with the benefits they offer.

The new report was authored by Dr. Sarah J. Buckley and released by Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. It synthesizes evidence about the impacts of common maternity care practices and interventions on four hormonal systems that are consequential for childbearing. It finds that a large body of evidence demonstrates that the hormonal physiology of childbearing has significant benefits for the health of mothers and babies and can optimize breastfeeding and maternal-infant attachment. But it concludes that common maternity care interventions may disturb hormonal processes, reduce their benefits, and create new challenges. The report's recommendations have implications for policy, practice, education, consumer engagement, and research.
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Novogen Announces Important Discovery in Regenerative Medicine Program
Sydney, Australia
Novogen Limited, an Australian/US biotechnology company, has announced an important discovery in its regenerative medicine program that has delivered a key proof-of-concept step forward in the quest to develop drugs capable of stimulating the function of brain tissue stem cells.

Regenerative medicine is concerned with repairing or replacing tissue lost due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects. In the case of the brain, damage associated with stroke, head trauma or neurodegenerative disease represents a very significant unmet clinical need for such therapies.

Novogen scientists now in an important scientific breakthrough have identified a family of compounds with an ability to promote the growth and activity of normal brain stem cells.

The dominant approach being taken to brain regeneration is the introduction of tissue stem cells that have been cultured outside of the body. However, delivery of these cells through the skull is very invasive and, so far, these cells seem to be susceptible to the same constraints that limit the resident stem cell population.

Work in the 1990's showed that the old adage, 'We continue to grow brain cells until age 21, and from then on it's all downhill', was, in fact, untrue. Close examination revealed that part of the hippocampus, the main site of learning and memory within the brain, is constantly renewed throughout life by a pool of dividing stem cells. A second discrete pool of stem cells generates daughter cells that can migrate to sites of brain damage to facilitate repair. Unfortunately, for reasons that are not currently understood, these migrating stem cells fail to produce enough new neurons in the damage site to provide substantial recovery.
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Study finds that diet affects mix of intestinal bacteria and the risk of inflammatory bone disease
Memphis, Tennessee
Diet-induced changes in the gut's bacterial ecosystem can alter susceptibility to an autoinflammatory bone disease by modifying the immune response, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists reported. The findings appeared September 28 as an advanced online publication of the scientific journal Nature.

The research provides insight into how the thousands of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the intestines affect health. Microbes make up the intestinal microbiome, a diverse evolving ecosystem that aids digestion and helps to educate the immune cells that guard against infection. Growing evidence suggests that changes in the microbiome composition may contribute to development of diseases ranging from cancer to chronic inflammatory disorders such as multiple sclerosis. The mechanisms involved, however, have been poorly understood.

"These results are exciting because they help to explain how environmental factors like diet can influence susceptibility to autoinflammatory diseases," said the study's corresponding author Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Immunology. "While multiple lines of evidence have suggested that diet can impact human disease, the scientific mechanism involved was a mystery. Our results demonstrate that diet can influence immune-mediated disorders by shaping the composition of the gut microbiome, which our findings suggest play a role in immune regulation."
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Early findings of Harvard's Organic Center and Northeastern's research show organic's benefits
Washington, DC
Members of The Organic Center's Board of Trustees gathered at Harvard University for their annual retreat and for scientific briefings on collaborative research on organic's impact on the health of humans and the environment. After hearing the updates, they reported that preliminary findings of the research support the benefits of organic food and farming and show organic's potential to solve a host of real-world concerns.

Meeting with Harvard professor Dr. Chensheng (Alex) Lu who is collaborating with The Organic Center to examine the health effects of pesticide exposure and the benefits of sticking to an organic diet, and Drs. Geoff Davies and Elham Ghabbour at Northeastern University who, with The Organic Center, are studying the impacts of organic management on soil, Board members expressed their commitment to problem-solving for the entire organic value chain, from the farmer to the consumer.

"We wholeheartedly encourage research filling the gaps in our knowledge about organic, such as that being conducted by these high-caliber researchers on these complex topics," said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Center. "The preliminary findings of this important research support the benefits of organic food and farming for the health of humans and the environment."

Dr. Lu spoke about his work to study the adverse health effects associated with pesticide exposure in a meta-analysis, and the health benefits of consuming organic foods in a pilot study. "Exposure to pesticides can affect human health in ways that we don't fully understand yet," said Dr. Lu. "Eating organic is one way to help reduce risks associated with environmentally induced diseases."
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CO2 Emissions Bury the UN Climate Summit: Why Carbon Capture and Storage is a Critical Part of the Solution to Climate Change
Geneva, Switzerland
A coal pile buries the UN Headquarters and New York is lost under a mountain of CO2 . These scenes, illustrating actual quantities, bring home the sheer scale of global carbon emissions and the urgency for action. This four-minute film allows us to visualize the critical part carbon capture and storage (CCS) can play in limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The animation is a call to help catalyze action to reduce carbon emissions.

Led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Action2020 is a science-based platform for business action on sustainable development to 2020 and beyond, covering a range of solutions addressing the key mitigation levers for climate change. This animation, supported by companies working on the CCS business solution, focuses on this technology, one of the essential solutions at risk of being overlooked.

Today we get over 80% of our energy from fossil fuels. To stay below 2 degrees Celsius warming, we cannot emit more than 1 trillion tonnes of carbon. World population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050, doubling energy demand. The most ambitious plans to replace fossil fuels see only about half of our energy needs being met by zero-carbon renewables by 2050. With the rise in energy demand, the concentration of CO2 will exceed the agreed limit of dangerous climate change.

To stay within emissions targets, we must have CCS in our portfolio. CCS keeps CO2 out of the atmosphere by returning emissions below several layers of rock into the geosphere. A price on CO2 coupled with ambitious reduction targets would help CCS to be deployed extensively. We need a robust technology, policy, legal and infrastructure pathway to be implemented now.
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Increased Fears About Environment, but Little Change in Consumer Behavior, According to New National Geographic/GlobeScan Study
Washington DC
A new global analysis released today by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan finds that concern about environmental problems has increased in most countries surveyed, and that more people now expect global warming will negatively affect them during their lifetime than in 2012. Despite this, National Geographic's Greendex, a comprehensive measure of consumer behavior in 65 areas related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods, shows that sustainable consumer behavior has only grown slowly.

Results of the 2014 Greendex, a collaboration between National Geographic and global research consultancy GlobeScan, were released in Boston at the Sustainable Brands New Metrics '14. Greendex 2014 surveyed 18,000 consumers in 18 countries and is the fifth iteration of the survey, which was first fielded in 2008.

Among the top findings in 2014: Environmental concern has increased since 2012:

*  Sixty-one percent of consumers globally now say they are very concerned about environmental problems compared with 56 percent in 2012.

*  Compared to the study's 2008 baseline, sustainable consumer behavior has increased in nearly every country tracked since the first survey, suggesting consumer behavior across the world is improving, albeit slowly.

*  Environmentally friendly behavior has increased in nine of the 17 countries that were surveyed in 2012: Argentina, Australia, Hungary, India, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, South Korea and Great Britain. However, sustainable behavior decreased since 2012 among consumers in five countries: Canada, China, Germany, Japan and the United States.
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Integral Molten Salt Reactor touted as promising source of carbon-free, highly reliable, low-lifetime cost power
Mississauga, Toronto
If we are to keep up with growth in global energy demand, especially from developing nations, the world will need to change the way it thinks about nuclear energy, says one of Canada's long-time business leaders, and the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), one of a new generation of nuclear reactors, is poised to help fill that supply gap and "grab a significant foothold in the markets of the future."

In a recent speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Hugh MacDiarmid, a former chief executive of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), Laidlaw Transit, and Lumonics, and a former top executive with Canadian Pacific Railway, said Molten Salt Reactor technology "offers answers to the most challenging questions surrounding nuclear energy today and, with those questions addressed, we can begin to realize the inherent potential of nuclear as carbon-free, highly reliable, low-lifetime-cost power."

Mr. MacDiarmid was recently named non-executive Chairman of the Board of Terrestrial Energy Inc., a Mississauga-based company that will be seeking license approval for its IMSR design from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. "The size of the upcoming gap between energy supply and demand is staggering," said Mr. MacDiarmid. "And there aren't enough good answers in the existing range of supply alternatives."

Mr. MacDiarmid noted that, in our search for ways to meet Canada's and the world's energy demands, "We have more issues and obstacles than we have solutions." Coal is "not acceptable to today's social norms" for environmental protection; "making a bet on natural gas is highly risky" in terms of long-term fuel cost; "we are approaching the limits" of exploiting our massive hydroelectric resources, and "there is no evidence that renewables such as wind and solar can make the BIG difference to the BIG energy problem we have." Even conventional nuclear "continues to operate in a parallel universe, with those of us who are insiders firmly believing in the rightness of our cause, while the rest of the world sees only issues of safety, management of long-term wastes, and the costs and financial risks associated with construction of new capacity or life extension of existing capacity."
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The "World Alliance Against Antibiotic Resistance" (WAAAR) Launches Its Declaration
Paris, France
Antibiotics, which have saved so many human lives, are now in grave danger. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is ever-increasing. It is estimated that this resistance, largely due to the amount of antibiotics used, is now responsible for more than 25,000 deaths in Europe, and 23,000 in the USA every year. Yet the consumption rate of antibiotics is ever-increasing in most countries.

Furthermore, very few new antibiotics have come onto the market in the past few years, and very few are expected to in the near future. This dire shortage of effective antibiotics is therefore a major public health issue.

Urgent action is needed to try to safeguard antibiotics which are currently effective, as well as to try to find new ones. Without immediate and collaborative action, some infections are quickly going to become impossible to treat, and some procedures (transplants, treatment which lowers immunity, major surgery, etc.) will become too risky to undertake. Some nosocomial and urban infections are already linked to multi-resistant bacteria, and thus treatment being unsuccessful.

Headed by Dr Jean Carlet (a former therapist specialising in nosocomial infections and antibiotic resistance), the "World Alliance Against Antibiotic Resistance" (WAAAR) was founded two-and-a-half years ago to raise as much awareness as possible about the urgency and serious risk posed, as well as to co-ordinate European and international dialogue about implementing effective solutions.
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The National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation Says Current Standard of Care for Flesh-eating Bacteria is "Tragically Inadequate"
Medina, Ohio
The National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation (NNFF) today announced a campaign to raise awareness of the tragic inadequacy of the current standard of care for necrotizing fasciitis, or 'flesh-eating' infection -- and to push for the adoption of new treatments for this deadly condition. "Too many people are losing their lives or their limbs because the current standard of care simply doesn't work," said Jacqueline Roemmele, executive director of the NNFF. "But there is a promising new treatment that doctors can adopt."

NNFF calls on medical associations like the Association for the Advancement of Wound Care and the American Professional Wound Care Association, to review the evidence supporting the use of new approaches to treatment, and then work with the NNFF on guidelines for their members to improve the standard of care. It also asks the federal government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to evaluate new treatments for necrotizing fasciitis and to approve their reimbursement under Medicare and Medicaid. "These steps will help reduce the tremendous toll that necrotizing fasciitis is taking on patients and their families," said Roemmele.

Necrotizing fasciitis can start with just a minor cut or a scrape. What happens is that bacteria, typically Streptococcus, get under the skin and begin to spread. Then, toxins produced by the bacteria and the body's own immune response eat away tissue. Even with aggressive treatment with antibiotics, the mortality rate is as high as 20 percent. Surviving victims usually lose feet, legs, hands, arms or other body parts. The Centers for Disease Control estimates there are hundreds of cases a year in the U.S. But based on reports to the NNFF and on other evidence, many experts believe the incidence is far higher.

In the current standard of care, doctors flood the body with heavy doses of intravenous antibiotics, while cutting away the dead tissue. The problem is that the toxins typically keep eating away tissue, requiring more and more surgery. That's why so many limbs end up being amputated. "We founded the NNFF in 1997 to provide information and support to patients and their families," said Roemmele, herself a victim of the disease. "But it's been heartbreaking and frustrating that the long-time standard of care has been so tragically inadequate. Every single day I get calls and emails from yet another missed or misdiagnosis. A metaphor used often by medical professionals in regard to making a diagnosis is: 'If you hear hoofbeats outside your window; chances are it is a horse and not a zebra.' A deadly case of NF is often dismissed as the zebra, which should not be the case when faced with patients presenting with classic symptoms -- pain out of proportion to the injury, fever, or severe flulike symptoms."
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New Research Uncovers Genetic Identifier, Common Physical Traits for Autism; May Allow Clinicians to Determine Risk for Babies Still in Utero
Seattle, Washington
A researcher at Seattle Children's Hospital and Research Institute has found a genetic identifier for autism that includes physical features that may eventually allow clinicians to identify babies who are at risk for autism before they are born. This is the first time a genetic mutation has been linked to autism.

Dr. Raphael Bernier, clinical director of Seattle Children's Autism Center and Associate Professor at the University of Washington, who led the research in collaboration with 13 institutions worldwide, has discovered a mutation of the CHD8 gene that, in addition to significantly increasing a child's risk of developing a specific subtype of autism, also causes several physical traits and symptoms that are unique to children with the same subtype of autism.

The physical traits -- subtle facial features, such as larger heads and prominent foreheads -- are features that, combined with confirmation of a CHD8 gene mutation, could allow clinicians to screen babies still in utero for a higher risk of developing autism, much like clinicians now screen for physical and genetic indicators of disorders like Down's Syndrome.

"This is a big leap forward in our insight into the causes of autism," said Bernier, who led the study published today in the scientific journal Cell. "It's possible we may be able to look at features in utero and determine a higher risk of autism, possibly even early detection."

Early detection is critical in the treatment of autism symptoms, Bernier said. Research studies of behavioral therapies used with younger siblings of kids with autism, who are at higher risk for developing autism themselves, suggest that intervention between three to six months of age can lessen or even prevent symptoms from developing. The goal, Bernier said, is to be able to use these same exercises on babies with a higher risk of autism who have been identified before birth.
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Summertime Safety Tips For The Home And On The Road
Los Angeles, California
With the official start of summer many will plan fun activities like outdoor barbeques and road trips with family and friends. Farmers Insurance wants to help keep summer a joyful time of year for America's families by providing a few helpful tips to keep safe.

"Families across the nation will enjoy lots of opportunities to have outdoor fun and occasions to visit family and exciting destinations this summer," said Paul Quinn, assistant vice president for Farmers Insurance. "Whatever their plans, staying safe, whether at home or on the road, will help keep the experiences and memories happy ones."

Here are some tips for keeping safe on the road and for keeping safe at home.
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Peer approach outlined in Affordable Care Act Highlights How To Harness Community Support For Better Health
Leawood, Kansas
Just as seven million Americans obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Peers for Progress and NCLR (National Council of La Raza) have released a report that examines how peer support programs improve health outcomes by boosting outreach and education for disease prevention and management. The report, "Peer Support in Health, Evidence to Action," is a guide for health care organizations developing peer support programs that will help people with health problems live healthier lives. Peer support programs are located throughout the U.S. and are included in the ACA as a way to improve health care quality and reduce costs.

The report summarizes findings from the first annual conference of the National Peer Support Collaborative Learning Network. The conference, under the leadership of Peers for Progress, a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, and NCLR, convened leaders in health care and peer support to discuss current strengths and future needs in the field.

"We are proud of this report and our work with NCLR to advance an important model of care that makes a difference in the lives of patients," said Edwin Fisher, Ph.D., Global Director for Peers for Progress. "As state and local communities implement the ACA's provisions and face a marked increase in the number of patients, peer support programs will be fundamental to success. We must ensure that peer support programs are reimbursed and available to all."

Peer support programs hold great promise to help people lead healthier, more satisfying lives and achieve the goals of health reform. As the report documents, these programs have quantifiable success in improving the quality of care, lowering costs and reducing health disparities. They help individuals prevent and improve the management of disease through engagement and particularly benefit populations, such as low income groups, that other programs fail to reach. Included in the report is a review of 14 programs for adults with diabetes that demonstrated an average reduction in a key measure of blood sugar control, HbA1c, of 0.86 points, a marked improvement over the 0.50 point reduction that is considered clinically significant.
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CMS Finalizes One-Year Delay of ICD-10 to October 2015
Wayne, Pennsylvainia
In early April, Congress passed the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Bill that extends the proposed physician rate reduction for one year, but which also includes language that delays the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) compliance deadline for converting to the ICD-10 system of diagnostic and procedural coding from October 1, 2014, to not before October 1, 2015. President Obama has signed the bill.

"Like everyone in the industry, Precyse has been closely watching the developments related to the SGR Bill and its effect on the transition to ICD-10. We are disappointed with the vote as our clients have spent considerable time and resources ensuring preparedness for October 1, 2014," said Chris Powell, president of healthcare information vendor Precyse. "However, this change to the legislation cannot deter us from our goals to improve the overall level of clinical documentation that will in turn improve the quality of the data that will drive the delivery of the best health care in the world. Consistent with our advice the last time we experienced a delay in ICD-10 implementation, we believe there is still no time to procrastinate. Providers should use this delay to continue staff education efforts, improve their clinical documentation processes and build a strong foundation for process improvement and downstream strategic initiatives embarked upon under the Affordable Care Act, said Powell.

ICD-10 will provide clinical and financial benefits to help drive better clarity about the care that is being delivered. It is critical to stay vigilant and continue to focus on training and developing coders, CDI specialists and others who will use the data and convert it into meaningful information. ICD-10 is a measure of quality. Hospitals and physicians aspire to offer world-class care, and ICD-10 coding will enable that by accurate capturing, organizing and tagging of the clinical data that leads to that outcome.
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Providers Urged to Continue Plans for ICD-10-CM/PCS Conversion: Deadline Extension Gives Breathing Room, not a Reprieve
Northbrook, Illinois
With Congressional passage of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302), which includes a delay until October 2015 for required use of ICD-10-CM/PCS as the coding standard for Medicare reimbursement to healthcare providers, Intelligent Medical Objects, Inc. (IMO) urges its customers, vendor-partners and provider organizations to maintain their commitment to the transition from ICD-9-CM to ICD-10-CM/PCS.

"ICD-9-CM is over forty years old and does not have the level of specificity necessary for adequate monitoring and evaluating healthcare services in this century. Clinically specific data is required to support current and future healthcare services. Our customers and partners have invested heavily with human and capital resources to make the conversion to ICD-10-CM/PCS, as well as prepare for attestations for Meaningful Use 2 and 3," said Frank Naeymi-Rad, PhD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

He continued, "Many organizations that were behind in their transitions can breathe a sigh of relief, but now is not the time to lose momentum but to continue on course. Transitioning as planned allows organizations to leverage IMO ICD-10 specificity, collaborate with vendor-partners on innovative solutions needed to meet current and future healthcare challenges."
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Disconnect to Reconnect - Tips for Digitally Distracted Parents
London, England
CEO of and digital entrepreneur Gemma Johnson was at the recent Work and Family Show talking about digital burnout as part of a panel debate hosted by Sky, discussing how parents need to lead by example with their device usage, how boundaries are set by the parents first and how to spot the signs if you are heading for burnout.

"All too often it's so easy to blame young children, tweens and teens for their unwillingness to maintain eye contact during a conversation as they hammer away at the XBox, their inability to communicate in a meaningful way, or sit at the dinner table without messaging their mates via WhatsApp! But we tend to forget that it starts with us first. We have to take the time out to make our children feel heard, loved and important," Gemma Johnson said. 

She added: "I know how hard it can be to wean yourself off using your devices, as checking habits are pretty quick to take hold. My children both scramble for the iPad, usually to watch funny videos on YouTube. My eldest son loves to play Lego Star wars and my daughter is crazy about Barbie on Netflix, even my one year old son tries to grab at my phone at any opportunity but I recognise and understand that this can slowly erode our values as a family and so I ensure I set rules and lead by example to ensure it doesn't escalate".

By the age of seven, the average British child born today will have spent an entire year of his or her life made up of 24-hour days in front of a screen, a statistic that's causing many parents to approach digital devices with horror.

Since launch in April 2012, Gemma has grown MyFamilyClub to reach an audience of over a quarter of a million "highly engaged" parents and the topic of social media overload, news fatigue and genuine concern over adult and their children's usage of technology is a burning topic.
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Bay Area Nonprofit Mindful Schools Recognized as a Leader in the Worldwide Movement
Emeryville, California
"The Mindful Revolution" cover story in TIME magazine's February 3, 2014 issue introduced the rapidly growing mindfulness movement to a wide audience. By purposefully bringing awareness to one's sensory experience, thoughts, and emotions, mindfulness enables us to objectively notice our experience, allowing us to change habitual reactions to wiser, more skillful responses. Backed by a rapidly growing volume of neuroscience and research, secular mindfulness practice has found its way into many parts of society, including mental health, education, medicine, and business.

Mindful Schools is honored to have been included in the article as the representative of mindfulness & education.  As stated in "The Mindful Revolution" TIME Magazine February 3, 2014 Issue, Educators are turning to mindfulness with increasing frequency perhaps a good thing, considering how digital technology is splitting kids' attention spans too. (The average American teen sends and receives more than 3,000 text messages a month.) A Bay Area-based program called Mindful Schools offers online mindfulness training to teachers, instructing them in how to equip children to concentrate in classrooms and deal with stress. Launched in 2010, the group has reached more than 300,000 pupils, and educators in 43 countries and 48 states have taken its courses online.  "All of us at Mindful Schools are grateful to our course graduates worldwide, who are working tirelessly to bring mindfulness to youth of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds around the world," said Randima Fernando, Executive Director of Mindful Schools. "This heartfelt, widespread impact underscores the deep commitment Mindful Schools has to making secular mindfulness increasingly accessible to the world's diverse population of educators, children, and adolescents."
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Whole Foods Naturally Retain Toxic Metals During Digestion, Discovers Consumer Wellness Center Lab Director Mike Adams
Tucson, Arizona
Research conducted at the Consumer Wellness Center labs ( and published at reveals that whole, unprocessed foods have a natural ability to retain toxic heavy metals during digestion, preventing the metals from being absorbed into the body. The discovery, made by Mike Adams, the lab director at the Consumer Wellness Center, has been named the "Metals Retention Factor" or MRF.

A mini-documentary video explaining the Metals Retention Factor in more detail is available at: .

The existence of MRF means that many previous assumptions about foods and food toxicity are false. Previously, the assumption was the foods are fully broken down during digestion to release 100% of their elemental composition, but Adams' research shows that foods, herbs and even dietary supplements actually retain a percentage of each toxic element found in their composition.

For example, one Traditional Chinese Medicine product tested by Adams retains around 70% of the lead it contains. Kelp granules tested by Adams retain 7% of the arsenic and 79% of the uranium they contain ( Wheat flour retains nearly 12% of the aluminum it contains (, and dried squid retains almost one-third of the toxic cadmium it contains (

In general, whole, raw, unprocessed foods have been found by Adams to retain much higher quantities of toxic elements, while cooked, processed or refined foods have been found to retain very low quantities of toxic elements and heavy metals. The retention of toxic elements is aided by insoluble fibers as well as natural "ionic affinities" for certain elements. For example, most seafood products (fish, shrimp, scallops, etc.) have a natural affinity for binding with cesium. This actually creates an increased risk for seafood in the Pacific Ocean to absorb radioactive cesium-137 being washed into the ocean from the Fukushima catastrophe.
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Natural Foods Possess Remarkable Ability to Selectively Bind with Toxic Heavy Metals, Says New Research from Natural News Forensic Food Lab
Tucson, Arizona
The Natural News Forensic Food Lab has announced a breakthrough food science discovery that measures the ability of natural foods to bind with and "capture" toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, mercury, lead, copper and aluminum.

The discovery was dubbed the Metals Capturing Capacity by its discoverer Mike Adams, and it measures the number of micrograms of each toxic element (heavy metal) which can be bound or "captured" by one gram of the food substance being tested. A video explaining the discovery is available now at YouTube: http://youtube/fvC4Mxoa0Sc .

A more technical, scientific explanation of the MCC process is found at:

MCC laboratory test results for many foods and superfoods are published now at:

Until scientifically documented by Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger"), the binding ability of foods has only been understood and described in vague terms with statements like, "Cilantro absorbs heavy metals" or "Zeolites can help detox heavy metals." Adams' research is now able to fully test these claims and document the actual micrograms per gram of toxic elements which are bound or "captured" by foods, superfoods, herbs and dietary substances. Adams has already documented that cilantro's reputation is vastly overstated: it actually performs very poorly in terms of metals affinity and binding.
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ICD-10 Storm - The Challenges and Its Solutions
Durham, North Carolina
October 1, 2014 is the deadline for implementing the ICD-10 coding, according to the U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS). The transition from ICD 9 to ICD-10 is likely to impact almost every part of healthcare industry, right from the providers to payers. According to ICD-10 readiness survey conducted by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), a large part of the professional community has little or no awareness of the federal mandate. Merely half of the providers and about 60 percent of health plans have completed an impact assessment, and just one of three payers is currently conducting external testing. The dismal findings show the lack of preparedness in the healthcare industry as it continues to struggle with the requirements of the switch.

