Starving Yourself Just Might Let You Live Longer and Healthier
While it is generally thought that bacteria are bad for us, research has shown that bacteria are important in our health and possibly longevity. Bacteria inhabit just about every part of the human body ranging from the skin, nose and the intestinal tract. In fact, bacteria make up more cells in the body than human cells and are collectively known as the microbiome. The microbiome of the intestine has been shown to play a role in disease such as obesity and diabetes. The intestinal microbiota has also been linked to a variety of beneficial functions that include the breakdown of nutrients, vitamin production and development of the immune system. For over 50 years, research has shown that reducing the amount of food an animal consumes (a process known as calorie restriction, CR) increases lifespan by retarding aging because most age-related diseases are delayed or reduced by CR. Because diet and age can exert major effects on the composition of the intestinal microbiota, we hypothesized that CR, specifically 40% restriction, would delay/prevent age related changes in the intestinal microbiota.
Researchers from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) and the Missouri Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center (MU MMRRC) studied the effect of age and life-long CR on the composition of the intestinal microbiota of young and old laboratory mice. The results will be presented at the ASM Microbe in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday June 18, 2016.
As mice age, significant changes in the composition of the microbiota were observed. For example, there was a decrease or absence of specific bacteria in the old mice that were present in the young mice. Conversely, there were also bacteria that were found in the old mice but not in the young mice. In addition to the changes described above, overall, there was about a 30% reduction in the number of different types of bacteria found in the old mice compared to the young mice.
CR altered the overall composition of the intestinal microbiota of old mice in comparison to their old counterparts that were given unlimited access to food. The old calorie restricted mice contained a microbiome profile that was highly similar to that found in the young mice. Additionally, with the old calorie restricted mice there were no age-related reductions in the number of different types of bacteria and were comparable to that of the young mice.
From this study, researchers were able to demonstrate for the first time that CR prevented the age-related changes in the intestinal microbiome. The implications of this data suggests that the preservation of the young intestinal microbiota profile found within old CR mice may play a role in the prevention or delay of age-related diseases as well as the extension in lifespan seen with CR. Additional research will be needed to determine if these differences in the microbiome are beneficial or harmful as well as determine whether or not these changes play a role in the extension of lifespan.
This study will be presented on at the American Society for Microbiology’s Microbe 2016 meeting in Boston, MA.
Contaminated Gloves Increase Risks of Cross-Transmission of Healthcare-Associated Pathogens
Dr. Kazue Fujita
Ongoing Monitoring of Legionella in Flint in the Wake of the Drinking Water Crisis
Dr. Otto Schwake
Eight strains of Legionella isolated from a health care center in Flint, MI during March 2016. Photograph: Otto Schwake
Samples of discolored tap water and a rusty water filter provided by Flint residents.
Photograph: Virgina Tech/Jim Stroup
Sharing of Tooth Decay Causing Bacterium Among Children and Their Families
S. mutans colony morphology
Research Shows New Mechanism That Can Cause Eye Inflammation
Dr. Robert Shanks
Pseudo-colored electron micrograph of Serratia marcescens bacteria (red) on a human corneal cell in vitro. The yellow arrow indicates a large surface bleb induced by a toxin produced by the bacteria. The white bar indicates 10 microns.
A Novel Therapy for Genital Herpes Engages Immune Cells to Provide Significant Patient Benefits for at Least a Year
Dr. Kenneth Fife, MD, PhD, investigator and Professor of Medicine at Indiana University
Photo: WCU Researchers: From left to right. Dr. John Pisciotta, graduate student Paige Minka and undergraduate Jeremy Irving prepare to install sMFCs in Paradise Farms pond (Downingtown, PA).
Fig. 1: sMFC components and experimental installation plan depict two sMFCs with identical sediment-buried graphite anodes wired (in red) to transmit microbially-generated electric current from anodes to an upper cellular data relay unit (upper box) that transmits the data from the field site. Electrons then pass via wires (green) to carbon cloth cathodes (grey ovals) suspended in the water at variable depths. Leftmost sMFC features a surface cathode while the sMFC at right has a submerged cathode. Identical replicate sMFCs (not shown) were included in the study.
Antimicrobial Properties of Peptides Derived from Reptiles
American alligator derived peptide, AM-CATH28, combats Pseudomonas aeruginosa and multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii
New research presented at the 2016 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting shows that a peptide produced by the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), AM-CATH28, has strong antimicrobial activity against gram-negative bacteria. AM-CATH28, which is helical in structure and disrupts the bacterial membrane, has displayed antimicrobial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.
“Drug resistance in bacteria has been increasing for the past several decades, and we’re now coming to a medical crisis in which we will no longer be able to treat common infections,” said Stephanie Barksdale, researcher in the van Hoek Lab, George Mason University.
Some antimicrobial peptides are already used clinically, such as colistin and vancomycin. Cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides are a class of peptide found in many animals, which has many effects, including strengthening the animal’s immune system, directly killing invading bacteria, or causing the bacteria to be less pathogenic.
American alligator derived peptide, Apo6, is antibacterial against biological threat agent Francisella
Researchers have identified a novel antimicrobial peptide in alligator blood plasma, Apo6, which exerts strong and rapid antimicrobial activity against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Apo6 can kill Francisella tularensis bacteria, which causes the disease tularemia and is considered a biological threat agent.
“We found that Apo6 is able to kill Francisella bacteria by forming pores in their membrane,” said Dr. Monique van Hoek, Professor in the School of Systems Biology, George Mason University, “We also showed how the antimicrobial peptide Apo6 disturbs