WEDI Chairman Jim Daley in a letter addressed to CMS, wrote, "Based on the survey results, it is clear the industry continues to make slow progress, but not the amount of progress that is needed for a smooth transition. People are finding this is bigger than they expect. They're finding that more time is needed" 

Here are what is seen as the top 3 ICD-10 Challenges:

The Cost of Lost Productivity

Decrease in productivity (at least for a short span of time) is inevitable in any profession when workers are in training or learning a new skill. Same goes for coders, especially for inpatient coders, as they have to learn two new code sets: ICD-10-CM for diagnosis coding and ICD-10-PCS for procedure reporting. As a result, accurately documenting and coding each patient encounter will take longer by the coders, resulting in cost of lost productivity.

Increase in Documentation

With ICD-10 approaching, the industry focus is turning more towards Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI). The ICD-10 code set requires a higher level of specificity as compared to the current ICD-9 standard. ICD-10 will restructure the clinical documentation practices that have been widely accepted for more than three decades. Clinical documentation is needed to select the appropriate ICD-10 code, and new terminology must be used to document patient care information and support both the diagnosis reporting and the medical necessity for the service provided. Taking steps to improve documentation will be foundational in helping the practice get paid faster, experience fewer delays and denials during the changeover.

Training is a Challenge

For a practice to understand how ICD-10 is structured and applied, a lot depends on the size and the experience of the staff in medical coding, which in return will decide the hours of training required. Canada embraced ICD-10 between 2001 and 2006. The data indicates, post ICD-10 implementation, there was a decline in productivity by 10 percent in the year before and the year after the implementation. It took an average of 6 months for most healthcare practices to return to an acceptable productivity level. Training, slower processing time, increased inquiries from coders, and billing inquiries from payers, all contributed to hours of lost productivity. To ensure that the same does not happen to the folks here AudioEducator has come up with specialty specific ICD-10 training to cover most of the grey areas.
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Newly Published Survey Shows Drug Shortages Still Have Major Impact on Patient Care
Chicago, Illinois
According to newly published results from a survey of pharmacy directors, drug shortages remain a serious problem for patient safety. Nearly half of the responding directors reported adverse events at their facilities due to drug shortages, including patient deaths.

The survey was conducted by Northwestern Medicine researchers in partnership with MedAssets, as part of the MedAssets Pharmacy Coalition to better understand how drug shortages affect patient outcomes. The survey asked pharmacy directors from a variety of health care settings to supply information on drug shortage related patient complaints, adverse events, medication errors, patient outcomes, demographics and institutional costs. The survey's findings were detailed in, "Effects on Patient Care Caused by Drug Shortages: A Survey," a research article published in the November/December issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy (JMCP).

"Drug shortages are the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning and it is the last thing on my mind when I go to bed at night," said Gary Fennessy, MBA, vice president of Operations for Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and co-author of the JMCP article. "This is not a problem that is going to go away on its own. Healthcare leaders must not lose sight of it as a major contributor to patient harm or consider its adverse effects inevitable."

In 2009, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists put drug shortage management guidelines in place for health care providers to try and minimize negative impacts patient care, and in 2011, following an Executive Order from President Barack Obama on reducing drug shortages, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increased its efforts to prevent and resolve drugs shortages. While the FDA recently reported that the number of new shortages in 2012 was down to 117, from 251 in 2011, drug shortages are still having a major impact on patient care.

A common practice to help mitigate the problems caused by a drug shortage is to use an alternative medication when possible. Even when alternate medication can be used, there can be many unintended consequences and additional side effects. In general, drug shortages have been known to cause, or contribute to a variety of issues, which were also represented in the newly published survey responses including: Medication errors (such as wrong dose, wrong drug, wrong frequency), Increased institutional costs, Cancelled care, and Delayed treatment.
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Personal Health Record Associated with Improved Medication Adherence and Improved Cholesterol Levels
Oakland, California
Patients with diabetes who used an online patient portal to refill medications increased their medication adherence and improved their cholesterol levels, according to a new study in the journal Medical Care.

Online patient portals allow users to perform tasks such as scheduling appointments, accessing their health records, viewing their lab test results and emailing their care providers in addition to ordering prescription refills.

The National Institutes of Health funded researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco Medical School to follow 17,760 patients with diabetes who received care from Kaiser Permanente in Northern California between January 2006 and December 2010.

Medication non-adherence and poorly controlled cholesterol declined by 6 percent among exclusive users of the online refill function, compared to occasional users or non-users.

In this large sample of diabetes patients, the average age was 62, and 40 percent were non-white minorities. The diabetes patients studied had an average of more than six chronically used medications and 11 outpatient visits per year.
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Report calls out health threat from antibiotic overuse in livestock
Washington, DC
Pointing out that every year more than two million people in the United States get infections resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result, a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls for phasing out the routine use of antibiotics in industrial livestock production that has been linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The use of antibiotics in animal rearing is strictly prohibited in organic production. Instead, organic producers provide living conditions and health care practices that help prevent illness and to promote health of the animals.

"Up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary," CDC declared, citing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed guidance for using these drugs in food-producing animals only when medically necessary and targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems.

"This report is confirmation of warnings issued years ago by scientists about the use of antibiotics in livestock and the development of resistant strains as a consequence of their use," said Warren Porter, professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and member of The Organic Center's Science Advisory Board. He added, "The problem is all the more serious now because of emerging evidence of subtle immune suppression in the human population as evidenced by the rise of diseases related to reduced immune competence."

"By choosing meat and dairy products bearing the organic label, consumers can avoid contributing to antibiotic-resistant bacteria," said Jessica Shade, Ph.D., Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. "Several studies have also found fewer antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria on organic foods. If you're worried about dietary exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, choosing organic is a good idea."
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New Poll: Parents Remain Gloomy About America's Future While Teens Feel Confident
Washington, DC
New data from the quarterly Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll shows an American public that overwhelmingly believes childhood and parenthood were better for earlier generations, with 79 percent of poll respondents saying it was better to have been a child when they were young.

The most recent Heartland Monitor shows that Americans are deeply uncertain about the prospects for today's children. A majority (68 percent) of respondents believe that when today's children are adults, they'll have less financial security, with a poorer chance of holding a steady job and owning a home without too much debt. Almost the same percentage (62 percent) believes their children will have less opportunity to achieve a comfortable retirement. Overall, Heartland XVIII delivers a downbeat vision from parents and non-parents alike, who believe that today's children will display less patriotism, work ethic, and civic responsibility than today's adults.

Yet, in the face of this intense pessimism on the part of adults, teenagers are much more optimistic and clearly feel the older generations have it wrong. For the first time, the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll also surveyed high school teenagers ages 13-18, and found an optimistic view of the economy: More than half of the teens surveyed (54 percent) say they believe it's better to be a teenager today than it was when their parents were growing up. A plurality (45 percent) believe that when they are their parents' age, they will have more opportunity to get ahead than the previous generation. Just 24 percent of teens say they will have less opportunity.

"The world looks to America as a beacon of hope to realize one's dreams. While we see pessimism in this poll, the younger generation feels a sense of optimism about the future," said Sanjay Gupta, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Allstate. "These findings reinforce a challenging backdrop, but the optimism of the younger generation gives us hope in the enduring American dream."
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Farm Aid: CDC Antibiotic Resistance Report Confirms Health Threat From Factory Farms
Saratoga Springs, New York
In response to the first-ever Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on antibiotic resistance, Farm Aid issued a statement from the site of its annual benefit concert on Sept. 21, calling for further investigation of factory farm-related health issues and an immediate curtailing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of non-therapeutic antibiotic use in food-producing animals, as recommended by the CDC.

The new CDC report, "Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013," affirms that the factory farm approach to food production puts our health in danger. For years, Farm Aid has worked alongside family farmers to bring attention to the risks associated with taking animals off the land and confining them together in massive production facilities. We have already seen some of the consequences of factory farming, including diminished air and water quality and the loss of family farms and communities across the country. Now we have confirmation that this unsafe system is seriously threatening the health of all Americans. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in industrial animal production is causing the spread of deadly drug-resistant pathogens in humans, including Campylobacter and Salmonella, collectively, the source of more than 400,000 infections per year.

The costs of factory farming are too dire to ignore. We can't afford an industrial food system that produces cheap food, propped up by dangerous practices that make people sick. Farm Aid urges the FDA to immediately act in the interest of the public by using its authority to enforce the CDC recommendations to limit antibiotic use in industrial farms. This should be the first step in a stronger move to research and report the health threats from factory farms, both to animals and humans. Farm Aid encourages everyone who eats to stand with family farmers by holding the government accountable for creating policies and enforcing regulations that ensure a safe and healthy food system for all.
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2013 World Alzheimer Report Reveals Global Alzheimer's Epidemic Creating Shortage of Caregivers, Lack of Support for Family Members
Washington, DC
As the world population ages, the traditional system of informal care by family, friends and community will come under increasing strain. Data from the World Alzheimer Report 2013 predicts the number of dependent older people will rise from 101 million in 2010 to 277 million in 2050, an almost threefold increase. Conservative estimates show that at least 36 million people currently live with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

In response to the global Alzheimer's epidemic, Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) and Home Instead Senior Care have joined together to host the Living with Alzheimer's: A Journey of Caring roundtable to discuss the World Alzheimer Report 2013 and the state of caregiving in North America. ADI and Bupa commissioned a team of researchers, led by Professor Martin Prince from King's College London, to produce the report. The development of the report was supported by a grant from Bupa. The events, held in three international capitals, address the global impact of the disease during World Alzheimer's Month. The first event occurred on Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C. The other events are in London on Sept. 20 and Beijing on Sept. 26.

The authoritative report on the global Alzheimer's epidemic, World Alzheimer Report 2013 focuses on the changing nature of long-term care due to changing family and societal dynamics, smaller families, increased urbanization, workforce mobility and the changing role of women. It also addresses the impact on caregivers for people with dementia, which often includes decreased earnings and deteriorating physical and mental health. "Ability to care for those with Alzheimer's is an emerging threat," said Marc Wortmann, executive director, ADI. "That's why we've joined with Home Instead Senior Care to address the challenges of care until there's a cure. Every day our organizations see the impact of Alzheimer's on families and their struggles to provide support while juggling children, jobs and other responsibilities. Focus on care for those with Alzheimer's and dementia is critical."

The report examines the global impact of the disease and provides a comprehensive view of the impact the disease has on society. A particular focus this year was the impact of Alzheimer's and dementias on those who provide care. The report concludes that there is need for additional support in order to lessen the burden on the individual as well as the global infrastructure.
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Film Reveals How To Defeat Cancer Without Conventional Medical Therapies
Orlando, Florida
A trailer for the new short film, "The Cause is the Cure," has been released by Maximized Living, a multinational network of wellness doctors. The short film, which tells the true stories of people who have successfully overcome cancer diagnoses without chemotherapy or radiation, will premiere October 5 at more than 450 Maximized Living locations throughout the United States and Canada.

In the film, real patients who had been blindsided by their cancer diagnoses explain their fears, decisions and other experiences while fighting the notorious disease, including why they chose to refuse conventional medical therapies. "I was given one year to live if I didn't choose to do chemotherapy or radiation," said Andrea Thompson, founder of Moving Beyond Ministries and cervical cancer survivor. "After learning the principles of Maximized Living, I knew I was in the right place."

The principles of Maximized Living are its 5 Essentials, which specifically address stress, nutrition, fitness, nerve supply and toxicity. Instead of demanding a drastic lifestyle overhaul, the 5 Essentials empower people to make subtle and sustainable lifestyle changes that have an immense positive impact on their health, both short- and long-term.

"Research has shown that you can reduce your chances of getting cancer as well as dramatically increase your chance of overcoming it if you're dealing with this disease already," said Dr. Ben Lerner, New York Times best-selling author and co-founder of Maximized Living. "By making proactive, intelligent lifestyle changes, the average person can significantly reduce their risk of contracting this notorious disease."
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Partners Develop Study of Prevention of Falls Injuries in Older Adults
Washington, DC
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has announced an agreement with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to form a partnership to fund a major intervention study aimed at preventing injuries from falls in older adults.

The memorandum of understanding supports the formation of the "Falls Injuries Prevention Partnership," which establishes the basis for an NIA-PCORI funding announcement for a large-scale, multi-year clinical trial on preventing injuries due to falls in non-institutionalized older individuals. PCORI plans to commit up to $30 million to this effort; the final amount is yet to be determined.

The intent of this collaborative project is to evaluate a comprehensive, multi-factorial approach to preventing a frequent and often debilitating type of injury among the fast-growing population of older adults. There is extensive evidence that older people who have previously fallen have a significant risk of falling again. Patients, caregivers, and clinicians all want to know the best way to address this problem, but there is uncertainty about the best prevention strategy.

The planned study will actively involve older patients, healthcare professionals who care for these individuals, family caregivers, and other stakeholders in designing and conducting the study and disseminating the results. Such an approach is central to PCORI's mission to advance comparative effectiveness research (CER). The collaboration will take advantage of NIA's expertise in conditions affecting older individuals as well as its established infrastructure and capabilities in managing large, multi-year clinical trials.
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Local Students Team Up with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Whole Foods Market to Challenge the Public to "Do One Thing" for a Healthier Life
Seattle, Washington
In an effort to encourage people of all ages to add one thing to their daily routine to improve their health, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and Whole Foods Market launched a new partnership with C89.5, Nathan Hale High School's student-run radio station. The "Do One Thing" campaign spotlights student-generated messages about the importance of little steps towards a healthier lifestyle and extends across radio, social media, and events. Through promoting healthy lifestyle choices for people in an easy and accessible way, SCCA hopes to empower people to take charge of their health choices and highlight how everyday habits translate into cancer and other disease prevention.

Initially started as a grassroots movement by Nathan Hale High School students in a journalism class, Do One Thing has developed into a multimedia campaign that faculty predict will inspire regional participation by students as well as adults. As part of the campaign, students have worked with SCCA to produce videos showcasing the "one thing" they do every day to lead a healthier life, in hopes of inspiring others to add one healthy action to their daily routine. Lev Marcus, a high school senior, used his video to encourage other students to add exercising to their daily schedule. Previously overweight and inactive, Lev decided to make a positive change and picked up weight lifting and pole vaulting. He developed a passion for exercise, proving to be a talented athlete and recently won the State competition. As a result he has become an active, athletic, and healthy teenager.
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New Research Suggests Massage Therapy Is a Powerful Tool for Pain Relief
Evanston, Illinois
Pain can negatively affect a person's quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Recent research compiled by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) suggests that massage can be a helpful pain management strategy for manually controlling symptoms in people suffering metastatic cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, among other illnesses, as well as post-cardiac surgery pain.

Massage Therapy for Improved Pain and Sleep in Metastatic Cancer Patients

Research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that therapeutic massage at home for metastatic cancer patients can improve their overall quality of life by reducing pain and improving sleep quality. American Massage Therapy Association President Winona Bontrager, says of the study, “These findings suggest that cancer patients can also benefit from professional massage, both physically and mentally, providing the necessary comfort during advanced stages of the disease.

Massage Therapy for Decreased Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Research published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice showed that adults with rheumatoid arthritis may feel a decrease in pain, as well as greater grip strength and range of motion in writs and large upper joins, after receiving regular moderate-pressure massages during a 4-week period. This research demonstrates the potential value of massage therapy for the estimated 1.3 million Americans living with this chronic condition, with women outnumbering men 2.5-14. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about the possibility of incorporating routine massage therapy into their current treatment plan to help manage painful symptoms, says American Massage Therapy Association President, Winona Bontrager.

Massage Therapy for Reduced Pain, Anxiety and Muscular Tension in Cardiac Surgery Patients

Research published in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery indicates that massage therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety and muscular tension, as well as enhance relaxation and satisfaction after cardiac surgery. The American Massage Therapy Association acknowledges that cardiac surgery recovery is a very crucial time a patient must endure and this study further suggests that massage therapy can be a useful aid in making the road to recovery an easier journey.
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Micropharma announces timeline to commercial launch of world's first ingestible gastrointestinal sampling device
Montreal, Canada
Micropharma Limited, a pioneer in the development of innovative and effective products based on the human microbiome has announced that after three years of development it has a timeline for launch of its ingestible gastrointestinal sampling technology. The company released its plans to launch the device in late 2014 commercially for research and development use and later for specific clinical applications. Micropharma has been developing the device for three years and in the last year has expedited the project by partnering with StarFish Medical a medical device development company that offers a full complement of design and manufacturing solutions. The partnership will see StarFish Medical improve and finalize the design of the autonomous multiple sample acquisition and localization technologies, design for manufacture, produce initial devices, as well as to engineer for cost effectiveness. 

Micropharma's chief scientific officer Dr. Mitchell Jones commented on the advantages of sampling the GI mucosa over the evaluation of fecal samples by saying "our ingestible pill can sample the mucosa at pre-determined locations throughout the GI tract, including the small intestine. The device is programmable, acts autonomously and can take multiple, large, discrete samples that can be evaluated for human genomic, metabolomic and human gut microbiome data; of immediate and specific interest is to improve samples for microbiome research" he commented further that "protecting the intellectual property was an important part of the commercial development process and we are pleased to have recently filed an international PCT patent application" and that "sampling the gastrointestinal tract allows for site-specific analysis of the bacterial populations and metabolites present at the mucosal surface is a distinct advantage over the evaluation of fecal samples for many applications."
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Patient Safety, Science and Technology Summit Inspires Healthcare Industry Stakeholders to Action in Pursuit of 0 Preventable Patient Deaths by 2020
Irvine, California
Each year there are over 200,000 preventable patient deaths in U.S. hospitals alone, more than 3,800 every week. That is equivalent to two jumbo jet passenger airplanes crashing and killing all passengers, on a daily basis.

Hundreds of prominent doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, medical technology executives and engineers, as well as patient advocates from across the world attended the recent inaugural Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit. The goal was to create actionable solutions to today's most pressing patient safety problems. By the end of the second day, the Patient Safety Summit had inspired a groundswell of hospital commitments to establish recipes to eliminate preventable deaths and medical technology company commitments of patient data accessibility in hopes to eliminate preventable patient deaths by the year 2020.

"When we lost 3,000 people in the 9/11 tragedy, we created Homeland Security, the TSA, spent four trillion dollars on two wars and put our soldiers and innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan in harm's way. Yet we lose more than 3,000 people a week in U.S. hospitals alone, and no Patient Safety Security department has been created and the government has not declared war on these preventable deaths," stated Joe Kiani , founder and Chairman of the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation & Competition in Healthcare, founder of the Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit, and CEO of medical technology company, Masimo.

"With the Patient Safety Summit, we felt it was time to try something unique. We tore down the walls between the hospital, medtech companies, executives, doctors and engineers. We brought in the voice of the patient with powerful stories from patient advocates. We identified challenges that are causing preventable deaths and provided recipes to address the challenges. The recipes were clear, concise and left nothing out, for the sake of patient safety. We asked medtech companies to sign a pledge to make the data their products are purchased for, the patient's data. We also announced that to return to the next Summit, each attendee had to make a commitment toward achieving the goal of zero preventable deaths. Former President Clinton also joined the challenge and from the reaction of the participants, the formula worked. We got nine medtech companies to make the pledge. We got more than 20 hospitals and hospital groups to make commitments to implement one to all of the recipes to get to zero preventable deaths," Kiani continued.
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Former Military Medics' Services Engaged in Caring for Our Frail Elderly
Southfield, Michigan
Military medics have been saving lives on the front lines all over the world where the United States military is engaged. Medics have performed emergency services that often meant the difference between life and death for our soldiers. Their medical skills have been honed under stressful, wartime conditions.

These men and women are among the army of heroes who walk among us every day. However, when they return to the U.S., their certifications and credentials often don't match civilian workforce requirements. Sadly, our nation's health care system is not equipped to assist in transforming their skills, experience, and work ethic into appropriate non-military jobs.

Nathan Anspach , CEO of Phoenix-based John C. Lincoln Health Network's Accountable Care Organization (ACO), saw these heroes as a new force, a Medicare health care corps. While gaining their medical credentials in the U.S., Anspach recognized that former military medics can be instrumental in helping design and implement strategies to aid the legions of frail Medicare recipients to manage their health care lives. Anspach's vision is to employ this health care corps to stop the revolving door of hospital readmission for Medicare patients. To accomplish this, he created a three-pronged strategy:
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Americans Rate Themselves and Their Communities as Healthy, Despite Research Showing the Opposite
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A new survey from The Atlantic shows those who most want community health resources have the least access to them, and for those Americans who use online resources, 40 percent self-diagnose.  One-third of young Americans who use online resources act without consulting a medical professional.  Despite an optimistic view of health in their communities, significant portions of the U.S. population are not convinced that communities provide sufficient access to key resources for good health, and 60 percent of Americans say online information is important to their health.

The national survey, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland, found a strong majority of Americans place a premium on health care providers and environment as being primary drivers of their community's health. The phone survey of 1,004 individuals found that American lower-income individuals, defined as those making less than $50,000 in household income in particular (55 percent), view doctors and hospitals as primarily responsible for ensuring good health in a community.

The Atlantic has partnered on a national initiative to examine the barriers and identify opportunities to build healthier communities in the U.S. The program, "A Conversation on Community Health" consisted of a series of events in U.S. cities to explore what it means, and what it takes, to be a healthy community. This poll builds on the learnings from those events by focusing on citizens' perspectives.
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Newly Released Survey Reveals the Majority of Cancer Patients and Survivors Want To Continue Working
New York, New York
Nearly 80 percent of cancer patients and survivors say continuing work after diagnosis aids recovery, according to a new survey from Cancer and Careers and Harris Interactive. Still, just as many respondents struggle to find support navigating the work/life balance of employment with cancer, which is where Cancer and Careers offers assistance.

As the only organization in the U.S. dedicated solely to serving people who work during and after cancer treatment, Cancer and Careers designed the survey with Harris Interactive to better understand and empower employed persons with cancer. Results indicate that several factors motivate cancer survivors to continue working, including feeling well, wanting to maintain a routine and wanting to be productive. At the same time, 67 percent of surveyed cancer patients and survivors said work/life balance was critical to having a career.

"As a breast cancer survivor, I know there are so many unknowns and questions you have when you receive a cancer diagnosis. That's why it's so important for people going through the cancer journey to feel supported in every aspect of their lives, particularly when it comes to work," said Sonia Kashuk , creator, Sonia Kashuk Beauty, and Cancer and Careers board member. "Cancer and Careers is incredibly instrumental as a resource to help people navigate the practical challenges of balancing work and cancer."
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White Blood Cells Found to Play Key Role in Controlling Red Blood Cell Levels
Bronx, New York
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have found that macrophages, white blood cells that play a key role in the immune response, also help to both produce and eliminate the body's red blood cells (RBCs). The findings could lead to novel therapies for diseases or conditions in which the red blood cell production is thrown out of balance. The study, conducted in mice, is published in the online edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

"Our findings offer intriguing new insights into how the body maintains a healthy balance of red blood cells," said study leader Paul Frenette, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at Einstein. "We've shown that macrophages in the bone marrow and the spleen nurture the production of new red blood cells at the same time that they clear aging red blood cells from the circulation. This understanding may ultimately help us to devise new therapies for conditions that lead to abnormal RBC counts, such as hemolytic anemia, polycythemia vera, and acute blood loss, plus aid recovery from chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation." Einstein has filed a joint patent application with Mount Sinai related to this research, which is currently available for licensing and further commercialization.

Previous studies, all done in the laboratory, had suggested that macrophages in the bone marrow act as nurse cells for erythroblasts, which are RBC precursors. But just how these "erythroblastic islands" (macrophages surrounded by erythroblasts) function in living animals was unclear.
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ERs Have Become Central Staging Area for Acutely Ill Patients: More Complex Care Provided in a Challenging Health Care Environment
Washington, District of Columbia
Lack of stable medical homes and reduced inpatient capacity are key factors that could be responsible for a shift toward higher billing levels over the past decade in U.S. emergency departments, according to a new report from the New England Journal of Medicine . Changing standards of care and the implementation of electronic medical records are additional potential factors in this shift that is accompanied by increases in higher-complexity, higher paid visits for Medicare emergency patients.

Study authors were responding to a recent report by the Office of Inspector General, a watchdog organization of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which suggested a widespread phenomenon of "upcoding" in all specialties, but especially emergency medicine. Subsequent reports in news organizations, including The New York Times and Washington Post, embellished this assertion with separate analyses and specific examples. The authors of this perspective piece, however, examined a nationally representative sample in order to refine these assertions, and concluded that blaming upcoding alone oversimplifies what is happening.

"Care that used to be provided on in-patient floors is now being done in emergency departments," said Dr. Andy Sama , president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  "Also, in the past decade, primary care physicians increasingly have sent their patients to the emergency department for more prompt and definitive work-ups. They may simply be seriously concerned, overburdened, or the patient may have complex issues that can't be diagnosed easily in a primary care setting. But this puts the burden of accurate and efficient diagnosing on emergency physicians, which leads to higher complexity, and higher billed visits."
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New Poll Finds Millions Of Smokers Nationwide Resolving To Quit In The New Year
Washington, District of Columbia
New results from a national online public opinion poll of Americans 18 and older show that 34 percent of smokers plan to quit smoking as a New Year's resolution in 2013. Among survey respondents, only 18 percent reported that quitting smoking was a New Year's resolution in 2012, yet twice as many of these respondents will resolve to quit in 2013. The poll showed that increasing costs of cigarettes (67 percent) and concerns about the health risks associated with smoking (58 percent) are two of the key factors motivating smokers to contemplate quitting as a resolution for 2013.

The poll, conducted on behalf of Legacy, a national tobacco education foundation; found that on average, those who committed to quit in 2012 stayed quit for just about a month (30 days), and for more than half (59 percent) of those quitters, it was the longest they had ever stayed quit.

"Research has shown that most smokers who quit on January 1 struggle to stay quit as the days and weeks go on," said Cheryl G. Healton , DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy. "Many smokers may have begun their New Year's quit attempt and have already relapsed and that's okay. We need to encourage them to build a quit plan and then try to quit again. On average, research has shown that smokers make up to 6-9 attempts before they finally quit for good, which is why it is so important to remind smokers to quit with support and methods that have proven success."

While it is positive news that more of the surveyed smokers are planning to quit in 2013 than in 2012, data reveals that many of them are still overlooking resources and practices that can lead to successful quitting.

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Health Survey Shows Consumers Feel They Must Take a More Proactive Role in Their Healthcare to Ensure Quality of Care
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
According to a new Wolters Kluwer Health survey, 80 percent of consumers believe the greater "consumerization" of healthcare, the trend of individuals taking a greater and more active role in their own healthcare, is positive for Americans. Survey data suggests many Americans feel that a greater role in their care is not only good, but necessary, with 86 percent of consumers reporting that they feel they have to take a more proactive role in managing their own healthcare in order to ensure better quality of care.

Most consumers also say they feel prepared to take on a greater role in managing their own healthcare, with 76 percent reporting that they have the information and tools to take a more proactive role in healthcare decisions ranging from choosing healthcare providers to researching treatment options. Despite feeling prepared, only 19 percent report that they have their own electronic Personal Health Record (PHR).

The Wolters Kluwer Health survey was conducted  among 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older. Survey questions focused on exploring whether consumers want more control over their own healthcare and whether they feel prepared to take on more responsibility.

"With greater responsibility placed on patients to take a role in their own care, it's essential that consumers have access to evidence-based tools and resources to make informed decisions about their care in partnership with their healthcare providers," said Dr. Linda Peitzman , Chief Medical Officer, Wolters Kluwer Health. "Access to research-based medical information not only can positively impact quality of care, but it also can lead to improved doctor-patient communication and relationships."

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Nurses Fired; Flu Vaccine Exemptions Denied on Dubious Pretext, Doctors' Group Says
Tucson, Arizona
Eight employees, including at least three veteran nurses, have been fired by Goshen Hospital, in Goshen, Indiana, for refusing the flu vaccine. A religious exemption is available, but was denied because these employees did not meet the criteria for religious protection established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"What gives the EEOC the authority to define what constitutes an acceptable religious belief?" asks Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

AAPS opposes vaccine mandates, believing that patients and healthcare workers have the right to refuse medical treatment.

Hospitals may agree with the right to refuse treatment, but assert the right to determine conditions for employment. They cite concerns about protecting patients from transmission of influenza by unvaccinated staff.

"The scientific and religious concerns are in a sense backward," Dr. Orient stated. "Advocates of the mandate are full of evangelical zeal and are quick to portray skeptics as wicked and selfish. It's like a secular religion, based on faith in vaccine efficacy and safety."

In fact, the scientific case for flu vaccine mandates is very weak, Dr. Orient points out in an article in the winter issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. A handful of studies show slight benefit in long-term care facilities. Hospitals have not been studied. Safety data are limited, and there are no long-term studies of the effects of annual vaccination. Serious, lifelong disability occasionally occurs. There is no evidence showing that vaccinated workers are less likely to transmit virus.
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Scientists at The New York Stem Cell Foundation and Columbia University Medical Center Develop Scientific Technique To Help Prevent Inherited Disorders in Humans
New York, New York
A new study published online in Nature shows how mitochondrial disease may be prevented. A joint team of scientists from The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Laboratory and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has developed a technique that may prevent the inheritance of mitochondrial diseases in children. 

Dieter Egli , PhD, and Daniel Paull , PhD, of the NYSCF Laboratory with Mark Sauer , MD, and Michio Hirano , MD, of CUMC demonstrated how the nucleus of a cell can be successfully transferred between human egg cells. This landmark achievement carries significant implications for those children who have the potential to inherit mitochondrial diseases.

Mitochondria are cellular organelles responsible for the maintenance and growth of a cell. They contain their own set of genes, passed from mother to child, and are inherited independently from the cell's nucleus. Although mitochondrial DNA accounts for only 37 out of more than 20,000 genes in an individual, mutations to mitochondrial genes carry harmful effects.

Mitochondrial disorders, due to mutations in mitochondrial DNA, affect approximately 1 in 10,000 people, while nearly 1 in 200 individuals carries mutant mitochondrial DNA. Symptoms, manifesting most often in childhood, may lead to stunted growth, kidney disease, muscle weakness, neurological disorders, loss of vision and hearing, and respiratory problems, among others. Worldwide, a child is born with a mitochondrial disease approximately every 30 minutes, and there are currently no cures for these devastating diseases.
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Rhythm Central: Mickey Hart and Dr. Adam Gazzaley Make History Through Visualizing and Sonifying Brain Activity in Real Time for Live Audience
San Francisco, California
Mickey Hart, Grateful Dead percussionist, and neurologist Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the University of California San Francisco made history by becoming the first to sonify and visualize brain activity in real time in front of a live audience. The two did so at the closing session of Life @50+, the AARP National Event & Expo in New Orleans on September 22nd.

Dr. Gazzaley has extensively studied how the brain handles memory, attention and aging. Gazzaley awed the crowd midway through the session by strapping an EEG on Hart as he paced, clutching a drum, while images of the rhythms coursing through his brain were displayed on the giant screens throughout the hall. As the audience looked on, Gazzaley explained what was happening, adjusting to show more or fewer rhythms coursing through Mickey's brain. "This is scary," Mickey joked.

"It all comes down to vibration and the rhythm of things," Hart says of his collaboration with Dr. Gazzaley. "Can you imagine being able to entrain with these rhythms and focus on a certain part of the brain? To be able to see what part of the brain lights up while you play a certain instrument, a certain rhythm at a certain amplitude. What does the brain look like before, during, and after an auditory driving experience?" Hart continues, "This is about breaking the rhythm code, our genome project. Once we know what rhythm truly does, then we'll be able to control it, and use it medicinally for diagnostics, for health reasons. To be able to reconnect the synapses, the connections that are broken in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, that's where we are heading." It's just the beginning, as far as Hart is concerned. "I've been working in my field for many years and so has Adam, it's a handshake between science and art. Life is all about rhythm, and the brain is Rhythm Central."
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New Study Shows PTSD Symptoms in Combat-Exposed Military Can Be Reduced with Healing Touch and Guided Imagery
San Diego, California
Healing touch combined with guided imagery provides significant clinical reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms for combat-exposed active duty military, according to a study released in the September issue of Military Medicine.

The report finds that patients receiving these complementary medicine interventions showed significant improvement in quality of life, as well as reduced depression and cynicism, compared to soldiers receiving treatment as usual alone.

The study, led by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego, Calif., conducted a randomized controlled trial of returning active-duty Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif. from July 2008 to August 2010. Participants were separated at random into two groups, one that received treatment as usual (TAU) for PTSD and another that received TAU as well as healing touch (HT), a practitioner-based treatment aimed at eliciting the participant's own healing response, with guided imagery (GI), a self-care therapy aimed at eliciting relaxation as well as enhancing trust and self-esteem. 

After six sessions within a three-week period with a Scripps practitioner, the HT+GI group reported a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms as a result of these combined complementary therapies.
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Options and Evidence: It's What Patients Want
Washington, DC
Patients want more meaningful discussions with their care providers when making health care decisions, according to a new discussion paper released today by the Institute of Medicine. The survey found that 8 in 10 people want their health care provider to listen to them, but just 6 in 10 reported that it actually happens, and fewer than 4 in 10 say their provider clearly explains the latest medical evidence. Additionally, less than half of people surveyed reported that their provider asks about their goals and concerns for their health and health care.

"Simply stated, engaging patients in their own medical decisions leads to better health outcomes," concluded the authors, participants in the IOM's Evidence Communication Innovation Collaborative on behalf of its Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care. The paper is based on fresh qualitative and quantitative research, as well as an extensive review of relevant research on evidence- and medical-decision making, all commissioned by the collaborative.

Several authors discuss the research further in a just-released "Viewpoint" in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Recognizing an Opinion: Findings from the IOM Evidence Communication Innovation Collaborative."

The authors say there are three essential elements to an informed decision based on shared decision-making. First, people must have timely access to the best available medical evidence. Second, providers must provide sound, unbiased counsel based on their clinical expertise. Third, patients' and families' goals and concerns must be actively elicited and fully honored.
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Mind as Medicine: Retreat Brings Healing, Growth
Tel Aviv, Israel
More than 100 people attended a recent meditation retreat in Tel Aviv, Israel: Physicians, journalists, holistic practitioners, cancer patients and meditation enthusiasts. They came to learn holistic, mind-body approaches to healing and find avenues to spiritual growth. The retreat was led by integrative medicine pioneer and meditation expert Isaac Eliaz, M.D., L.Ac. and was coordinated by Taatsumot, a non-profit organization. The in-depth, two-day retreat program focused on the mind's innate healing power.

"The theme of my retreat is connectivity and having an open heart," says Dr. Eliaz. "The heart has no concepts. It's our mind, our negative emotions, our thought patterns that put up barriers and don't allow our heart to just open. Real healing begins, continues and ends with an open heart." One of the exercises that the group practiced was a form of meditation called Tonglin, during which participants "take in" suffering and generate love and compassion in return. The process allowed people to step outside their natural barriers, such as reluctance to interact with "negative" energy. However, as people overcame their fears, they embraced the practice and found it transformative.

During the retreat, Dr. Eliaz offered hands-on healing to participants while they were meditating, and taught them how to use meditation to heal themselves and others. Throughout the retreat, he answered questions and discussed related topics such as nutrition, natural cancer treatments, mind-body exercises, lifestyle approaches and other subjects.
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Hitting Cancer from All Sides: Outsmarting the Harry Houdini of Disease
Santa Rosa, California
Cancer may be the Harry Houdini of diseases. It often finds devious ways to escape treatment. Because cancer disables our cellular quality control mechanisms, rampant mutations that cause tumor cells to grow uncontrollably can also generate resistance to anticancer drugs. Even if 99 percent of the tumor is destroyed, that 1 percent can come roaring back. How do we knock out that 1 percent? By attacking the cancer from multiple angles, using multiple treatments and strategies.

"We need to outsmart the cancer before it outsmarts us. To do this, we have to find ways to attack cancer from many angles, so it doesn't have the opportunity to develop protective mutations," says integrative medicine pioneer, Isaac Eliaz, M.D.

Recent research has demonstrated a variety of multipronged approaches to defeat cancer resistance. One study found that a sophisticated botanical formula restricts the aggression of metastatic breast cancer. The in vivo study, conducted by researchers at Indiana University and published in Oncology Reports, showed that a combination of medicinal mushrooms, botanical extracts, the flavonoid quercetin and 3, 3'-Diindolylmethane (DIM) slowed highly aggressive triple negative breast cancer.

The formula significantly decreased tumor growth and breast-to-lung metastasis. The cancer metastasized to the lungs in only 20 percent of the treated group, compared to 70 percent of the untreated group. Also, in the treatment group that did metastasize, the number and size of the lesions was dramatically reduced. Significantly, these results were achieved with no toxic side-effects.

The formula's success against cancer may, in part, be due to the independent, anti-cancer properties of each ingredient working together to create a synergistic effect. On their own, medicinal mushrooms Trametes versicolor, Ganoderma lucidum, Phellinus linteus have been shown to reduce cancer growth and invasiveness. Extracts from the botanicals Scutellaria barbata, Astragalus membranaceus and Curcuma longa induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) and reduce cancer metastasis. Quercetin reduces cancer cell proliferation and helps suppress tumor growth. DIM, an active component of cruciferous vegetables, reduces cancer growth, migration and invasiveness.
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New Comprehensive Pain Management Program Combines Clinical, Physical, and Integrative Medicine Treatment Options to Address Chronic Pain
Danvers, Massachusetts
Pain affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, and, in the worst cases, diminishes quality of life and livelihood. In fact, pain is a significant health problem affecting more than 100 million people and costing society at least $560-$635 billion annually in both health care and lost productivity costs.* Now research shows that pain patients do better with a comprehensive approach to care that addresses the needs of the whole person, body and mind -- combining clinical and integrative therapies. That is why Beverly Hospital at Danvers Pain Management Center is launching a new integrated model of care offering not only traditional state-of-the-art pain medication and injection services, but a range of behavioral health, physical and integrative medicine treatments to help patients with acute and chronic pain.

The new care model offers a full complement of pain medicine services, including the latest pain injection therapies, medications and medication management, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and addiction counseling as well as integrative therapies, such as acupuncture, Reiki and massage therapy in a custom-designed care plan for patients.

"We have created this multi-specialty center so that our patients have the very best treatment options, since we now know that pain patients do best when treated in this kind of comprehensive treatment environment," says Dr. Kenneth Branton, medical director of the Pain Management Center. "I'm very excited about our ability to offer this level of care and services," he says.
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Researchers of NIH Human Microbiome Project Consortium Publish Papers Detailing the Variety and Abundance of Microbes Living on and in the Human Body
Rockville, Maryland and La Jolla, California
Researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) along with members of the National Institutes of Health-funded Human Microbiome Project Consortium (HMP), have published a scientific paper in the journal, Nature characterizing the human microbiome, the community of microbes that live in and on the human body. This research, the largest and most comprehensive study done to date on the human microbiome, has revealed an astonishing level of diversity and variety of microbes among the group of 242 healthy individuals. The researchers outlined a set of standardized methods and protocols by which these new human microbiome data and other metagenomic data sets can be readily accessed and analyzed by the scientific community.

This study is part of a large group of coordinated scientific reports published on June 14, 2012, in Nature and several journals in the Public Library of Science (PLoS), by approximately 200 members of the HMP Consortium from nearly 80 multidisciplinary research institutions who are reporting on five years of research. HMP, launched in 2007, received $153 million from the NIH Common Fund, a source of funding for high-impact, innovative, trans-NIH research.

Barbara Methe, Ph.D., JCVI professor, was one of the researchers in the Consortium who was actively involved in the Nature paper described here and is also corresponding author on this publication. JCVI researchers were also important contributors to a second HMP Consortium Nature publication describing additional analysis of human microbiome data.

The HMP Consortium also published papers in PloS journals and JCVI researchers are key contributors to these papers. JCVI's Johannes Goll is the first author on a paper in PLoS ONE describing JCVI's large-scale human microbiome analysis tool, METAREP. The key features of and improvements to METAREP are enabling larger and larger datasets to be rapidly and easily analyzed, searched and compared. METAREP was successfully used with the HMP Consortium data analysis enabling more than 400 million genes from 14 billion segments of DNA to be analyzed. METAREP is an example of standardized tools available to the scientific community for their metagenomic research that have been developed by researchers at JCVI.

JCVI's Kelvin Li is first author on another paper in PLoS ONE describing diversity patterns, especially those of low abundant taxa, which represent the majority of genetic diversity in the human microbiome using sequences from the 16S rRNA gene as a biomarker. Li and colleagues determined that the low abundant taxa are not sufficiently quantified with standard ecological measures, which motivated the introduction of a novel statistic ("Ï„") which couples the ordering of taxonomic abundance with well-known statistical properties of standard deviation to better characterize this low abundant fraction.

JCVI scientists also participated in two additional papers that are part of the HMP Consortium PLoS virtual collection. A PLoS ONE paper (Ward et al.) describes the development of the protocol used by the HMP Consortium to sequence 16S rRNA gene sequences, and a PLoS Computational Biology paper (Abubucker et al.) describes methodology used in HMP data analysis to accurately and efficiently characterize microbial metabolic pathways and functional modules from the human microbiome directly from high-throughput sequencing reads.
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The Expanding Role Of Integrative Medicine In Cancer Treatment
Munich, Germany
Cancer is an insidious disease that often finds ways to defeat the most advanced treatments. As a result, the scientific and medical communities have become increasingly aware that a multi-pronged approach is the best way to beat cancer. On June 16-17, at the Second International Congress on Complementary Oncology in Munich, Germany, integrative medicine pioneer Isaac Eliaz, M.D. joined leading experts in the field of complementary oncology. During his visit, he shared research advancements demonstrating how integrative therapies can boost our abilities against cancer.

"It was a privilege to speak to such a receptive audience at the Germany International Congress on Complementary Oncology. This conference provides a wonderful opportunity to share important information on integrative treatments and learn about new strategies to defeat cancer," says Dr. Eliaz. "Having the opportunity to give two separate presentations on each day of the congress allowed me to cover a wider array of important topics."

In his first presentation, delivered on June 16, Dr. Eliaz outlined the case against Galectin-3, a protein that has been widely implicated in cancer, heart disease and other conditions. The presentation, Galectin-3 and the Role of Modified Citrus Pectin in Cancer and Beyond, unraveled the biology of Galectin-3 and why its overabundance can so dramatically contribute to disease. Galectin-3 is a "culprit" biomarker that promotes metastasis and has additional value in predicting the outcome of disease--the more Galectin-3 in the body, the lower the overall survival rates. A new FDA approved blood test can easily measure Galectin-3 levels in the blood, serving as an important tool in determining risk and prognosis of numerous diseases related to elevated Galectin-3. In cancer, Galectin-3 plays a role in cell to cell adhesion, cancer cell aggregation, tumor growth, metastasis, angiogenesis and the inhibition of programmed cell death (apoptosis) -- a veritable perfect storm of conditions for the advancement of cancer.

Derived from citrus peels, Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) is a powerful Galectin-3 antagonist. Dr. Eliaz presented research on how MCP binds to Galectin-3 and blocks cancer cell aggregation, as well as interactions that cause angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels to the tumor) and metastasis. In addition, MCP complements chemotherapy, protects against radiation damage, and enhances the immune system. "Study after study has demonstrated that elevated Galectin-3 levels in the body fuel the formation and progression of cancer and other chronic diseases," says Dr. Eliaz. "Modified Citrus Pectin is thus earning an important reputation among doctors and researchers as a powerful natural Galectin-3 inhibitor."

The next day, Dr. Eliaz presented Integrative Approaches to Prostate Cancer, during which he outlined a wide array of diagnostic tests to detect prostate cancer early, before it can spread. He went on to discuss how MCP, medicinal mushrooms, honokiol (derived from magnolia bark), specific botanicals and other natural agents can bolster the immune system against prostate cancer, support hormone balance and, in some cases, act directly against the disease. Dr. Eliaz presented studies which showed how MCP and other natural compounds suppressed invasive prostate cancers. In this lecture, Dr. Eliaz also presented a comprehensive model of the ongoing dialogue between health and disease. He demonstrated how mind-body medicine can be integrated into such a model, resulting in profound health benefits for the patient on all levels.
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American Botanical Council Announces Major Milestone: Publication of 5,000th HerbClip Research Summary
Austin, Texas
The nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC) proudly announced the publication of its 5,000th HerbClip on June 29, 2012. HerbClips are two-to-three-page summaries and critical reviews of seminal articles covering medicinal plant-related clinical research, regulation, market information, and conservation and sustainability.

HerbClip summaries and critical reviews are typically based upon human clinical trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses of such clinical trials, and other articles dealing with ethnobotany, conservation and sustainability, and regulation of herbs and medicinal botanical products. These articles are drawn from a wide variety of peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals, monographs, government documents, special reports, trade journals, and the mainstream media. In addition to summarizing the original article, an HerbClip may include insights, perspectives, criticism, and/or links to other articles and issues. HerbClip summaries and reviews are examined by consulting editors and peer reviewers before they are published to help ensure their accuracy.

HerbClip's roots stretch back to 1993, just five years after ABC was created. At the time, Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal would often copy and then share relevant news articles with numerous friends and professional colleagues. When the cost of toner for ABC's copier reached what at that time was a prohibitive $200 per month, inspiration struck. Blumenthal called two close friends in the herb industry and asked if they would be willing to pay for a service to send them articles related to herb research, regulation, etc. The friends agreed and HerbClip was born.
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Wireless Electric Acupuncture Patch Will Increase Muscle Performance in Addition to Alleviating Pain Formerly Resolved by Acupuncture Needles
New York, New York
Lisa Pamintuan, President of New York College of Health Professions, announced that the College's Chairman, Donald Spector, a well-known serial entrepreneur inventor, has filed a groundbreaking patent on wireless acupuncture patches under the Intellectual Properties Policy of the College. The patches will cause electrical stimulation, either directly or by remote control, to specific acupuncture points and muscles. This stimulation will increase the muscle performance, as well as reducing lactic acid buildup and consequently reducing fatigue.  Spector stated, "While the patch provides benefits to athletes, it can also be used by patients suffering from pain and other ailments, for which acupuncture has been effective."

Dr. Mohammad Hashemipour, MD, PhD, Dean of Academic Affairs and former Olympic Team doctor, believes the new wireless electric acupuncture patch technology can reduce muscle fatigue and subsequently enhance muscle performance. "Patients often forget or do not use acupuncture in a consistent way," stated Hashemipour. "While duplicating the advantages of leads that are temporarily connected to a patient, these patches can be left on for a prolonged period of time, including between visitations to an acupuncture specialist, during which time the chips can be programmed to stimulate at predetermined times or when needed."

There has yet to be a formal ruling on whether these patches, which may enhance sports performance, will be regulated by boxing commissions, team sports, individual sports or doping commissions. Based on current Olympic regulations, Hashemipour feels it will not be banned. "Even though these patches will provide a significant advantage in muscle strength and endurance, I do not believe they should be outlawed under doping regulations. There are no drugs involved, except by the release of the wearer's own natural chemicals and neurotransmitters. While acupuncture has been used in the Far East for thousands of years, this patent simply makes it possible for an athlete to use electrical stimulation - often cumbersome - as a self-contained patch that can be made as a disposable product," added Hashemipour.

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What Will Health Care Look Like in 2025? Futurists Predict Everything from Health Avatars and Shortages of Primary Care Physicians to Growing Disparities in Access and Quality Based on Income and Where People Live
Alexandria, Virginia
By 2025, patient-doctor relationships and health care delivery will look radically different than they do today, according to the Institute for Alternative Futures. In the Institute's new report Primary Care 2025: A Scenario Exploration, the nationally recognized futurists give readers a preview of how Americans could select, pay for and receive primary care.

Working with more than 50 national health care leaders, the Institute for Alternative Futures, a nonprofit think tank based in Alexandria, Virginia, has created four scenarios, coherent stories describing alternative futures to show what primary care might look like in 2025. The scenarios (summarized below) take into consideration the nation's economic challenges, political polarization, and opportunities afforded by technological advances and new delivery systems.

Clem Bezold, Institute for Alternative Futures chair and senior futurist, said the organization's projections reflect how primary care may be shaped by factors such as a slow economic recovery or another recession, federal debt, an aging population, unsustainable health care costs, pressure for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments, an explosion of information available through the Internet and social media, and empowered, motivated consumers.

Nationally, health care cost $2.57 trillion in 2011, 17 percent of the gross domestic product, and is expected to grow to 20 percent of the gross domestic product by 2020. Bezold said while other sectors, including retail, manufacturing, finance, insurance and real estate learned to do more with less, the number of health care employees grew between 1990 and 2010, resulting in lower per capita productivity. Health care premiums have increased 131 percent since 1999, compared to a 38 percent increase in workers' earnings and an overall inflation rate of 28 percent during the same period.
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IBM Forms Watson Healthcare Advisory Board
Armonk, New York
IBM has announced the formation of a new Watson Healthcare Advisory Board. The board members include medical leaders with expertise in areas such as primary care, oncology, biomedical informatics and medical innovation. They will provide IBM with insights on healthcare issues that could be positively impacted by Watson technology adoption. The advisory board will specifically focus on medical industry trends, clinical imperatives, regulatory considerations, privacy concerns, and patient and clinician expectations around the Watson technology and how it can be incorporated into clinician workflows.

Watson represents a new class of industry-specific analytical solutions and decision support systems that use deep content analysis and evidence-based reasoning and natural language processing. By accurately extracting medical facts and quickly understanding relationships buried in large volumes of data, such as electronic medical records, family medical history, and the latest clinical research, the technology can help accelerate and improve clinical decisions, reduce operational waste, and enhance patient outcomes.

"Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes," said Dr. Herbert Chase, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University. "As IBM focuses its efforts on key areas including oncology, cardiology and other chronic diseases, the advisory board will be integral to helping align the business strategy to the specific needs of the industry."
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"Being Human 2012" Reveals Revolutionary Insights into Human Nature
San Francisco, California
The Baumann Foundation (TBF) launched a new public event, "Being Human 2012: Science, Philosophy and Your Life," where pioneers in the exploration of human nature, from behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, social anthropology and philosophy,came together for the first-ever multidisciplinary event of its kind. Its purpose was to engage the public in a conversation about how recent revolutionary insights from science and philosophy challenge basic assumptions about human nature and how these insights can fundamentally shift one's experience of daily life. The first-annual Being Human event was hosted at the Palace of Fine Arts, in San Francisco, on March 24, 2012.

"We live at the dawn of a scientific revolution. Recent findings from science and philosophy promise to overthrow long-held biases and stories about what it means to be human," said TBF founder Peter Baumann. "Many of these fresh insights can have a profound impact on our experience of daily life. We are delighted to bring these new understandings into the public arena, so that they are accessible to anyone who is curious about their own experience. Ultimately, our goal is to serve as a bridge between the theoretical and the practical, and to foster increased well-being."

"We are thrilled that so many esteemed pioneers joined us for Being Human 2012," said TBF Advisory Board member Richard Davidson, who moderated Being Human 2012. Davidson, a leader in the field of mind-body medicine and one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people (2006), is best-known for his research on brain plasticity, his collaboration with the Dalai Lama and studying the brain activity of meditating Tibetan Buddhist monks. "This was a unique event, where we explored together the frontiers of understanding human nature, asking questions such as: How does the nonconscious mind influence the decisions we make? What is the relationship between self and culture? Are you who you think you are, or is that just an illusion? What does science tell us about our relationship with fellow humans? What are the evolutionary origins of the human mind?"
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Seminar Teaches Narrative Medicine Techniques to Health Care Professionals to Improve Care and Support for Wounded and Traumatized Veterans
New York, New York
Health care professionals require specific training if they are to successfully treat veterans who have experienced the unique physical and psychological traumas of war. In an effort to increase the satisfaction of veterans and their families with the care they receive at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics, Columbia University Medical Center's (CUMC) Program in Narrative Medicine hosted a first-of-its-kind three-day workshop, "Challenges in VA Health Care: A Narrative Response," from March 9-11, 2012.

The workshop aimed to equip VA doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists with the narrative techniques to form therapeutic alliances with veterans and their families and improve communication and respect among members of the VA health care team. Participants learned narrative approaches to clinical interviewing, ways to develop enriched therapeutic relationships, and reading and writing interventions that will enable them to better hear and understand patient experiences.

"Our partnership with VA will instill in participants the clinical tools to listen, encourage patient stories, honor the meaning of their patients' stories and grant permission to share thoughts and concerns," said Rita Charon, MD, Executive Director of CUMC's Program in Narrative Medicine. "Using cost-effective and evidence-based methods to train VA clinical professionals, we look to improve the patient care of veterans across the country through this workshop and future work with VA."
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WorldatWork Report Shows Employee Wellness Programs Now Expand to Well-Being
Scottsdale, Arizona
The WorldatWork 2012 survey report on Total Rewards and Employee Well-Being found that organizations' health & wellness offerings have expanded beyond traditional programs (that primarily focus on physical health) to integrated well-being programs that now include mental and emotional health, financial health, work-life effectiveness, and workplace environment and stress.

"Organizations ought to consider a more rounded and integrated approach to their well-being programs," said Rose Stanley, a WorldatWork Certified Benefits Professional and work-life practice leader. "One idea is to open up some of these programs, such as financial counseling or diet and nutrition, to extended family. This could potentially provide the support needed to change behavior."
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Man Brings Asperger's Syndrome to Light Through Stand-Up Comedy and Non-Profit Organization
South Orange, New Jersey
Peter Eichler has lived with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, for years - even before he had a name for his condition. His experiences and subsequent triumphs led him to found Adam 2 Adam, a non-profit organization intended to promote awareness of autism spectrum disorders and provide mentoring to young adults with Asperger's and other autism-related conditions.

The 43-year-old non-profit founder recently faced a new challenge - developing a stand-up comedy routine. Eichler has been given the opportunity to perform at New York City's Gotham Comedy Club. While people with Asperger's Syndrome are often very serious, Adam 2 Adam encourages creativity, relaxation, and humor as a form of therapy - so Eichler felt that his stand-up debut would be leading by example.

"My goal is to inspire others with Asperger's to break through their isolation and find ways to connect with people. I'm also hoping to give a public face to the condition, since many people seem to know little about it," he explained. "If you had told me a few years ago that I would be performing comedy in public, I would have found it implausible. But as long as I'm attempting the impossible, I'm aiming for another unlikely feat - a stand-up act with no cursing, sex, or put-downs; a routine that can make inebriated adults and sober 6-year-olds laugh out loud."
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Ten Technology Issues on its 2012 Watch List for Hospital Executives
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, listed 10 health technology issues that hospital leaders should have on their watch lists for 2012. The just-released list takes into account the convergence of critical patient safety, economic, and regulatory pressures currently facing healthcare executives.

Technology issues on this year's list span a variety of clinical and operational areas, including health IT, cardiovascular implants, minimally invasive surgical advancements, cancer therapies, and imaging and radiology services. According to the report, careful consideration of all the factors affecting whether and how to adopt these interventions will be crucial for short- and long-term strategic planning, cost-effective implementation, and optimal safety and effectiveness for patients.

"Technology is increasingly a top management concern, and is no longer confined to clinical and technical decision making. Themes emerging on our 2012 list reflect ongoing impacts of healthcare reform initiatives and new technology developments that emphasize patient-centered care," says ECRI Institute President and CEO Jeffrey C. Lerner, PhD.

"This list addresses safety improvements, interconnectedness of technology, personalized medicine tailored to individual care characteristics and preferences, and increasing cost pressures," adds Lerner.
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Statewide Survey Examines Views of Seniors, Baby Boomers on Aging
Richmond, Virginia
A statewide survey of 5,000 Virginians shows that many Baby Boomers think their communities are unprepared for the coming "age wave" and are concerned about how their quality of life might change as they grow older. While today's Seniors are positive, Boomers say communities are unprepared.

The Older Dominion Partnership (ODP), an enterprising non-profit organization working to better prepare Virginia for the major impact caused by the aging population boom, today released results of a statewide survey of Virginians ages 50 to 105.

"To help our Commonwealth and its communities plan for the doubling of our senior population, it's critical to first identify those issues that matter most and have the greatest positive impact," said Joel Mier, Chairman of the Board for the Older Dominion Partnership. "With the release of today's survey results, the ODP has encouraged the Commonwealth's leaders of Business, Education, Nonprofits, Philanthropy and Government as well as the 25 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to better understand the key issues facing our seniors of today and tomorrow."

"The information we have made available to the Commonwealth represents a huge step forward and covers finances, housing, transportation & mobility, workforce, caregiving, civic and community engagement, and health and wellbeing," said Dr. Richard Lindsay, Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine and Family Medicine at UVA, and chairman of the Work Group that developed the survey instrument. "This represents an unprecedented opportunity for all Virginians to be able to plan, adjust and implement decisions based upon accurate current data."

The 2011 Virginia Age Ready Indicators Benchmark Survey found that both Older Virginians (aged 65+) and Boomers (aged 50-64) report a high quality of life and feel their personal quality of life is significantly higher than others in the community, but Boomers say the quality of life of today's seniors is lower than their own.
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Dr. Isaac Eliaz Discusses Role of Modified Citrus Pectin in Cancer Treatment at International Oncology Conference
Rhodes, Greece
Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a world-renowned integrative medical doctor, discussed the principles of integrative medicine in oncology and shared the latest research on the role of Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) in the treatment of cancer at an international oncology conference in Rhodes, Greece. This conference, titled "The 16th World Congress on Advances in Oncology and 14th International Symposium on Molecular Medicine", brought together hundreds of cancer researchers, oncologists, and medical professionals from around the world to share the latest information and advancements in the treatment and prevention of cancer. The international event was organized by the International Journal of Oncology, Oncology Reports, International Journal of Molecular Medicine, and Molecular Medicine Reports, and was held this year in the five-star Rodos Palace Resort on the island of Rhodes, Greece.  The scientific program included presentations by scientists and medical doctors on topics in genetics, immunology, experimental oncology and brain tumors, among others.

For this presentation, Dr. Eliaz drew upon his 25+ years of experience as an integrative physician and researcher to discuss the energetic and philosophical principles of integrative medicine in oncology and how to apply these principles to cancer prevention and treatment. This includes the latest body of research on modified citrus pectin and novel polybotanical formulas in suppressing the growth and proliferation of cancer.
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One-of-a-Kind Clothing, Based on Ayurveda, Launches Online
Washington, DC
Vastra, a global wellness clothing company based out of Washington, DC, has launched an online store with a line of apparel and bedding based on the 5000 year old medicine system of Ayurveda. Vastra is an ancient word from Sanskrit that translates to 'clothing' or fabric'. Through its line of men's and women's apparel and bedsheets, Vastra plans to promote the concept of achieving wellness through organic clothing that is dyed with only medicinal plants and herbs based on the ancient science of Ayurveda. Vastra also aims to promote awareness among the green-curious and green-conscious public about this breakthrough in the world of natural clothing.

The Vastra team in India at the handloom weavers community near Trivandrum, Kerala, revived and refined this ancient technique of dyeing clothing to deliver the benefits of medicinal herbs through the skin (known as Ayurvastra), which has been proven by tradition and clinical research. News organizations, including Time magazine and the BBC have covered the revival of this age-old/traditional concept and the growing interest in exploring its benefits.
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Demographic Earthquake to Shake Healthcare Industry: Courses Address Future Jobs for Treating Aging Baby Boomers and Beyond
San Diego, California
Ashford University has recently introduced several new online healthcare degrees to position its students to compete for high-demand healthcare jobs created by the aging population. The degrees are Bachelor of Arts in Complementary and Alternative Health, Bachelor of Arts in Health Informatics, Bachelor of Arts in Health and Wellness, and Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology.

"Aging Baby Boomers are going to cause a demographic earthquake that shakes the foundation of our health care system to its core and the workforce needs to be prepared," said Alice Vestergaard, Ed.D., executive dean of the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University. "There are nearly 78 million Baby Boomers between the ages of 47 and 65 years old in America and they comprise 29 percent of the total population. They are entering a time of critical healthcare needs including age-related disease such as osteoarthritis accompanied by societal trends like obesity, of which 39 percent are afflicted."

Ashford introduced the degrees after years of analysis and careful planning. The goal: to provide students with degrees that may be unmatched among educational institutions, either traditional or online, in their depth, breadth and relevance to future healthcare needs. The curriculum includes programs addressing the technological revolution toward electronic health records and wireless healthcare.

"Americans are living longer and rather than thinking about putting them into the equivalent of assisted living warehouses, we need to create a workforce that is attuned to the new positive aging movement," said Vestergaard. "Envision skilled caregivers who can meet future human needs for aging in place, such as an existing residence, rather than in an institution. This is essential if the system is to deal with the millions of Baby Boomers who will soon suffer from Alzheimer's disease."
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Study Highlights Role for Personalized Medicine
Chicago, Illinois
Ten years after the mapping of the human genome, the biologic blueprint that makes each of us who we are, US physicians admit being ill-prepared to address the day-to-day challenges of this rapidly emerging area of personalized medicine. That is one of the surprising conclusions of a landmark study of 800 US physicians conducted by CAHG, a leading professional healthcare communications agency. While 8 in 10 physicians agree that personalized medicine will ultimately influence the medical profession in general and their practice specifically, most also admit that their current knowledge is extremely limited. Only approximately 10% of primary care physicians and cardiologists and 30% of oncologists say that they are very familiar with current issues and advances in personalized medicine.

In addition, physicians express low confidence in their ability to use and apply molecular diagnostics testing within their practice, a particularly concerning issue given the critical role of these tests in personalized medicine. Only about half of primary care physicians and cardiologists are confident in their ability to identify appropriate patients for testing, choose the right test, and understand, interpret, and explain results to their patients. Moreover, all three physician specialties express low confidence in choosing which labs to send tests to, determining if the test is covered by insurance, and knowing which insurance code to use. Despite these concerns, 9 in 10 physicians are interested in learning more about personalized medicine, and 7 in 10 find it inherently interesting, whether or not they will ever be able to apply it in practice.
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Dr. Isaac Eliaz Gives Keynote Address at Annual Congressional Cancer Reception
Washington, DC
Isaac Eliaz, M.D. L.A.c, M.S., a world-renowned integrative medical doctor, shares the latest findings in prevention and treatment of breast cancer at The Tigerlily Foundation's Young Women's Breast Health Day on Capitol Hill and Congressional Reception. The annual event is hosted by Tigerlily Foundation, a breast cancer non-profit organization whose mission is to "educate, advocate for, empower and provide hands on support to young women under 40, before, during and after breast cancer." The rates of breast cancer among younger women have increased significantly over the last two decades. Younger women typically face greater challenges with this disease than women over 40, partly because historically, breast cancer was mainly a disease that occurred in older women. Although there are more cases of younger women being diagnosed, cases among this population are generally not detected as early as they could be because physicians and the young women themselves are often unaware of the risks.

"Dr. Isaac Eliaz is the first integrative medicine doctor to give a keynote address during our event. He really made an impact on our audience with a clear message of why integrative medicine is incredibly important to women, especially breast cancer survivors," says Donna Kaufman, Vice President of Tigerlily Foundation.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine combines both traditional and holistic approaches when treating people. It is patient driven, unbiased and individualized. The practice of integrative medicine is becoming more widely known in the medical field and on Capitol Hill. "I had the remarkable opportunity to share the podium with speakers such as Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer of The American Cancer Society, physicians from Johns Hopkins, Georgetown University and more. There were a lot of mutually-supported points amongst the speakers. I think it's symbolic that many health centers of excellence are recognizing the importance of integrative care and engaging Members of Congress to discuss the underlying issues of cancer care," says Dr. Eliaz.
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Fertility & Yoga: How Ancient Healing Methods Can Help You Get Pregnant
San Diego, California
More and more women are combining medical fertility treatments with holistic therapies, but do they help? As they have gained acceptance both in the popular culture and in the medical community, natural healing remedies such as acupuncture and yoga have become supplemental fertility treatments. This makes sense because some infertility issues are lifestyle-related while others are biological. You too can take advantage of these natural fertility boosters.

Why Yoga? Tending to your sense of well-being is an important consideration as you set out to conceive, and any stretching or meditation practice that relaxes your body and lowers your stress level will help your body to be healthy. Yoga is one way to reduce stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other natural therapies, such as fertility acupuncture, also boost your chances of conception considerably. Yoga, when compared with other treatments like acupuncture, is both inexpensive and practical - a healthy yoga routine can be done almost anywhere.

How Yoga Helps

Yoga devotees rave about the rewards of a regular yoga practice, and the evidence to support their enthusiasm is mounting. While the strength and flexibility gained from fertility yoga present obvious advantages in giving birth and recovering from pregnancy, yoga's positive effects begin long before conception. The relaxation and improved circulation that result from a few sessions each week serve to regulate the menstrual cycle. More than that, yoga poses designed to open up the hips may align the uterus properly as well, making conception much more viable.
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Dr. Catherine Ulbricht Discusses Alternative Medicine on the Dr. Oz Show
New York, New York
Elsevier is the leading global publisher of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services, and Natural Standard, the Authority on Integrative medicine, providing high-quality, evidence-based information about complementary and alternative therapies. Dr. Catherine Ulbricht, Chief Editor of Natural Standard appeared on the Dr. Oz Show. On the episode "The Dr. Oz Show. Why your doctor is afraid of alternative health. Should you be?" experts investigated why some healthcare providers may be cautious of alternative medicine and discussed whether common therapies may be safe and effective.

"There is a lot written about alternative medicine, including herbs and supplements, and much of it is not evidence-based, which is one of the reasons some healthcare providers may be skeptical," said Dr. Ulbricht. "Often anecdotal tales of effectiveness are not supported by science. Our mission is to consolidate available data and apply a validated, reproducible research methodology to establish consensus on which therapies may be safe and effective." "The Dr. Oz Show" is a multi-topic, multi-segment health and wellness talk show that offers topical, newsworthy information and inspiring stories in an upbeat and entertaining format featuring Dr. Oz's unique point of view.
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Global Economic Uncertainty Makes Affordable Health Care a Universal Challenge for Consumers

Rising health care costs, coupled with the current state of the economy, have prompted many consumers across the globe to delay care, alter household spending and worry about their ability to pay for future health care costs according to the 4th annual Deloitte Center for Health Solutions "2011 Survey of Health Care Consumers."

"We have been examining consumers' interactions with the health care system since 2008. A new trend has emerged this year suggesting that economic uncertainty has clearly altered spending habits with many consumers reporting an impact on their out-of-pocket health care expenses," said Paul Keckley, Ph.D., executive director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. "Regardless of the type of health care system, government-run or private, consumers around the world are feeling the pinch."

Deloitte surveyed more than 15,000 health care consumers in 12 different countries including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States during April and May.

In the United States, three in four (75 percent) consumers say the recent economic slowdown has impacted their health care spending. Four in 10 (41 percent) are being more cautious about it, 20 percent cut back on spending, and 13 percent have reduced it considerably. In addition, 63 percent say their monthly health care spending limits their household's ability to purchase other essentials such as housing, groceries, fuel and education. To save money, 36 percent of prescription medication users have asked their doctor to prescribe a generic drug instead of a brand name drug. These findings follow Deloitte's, "The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care for Consumers: A Comprehensive Analysis," published in March 2011, which revealed consumers spend $363 billion more on health care than traditionally reported, outpacing housing and utility costs as a discretionary household expense.

Additionally, one in four (25 percent) U.S. consumers skipped seeing a doctor when sick or injured. Of those consumers who decided not to see a doctor in the past year, those that did so due to costs ranged from a high of 49 percent in the United States, followed by Belgium (39 percent), China (35 percent) and Mexico (34 percent), to a low of 5 percent in Canada and 7 percent in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg.
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Missing Patients May Slow Hospital's Progress Toward Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records
New York, New York
Hospitals are spending billions of dollars on health information technology tools required for "meaningful use" of electronic medical records (EMR), but unless patients use them, hospitals may not reap the federal stimulus payments they're hoping for. That's the conclusion of a new report, "Putting Patients into Meaningful Use," by the Health Research Institute at PwC US. PwC's research found that only 14 percent of consumers said they get their medical records electronically from their physician's office, and 30 percent don't know why they would need to. PwC suggests that hospitals need to incorporate patient input earlier to comply with Stage 2 of the government's "meaningful use" requirements. 

"Successful use of electronic health information will ultimately be measured in better patient outcomes, higher quality and reduced costs," said Bruce Henderson, director and national leader of the Electronic Health Record -Health Information Exchange (EHR-HIE) practice, PwC. "Health systems need to have both patients and physicians actively using the health information to make care decisions, and they aren't there yet. To 'engage consumers in these benefits, they first need to understand what consumers want. Then, they need to build new, technology-enabled healthcare delivery processes around patient preferences and convenience, which means changing how clinicians work."
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Mobile Devices Pose New Security Risks for Patients; Five Experts Share Insights
Portland, Oregon
Mobile devices have become as common as the stethoscope in patient's rooms. Physicians routinely review patients' electronic health records (EHR), read test results, access diagnostic tools and take patient notes, all with a few touches on their iPad or tablet, smartphone or using a flash drive. These mobile devices are ideal for information sharing and time savings, but they pose huge security risks to patient information.

In less than two years, from September 22, 2009 through May 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) indicates that 116 data breaches of 500 records or more were the direct result of the loss or theft of a mobile device, exposing more than 1.9 million patients' PHI. A panel of five experts in the fields of healthcare IT, security and privacy, data breach and identity theft:  Jill Arena, Chad Boeckmann, Rebecca Herold, Rick Kam, and Robert Siciliano share their insights on how healthcare organizations and providers can optimize mobile health (mHealth) while protecting patients' data.

Electronic Health Records Increase Mobile Device Usage

Sixty-four percent of physicians own smartphones and 30 percent of physicians have an iPad, with another 28 percent planning to buy one within six months, according to a recent Manhattan Research study. 10,000 mobile healthcare applications are available today on the iPad, with a larger number of them created to provide access to electronic health records. Additionally, one-third of physicians use their mobile devices to input to EHR while seeing patients, while the information is fresh.
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PixelOptics Officially Launches emPower! Electronic Eyeglasses
New York, New York
Following an award-winning preview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, PixelOptics announced the formal introduction of emPower!, the world's first electronically-focusing prescription eyewear, at Vision Expo East in New York. "The introduction of emPower! marks a turning point in the evolution of vision technology," said Ron Blum, President and CEO of PixelOptics. "With the ability to substantially reduce or eliminate the perceived distortion and other limitations associated with traditional progressive lenses, emPower! places control of your vision back in the hands of the consumer, providing a level of vision clarity and comfort never experienced before in the correction of presbyopia."

Beginning in May 2011, in a partnership with Aspex Eyewear and Panasonic Healthcare Co., LTD, the emPower! eyeglasses will be available in the Southeastern U.S., and then will be rolled out across the country by the end of 2011. Panasonic will manufacture the electronic lens blanks, leveraging the company's expertise and heritage in LCD technology. The electronic frames, produced by Aspex Eyewear, will be available in a fashion collection of 12 styles, including multiple color options. The consumer will have 36 different electronic frames to choose from.

emPower! represents the most significant technological advance in prescription eyewear in the last 50 years. The world's first electronic corrective eyeglasses, emPower! features the most advanced consumer electronics innovations available today, including composite lenses with a thin transparent liquid crystal layer, microchips, micro-machine accelerometers and miniature rechargeable batteries.
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Most Americans Think Devastating Natural Disasters Are Increasing, Less than Half Believe in Global Warming
New York, New York
Reading or watching the news, one might be struck by the seemingly constant barrage of reports of disasters, both natural in origin and not. In fact, some colleges and universities have begun offering coursework in emergency and disaster management, as these impactful and unplanned events continue to shape our world. When Americans were asked if they think that there have been more devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes recently, three quarters of U.S. adults say there have been more (76%) with three in ten saying there have been much more (31%); only 2% say there have been less and 23% say there have been neither more nor less.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,163 adults surveyed online between June 13 and 20, 2011 by Harris Interactive. Despite a large majority reporting an increase in devastating disasters, only 56% say they are prepared for one of these disasters or a long-term power outage by having the necessary supplies, food and water for three days. Conversely two in five Americans say they are not prepared in this way (41%), although older Americans overall are better prepared than those younger: two thirds of Matures, aged 66 years and older, say they are prepared for a disaster or long-term power outage (67%), compared to 59% of Baby Boomers, aged 47-65, 54% of Gen X, aged 35-46 and fewer than half of Echo Boomers, aged 18-34 (45%).

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Human Health Project Launches Social Network for Physicians, Medical Practitioners to Exchange Case Information on the Internet for Diagnosis of Difficult Medical Cases
Los Angeles, California
The Human Health Project (HHP), a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, London and Dublin, today announced the launch of its web-based social network platform for medical professionals anywhere in the world to exchange information and remotely discuss rare and unusual health problems, free of charge.

The new website is It is designed exclusively for medical professionals of all types -- in both conventional and alternative medicine -- to help each other diagnose and resolve difficult cases, according to Phil Harrington, M.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer.

"This new site combines the latest technology in social networking via the Internet with the old-fashioned idea of practitioners sharing and discussing unusual medical cases in order to arrive at a real solution -- even when patients and doctors are located in the most remote of locations," Harrington said.

"The platform is organized so that medical professionals of different types and medical traditions can simply come to the website and enroll as members," he added. "Once their membership information is validated, they then can submit online cases for review and discussion among all the network participants. This provides members with access to the collective expertise of health professionals throughout the Human Health Project network whose comments may help lead to a resolution for the patient.

"We expect that this project will be of great benefit to the medical communities in the United States and around the globe, since there are about four million medical professionals just in the U.S. and more than 40 million elsewhere in the world," he noted.

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Leading-Edge Collaboration Aims to Improve Communication Among Providers, Enhance Continuity of Care, Support Achievement of EHR Meaningful Use and Advance the Patient-Centered Medical Home Model of Care
Washington, DC
The American Academy of Family Physicians has announced AAFP Physicians Direct, a new service that supports secure, electronic communication between physicians. Built on the Surescripts Network for Clinical Interoperability, this new AAFP service is part of a larger program to help physicians more easily and securely share information such as referrals, patient summaries, discharge summaries and lab results when providing their patients' care. The innovative collaboration will make the nation's leading health information network available to nearly 75,000 family physicians across the United States.

AAFP physicians will be able to connect to the Surescripts network and share information securely through the new AAFP Physicians Direct web portal or a choice of electronic health record systems. Amazing Charts, e-MDs and SOAPware has also announced that they will connect their EHR systems to the Surescripts network and collaborate in the Physicians Direct program.

With this new service, AAFP will leverage the Surescripts network to provide electronic clinical interoperability among providers, allowing them to break down communication barriers due to incompatible technology and a lack of interoperability standards. Clinical interoperability between health care providers is viewed by experts as the next critical step to accelerate the digital transformation of the nation's health care system. The advance of clinical interoperability plays a central role in a number of important national health care initiatives: improving continuity of care; supporting the "meaningful use" of electronic health records; and advancing the patient-centered medical home model of care.

"We are proud to empower physicians with a digital tool that will make their practice run more efficiently while improving the overall quality of care they provide," said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president-elect of the AAFP. "AAFP Physicians Direct will enhance communication among health care providers, and patients likely will experience more seamless coordination and continuity of care. Patients will benefit, and that's always a 'win.'"

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Intermedia Adds HIPAA Compliance Templates to Its Hosted Exchange Email Service Helps Healthcare Firms Meet Regulations Without Taking on High Costs and Complexity
New York, New York
Intermedia, the world's largest Microsoft Exchange hosting provider, has announced that compliance templates for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are now available as part of its email encryption service. Healthcare firms can not only outsource their Exchange email to Intermedia, but can also use the company's email encryption capabilities and HIPAA templates to set and enforce policies for regulatory compliant email communication.

HIPAA requires healthcare firms to safeguard patient information, including the transmission of that information over email. Using Intermedia's HIPAA templates, healthcare firms are able to select from a pre-built list of rules to determine whether emails contain protected health information (PHI) and need to be encrypted. PHI is defined as any personal health information that can be linked to a specific individual and includes any part of the patient's medical record or payment history. Encryption is added automatically in appropriate cases to assure emails are secure and read only by the sender and recipient.

"Healthcare firms deal with sensitive information and have strict regulatory requirements to safeguard that information," says Jonathan McCormick, Intermedia's chief operating officer. "The challenge is that managing email and HIPAA compliance in-house creates serious cost and complexity implications. With Intermedia's integrated offerings, healthcare firms can outsource their email and configure it to help assure HIPAA compliance. This saves on costs and better protects patient data."

The templates include a set of pre-determined compliancy code sets, keywords, and policies built from the most current industry information.

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OrganizedWisdom Partners With Xtify to Offer Mobile Health Notifications and Close the Online Health Gap
New York, New York
OrganizedWisdom, an expert-driven platform for health and wellness, has announced a partnership with Xtify, Inc., a leading provider of smart notification technology for mobile applications, to build a series of mobile health applications. The ongoing initiative aims to close the 'Online Health Gap' by connecting the mobile phones of people interested in specific health and wellness information with the wisdom of vetted health practitioners and patient advocates.

The first application, titled "Healthy Bites," will deliver nutritious eating notifications from health experts directly to consumers' smartphones. Currently available on Android phones nationwide, the application will soon launch on other smartphone platforms. Similar applications relating to common health conditions such as exercise, diabetes, weight loss, heart health, healthy diets, and more will launch in the coming months. The applications are enhanced with exclusive push notification technology provided by Xtify, Inc., which delivers vetted content selected by health experts to consumers' smartphones at the time and place it is most useful, even when the application is closed.

"OrganizedWisdom is on a mission to close the 'Online Health Gap' -- the scary space that exists between a doctor visit and the Internet, where people are left alone with an empty search box and millions of computer-generated results," said Unity Stoakes, president and co-founder of OrganizedWisdom. "This mobile initiative represents an important step in advancing our mission of connecting patients, wherever they are, with the most credible health and wellness experts."

The number of medical professionals actively engaging online has been rapidly increasing, but until now there has not been a reliable method for organizing these contributions. OrganizedWisdom is building a comprehensive Expert Health Graph to collect, organize, and promote these online contributions of thousands of vetted health experts and advocates now actively sharing wisdom across the Web.

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Enrolling in Medicare: PlanPrescriber Offers Recommendations for Baby Boomers Turning 65
Maynard, Massachussetts
PlanPrescriber, a wholly-owned subsidiary of eHealth, Inc., published advice for baby boomers enrolling in Medicare benefits for the first time. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, for the next 19 years, an average of 11,000 people will turn 65 years old every day, making them eligible for Medicare benefits. This means that starting this year, the first of 78 million baby boomers will begin educating themselves about their Medicare coverage options for the first time.

To help baby boomers make the right decisions about their coverage during their initial Medicare open enrollment period, newcomers to Medicare should consider the following recommendations.

1. Take it easy. You are not locked into the same Medicare plan forever. Each year you're able to change your Medicare Advantage coverage and/or your Medicare part D prescription drug coverage. Some Medicare Supplement (also called MediGap) plans only allow you to enroll without medical underwriting during your initial enrollment period (the first six months that you become eligible for Medicare), but others allow you to enroll at any time. If you begin researching Medicare before your 65th birthday, the decision-making process should be easier.

2. Do some basic training. Medicare can be confusing. It's a different type of health insurance coverage than most people are used to, so before you get inundated with sales pitches and unsolicited advice, try to understand your basic coverage options.

There are three basic Medicare coverage configurations you can choose from: The first is to go with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), plus a Part D prescription drug plan; the second is Medicare Advantage, which can include vision, dental and prescription drug coverage; and the third is a Medicare Supplement, or MediGap, plan coupled with Original Medicare (A and B) and Medicare Part D.

Each year during the annual enrollment period, it's a good idea to review and update your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Or, if you have Medicare Advantage coverage, you should review the prescription drug coverage on your Medicare Advantage plan at that time.

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Fortify HIT Contracts With Education and Ethics to Protect Patient Safety, Say Informatics Experts
Washington, DC
An original and progressive report on health information technology (HIT) vendors, their customers and patients, published online, makes ground-breaking recommendations for new practices that target the reduction or elimination of tensions that currently mar relationships between many HIT vendors and their customers, specifically with regard to indemnity and error management of HIT systems. In light of the Obama Administration's $19 billion investment in HIT, paid out in ARRA stimulus funds, these recommendations are particularly significant in helping to foster greater use of electronic health records and other tools in the transition from paper records, largely understood to be a hindrance to quality patient care.

The recommendations, adopted by AMIA -- the association of informatics professionals and a trusted authority in the HIT community -- strive to imbue the HIT vendor-customer relationship with transparency, veracity, and accountability through collaborative education focused on the installation, configuration and use of HIT systems, in combination with enterprise-wide ethics education to support patient safety. The recommendations are the result of deliberations by an AMIA Board-appointed Task Force. The position statement will appear in the January/February 2011 print edition of JAMIA, the scholarly peer-reviewed journal of informatics in health and biomedicine, co-published by AMIA and the BMJ Group.

"There was a need to consider, study and analyze questions of appropriate oversight," said AMIA Board Chairwoman Nancy M. Lorenzi, PhD, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University. "With as much interest and investment in HIT as there is today, AMIA -- an unbiased third party -- wanted to take a fresh look at gray areas that currently exist between vendors and their customers to see where new practices could be implemented to better support patient outcomes and protect patients, who these systems ultimately serve. We think these recommendations do an excellent job of addressing fairness and balancing accountability in the HIT marketplace and in the health sector."

The report, titled "HIT Vendors, their customers and patients: New challenges in ethics, safety, best practices and oversight," makes specific recommendations on Contract Language, Education and Ethics, Ethical Standards, User Groups, Best Practices, and Marketing. An additional section addresses Regulation and Oversight of the HIT Industry and next steps.
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Healthcare IT Is Tuned In to the Need for Uptime Assurance as Industry Adopts Electronic Records, Survey Finds
Maynard, Massachusetts
Healthcare organizations are moving steadily toward electronic health record (EHR) adoption to improve patient care but, at the same time, are aware of downtime's potential to erode EHR's benefits, according to a Stratus Technologies-ITIC survey. More than 70 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed have either implemented on-premise EHR systems or plan to. The number rises to 81 percent when outsource EHR providers are factored in. While only 6 percent of respondents are in the process of deploying an EHR system now, 35 percent plan to launch an on-premise system within the next year and 37 percent within the next 20 months.

"The survey results show that the majority of healthcare organizations clearly recognize how electronic health records can reduce overhead expenses and improve patient care," said Laura DiDio, principal at ITIC. "They also understand that those benefits are contingent on maximum uptime, and where downtime would have the most serious effect."

Uptime's importance is clear in responses to questions about disruptions to patient care and important administrative processes. Only 11 percent said that inability to access EHR files would cause minor disruptions; 64 percent said there would be notable disruptions, mainly administrative; processing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments were the most frequently cited at 67 and 53 percent. However, nearly half the respondents -- 49 percent -- said EHR system disruptions can increase the potential for patient data recording errors and 32 percent said it could cause errors in prescribing medications.

Despite the broad awareness of uptime's importance, almost 20 percent of respondents were still unsure how inaccessible health records would affect administration and patient care. "It's heartening to see that most healthcare IT professionals understand their uptime needs, though we still need to be concerned about the 20 percent that doesn't seem to grasp the issue, or have yet to begin an EHR evaluation or implementation," said Nelson Hsu, senior director, Avance product line. "Uptime isn't a 'nice to have' in medical applications. If a healthcare organization can't see where interrupted access to patient medical records affects care, then they don't understand why they need reliable hardware and software infrastructures that provide continuous uptime. Without that, their EHR projects -- on premise or outsourced -- lead to business disruption and the potential for compromised patient care."
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On The Eve of a Technology Breakthrough-OLED Production Set to Increase Tenfold in 2011
Hofstetten, Australia
"In 2011 we will all experience the decisive breakthrough of OLED technology in displays and lighting," says Erich Strasser, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the online portal The OLED expert has thoroughly analysed market and insider information: by mid-2011 Strasser expects global OLED production to have multiplied tenfold and promises numerous new, exciting products in the future.

According to Strasser, windows with transparent OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) will be commonplace in a few years time: during daylight hours they are transparent – in the evenings the OLEDs become a source of light. Windscreens in cars will function similarly, allowing navigation information to be transmitted through transparent OLEDs. Over the coming months, the publisher of expects huge advances in OLED technology: "The lifespan of the OLEDs will double, and contrast and colours will improve significantly."

OLED have already reached the mass markets in smartphones: companies like Nokia and Samsung have a few models with OLED displays on the market. "In the future, almost all smartphones will include OLED," Erich Strasser says. Strasser has been focusing on OLED technology since 2004 and opened the first online portal on the topic in the same year.

The advance in technology will continue at a record pace in 2011. Strasser: "The manufacturers have recognised the future of OLEDs. LG Display and Samsung Mobile Display alone will be investing EUR13b in new OLED production sites over the coming five years. A similar sum was invested in LCD technology at the time. It's clear: in the coming years, OLED will also conquer the Flat-TV market and will gradually replace LCD and plasma technology."

Erich Strasser: "As soon as 2011, LG plans to offer a 31" OLED 3D TV. And Samsung is even planning rollable OLED TVs within the next 24 months."
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Health, Budget Concerns Will Drive Food Flavor and Ingredient Market in 2011
New York, New York
Consumer thriftiness and health-consciousness will continue to exert a notable influence over the food and beverage ingredient and flavor trends to emerge in 2011, according to Food Flavors and Ingredients Outlook 2011, the eighth edition of the annual series by market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"Heading into 2011, consumers are growing evermore weary of economic and nutritional health gloom and doom. Many have spent the last few years reinventing their financial and employment lives, and are now starting to focus more emphasis on their overall wellbeing and happiness in a way that is reflective of their values, being more pragmatic and deliberate in making decisions about how to spend both their time and their resources," says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Packaged Facts believes food marketers, from the retail and foodservice sectors, will take that consumer mindset to heart in 2011. Some of the key trends Packaged Facts forecasts to hit it big in 2011 are:

Flavors From Around the Globe -- Ethnic food will remain a bright spot for foodservice and retailers, providing variety and interest without taxing smaller food budgets. The growing presence of food trucks, with their varied ethnic fare at reasonable prices, will bring this national trend home to the local level.

Sustainability Trumps Local, Organic and Natural -- Local, organic and natural foods will more often be connected with eco-friendliness and a more holistic lifestyle approach to eating that promotes sustainability. As a result, Packaged Facts predicts that there will be greater use of natural, organic, local and antibiotic and hormone-free ingredients at quick serve restaurants and fast casual restaurants in 2011. At retail, the popularity of private label organic products is anticipated to continue while growth in directly marketed local and organic produce, meats and locally processed foods sold via farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture is anticipated.
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The Top 5 Mobile Resolutions Marketers Need to Make for 2011
San Mateo, California
The mobile marketplace is a moving target and for Fortune 500 organizations, getting a mobile offering right couldn't be more essential to building a successful brand. These companies have been in a frenzy to launch mobile offerings that capture the attention of consumers and keep them one step ahead of competitors. From identifying consumer's mobile needs to dealing with the onslaught of new mobile device introductions, CMOs and CIOs are pulled in too many directions and are often overwhelmed by the task of developing a successful mobile offering that reaches all consumers across all devices.

"The additional revenue potential in mobile applications for consumer brands is astronomical. With the variety of devices, operating systems, features and capabilities that brands face today, it's near impossible for a company to parse out what's going to make them successful in the space and give them the greatest bang for their mobile dollar," said Raj Koneru, CEO of Kony Solutions, Inc., the mobile application platform provider with Write Once, Run Everywhere technology, enabling applications to be designed and developed just once, in a device independent manner, and deployed across multiple channels, including on-device applications, mobile web, SMS, web gadgets, desktop applications, and tablets.

Koneru continued, "2011 provides brands with an opportunity to slow down and really strategize about their mobile portfolio, make the right investments and find the right partner that will help them to protect their investment and see solid return. With so many new innovations hitting the mobile market every day, it's essential for companies to understand which new features and trends will be most important to leverage in the New Year."

Drawing on extensive experience designing, developing, and maintaining mobile portfolios for Fortune 500 brands across a variety of industries and the entire breadth of mobile devices, operating systems and channels on the market today, Kony Solutions predicts the five key trends these companies need to leverage as part of their mobile offering in 2011.

1. Augmented Reality Meets Shopping

To-date augmented reality applications have been focused on navigation programs, being used primarily to direct users to a location. In 2011, the mobile space will see more experimentation with augmented reality. Applications will begin to harness its power to engage consumers, offering incentivizing information on products in-store. Consumers will be able to hold their phone's camera up to a product and see discounts or coupons on the product layered over the real-life image.

2. Voice Is Key In Security

A significant roadblock to consumer adoption of mobile wallet technologies has been consumers' concerns over the security of storing sensitive information on their mobile handsets. Developers have attempted to quiet these concerns by implementing protection features such as multi-factor authentication to their apps. In 2011, voice biometrics will emerge as the new standard for security. According to Citibank Australia CEO Roy Gori, using an individual's voiceprint for security purposes can be more accurate than any other means of identification, while also making obsolete the typical series of log-in passwords and questions for users resulting in increased ease-of-use and consequently, adoption.
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Call to Arms and Action Plan for New Age of Health Care
Washington, DC
Despite the promise of a new era of health care in which medicine has shifted from treating conditions to emphasizing prevention fueled by individualized care, a significant gap remains in realizing its benefits because of outmoded attitudes, protocols and procedures targeted for treating mass populations. Such is the core argument and motivation behind the "Personalized Health Manifesto," released to kick off the 2010 Translational Medicine Alliance Forum  at the Mandarin Oriental.

Written by journalist and best-selling author David Ewing Duncan and funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the manifesto is "an old-fashioned call to arms and action plan for a new age of health care" that takes direct aim at the challenges of integrating and implementing personalized health care in the United States and seeks to accelerate the incorporation of personalized health into the current health care system.

"Making this shift to personalized health is a formidable task that will take many years to accomplish, but having scientists and health care leaders sign on to a comprehensive plan is a powerful place to start," Duncan said. "Launching a new era of personalized health will not require the creation of a radical new blueprint for change. We can use existing plans and reforms that individuals inside and outside of government have already proposed."

"The manifesto is a fitting catalyst for conversation about how we can better and more quickly get cures to patients amid the billions being spent on research and drug development," said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of advancing innovation at the Kauffman Foundation. "It directs us to focus on what we need to treat a patient, what we need to change in policy, what do we need to change in process, and how we need to more broadly share data to get the patient what he or she needs."

The manifesto's "action plan" aims to set a new direction for health care, emphasizing prediction, prevention, individualized care and healthy wellness to ensure that the best medicines make it to the marketplace and optimize patient care. By focusing on the whole human organism, the manifesto challenges the prevailing use of drugs and protocols to target populations and averages rather than individuals. It further outlines the necessary groundwork for speeding up the process of moving from research to new drugs and other products and treatments by introducing more effective models that will ultimately improve health and reduce health care costs.
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"Revolution" Is Coming: Computer History Museum Will Launch Signature Exhibit Spanning "The First 2000 Years of Computing" in Early 2011
Mountain View, California
The Computer History Museum, the world's leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society, is going to start a "Revolution" in January 2011. The Museum formally announced the plans for its new signature exhibition, "Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing." The exhibition will be the world's most comprehensive physical and online exploration of computing history, spanning everything from the abacus and slide rules to robots, Pong, the Internet, and beyond. Presented in a fresh, fascinating way, the $19 million expansion will appeal to a wide range of visitors including families, tech enthusiasts, gamers, and anyone else interested in learning how computing came to be and has shaped the way we live today.

In addition to expanding CHM's physical exhibit space by 50 percent, "Revolution" will be an on-site and online experience. The web exhibit will showcase an expansive collection of one-of-a-kind artifacts, engaging stories, never seen before interviews with pioneers and dozens of videos produced exclusively for this exhibition.

Currently under construction, "Revolution" is a 25,000-square foot wonderland of more than 1,000 artifacts alongside the people and stories that illustrate the social impact of computing. It includes 18 originally produced mini-movies and more than 40 oral histories on interactive personal viewing stations. Visitors will engage in a variety of sensory experiences, from picking up a 24-lb Osborne computer and playing vintage computer games like Pong, Spacewar!, Adventure and Pac-man to surfing the Web in the 1990s.

"We are delighted to bring to life the world's premier historical exhibition on the Information Age," said John Hollar, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHM. "Revolution represents nearly a decade of work by hundreds of people in consultation with our professional staff. The result is an accessible, multi-layered approach to storytelling that suits a variety of learning styles, both on site and online. People of all computing generations will be engaged in unexpected ways when they see how the devices and software they used over the years, and use today, originally came to be."
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Joint Commission Publishes New Guide for Advancing Patient-Centered Care
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois
A free monograph released by The Joint Commission, entitled "Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals," provides recommendations to inspire hospitals to address unique patient needs and comply with new standards for patient-centered communication.

In August 2008, The Joint Commission, with funding from The Commonwealth Fund, began an initiative to advance the issues of effective communication, cultural competence, and patient-and family-centered care in hospitals. The project was directed by Paul Schyve, M.D., senior vice president, The Joint Commission, and Amy Wilson-Stronks, M.P.P., project director, Division of Quality Measurement and Research, and principal investigator for The Joint Commission study Hospitals, Language, and Culture. The focus of the project was to develop accreditation standards for the hospital program and a monograph to help hospitals better meet patient needs. The Joint Commission collaborated with the National Health Law Program to develop the Roadmap for Hospitals.

"We want to inspire hospitals to integrate effective communication, cultural competence, and patient- and family-centered care into their organizations," says Dr. Schyve. "By giving hospitals this Roadmap, we are providing them with the methods to begin or improve upon their efforts to ensure that all patients receive the same high quality care."

Effective communication, cultural competence, and patient-and family-centered care are not stand-alone initiatives. A hospital must embed these practices in the core activities of its system of care delivery to truly meet the needs of the patients, families, and communities served. The recommendations in the Roadmap for Hospitals do not encompass every aspect of these three areas, but represent key issues that hospitals should consider to meet the unique needs of each patient. Practice examples and recommendations address various issues including race, ethnicity, language, culture, health literacy, other communication barriers, mobility needs, and the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. The Joint Commission encourages hospitals to adopt a combination of the practices discussed and to use these examples as a foundation for creating processes, policies, and programs that are best suited for their organizations.
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"The Doctor is (Logged) In"
Garrison, New York
Aurora Information Technology, a medical website design company, speaks about what it knows best in Florida Medical Magazine's Winter 2010 quarterly edition: the power of Internet medical marketing for the healthcare industry. The issue, which focused on the "e-Patient," challenged doctors to become "less paper-dependent and more computer and web-reliant." Aurora IT has long acknowledged that the Internet is destined to become a larger part of doctors' practices. They share their wisdom in an article entitled "The Doctor is (Logged) In: Physician websites have evolved from virtual placeholders to dynamic patient service tools."

With a quarterly circulation of more than 15,500 readers, Florida Medical Magazine, reports on contemporary topics so that their readers can remain up-to-date on the changing trends of practicing medicine. In the article, CEO Daniel Gilbert noted that the general attitude of medical website marketing has moved from "reluctance to enthusiasm" as physicians embrace the power of the web in promoting their business. Patients want to walk into an office and know as much as they can about the doctor they have selected and their background. As Gilbert noted, "A website should reflect a physician's depth of knowledge in his or her specialty."

The search for medical information ranks third among the most popular searches on the Internet behind checking email and shopping online. This is why Florida Medical Magazine claims, "For many Americans who are feeling ill, the laptop is the first stop, not the waiting room." An abundance of conflicting information is dangerous to the average web surfer, which leads to a panic called "cyberchondria," as noted in the article. This panic will lead a patient to believe that they actually suffer from the affliction they have just researched.
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Digital Pen plus MD Form Manager Provides Traditional Documentation Approach of Pen and Paper to EHR
New York, New York
MedLink, a leading provider of Electronic Health Records and practice management solutions, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Health Informatics, Inc. a provider of cutting edge clinical data digitization technology that simplifies and streamlines the adoption of Electronic Health Records.

The Health Informatics Digital Pen, in conjunction with MD Form Manager, is the flagship offering of the Company. The Digital Pen looks and feels like a normal ball point pen, however, the Digital Pen contains an integrated infrared digital camera, an advanced image microprocessor and a mobile communications device for wireless connection. The camera records the precise location of ink strokes as it moves over a uniquely constructed grid of microscopic dot patterns. These dots provide the pen with exact co-ordinates of its position, which, through MD Form Manager, are designed to interface directly with the MedLink EHR to collect discrete data elements that electronically populate the patient chart. The solution provides doctors and their staff with the traditional documentation approach of pen and paper, but the advanced ability of digitally documenting and capturing the data required to provide 'meaningful use' and other quality data reports.
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BUGS and Pacific Sands, Inc. Ready Products to Aid Oil Spill Cleanup Efforts
Carlsbad, California
U.S. Microbics (aka BUGS), an environmental technology company, and Pacific Sands, Inc., a manufacturer of a broad range of environmentally friendly cleaning products, are jointly formulating products that could directly benefit victims of the recent Gulf Oil Spill, one of the worst environmental disasters of our time. The products could soon be available for consumer and commercial use and could be used on marine structures and wildlife contaminated with gooey oil.

Using components of the Pacific Sands Natural Choices product line and the oil spill cleanup experience of BUGS management coupled with direct input from industry experts and technologists, the companies hope to introduce one or more products that can help clean up oil spill residue without using additional solvents, dyes, and chemicals that irritate the skin, require special equipment and training to apply or may harm the environment. The developed products would be available to consumers on the website and to industrial and commercial clean up users on a BUGS website to be announced.

Robert Brehm, CEO of BUGS, commented, "The BUGS technology was successfully used on the Santa Barbara oil spill in the late 1960's and I believe there are cleanup lessons we have learned that are applicable to the Gulf Oil Spill particularly with respect to the use of oil-eating microbes for post capture oil treatment in soil and water. In the past we used surfactants and degreasers with oil spill cleanup operations and the availability of the natural products from Pacific Sands and commercially available microbe products could significantly aid the cleanup process without harmful environmental effects of conventional processes now being used. Our goal is to have simple and effective natural products that can be easily used by the consumer and by commercial cleanup crews."
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Expert Panel Speaks Out on Need for Privacy, Access and Identity for Healthcare Information
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Privacy, access and identity are vital to the Obama administration's effort to modernize the nation's healthcare information infrastructure, a panel of policy and technology experts told healthcare industry leaders, public policy makers and policy-influencing organizations at a National Press Club briefing in Washington, DC. The event was co-hosted by the Smart Card Alliance Healthcare and Identity Councils and the Secure ID Coalition. A video of all of the presentations from the healthcare identity and privacy briefing is available online. The topic is timely because healthcare IT is getting nearly a $19 billion boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The speakers agreed the sense of urgency and massive investment are good news, but that time pressure might also cause problems.

"There is a risk we will focus too much on standards for electronic health records (EHRs) and ways to exchange them at the expense of sound privacy and identity models," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. "The critical issues are getting control over who has access to healthcare information, and correctly tying the right individual to his or her health records. That means identity management and access authentication security have to be baked-in from the start, not tacked on at the end."

Correctly identifying patients and their records is difficult just within a single hospital, but gets far worse between multiple institutions, according to a leading practitioner and specialist on the subject, Paul Contino, vice president, Information Technology, at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. He cautioned that identity management must be addressed correctly up front or "we're going to have problems with the linkages of electronic medical records" on a regional or even national basis. Mount Sinai revamped patient registration processes and implemented a smart card-based patient card to more accurately link individuals to their medical and administrative records.
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Who Are You? Establishing Trust in Digital Identities
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
The need for trust in identity is at the foundation of our society and economy. How to establish that trust, protect it, and tie it uniquely to an individual, particularly in online transactions, were the topics that dominated the many identity sessions at the Smart Card Alliance Annual Conference, held recently in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The first problem is how to prove an identity. "We have a big hole in the middle of this information identity highway; it is called foundational credentials," said Mike O'Neil, executive director of the North American Security Products Organization (NASPO). O'Neil points out that the commonly used base breeder documents -- birth certificates, driver's licenses, and Social Security cards -- were never designed to be identity documents and are easily falsified. Under the recommendations of ANSI, NASPO is developing a new identity verification standard and process that could be used to establish more trusted identities for individuals.

The next set of problems, using that identity, tying it uniquely to its owner and protecting it from theft or abuse, has become a critical issue in many sectors. The need for cybersecurity makes this more acute as more transactions move online, driven by the underlying economics of the Web. "The Web is unparalleled at driving down costs, which is why everything is going to the Web and everything on the Web is going to the cloud. The problem is as you go to the cloud you increase risk," said Mike Ozburn, principal, Booz Allen Hamilton, and keynote speaker at the Alliance event. "Security has to be as implicit, as built-in, and as architectural" as the cost dynamics that are driving everything to the Web and the cloud, Ozburn argues.

The Obama administration is taking the lead in this area with the National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions initiative, which is expected to facilitate the establishment of a broad identity ecosystem that can provide an online trust framework. "Last November we published the ICAM Segment Architecture, which was the first attempt at a governmentwide process for identity management," said Judy Spencer of the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy. That document primarily focuses on the federal government as both a provider of identity and a consumer of identity. According to Spencer, the new initiative takes the principles of identity authentication and management in that work and moves it to the next level, where the federal government may not even be a party to the transaction at all.
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Artificial Intelligence Added to Medloom Clinical Decision Support System
Junction City, Kansas
Lead Horse Technologies has announced the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to its Medloom clinical decision support system. Medloom runs on the InterSystems CACHE high-performance object database platform. CACHE provides the high performance, rapid development environment and advanced features needed for the real-time decision support that characterizes the Medloom system, according to John M. Armstrong, Ph.D., Lead Horse Technologies Chairman and CEO.

Dubbed Ardvarc, the new patent-pending AI software is already viewed by some industry experts as a potential leap forward in drug safety. "Lead Horse Technologies is unique. They've developed terrifically novel software that, in my opinion, would give valuable early signals about drug safety issues... signals that just haven't been available until now," said Charles L. Bennett, MD, Ph.D. and the Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Medication Safety and Efficacy at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy.

"There is no more important issue than pharmaceutical safety, but many people don't really pay attention to it," Bennett continued. "Most clinicians assume that drugs are vetted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Simply stated, the manufacturer has a difficult time and, while the FDA tries its hardest, there just aren't enough people to do the work completely."
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Washington State's New Hands-Free Cell Phone Law: Businesses Face Unique Challenges and Issues Regarding Compliance
Seattle, Washington
Following Washington State's new law that makes hand-held cell phones and text messaging while driving a primary offense, many businesses in the state face their own unique set of challenges in complying with the law: how to handle employees who spend a significant part of their workday on the road.

Two Washington companies, DialPro Northwest and Personnel Management Systems, are teaming up to help businesses keep their employees safe and connected to the office with expert tips in a new guide that helps businesses navigate the unique challenges and issues many face in keeping their employees safe, productive and in compliance with the law.

"Most company HR policies are out of date and need to be updated," says Jack Goldberg, president, Personnel Managements Systems, a leading provider of outsourced human resource management services. "We encourage businesses to review their policies in light of current employee cell phone usage and the law. Employees should minimize the amount of time they use the cell phone while driving on the job, and to always stay safe by using headsets or hands-free devices when they absolutely need to use the phone."

"Unlike individuals, many businesses have employees who have to stay connected to the office by phone and email while on the road," says Dennis Tyler, president of DialPro Northwest, a leading provider of voice messaging and unified communications solutions. "It is not always feasible for employees to pull to the side of the road. Sometimes a quick response is required to respond to an email message or make a phone call. There are a whole group of business-oriented speech recognition tools that keep employees both safe and connected to the office while offering full compliance with the law."
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New Online Tool Helps Hospitals Calculate Health IT Stimulus Dollars Available to Fund EHR
San Diego, California
Medsphere Systems Corporation, the leading provider of open-source healthcare IT solutions, today unveiled a new Stimulus ROI Calculator designed to help hospitals make more informed, financially sound health IT decisions.

"This online Calculator," explained Medsphere President and CEO Mike Doyle, "demonstrates the ability of most hospitals to leverage federal stimulus dollars and totally fund a proven and comprehensive electronic health record solution, specifically, Medsphere's OpenVista® EHR. Moreover, our rapid six-to-nine-month implementation process assures OpenVista hospitals that they will be enabled to achieve meaningful use in time to qualify for maximum stimulus dollars. And to let hospitals know how committed we are to helping them achieve meaningful health IT use and thereby meet federal stimulus requirements, we put one-third of our subscription fees at risk."

This automated ROI Calculator uses Medicare and Medicaid discharge information to calculate the estimated federal stimulus dollars a hospital can qualify for by achieving meaningful use as defined by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The federal government is using ARRA, in part, to impel healthcare organizations to deploy and meaningfully use the health IT necessary to manage costs and improve patient care. The tool helps hospitals estimate five-year subscription fees for Medsphere's OpenVista EHR solution based on the data they enter (exact figures available upon request). The Calculator then automatically correlates the two estimates -- EHR fees and ARRA stimulus -- to show hospital executives approximately how long it will take to recoup their EHR investment via ARRA.

"As hospitals ponder meaningful use of EHRs and meeting federal ARRA guidelines, they need straight answers from vendors on pricing, time to implementation, achievement of meaningful use and other key issues," said Doyle. "A general lack of vendor openness has made many hospitals reluctant to proceed though they may be leaving millions of sorely needed stimulus dollars on the table.
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Doctors Should Be Wary of EHR Vendors' Stimulus Fund 'Guarantees'
Lincoln, Nebraska
Amid widespread speculation over proposed incentives for the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR/EHR) systems, physicians and medical practice managers should be wary of vendors promising guaranteed receipt of stimulus funds by their customers.

According to practice management expert Mark Hollis, EMR/EHR vendors that promise physicians automatic qualification and receipt of any financial windfall can, in reality, offer no more guarantee of actually receiving cash than simply purchasing a lottery ticket guarantees one to be a winner. And, he says, physicians should instead focus on the overall benefits of improved practice efficiency, ease of use, and a higher quality of care when selecting an EMR/EHR system for their office.

Financial Incentives Spur Interest in EMR

In late December, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released preliminary documents aimed at outlining the steps physicians, clinics and hospitals must take to qualify for their share of the more than $17 billion available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

With individual providers eligible for up to $44,000 each under certain Medicare participation requirements and $65,000 under Medicaid, as well as the threat of penalties in future years in the form of reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for not adopting some EHR technology, the stakes seem high for physicians in a time when skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums and the cost of collecting from uninsured patients cut deeply into revenue.

"Many physicians have been led to believe that merely purchasing a certified EMR solution will guarantee them a much-needed financial shot in the arm in the form of a stimulus payout," said Hollis, president and co-founder of MacPractice, the leading provider of practice management and clinical software for Macs. "I wish that were true, but it's simply not the case. There will be specific criteria to meet, and unfortunately, many physicians, especially non-primary care providers, will not qualify even if they do purchase an EMR system, regardless of the vendor they choose."
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Dr. Deepak Chopra Releases "Stress Free" for the iPhone: a Coaching Program That Helps People Lead Stress Free, Happier, and Healthier Lives
Pleasantville, New York
Ready to live a life without stress? Dr. Deepak Chopra is putting the keys to a stress-free life right in our pockets. The bestselling author and world-renowned authority in the field of mind-body medicine has created the first mobile step by step program to becoming stress free. The new stress reduction program has been developed specifically for the iPhone/iPod Touch. It features videos of Dr. Chopra as a personal stress relief coach guiding users through a series of daily journaling exercises, guided meditations, music therapy and yoga exercises.

Stress Free is the first in a series of iPhone applications and mobile programs from Deepak Chopra. It also represents the first time such a program is being released directly in an interactive mobile format, without first being released in a book. With his new series of personalized mobile applications, Dr. Chopra intends to provide people with the opportunity of making significant life changes by following daily habit-changing exercises on the go and throughout the day.

The new application combines evidence-based psychology research with traditional Vedic principles. The self-guided program walks users through a set of stress-reduction activities and skills. Throughout each step in the program, users are personally coached by Dr. Chopra in a series of activity-specific videos. Activities include self-reflective interactive exercises relating to one's body, self/ego, relationships and emotions, as well as journaling, questionnaires, music therapy, meditations, yoga exercises and personal nutrition tips based on the concepts of Ayurveda.

"We know that stress is a major contributor to the serious epidemics of our time such as heart disease and cancer; finding ways to combat stress is critical to our health and well being," said Deepak Chopra. "What's so exciting about 'Stress Free' is for the first time, people can access the guidance and tools they need right when they need them most. By following simple daily activities on their phone, individuals can positively change their life perspective and psychological well being."
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Human/Animal Bond and "Pet Parent" Spending Insulate U.S. Pet Market Against Downturn, Forecast to Drive Post-Recession Growth
New York, New York
Buoyed by the ongoing pets-as-family phenomenon and the "pet parent" sentiment that accompanies it, the pet industry managed to resist the recession and in fact demonstrate growth in 2009, according to U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2010-2011: Tapping into Post-Recession Pet Parent Spending, by market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"The pet market has fared well overall despite the recession, and Packaged Facts attributes this performance to a number of factors that will also be integral to its even better performance in 2010 and 2011," says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts. "Chief among these factors is the human/animal bond, which is an excellent insulator against recessionary cutbacks, and the 'pet parent' sentiment has never been higher."

Packaged Facts pegs the pet market at $53 billion market (which includes veterinary services, pet food, non-food pet supplies, and non-medical pet services), and expects growth in the industry as the economy moves from recession to recovery. Pent-up pet parent demand for products and services that both enhance pet health and pamper animal companions will begin to kick in during 2010. And Packaged Facts projects sales will reach $72 billion by 2014.

Simply put, many pet owners are as unlikely to seriously cut back on spending for the "pet" family as they are for their "human" family, and in many cases would do so only after reducing spending on their own less essential needs. Such tendencies have typified the behavior of pet owners across the economic spectrum, be they affluent or middle class consumers. What's more, even those pet owners who may have cut back in other areas continued to spend on small indulgences for their pets, which partially explains the increase in sales of items such as dog treats and cat snacks during 2009.
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Independent Study Indicates That Enterprises View Collaboration, Ease of Use as More Important Than Security When Choosing a Cloud Vendor
Palo Alto, California
CloudShare today announced the results of an independent survey that examines the perception and adoption of cloud computing solutions. The survey sheds light on "What Matters Most in the Cloud" and indicates that ease of use, an all-inclusive business model, and support for existing IT architecture outweighs security as the most important factors for enterprises moving, or considering a move, to the cloud.

The evaluation, conducted by an independent market research firm, issued surveys to representatives from 2,500 enterprises, asking respondents to cite factors driving their particular organization's move towards cloud-based services. The study reveals that while security continues to be an area of consideration for cloud adoption, it is no longer regarded as the number one concern for selecting a cloud provider.
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Health Care Reform: New Consumer Poll Suggests Some Could Be Delaying Coverage
Mountain View, California
When given a choice between waiting for health reform legislation to pass or researching and seeking health insurance coverage immediately, 24% of adults surveyed would choose to wait before seeking coverage if they lost their coverage today, according to a new poll. Of those that were uninsured, more than two-in-five (44%) would choose to wait for reform legislation to pass before seeking coverage. Among the insured, one in five (21%) would wait, if they lost their coverage today.

The poll, conducted in December 2009 by Opinion Research Corporation and sponsored by eHealth, Inc., reveals public perceptions about health care reform as Americans wait for reform legislation to make its way through Congress. "This study reflects what we are hearing from people every day," said Gary Lauer, president and CEO of eHealth, Inc. "While waiting for health insurance reform, some Americans are unsure what to do about their health coverage needs today. We believe health reform will happen and that it may hold promise for a better system, but consumers shouldn't risk going without coverage. Until reform is written into law and becomes effective, Americans need to know that there are already a number of viable health insurance options in the non-group market for individuals and families today."
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Pet Health Insurance Market Expected to Reach Over $650 Million by 2010
Jericho, New York
Social Media Ventures, Inc. has announced that its social networking site for pet enthusiasts,  will now offer pet health insurance, one of the fastest growing services in the booming pet industry. Americans currently spend $51 billion annually on their pets as reported in a BusinessWeek story. Veterinary Care ranks as one of the largest expenses, which the American Veterinary Association reports costs pet owners more than $18 billion annually. In addition, The American Animal Hospital Association reported that 73 percent of pet owners are willing to go into debt to pay for their pet's medical expenses.

Pet insurance is an increasingly popular way for pet owners to mitigate these medical expenses. According to a CNBC report, Pet health insurance is the third most requested employee benefit. To meet this growing demand, major corporations like Home Depot and Blockbuster Video now offer employees pet health insurance. "Pet health insurance is one of the fastest growing subsets of the booming pet market," said Robert W. Thayer, CEO of Social Media Ventures, Inc. "We are very excited to now offer pet health insurance to our social networking site for pet enthusiasts," The pet health insurance is made available through an affiliate program provided to Social Media Ventures for
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Information Age Forces Strategic Shifts in Medical Information Call Centers, According to New Cutting Edge Information Report
Triangle Park, North Carolina
Pharmaceutical medical information call centers face challenging times ahead. Most call center leaders find their call loads decreasing as the information age makes it easier for doctors and patients to find product information on websites or via weblogs. Furthermore, the increasing prevalence of medical science liaisons imparting medically based information on physicians is starting to encroach upon the tasks once handled only by medical information call centers.

The newest report from pharmaceutical business intelligence leader Cutting Edge Information, "Evolving Medical Information Call Centers through Performance Measurement and Process Improvement," available at, aims to help medical information leaders deal with the changing environment.
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Medline Launches New 'Generation Pink Exam Glove Featuring Patented 3G Technology With Greater Flexibility and Protection
Mundelein, Ilinois
As part of its ongoing campaign to raise breast cancer awareness, Medline Industries, Inc., the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, today announced the launch of its "Generation Pink" powder-free synthetic exam glove. To aide the awareness effort, Medline will donate $1.00 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for each case of the new pink glove purchased during the month of October, national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The new Generation Pink exam glove features Medline's patented third generation technology, an advanced polymer formulation that offers outstanding sensitivity with a unique softness and flexibility. "The new Generation Pink glove is not only a tangible symbol of our ongoing commitment to breast cancer awareness and research, but our customers will also be showing their support every time they wear them," said Tripp Amdur, president of Medline's Glove Division. "At the same time, Generation Pink's patented third generation synthetic technology provides healthcare workers with the tactile sensitivity, fit and barrier protection that enables facilities to go latex-free."
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Top Security Predictions for 2010: Threats to Social Networking Sites, Operating Systems, and Cloud Computing Technologies Are Predicted to Increase; Botnets Will Remain Popular in 2010
Bucharest, Romania
Botnets, malicious applications and social networking malware are all threats to look out for in 2010, according to BitDefender. BitDefender, an award-winning provider of innovative anti-malware security solutions, also predicts that in 2010 cybercriminals will target operating systems, mobile devices and enterprise technologies such as cloud computing.

"2009 saw a wide range of security threats aiming at both end-users and at corporate networks," said Catalin Cosoi, BitDefender's senior anti-spam researcher. "The Conficker worm took a dramatic surge and managed to stay one of the top three global threats during 2009. Although not entirely dangerous, its spreading mechanisms and its resistance to detection may be regarded as the cornerstone of the upcoming breeds of highly destructive malware."

BitDefender's 2010 security predictions include:

Botnet activity

Spam sent by botnets will be at the core of malware threats in 2010. We will also see some distributed denial of service attacks, as proof of concepts for the future or possible customers of the botnets. If a client wants to rent a botnet, but he is not sure of the capabilities of the network, he might want to see a demonstration of power.

Malicious applications

The majority of malicious applications are oriented towards illicit financial gain. BitDefender estimates that 2010 will bring an increased amount of malware, especially adware applications and rogue antivirus software. More complex malware, such as rootkit-based file infectors and worms relying on multiple vectors of infection (e-mail, instant messaging and peer-to-peer protocols) are also expected to increase.
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New Study Shows Coaching to Patient Activation Levels Improves Disease Management Outcomes
Irvine, California
People with chronic health conditions who receive coaching tailored to their level of health activation showed significant improvements in clinical outcomes, and experienced fewer hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room than those coached using traditional methods, according to a study published in the June issue of The American Journal of Managed Care. The study, led by Judith Hibbard, Ph.D. and colleagues at the University of Oregon, compared the behaviors of patients receiving standard telephone disease management (DM) coaching with those who received more tailored coaching based on their "activation level" as part of a DM program offered by the health improvement company LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc. Activation levels are determined by the Patient Activation Measure, a survey tool developed by Hibbard and colleagues to assess an individual's knowledge, skills and confidence in playing a role in one's own health and healthcare.

"LifeMasters is continually implementing new methodologies and tools to improve outcomes," said Mary Jane Osmick, M.D., Vice President and Medical Director. "We have learned that deploying targeted interventions rather than using a 'one size fits all' approach is a critical success factor. Our nurses and coaches are the first in the DM industry to provide individual patient support by applying a fully integrated coaching model that includes the PAM. The findings reinforce our understanding that improved activation is an overarching measure of success that leads to significant clinical improvement and financial savings. "

The quasi-experimental research, which was conducted in a real-life DM setting, included an intervention group and a control group of nurse coaches and their patients in geographically separate call centers, which were selected based on the similarity of their nurse coaches' tenure and years of experience. The findings show those who received coaching with the PAM experienced a 33% decline in hospital admissions compared to the control group, which remained flat, and a 22% decline in emergency room visits compared with an increase of 20% in the control group. The PAM group also experienced statistically significant improvements in diastolic blood pressure and in LDL cholesterol levels relative to the control group, and increased their adherence to recommended immunization and drug regimens, including the influenza vaccine. The PAM score intervention group showed fewer hospital stays, which translated into a savings of $145 per person per month for the intervention population. A similar decline was seen in visits to the emergency room among this group, which equates to an $11 per person per month savings. "The PAM is unique among social science-based assessments in that it measures an individual's underlying health belief structure. This structure reflects the degree to which the person feels in charge of his or her own health and healthcare, and is the basis for a whole spectrum of health behaviors. This creates a more holistic view of the individual, one which is essential to providing effective support," said Dr. Hibbard.
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Brain Injury Association of America Urges President Obama to Include Cognitive Rehabilitation for Returning Service Members as a Part of TRICARE Coverage
Washington, DC
With an estimated 20% of injured American soldiers who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan experiencing a possible traumatic brain injury (TBI), the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has called on President Obama to extend military health care coverage to include cognitive rehabilitation, a proven treatment for this signature injury of modern combat. Senator Evan Bayh and then-Senator Barack Obama led a group of 10 United States Senators in issuing a letter on Aug. 4, 2008, to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging coverage of cognitive rehabilitation within the military's TRICARE health insurance program. In a press release announcing this letter, then-Senator Obama described cognitive rehabilitation therapy as "one of the most accepted treatments for TBI." Congressional Task Force Co-chairs Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. and Congressman Todd Platts spearheaded a similar letter to the Department of Defense on Sept. 19, 2008, which was signed by 67 members of the House.

More recently, the Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. (also known as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Anthem Health Plans) determined that cognitive rehabilitation is a medically necessary treatment for patients with TBI. Anthem cited BIAA's position paper, "Cognitive Rehabilitation: The Evidence, Funding and Case for Advocacy" among the authoritative publications consulted. United Health Care followed suit in May 2009 with a similar decision covering cognitive rehabilitation for individuals with brain injury.
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The US is Poised to Overtake Japan in Manufacture of Robotics Used for In-Home Medical Monitoring
Conyers, Georgia
GeckoSystems is a dynamic leader in the emerging mobile robotics industry revolutionizing their development and usage with "Mobile Robot Solutions for Safety, Security and Service." Many in the U.S. may mistakenly believe that the Japanese are world leaders in personal robot development. However, this is not the case. In the last ten years, the Japanese government has granted over $100M in R&D funding amongst their leading international manufacturers for the development of eldercare personal companion robots, but still have no viable products developed. An excellent illustration of this is Matsushita's recent failure when they attempted to sell their "Wakamaru" personal companion robot. Many observers believe it lacked sufficient cost effective utility that prevented it from being perceived as a "value" by the Japanese consumer. It has been taken off the market.

Due to the sufficiency and cost effective robustness of GeckoSystems' first product, the CareBot™, near term in home evaluation trials have been recently announced. "In the U.S. we project the available market size in dollars for cost effective, utilitarian, multitasking eldercare personal companion robots in 2010 to be $74.0B, in 2011 to be $77B, in 2012 to be $80B, in 2013 to be $83.3B, and in 2014 to be $86.6B. With market penetrations of 0.03% in 2010, 0.06% in 2011, 0.22% in 2012, 0.53% in 2013, and 0.81% in 2014, we will anticipate sales, from this consumer market segment only, of $22.0M, $44.0M, $176M, $440.2M, and $704.3M, respectively. We expect these sales despite and perhaps because of the present recession due to pent up demand for significant cost reduction in eldercare expenses," concluded Spencer.
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A Site Dedicated to Helping People Share Relevant Experiences to Inform Important Health and Life Decisions
Seattle, Washington
Trusera, an angel-funded, Seattle-based startup founded in 2007 has announced the launch of its online health network, which allows consumers to find and share real-world health experiences with others who've been there. Led by former Amazon executive, Keith Schorsch, the company vision was based on Keith's own struggle with Lyme disease and the difficulty in finding credible health insights from others. After meeting with 11 doctors, it was one phone call from a friend that finally led to his diagnosis and saved his life. During his diagnosis and recovery, Keith realized that there's actually too much health information on the Internet today. Many people find it overwhelming to navigate and hard to trust. He found the most useful information came from people with similar health experiences and their own personal health stories. He founded Trusera to inspire people to learn from each other to inform important health decisions.

There's power in sharing personal experience and knowledge to help others in their health journey. Trusera believes that people are more than just the sum of their conditions. They are multi-dimensional and need personalized solutions for a variety of life challenges when dealing with a health issue.
Full Story Works With Microsoft HealthVault to Make Prescription Data Available to Patients
Fort Worth, Texas
PDX and have entered into a strategic agreement with Microsoft to make prescription data, which manages for multiple chain and independent pharmacy clients, available to Microsoft HealthVault users by accessing a single site with aggregated prescription data. The agreement enables any pharmacy using the Electronic Pharmacy Record (EPR) to export their patients' prescription history into HealthVault. Each PDX pharmacy client will have their own independent relationship with Microsoft, while PDX serves to technically integrate the pharmacy's data with the HealthVault platform. Meijer, Inc. is the first PDX client to start integration with HealthVault.

HealthVault helps people collect and store health information from many sources in one location, so that it is always organized and available to them online. HealthVault is working with doctors, hospitals, employers, pharmacies, insurance providers and manufacturers of health devices--blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, and more--to make it easy for people to add information electronically to their HealthVault records. Users can then share information electronically with family members and providers as they choose.

"PDX and connecting with HealthVault helps put consumers in control of managing their own care and the care of extended family members - children, a spouse or an aging parent," said David Cerino, general manager of the Consumer Health Solutions Group at Microsoft. "Customers from thousands of pharmacies across the country will be able to integrate their prescription history into HealthVault, which will provide them with a more complete picture of their health, and allow them to make better healthcare decisions."
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PHRs Protect Families From the Harshest Realities of Natural Disasters
Chicago, Illinois
"Hurricane Season" is an ideal time to guard personal health information against nature's devastation. Major catastrophic events can lead to chaos, destruction and death. Now is the time of year when public awareness and preparedness are the best defenses against the high-impact storm systems that will sweep across many parts of the country. The need to prepare for the possibility of a dangerous tropical storm striking near you is essential. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November. Forecasters predict there is a 70 percent chance of nine to 14 named storms of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) with 111 mph+ winds.

This is a big reason why electronically stored personal health records (PHRs) let even those who have lost almost everything receive the best possible medical treatment in the wake of natural disasters. Comprehensive PHRs that include a complete medical history and an accurate and updated patient profile including current prescriptions, allergies, blood-type and physicians' names and contact information can be imperative to surviving a recent injury or keeping a previously diagnosed illness properly treated and under control.

"Regardless of what product is used to create a PHR, paper or electronic files, the ultimate goal is for emergency responders, healthcare providers and, of course, healthcare consumers, to have immediate access to the health information that's required for sound medical decisions to be made," said Julie Wolter, assistant professor of health information management at St. Louis University and co-chair of the AHIMA PHR Practice Council. Even without a full set of records, it is important for each person to have, at least, a document with their health profile simply stored on a card inside a wallet or electronically on a key chain flash drive.
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"Where the Other You Lives," U.S. Forest Service and Ad Council Launch National Campaign to Re-connect Children with Nature
New York, New York
Children in the U.S. spend fifty percent less time outdoors than they did twenty years ago, according to the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. In an effort to encourage children and their parents to re-connect with nature, the U.S. Forest Service has joined the Ad Council to launch a national multimedia public service advertising campaign. U.S. Forest Service. 

The campaign primarily aims to reach "tweens" (children aged 8-12) and their parents. The goal is to encourage children to get outside and experience nature first-hand, instilling a life-long love for nature by fostering a connection with urban and national forests. Children spend less time outdoors due to safety concerns, an increase in the number of working parents and the development of new technologies that capture free time indoors. As a result of this limited interaction with the outdoors, many children are unaware of the benefits that nature provides, including improving their physical and mental health and emotional well-being. Research shows that children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and have greater respect for themselves and for others.

Furthermore, those who spend their childhood in nature are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future. "People, especially kids, need a direct connection to both forests and nature for their health and personal growth--and for the future of conservation," said Chief Kimbell. "It's wonderful to expand our efforts to reach kids through this partnership. The Ad Council has been helping us accomplish the Forest Service mission for over 60 years."
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Connectyx and Strategic Medical Communications, Inc. Team Up to Launch MedFlash in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Palm City, Florida
Connectyx Technologies Holdings Group, Inc. has announced that they have signed an exclusive agreement with Strategic Medical Communications, Inc. (SMC), a full service agency addressing the healthcare industry, to represent MedFlash to the Pharmaceutical Industry. Through this agreement, SMC will introduce its clients, including physicians, patients and pharmaceutical companies, to the MedFlash Personal Health Record (PHR) storage device, a simple, affordable and portable flash drive that enables consumers to carry selected medical information ranging from prescriptions, allergies, and drug interactions to historical records including X-rays, MRIs and CAT scans.

The MedFlash Program is designed to store personal health and lifestyle information on a one-gigabyte, two-inch portable flash drive and through the Internet. With the MedFlash device, users can keep at hand the most up-to-date and accurate information about the medicines they are taking and can communicate the data to medical personnel including physicians, pharmacists and emergency responders. Myron Holubiak, CEO of SMC and the former President of Roche Laboratories, USA, stated, "We are pleased to represent the MedFlash PHR system to the pharmaceutical industry. We believe the industry can make a very important contribution to the adoption of PHRs and, more specifically, in helping patients become more involved in the management of their medical conditions. The MedFlash PHR system is well suited to support the disease management of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and GI disease, among many others. From our perspective, the provision of a PHR that aids in chronic disease management through patient education and maintaining a history of medical interactions fits well within the PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, and is a step forward in developing an electronic record that is useful and motivational to the consumer."
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Data Loss Prevention Solution Simplifies Identification and Remediation of Privacy and Security Issues Affecting Electronic Health Records
Sunnyvale, California
Code Green Networks, the leader in comprehensive data loss prevention solutions that can be deployed quickly and cost-effectively, has announced its new TrueDL for Healthcare solution, an industry-specific security system that ensures the privacy and protection of sensitive healthcare data.

"Given the nationwide push to digitize healthcare records, healthcare IT professionals should adopt appropriate tools to identify and secure sensitive data moving over their networks, especially via non-secure channels such as web mail and public health networks," said Eric Ogren, principal analyst at the Ogren Group. "Content inspection solutions like Code Green's are an essential tool for identifying and securing data vulnerabilities."

Combining patent-pending detection and protection against loss of Electronic Health Record (EHR) data, Health Insurance Portability & Accountability (HIPAA) code set information, and prevention of unauthorized healthcare Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transmissions, the Code Green solution enables healthcare organizations to strongly defend themselves against the inadvertent loss or intentional theft of sensitive patient information over any outbound network communications.
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Electronic Data Interchange Implementation Guide: "Personal Health Record Transfer Between Health Plans"
Falls Church, Virginia
Standardized requirements for one health insurance plan to electronically send Personal Health Record (PHR) data to another health insurance plan, called the "Personal Health Record (PHR) Transfer Between Health Plans Technical Report, 005050X274," was released by the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, providing monumental interoperability among insurance companies assisting consumers.

"This Implementation Guide provides a standards-based mechanism to electronically send PHR data from a predecessor to a successor health plan," said Dan Kazzaz, Chair, ASC X12. "It provides needed support to health plans in the role of maintaining longitudinal PHRs for individuals and moving PHRs from health plan to health plan whenever individuals' or companies' health plan coverages shift."

This implementation guide builds on the pioneering work of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) in their 005010 implementation guide of the same name. The document brings together work of several standards-setting organizations to describe the business process, message structure, data elements and examples and includes a glossary.

"This announcement by ASC X12 is good news for consumers who, when they change coverage, want to transfer their PHRs to their new health plans and continue with all of the advantages that PHRs bring with them," said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni. "We are pleased that the new standard builds on the work of AHIP and BCBSA, which was designed to be consistent with that of the standards organizations, and to be a building block for their future efforts," Ignagni said.
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Healthcare Identity Management Is Necessary First Step to Electronic Health Record Interchange, Says Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Government policy makers are looking carefully at the best ways to improve the efficiency of information systems in the healthcare industry. But current plans that emphasize electronic health record exchange are putting the cart before the horse, according to a new brief for government policy makers and other healthcare stakeholders from Healthcare Council industry experts at the Smart Card Alliance.

"Dependably accurate identification and authentication of patients seems like something that should already exist in healthcare, but studies show it is a major problem," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. "And if we are aiming for wider interchange of information, there must be a way to uniquely and securely authenticate that person across the healthcare system, including over the Internet, in a secure and privacy sensitive way."

Efforts to reduce medical errors caused by mistaken identities, modernize data exchange, reduce redundant testing and lower administrative costs must start with accurately linking patients with their personal medical information, while at the same time protecting their privacy according to a new brief from the Smart Card Alliance. "Effective Healthcare Identity Management: A Necessary First Step for Improving U.S. Healthcare Information Systems" is a one-page, plain-speak brief that explains the current problems with identity management in healthcare and its costs. It also proposes solutions without reinventing the wheel by leveraging existing standards developed for other federal identity programs, including the FIPS 201 Personal Identity Verification of Federal Employees and Contractors standard now being used for federal employee identity programs.
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IBM and Partners Help Healthcare Clients Adopt Electronic Health Records and Improve Operations With Cloud Software
Armonk, New York
IBM has announced that American Occupational Network (AON) and HyGen Pharmaceuticals are improving patient care by digitizing health records and streamlining their business operations using cloud-based software from IBM Business Partners MedTrak Systems and The System House. By accessing technology that handles various tasks from electronic health records (EHRs) to on-line appointment scheduling as a service through the Internet instead of developing, purchasing and maintaining technology on-site, San Diego-based AON has been able to update its clinical processes and increase key efficiencies to improve patient care. For example, by digitizing health records and other processes, the company has reduced medical transcription costs by 80 percent and now can provide faster and more accurate billing to individuals and insurance companies, reducing the average time to create a bill from 7 days to less than 24 hours.

In the United States, the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will infuse $19 billion into healthcare IT and calls for the utilization of an EHR for each person by 2014. While EHRs help deliver smarter healthcare systems with real-time access to critical patient health information, only an estimated 38 percent of U.S. physicians used partial or full EHRs in 2008. As many healthcare providers struggle to manage the high costs of providing quality patient care, this low EHR utilization rate can be attributed to providers also being challenged with investing time and resources into information technology to improve their operations. This challenge makes acquiring technology as a cloud-based service compelling in the healthcare industry.
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New Criteria to Help Facilitate EHR Adoption in Small, Ambulatory Physician Practices
Schaumburg, Illinois
The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), the federally recognized body for testing and certifying electronic health records (EHRs), has announced it will develop dermatology-specific functionality criteria beginning in 2009. The CCHIT's decision was in part a response to an application from the American Academy of Dermatology with support from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American Telemedicine Association, the Medical Dermatology Society, and the Society for Investigative Dermatology as well as overwhelming support from the dermatology community and other key stakeholders.

"Beginning in 2006, CCHIT has placed a 'seal of approval' on physician office-based EHR products to indicate that the system has met rigorous functionality, interoperability and security criteria for primary care, child health, and cardiology. The American Academy of Dermatology is pleased that the unique needs of dermatologists who use digital images and body mapping to track patient health will be recognized," said dermatologist C. William Hanke, MD, MPH, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "This will be a service to the health care community as it continues to transition to a system that relies on electronic health records and the smooth and secure interchange of data. Dermatologists are committed to helping create functional criteria and technical elements that also will help many different physician specialties."
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Web Sites Consider the Value and Usability of Focus on Search
Cupertino, California
SLI Systems, Inc. announced that its recent mini poll (conducted on LinkedIn) reveals that slightly more than half of respondents believe the "focus" should be on search on a corporate or e-commerce web site. According to the provider of on-demand search services for Internet and e-commerce sites, 53% of respondents said they liked the idea of focusing a web page's cursor on the site search box, whereas the remaining 47% said they prefer to click and scroll on their own.

The advantage of automatically placing the cursor in a site's search box is that it's easier for visitors to start their searches without looking for the box, or making extra clicks on the page. However, some of the respondents to the SLI poll said such a feature might confuse site visitors. In a recent blog post, SLI Systems CEO Shaun Ryan discusses the benefits of putting the focus on search on a web site, such as a shorter, easier navigation path.
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Use of Technology from BitGravity, Facebook and Twitter Enabled an Exclusive Executive Conference to Reach and Engage a Global Community
Framingham, Massachusetts
After concluding the DEMO 09 conference with a bang on March 3, 2009, the final numbers are in on the global reach and virtual participation generated through the event's live broadcast. Utilizing technology from BitGravity and Facebook, the conference logged close to a quarter million player streams from viewers in 80 countries through the DEMO 09 Live video broadcast and witnessed 4,000 Facebook status updates via the new Facebook Live Feed widget.

DEMO 09 marks the first multidimensional conference experience to leverage Facebook's Live Feed to provide content, community and conversations to a worldwide audience "In today's challenging economic climate, conferences like DEMO have to be creative and rethink the ways in which they operate to reach the broadest audience in order to have the greatest impact," said Neal Silverman, Executive Vice President of Network World and DEMO. "By leveraging leading edge technology like BitGravity and social community-building services like Facebook and Twitter, we were able to offer our demonstrators, our live attendees and our virtual audience a world class experience like never before."

Whether watching the stream online or as one of the 500 people attending the conference in Palm Desert, users updated their Facebook status directly from the DEMO 09 Live player and could also see and comment on status updates posted by friends and other Facebook users tuning in to the broadcast. Status updates posted on the Live Feed were published in the user's Facebook News Feed with a link tagged back to the DEMO 09 Live stream, so friends could click the tag and watch the stream while participating in the conversation. This activity led to a viral explosion in viewership around the world as interested friends clicked back into the DEMO broadcast after seeing comments left by friends who were already watching.
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Economic Stress Taking Toll on Peoples' Health
Chicago, Illinois
AARP survey finds financial stress is causing health problems for nearly 20% of 45 plus population. The latest victim of the economic recession could be your health. According to a recent AARP survey, one in five adults ages 45 and older are suffering health problems due to financial stress. The survey details the health care problems and challenges many Americans are facing because of the current economic situation.

"Right now people are increasingly concerned about their jobs, retirement savings and simply being able to provide for their families and it's taking a major toll on their health," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director. "It's a harsh irony that worrying about being able to afford health care is actually causing health problems."

Key findings from the AARP survey, Impact of Economy on Health Behaviors, include:

-- 20% of people 45 and older reported health problems due to financial stress
-- About one fifth, 22%, have delayed seeing a doctor due to cost
-- 16% had to use retirement savings or other savings to pay for medical care
-- 21% have cut back on other expenses in order to afford their medical care
-- One in six, 16%, are not confident they will be able to afford health care in the coming year.
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Healthcare Costs Prevented Nearly 40 Million Americans From Filling Their Prescriptions in 2008
New York, New York
The Internet becomes an increasingly important health resource for consumers curbing their spending on doctor's visits and medications.  Nearly 40 million U.S. adults decided not to fill a prescription medication from a doctor in the past year because of the cost, according to pharmaceutical and healthcare market research company Manhattan Research's Cybercitizen Health consumer study and strategic advisory service. The study found that women and patients with neurological and mental health conditions were the most likely to give up their medication due to cost.

For those struggling to afford healthcare, online channels have become increasingly important resources. Over 145 million consumers are online for health, and this year's Cybercitizen Health study saw the Internet surpass doctors as the top source for obtaining health and medical information.

Top Condition Groups Who Report Not Filling a Prescription Because of the Cost:  1. Fibromyalgia, 2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease, 3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, 4. Chronic Bronchitis, 5. Chronic Pain, 6. Acute Pain, 7. Adult ADHD, 8. Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia, 9. Bipolar Disorder, 10. Depression.
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Ten Ways to Trim Your Health Care Costs
Dallas, Texas
The one expenditure that a lot of people assume they have little or no control over is health care costs. Yet, a little common sense and a healthy dose of consumerism can reward savvy shoppers with significant savings without sacrificing care, says Devon Herrick, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Insurance options: Check your insurance plan; the end of December marks the end of open enrollment at many companies. For those insured through an employer, review your health plan choices. A Health Savings Account (HSA) might save you money over a PPO or HMO, especially with employer contributions. I have saved more than $9,000 during the past four years by taking advantage of my HSA. If on a non-group plan, shop around and consider increasing your deductible to reduce your premium and still maintain major medical coverage.

Ask about cash rates and discounts: If uninsured, negotiate in advance of receiving care; check the Internet for discount card programs that lower costs at hospitals, pharmacies, labs and retail clinics.

Shop for better prescription deals: There are many ways to reduce prescription drug costs. For example, consider therapeutic alternatives and/or generics. Compare prices among local pharmacies and reputable online sites. has free pharmacy cost comparisons. Numerous pharmacies now have generics for as little as $4 per monthly supply, and $10 for three months. Even if you have insurance, these low prices can sometimes beat the negotiated insurance rates.
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First Authoritative, Comprehensive, Free, and Ad-Free Resource for the World's Health Care Providers
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Health Sciences Online ( is the only site where anyone can search for and find more than 50,000 courses, references, guidelines, and other expert-reviewed, high-quality, current, cost-free, and ad-free health sciences resources. Free and accessible to anyone, the up-to-date, authoritative information is aimed primarily at health care practitioners and public health providers, enabling their training, continuing education, and delivery of effective treatments to patients. The information is delivered by powerful search technology from Vivisimo, Inc., which allows users to easily see comprehensive search results and quickly find the answers they need with an intuitively navigated graphic interface. Through integration with Google Translator, users can search and read materials in 22 languages.

Former CDC Director Dr. Jeff Koplan calls Health Sciences Online (HSO) "a visionary undertaking" and the World Bank heralds it as "globally democratizing health science knowledge." HSO is expected by the World Health Organization (WHO) "to make a considerable contribution to the advancement of e-learning worldwide." HSO is a portal that includes more than 50,000 world-class health-sciences resources, selected by knowledgeable staff from already-existing, reliable, professional sources and resource collections. These include medical specialty societies, accredited continuing education organizations, governments, and universities such as Cambridge, Columbia, Harvard, Hopkins, McGill, MIT, Penn, Stanford, and Yale. Founding collaborators for this site include CDC, World Bank, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the University of British Columbia, and financial support has come from WHO, the NATO Science for Peace Program, the Canadian government, the Annenberg Physician Training Program, and many volunteers.
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Moms Get Techie in 2009 With New Media and Technology
Pompano Beach, Florida
Today's time-starved, multi-tasking mothers are using more than band-aids and paper-based calendars to manage their hectic lifestyles and growing families. Mothers, now more than ever, are using technology such as video, blogs and wireless devices to multi-task through their busy days, using more than 5 separate technologies daily. 2009 stands to produce a record number of tech-savvy mothers bridging devices together to create everyday solutions.

According to research released by industry expert Maria Bailey in her new book, Mom 3.0: Marketing with Today's Mothers by Leveraging New Media & Technology, a mom's primary objective in using technology is to stay in touch with her busy family and manage their schedules effectively. In 2009, Moms will delve even deeper into the world of technology as they discover new functionalities of the tools they are already using. Five technology trends to watch for in 2009 in the mom market are cited by Bailey.
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One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Medical Research: Cognition Launches Semantic Medline
Los Angeles, California
Cognition Technologies, a next-generation Semantic Natural Language Processing company, announces a quantum improvement in the application of NLP technology with the introduction of Semantic MEDLINE -- the 18 million article abstract database of complex health information published by the National Library of Medicine. This new free service at enables complex health and life science material to be rapidly and efficiently discovered with greater precision and completeness. This marks the first time that users can employ a natural, conversational sentence structure to find the most complex studies within the MEDLINE dataset.

SemanticMEDLINE is powered by Cognition's Semantic NLP technology, which incorporates word and phrase knowledge to comprehend the meaning and nuances of the English language. Cognition's Semantic Map, the most complete and comprehensive available today, enables the Search process to be based on meaning, rather than statistical word pattern matching, and therefore returns more complete and relevant results.

"Cognition's Semantic NLP is the first and only technology to combine all of the key linguistic elements to unravel the complexity of language and optimize semantic understanding of ambiguous content. The foundation behind this capability is our comprehensive Semantic Map of the English language," said Scott Jarus, CEO of Cognition Technologies. "SemanticMEDLINE's results are far more comprehensive and thorough when compared with Pubmed's native Search results because of two unique capabilities: an understanding of synonymy and the ability to understand meaning and context reasoning."

With traditional keyword search engines, such as those used by Google, Yahoo! and others, finding the best medical research document within complex datasets, such as MEDLINE, is very difficult to obtain without the use of complex Boolean equations and a deep understanding of the many permutations of technical synonymy. Cognition's Semantic MEDLINE has the ability to target and locate these types of data that are otherwise hidden in masses of information because of its comprehensive Semantic Map (particularly deep within the health sciences discipline) and its unique ability to "understand" the meaning behind words, phrases and idioms.
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Pearson Survey Reveals Majority of Parents Believe Better School-To-Home Communication Will Increase Academic Achievement in Students
Rancho Cordova, California
Pearson has announced the results of an independent, nationwide survey that underscores the importance of regular school-to-home communication and its impact on overall student achievement. Ninety-six percent of all parents surveyed agreed that parent involvement was a key factor in student achievement, and ninety-five percent of parents felt achievement would improve with better communication between school and home.

In July 2008, Pearson commissioned an online survey of 548 U.S. parents, age 30 and older, with one or more children in grades K-12. The survey was conducted to determine the frequency and manner of communication that parents currently have with their child's school. The survey also gauged parents' attitudes on the impact of regular communication on overall student achievement. The complete survey results are available at

The survey revealed that parents are seeking ways to become more involved in their child's progress at school through the use of technology. Additionally, parents widely viewed their involvement as a key factor in a child's overall achievement and indicated a strong desire to be more informed about overall progress, especially grades, in order to positively impact their child's school performance.

The survey also showed that parents view middle school as the most critical time for schools to provide parents the opportunity to get more involved, and that this involvement would result in increased academic performance later on in high school. Parents also acknowledged the benefits of better communication, specifically online communication, between school and home -- namely, the ability to afford a student earlier intervention opportunities to solve problems and as a motivating factor for their child to take on more responsibility with respect to the outcome of his or her academic performance.
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Bloggers Can Now Upload, Import and Edit Videos in Any Blog Post, and Allow Their Readers to Post Video Comments and Participate in Collaborative Videos
New York, New York
Kaltura, Inc., developer of the first open source video platform for video management, creation, interaction, and collaboration, announced today that it has released version 1.0 of its Interactive Video Plugin for WordPress. The open source plugin, which can be downloaded at, is designed to enable both basic and advanced video capabilities on any WordPress blog (using version 2.5 and higher) -- from simple video posting and playing to video commenting and collaborative video editing.

"Kaltura's open source strategy is already proving itself -- the community has warmly embraced our MediaWiki extension, and the beta version of the new WordPress plugin is already being used by many bloggers and has received enthusiastic reviews so far. We're looking forward to seeing more and more blogs using interactive videos with the release of this first official version," said Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura Chairman and CEO. "Video is becoming an inseparable part of the blogging world. Our plugin enables bloggers not only to easily upload and display videos, but they can also create mixes and slideshows, and engage their users in a real and compelling conversation."

Kaltura's Interactive Video plugin allows bloggers to enhance their WordPress blog with a full video experience. Following the short and simple plugin installation, bloggers can: -- Upload, and import videos directly to their blog post; -- Edit and remix videos using Kaltura's online full-featured video editor; -- Easily import video and other forms of rich-media from other sites and social networks, and; -- Allow readers and subscribers to add video and audio comments, and to participate in collaborative videos.
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IBM Reveals Five Transportation Innovations
Armonk, New York
IBM has announced five innovations that have the potential to change the way people travel. The list is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM's labs around the world that could make these innovations possible. Every year, nine billion gallons of fuel are wasted in traffic congestion, auto accidents cost hundreds of billions of dollars and by 2020 the number of airline passengers is expected to double, soaring to an annual rate of more than seven billion worldwide.

In the next two years, these statistics will change through technology innovations in the following ways: Our cars will be able to sense other cars and avoid hazardous road conditions. The future is collaborative driving. Cars in the near future will have driver-assist technologies that will make it possible for automobiles to behave as if they have 'reflexes.' Vehicles will exchange information with each other and with the road infrastructure, take corrective action where appropriate, and provide essential feedback to the drivers. Highway and city merging and traffic flow will be smoother and safer and harmful emissions will be reduced.
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Real Life and Digital Simulation Will Merge by 2011
Irvine, California
Real life and digital simulation will merge by 2011, producing a mixed-reality environment that will change the way consumers communicate, interact and conduct commerce, according to futurist Dan Lejerskar, chairman of EON Reality Inc., the world's leading interactive 3D software provider. "What once was imagined soon will be experienced," Lejerskar explained. "The technology convergence of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, Web and search, and digital content means that people can experience more in their daily lives by blurring the distinction between their physical existence and digital reality."

As evidence of this trend, he points to the realization of commercially viable applications for 3D interactive virtual reality technology -- as well as the position of industry thought leaders championing the advancement of such experiences. Heavyweights Google and Microsoft are pushing this trend toward the manifestation of the 3D Internet, while computer and video game developers are whetting consumers' appetites for 3D experiences with new technologies, such as Nintendo's Wii. Hollywood studios and amusement parks also are incorporating 3D interactive virtual reality elements into their offerings.

"We're witnessing the creation of an environment in which visualization companies, industry, academia and the public sector can meet and exchange knowledge, experiences and ideas," Lejerskar said. "Within three to four years, we'll see radical changes in how we shop, learn and communicate with business associates, friends and family. Consumers crave user-generated experiences that combine virtual reality technology with physical location-based events to produce totally immersive 3D interactive experiences."

This convergence of technology already is enabling exponential growth in e-commerce, thanks in part to improved search engines that allow Web surfers to find products quickly. What's next, Lejerskar points out, is the ultimate in customization. The next generation of the Internet, Web 3.0, will allow customers to become the driving force behind e-commerce. Rather than walking into a retail store to try on a pair of jeans, for example, shoppers will be able to select clothes with the correct fit using an online 3D body scan image. This virtual see, try and buy approach will become the dominate way to shop.
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'Case' in Point: Patient Control of Data Critical Catalyst for Online Health Care Revolution
Orlando, Florida
Internet visionary turned e-health entrepreneur Steve Case predicts that converging trends in public policy, technology and consumerism in health care will combine to effectively "shake the snow globe," simultaneously creating disruption and opportunity, and leading to a revolution in American health care. The America Online co-founder, who now serves as chairman and CEO of Revolution Health, says in-part that consumers need to overcome security paranoia -- as they did in online financial transactions.

"Consumers must be in control of the electronic health record, as there is far too much focus on 'who possesses the electronic storage cabinet,'" Case said, adding that in addition to trusting the technology, consumers must also preserve trusted relationships. "One of the most sacred relationships is between physicians and patients. We need to get 'the system' out of the way."

Case delivered his comments in a keynote address to hundreds of attendees at Medco Health Solutions, Inc. 2008 Drug Trend "Predictions" Symposium. Drawing comparisons between the skeptics of wired health care today and those who downplayed the development of the Internet in the mid 1980s, Case argued that once a secure, ubiquitous system is in place, patients and payors alike will be drawn to the financial efficiencies and clinical benefits of connected care.
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Healthcare Tech and the World: A New Perspective on Innovation in Healthcare
Plano, Texas
Perot Systems continues its series of podcasts with a forward-looking discussion about the increasing role Information Technology will play in the transformation of healthcare. In this episode, Dr. Kevin Fickenscher discusses with Dr. Jack Lord the innovations taking place across the healthcare industry, as well as what the future holds for healthcare providers.

The following quotes from Dr. Lord are highlights of the podcast that is now available for download:

Regarding the purpose of Humana's, 'Innovation Center': " ... We decided very clearly to break out of what was a traditional casting of the HMO and move both the clinical and product activities into a spot that would be forward looking ... every year has been a little bit different, we've added new features, we've grown because of talent and I think by virtue of having an innovation center, it's really created an opportunity for us to bring talent in from all over the world."

Regarding enhancing the quality of healthcare for individuals: " ... Health is something that is co-created ... by the person ... and with the healthcare system. So that ... says that the expert around health becomes (the patient) as opposed to the doctor or with the legacy expert system. I think a second piece is moving out of a world that we refer to as the world of sickness and death to a world of life and happiness. The traditional healthcare delivery system has constantly focused on things that fall into the repair shop type of mode and it's taken us down a path of insatiable economic utilization of services."
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Trust for America's Health Releases Report on Connection between Women's Health and Stalled Infant Mortality Rates
Washington, DC
Trust for America's Health (TFAH) has released a report, Healthy Women, Healthy Babies, in conjunction with the release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT DATABOOK 2008. The report explains why after 40 years of progress, infant mortality rates in the U.S. have stalled since 2000. TFAH finds that the deteriorating health of American women, due in part to wide-spread chronic disease epidemics like obesity and diabetes, is taking a toll on American infants, resulting in stagnated improvement when it comes to infant health. TFAH's report offers recommendations for Congress and the American health system to aggressively improve the health of new-born infants.

"In the wake of all the great medical breakthroughs over the last 40 years, one would assume that infant mortality rates would plummet. Instead, medical progress has been cancelled out in the delivery room by the deteriorating health of childbearing-aged women and their lack of health care access; and infant mortality rates have stalled as a result," said Jeff Levi, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health. "American women, children and families simply deserve better."

Levi added, "We know now that an infant's chances of sickness, disability and survival often hinge on the health of the mother, before she even becomes pregnant. Therefore, the way to reduce risks to newborn babies is to invest in a woman's health throughout her childbearing years. If we concentrate our efforts most on those hit hardest by the biggest health problems -- low-income and minority women -- we will once again see healthier babies and dropping infant mortality rates."
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Survey Reveals Most Drivers See Hands-Free Law Having Little Effect on Cell Phone Usage
Southfield, Michigan
A survey of licensed drivers in California and Washington shows overwhelming support for the coming hands-free law which took effect July 1, but that it will have little effect on the cell phone usage of drivers. The survey also documents a great deal of confusion as to when the law actually takes effect, what the cost of the traffic fines are in their respective states, whether it's a primary or secondary law, and what kinds of devices can be used to comply with the new law.

The survey shows that 75 percent of drivers (California, 76 percent; Washington, 71 percent) support the law, while only 10% oppose it. It also shows that 75% of drivers consider cell phone use while driving to be dangerous -- yet 63 percent of respondents use their cell phone while driving on average about an hour a day, one quarter of their daily drive time, and primarily for non-urgent matters. Interestingly, key factors driving the purchase of a hands-free device by respondents were "obeying the law" and "safety" at 51 and 50 percent, respectively. The study also revealed that 47 percent of drivers already use some type of hands-free device, whether it's a headset, the speaker of their cell phone, or a portable or installed hands-free car kit.
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Bill Gates Explores Past, Present and Future of Application Development at Tech*Ed North America 2008 Developers
Redmond, Washington
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates reflected on the company's 33-year history with developers and shared his predictions for the future in front of more than 5,000 developers at Microsoft's Tech*Ed North America 2008 Developers conference. Joined onstage by other Microsoft executives and technology luminaries including S. Somasegar, David Campbell and Brian Harry, Gates demonstrated how Microsoft is making it easier for developers to tackle complex tasks such as creating compelling user experiences, building data-driven applications, managing large enterprise projects and capitalizing on emerging trends including cloud computing, modeling and natural language programming. Microsoft made several announcements at the event, including release timing for Internet Explorer 8 beta 2, a technical collaboration with IBM, availability of Silverlight 2 beta 2, and the launch of the Microsoft project code-named "Velocity," a distributed in-memory application cache platform.

"When I think back on the early days of development when we were all programming in DOS, and then take a look at what we can do now with technologies like the .NET Framework, it simply amazes me how far we've come," Gates said. "I started out as a developer and that's what I remain at heart, so I have a personal interest in the future of the field. I am confident that the path we are laying out today will serve you well into the future."
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Next 10 Years Will Be the 'Second Digital Decade' with Pragmatic Advances in Technology Innovation
Herndon, Virginia
At the Titans Breakfast, hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the largest technology council in the nation, Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, said the next 10 years will mark a "second digital decade" involving pragmatic advances in technology innovation. The incredible advances of the past decade, in terms of software development and the growth of the Internet laid the foundation for these profound changes that will dramatically impact the way individuals work, live and learn and will empower the end user like never before, Gates said.

Before the audience of 1,100 technology executives, Gates also addressed a range of topics, including the future of technology in the workplace and issues facing U.S. education, immigration and workforce challenges. Businesses will operate in a "hybrid" technology environment- some operations will remain local while others will transition to the Internet or "be in the cloud," through a combination of software plus services, according to Gates. Moving data operations to an Internet-based architecture will decrease IT costs as less onsite expertise will be required. The way businesses will view data will change as "software will do 90 percent of what we do manually today," he said. Important to this evolution, Gates noted, is that organizations will likely require a mixed environment that offers the best blend of local computing power while also taking advantage of the flexibility offered by Internet-based architectures.

Some of the revolutionary workforce technologies-for instance intelligent surfaces-also will have applicability in home and business environments, Gates said. Microsoft is currently testing a new product, Microsoft Surface, that once launched will not require expensive new hardware-only "software and a camera," and, one day, "will be a standard in the home and in businesses." Gates said Microsoft looks forward to its business partners taking this idea and "running with it" to create new and bigger applications than currently envisioned, including, to just begin with, those in the retail and hospitality industries.
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Open Text Centre for Digital Media Will Bridge the Worlds of Business, Art and the Internet
Waterloo, Ontario
Open Text Corporation, a global leader in enterprise content management has announced a partnership with the University of Waterloo to create one of the world's largest centres dedicated to research and innovation in digital media and Web 2.0 for business, government and cultural applications. Under the plan, Open Text will contribute funding, technology and services for the development of the Open Text Centre for Digital Media Research. As part of its commitment, Open Text will provide its executives and thought leaders as contributing faculty, sharing their experience in the classroom. The Centre will be dedicated to research projects and commercialization of ground-breaking software applications, giving students an opportunity to apply their ideas to real-world business opportunities. Programs at the Centre will focus on creating graduates that combine business knowledge, with computer science and artistic content creation.

The Centre will be part of graduate and undergraduate programs offered at the University's Stratford Institute, a proposed new centre for education and research to be located in Stratford, Ontario, a well-known art, music and theatre community. The location provides a unique setting that will bring the worlds of business, art and the Internet together in an environment focused on creating innovative new software applications.

"From Facebook to YouTube to Wikipedia, we are witnessing a revolution in the way consumers socialize, share knowledge and harness collective intelligence," said Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer for Open Text. "But we've only just begun. There's enormous potential to build on what's been created so far, and apply these new technologies to business, government and culture in new and exciting ways. Through our partnership with the University of Waterloo, we're planting the seeds of that innovation right here in the Waterloo Region."
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Hawaii's Premier Physician Management Company Selects Electronic Health Record for Statewide Deployment
Honolulu, Hawaii
Allscripts, the leading provider of clinical software, connectivity and information solutions that physicians use to improve healthcare has announced that TeamPraxis, a physician management services organization that provides technology and support services to more than 1,000 physicians in Hawaii, has purchased a statewide license for the Allscripts Electronic Health Record (EHR). The agreement enables TeamPraxis to provide the Allscripts solution to physicians across Hawaii. 

"Most of us can't imagine going to the bank or having our financial records kept on paper, so why should we accept having our medical records on paper?" asked Creighton Arita, President and Chief Executive Officer of TeamPraxis. "Our partnership with Allscripts helps us fulfill our vision of serving and empowering Hawaii's physicians with real-time information at the point of care, helping to curb rising costs and to improve the quality of patient care."

Over the last few years, Allscripts and TeamPraxis have worked together with the Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), the state's largest health insurer, to provide electronic prescribing to more than 700 Hawaii physicians who are now well positioned to migrate to the full electronic health record. HMSA recently announced that it would provide $20 million in grants for physicians to acquire electronic health records. Under the initiative, 1,000 Hawaii physicians will each be eligible to receive up to $20,000 towards a new EHR.
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HHS Deputy Secretary Invites Toledo Community to Apply for an Innovative Electronic Health Record Demonstration Project
Tolendo, Ohio
At a meeting today, HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy encouraged community leaders to join together and apply for a new Medicare demonstration project that provides incentive payments for physicians' use of certified electronic health records to improve patient care. The project, which will be open to small- and medium-sized primary care physician practices, is expected to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care for an estimated 3.6 million Americans.

"Communities like Toledo have a tremendous opportunity to help transform health care delivery starting at the local level," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Broad adoption of interoperable electronic health records has the potential not only to improve the quality of care provided, but also to change the way medicine is practiced and delivered. By implementing this demonstration project in a dozen health markets across the country, we'll help move this nation toward a system that delivers better quality health care at lower cost for more Americans."

Over a five-year period, financial incentives will be provided to as many as 1,200 primary care physician practices that use certified electronic health records (EHR) to improve quality as measured by their performance on specific clinical quality measures. In addition to the incentive payments, bonus payments may be awarded based on a standardized survey measuring the number of EHR functionalities a physician practice has incorporated. Total payments under the demonstration may be up to $58,000 per physician or $290,000 per practice.
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Radiologists Self-Edit Reports, Reduce Turnaround Time
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Provena Mercy Medical Center, a 356-bed community-based hospital in Aurora, Illinois, has achieved new levels of efficiency and physician satisfaction using SpeechQ for Radiology, the award-winning front-end interactive speech recognition solution from MedQuist. Radiologists in Provena Mercy's Imaging department are self-editing 90 percent of their reports, and report turnaround time (TAT) has been reduced by more than half since the implementation of SpeechQ.

The Imaging department at Provena Mercy performed more than 80,000 exams in 2007. In the past, all reports were dictated and then outsourced to a transcription company. Once transcribed, these reports were then returned to the appropriate radiologist for review and signature. With SpeechQ, average report turnaround time has been reduced from 61/2 hours to 3 hours, and TAT for STAT and ED reports is now five minutes.

Dr. James Studlo, medical director of Imaging Services and chief of the medical staff at Provena Mercy, comments, "When using a traditional dictation system, I often had to rewind and listen to what I had said to confirm that my conclusion was complete. With SpeechQ, it is much easier and faster for me to read what I have dictated and to sign off on a report while the images are displayed." The ED physicians and medical staff at Provena Mercy also appreciate receiving a typed, legible final report within minutes after their patients have had an imaging procedure.

David Angel, administrative director of Medical Imaging and Laboratory Services, adds, "Our success is measured by providing high-quality diagnostic reports to our referring physicians and their patients in a cost-effective and timely manner. Many of the hospital's medical staff have commented on the improved reporting from the Radiology department, and both the imaging staff and the radiologists have noticed a decrease in the amount of phone calls from physicians' offices requesting reports."
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Improved Patient Healthcare Delivery as Working Example of Powerful New Device-Driven Business Architecture
Gainesville, Florida
In today's world, we expect most devices to provide a single function at a given time, and that's the end of it. In a healthcare clinic, for example, a blood-pressure monitor displays one reading and stops. But what if, at a consumer's direction, devices that are important to our daily lives could function continuously, automatically sending vital information to those who could use it to deliver new and valuable services? In such a world, a new panorama of consumer-centric enterprises could emerge.

The fact is, for a wide range of devices and functions, this world is now within our grasp. That's because the University of Florida  and IBM  have introduced new, groundbreaking technology that provides a "roadmap" for extending the functionality of all kinds of devices -- wireless or wired, near or far. Using the power of open standards in the embedded-device and IT domains, open communities and alliances, this technology will enable automatically recognized devices to send the information they register to authorized third parties, such as specialized healthcare providers. This information, in turn, can help enterprises in many industries understand their customers' needs in real-time -- once or on an ongoing basis -- and help them in specially tailored, continually evolving ways. In the Healthcare Industry, the positive implications for the infirmed and elderly are substantial.

As a means of demonstrating the power of this new device-driven model, UF and IBM have prototyped cutting edge, device-driven patient-monitoring services at the University's highly publicized "Gator Tech Smart House" laboratory in Gainesville, FL. Smart House was originally designed as a stand-alone research facility for the development of wireless sensor technologies to assist the elderly in maximizing their independence and maintaining a high quality of life.
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Personalized Health Care Tracking to the Next Level with Innovative Free Online Tools
New York, New York
By merging ordinary technology such as cell phones and personal computers with sophisticated web-based applications, Mosaic Health Solutions has created a breakthrough online health tracking system that allows users to more effectively and efficiently manage their personal health. Called Healthy Footsteps, the interactive program requires just minutes a day, but generates a lifetime of benefits including better medication compliance, accurate tracking of symptoms, ongoing reminders of physician treatment recommendations, weekly printouts for physicians that help improve communication and increase effectiveness of office visits, big picture reports that allow participants to view progress over time, and much more.

Currently, Healthy Footsteps is available for people coping with diagnoses that particularly benefit from daily tracking: depression, anxiety, panic attacks and diabetes. In addition, the Healthy Footsteps-MedNotices program provides daily medications reminders. Other conditions that will soon become part of the family include stress, insomnia, heart health, nutrition and wellness, fertility, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, osteoporosis, HIV and weight loss. Under development are specialty Healthy Footsteps programs for kids, teens and seniors that address conditions and issues reflecting their individual life stages. All programs are free, easily accessible on the Web, and privacy protected.
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HDTV Intenders to Significantly Impact High-Def DVD Battle
Dallas, Texas
According to research from The Diffusion Group, close to one-third of non-HDTV households are interested in purchasing a new HDTV in the next six months -- a very encouraging sign for HDTV manufacturers and, by relation, high-def DVD manufacturers. More interesting, perhaps, is that the same research found that the characteristics of these "HDTV Intenders" vary widely from those of current HDTV owners. HDTV Intenders tend to be younger, single, more ethnically diverse, and have lower annual household incomes than current HDTV owners -- in many respects more characteristic of mainstream consumers than the early adopters who today own an HDTV.

While this trend could in theory benefit either Blu-ray or HD DVD, the data suggests otherwise. Among HDTV Intenders who are likely to purchase a new high-def DVD player in the next six months, 43% prefer HD DVD, 27% prefer Blu-ray, and 30% are undecided.

"The strength of this preference and its correlation to mainstream attributes are notable," states Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst with The Diffusion Group. "Today's high-def DVD owner is likely an early adopter with a knack for power gaming; most certainly tech-sophisticates not at all mainstream in temperament. The next wave of buyers is comprised of early mass-market consumers, a much larger segment with a focus on practical considerations such as price. It is TDG's opinion that the format which can best address the needs of mainstream consumers will emerge as the winner of this format war."
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New Web 2.0 Site Brings World's Artists to Your HDTV
Laguna Beach, California
A revolutionary new website is poised to forever change the way people find and enjoy artwork. The site,, utilizes artist submissions and professional curation to bring talented photographers, painters and video artists from around the world direct to your flat screen television in stunning High-Definition clarity.

As the world increasingly moves away from traditional canvas-and-frame art display and embraces the infinite flexibility of digital display, has become a leading provider of "Art for Your Television" content. "Our new Web 2.0 site brings artists from across the globe straight to your fingertips," says Director of Production, Justin Thomas Ostensen. "Finding quality artwork for your home or office used to entail hours of searching galleries and significant expense. allows you to explore a wide range of great artwork from the comfort of your home, then easily display it on your HDTV while you're relaxing or entertaining guests." offers a broad selection of "Art for Your Television" content, including DVDs, downloads and even a "Create Your Own Custom DVD" feature where you can curate your own art DVD. It's all part of the company's goal to make enjoying art easier and more flexible. "It's virtually impossible to fit all the art you love into one house or apartment," Ostensen says, "but with, you can create DVDs with dozens of great artwork. Or you can download art and create Art Playlists on your favorite media player, which are just like Music Playlists, and allow you to enjoy ever-changing artwork for hours."
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Getting the Real Scoop on Health Care Through New Online Community
Eagan, Minnesota
Eighty percent of all U.S. adults -- more than 113 million people -- have gone online to seek out health care information. According to research commissioned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, two-thirds of those surveyed said one of their most valued sources of health care information comes from friends, family or other people they trust. But surprisingly, these two important elements -- health care word-of-mouth and the Internet -- haven't been combined to the benefit of consumers. Until now.

There's a new online community devoted to letting consumers share their health care experiences., a new website, is a forum for real health care stories from real people, covering everything from the waiting room to the emergency room. Consumers also can learn about strategies to deal with a new diagnosis and information about procedures or treatments.

Developed by Consumer Aware, is a free online resource available to all consumers. The site combines the power of the Internet and the trust of a shared community to allow health care consumers and health care providers to learn from one another's experiences, creating more transparency and bringing a greater consumer focus to the health care business.
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Free Report Guides Businesses on World of "Web 2.0"
Culver City, California
Venice Consulting Group, a leading software development and consulting firm based in Culver City California, today announced a new how-to guide for businesses on "Web 2.0" technology, describing terms in easy-to-understand language and including practical steps for implementing Web 2.0. The free report, titled "Everything Businesses Want to Know About Web 2.0 (but are afraid to ask)," tackles one of the most discussed topic that businesses face.

Web 2.0 has received much press in the last few years as the Internet continues to develop and mature. While the concept of Web 2.0 came out of the technology industry, it has assumed an important place in the business world. All businesses, from the home office to the large enterprise, will eventually be touched by the Web 2.0 phenomenon and understanding its basic tenets is an important first step before adopting the technology that underpins it.
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Women's Careers Finding Web 2.0 Options at HR OptIn
Atlanta, Georgia
You've heard about the new era that is sweeping the World Wide Web? Dubbed Web 2.0, this online revolution is all about sharing: be it a personal page at MySpace, a video on YouTube, a podcast or a blog. Now, a Website called HR OptIn has brought the power of Web 2.0 to working women, or more specifically, to women who used to be working for some of the top organizations in America but who took time off to care for a child, a parent, or to raise a family.

HR OptIn was created to help talented women opt back in to their chosen profession by sharing ideas and knowledge at a virtual online HQ. In this case, the chosen profession is Human Resources or HR for short, a department you'll find at most mid-to-large size companies. HR OptIn, and its parent company, Atlanta-based Incite Strategies, Inc., already has relationships with some of the nation's premier HR departments at Fortune 1000 companies across America.
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IBM Initiative to Move Web 2.0 to Center Stage
Boston, Massachusetts
IBM has announced "Web 2.0 Goes to Work," an IBM initiative to help organizations bring the value of Web 2.0 -- such as easy access to information, rich, browser-based applications, and social networking and collaboration software -- into the enterprise in a security-rich, reliable way. Web 2.0 is about combining content, collaboration and rich user experiences that are transforming the Internet from static Web pages into a dynamic platform for social interaction, while enabling the creation of powerful, Web-based applications.

"IBM is uniquely positioned to develop an information ecosystem to meet the needs of organizations as they adopt Web 2.0 principles and technologies," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software Group. "We're combining the collective experience, resources and expertise from across the company to help our customers realize the value of Web 2.0 in the enterprise." As companies embrace this more dynamic, social Internet, they realize the benefits of having a service oriented architecture (SOA). While SOA helps build a flexible computing infrastructure, Web 2.0 arms users and communities with software assets needed to create a new class of rich, lightweight and easily deployed software solutions. "Our goal is to make today's consumer-based technologies relevant to businesses by building offerings that deliver a highly-productive and integrated entry into Web 2.0-based solutions," said Jim Deters, president of Ascendant Technology, an IBM Business Partner. "Businesses who do not take advantage of these technologies will be ultimately forced by users into this new computing era or will face significant growth hurdles."
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Ericsson Pioneers WCDMA/HSPA Ecosystem Pilot in Rural India
Stockholm, Sweden
Ericsson has launched the Gramjyoti Rural Broadband Project, an initiative to introduce benefits of WCDMA/HSPA technology in rural India and connect communities to high-speed internet services for the first time. The trial project was launched in early September and will showcase the benefits of mobile broadband applications across 18 villages and 15 towns close to Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu.

By creating a stable ecosystem based on leading WCDMA/HSPA technology, Ericsson will provide these communities with high- speed internet so they can access a range of new services including: telemedicine; e-education; e-governance; online local information; voice and video call services; and live TV and entertainment.

The initiative seeks to demonstrate how WCDMA/HSPA technology can be a major catalyst for social and economic empowerment in this developing region, helping to bridge the digital divide and increase productivity and quality of life. Communities and schools will be among the beneficiaries of the initiative. More than 3,000 high school students within these communities will now have high-speed internet and can take e- learning courses, gaining access to new information and educational resources for the first time. These communities will also benefit from health services such as live interactive check-ups via telemedicine.

Mats Granryd, Managing Director of Ericsson India, says: "Ericsson aims to help India's rural population get first-hand experience of broadband applications. This pioneering project will provide communities with access to meaningful broadband services for the first time. Building an efficient and affordable WCDMA/HSPA rural broadband can help serve as a blueprint for the widespread introduction of internet and broadband connectivity in the future." The location for the project was chosen for the Rural Broadband Project because it reflects the typical telecom profile of rural India, where many families have limited or no access to fixed telephones, but do have access to a mobile phone.
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Integrated IBM Storage, Server and Services Solution Provides Enterprise Archiving, Storage Virtualization and Data Protection to Hospital and Research Networks
Nashville, Tennessee
IBM has announced its new Grid Medical Archive Solution, a cross-IBM offering comprised of storage, software, servers and services. The GMAS solution provides hospitals, clinics, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies with a multi-tier, multi-application and multi-site enterprise storage archive for delivering medical images, patient records and other critical healthcare reference information on demand.

The need to retain massive volumes of business-critical fixed-content data for long periods of time is presenting new data and storage management challenges for health care organizations. Users continue to demand fast performance as well as higher and broader availability of patient records and medical images. Massive data volumes combined with long retention periods require storage administrators to deliver a cost-effective storage strategy that meets the users' needs, protects valuable data, scales on demand, simplifies data migration and automates recovery for both planned and unplanned downtime.

"With mounting advances in medicine coupled with a longer-living population, healthcare organizations are increasingly embracing new technology that puts the patient in the center of the delivery model and drives innovation to increase the quality of patient care," said Hernan Vega, Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences, IBM Systems and Technology Group. "IBM GMAS is a great example of how advanced storage technologies, virtualization and grid computing can improve the way hospitals access, store and manage their critical patient data over time."
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120 Reasons Giganews Just Changed Usenet
Austin, Texas
Giganews has completed a major storage upgrade on their global Usenet server cluster which will grow binary retention to 120 days. This upgrade changes the face of Usenet by allowing thriving newsgroup communities to engage for longer periods of time through fast and reliable Usenet servers. With 120 days of retention, Giganews will offer nearly 1 billion Usenet articles in over 100,000 newsgroups. Less than two months ago, Giganews was the first Usenet provider to hit the century mark for binary retention, but in keeping with a commitment to meet and exceed the expectations of its customers, Giganews has again increased storage capacity which allows Giganews' Usenet binary retention to grow to 120 days.

"When we completed our last retention upgrade to 100 days we were pleased, but we wanted to push ourselves to the next level. Giganews is in a perpetual upgrade cycle and this current upgrade is just part of our larger goal of re-investing in our server infrastructure for the benefit of our customers. At Giganews we feel we have a responsibility to push the envelope when it comes to services and features and we hope these efforts will help expand and support the greater Usenet community as a result," said David Vogelpohl, VP of Marketing and Sales at Giganews.
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Social Networking and Social Commerce Offers a New Way for People and Businesses to Connect
Delray Beach, Florida
The question had become where do adults go to socialize online when they feel too old for MySpace or Facebook but are too young for Eons? Despite marketing targeted at teens and twenty- something's, over half of the visitors to social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Live Journal are now 35 and older, according to recent industry reports. With the popularity of these online communities growing with no end in site, the time is ripe for a social networking service -- which is what (pronounced "Voice") a community for users age 30-to-50, is positioned to provide. 

Today more than 56 percent of visitors to MySpace now are over 35, according to industry expert comScore and about 41 percent of visitors to the college-targeted Facebook are now over the age of 35. There's a similar demographic at youth-oriented networking sites Friendster and Xanga -- yet the common misconception that exists is that these services are predominantly used by just teenagers. In reality, these services are now immensely popular with Baby Boomers and so-called Gen X'ers, many of whom have been members of online communities since the bulletin board system (BBS) Internet forums that debuted in the 1980's, through the early years of AOL's instant messaging and Usenet discussion groups.
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First Music Company to Launch Video Content Over Pioneering Internet TV Platform; Platform Offers Innovative Opportunities for Advertisers and Content Owners
New York, New York
Warner Music Group Corp., one of the world's leading global music companies, and Joost, a global video distribution service that combines the best of television and the Internet, has announced an agreement to provide video content featuring WMG's world-renowned roster of artists on the Joost platform. As part of the agreement, WMG and Joost will share revenue from advertising on WMG's Joost channels. Joost will offer a number of channels featuring WMG's artist and music-based content, each specific either to genre, record label or artist as well as content outside of WMG's roster. Currently available in limited beta, the Joost platform is the first to provide a completely new television experience online. It combines the long-form video channels of traditional television with the interactivity and on-demand components made possible by the Internet. Joost is the first online, global TV distribution platform, bringing together advertisers, content owners and viewers in an interactive, community-driven environment. Joost can be accessed with a broadband Internet connection and offers broadcast-quality content to viewers for free.
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Internet Television Pioneers Partner to Provide Video-on-Demand Programming From Around the World on Joost
Toronto, Ontario
JumpTV Inc., the world's leading broadcaster of ethnic television over the Internet, has partnered with Joost, the world's first broadcast-quality, free-to-air Internet television service, to make a significant portion of JumpTV's library of video-on-demand television content available on a series of exclusive JumpTV-branded ethnic television vertical "channels" on the Joost platform. JumpTV currently broadcasts live over the Internet thousands of popular television programs, news, music and sporting events from 270 channels from over 70 countries around the world on a subscription and advertising supported basis. The initial JumpTV offering on Joost will feature programming regularly gathered from JumpTV's digitally rights compliant international television roster. The first JumpTV "channels" on Joost will feature popular Spanish-language series from Colombia, Chile and Peru, in addition to Arabic-language comedy, drama and news programs from some of the leading broadcasters in the Middle East. JumpTV will be adding new programming on a daily or weekly basis, and intends to launch several more channels on Joost in other languages, including but not limited to Romanian, Turkish, Russian and Bengali. Commenting on the partnership, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, president and chief executive officer of JumpTV International stated, "We see Joost as a unique and important distribution/programming partner. Like us, the Joost team innately understands the power of viral, high-affinity long-tail content -- for example, JumpTV's ethnic TV programming. Given the track record of the Joost founders, we believe that the Joost platform could be as transformational for online television as their previous ventures have been."
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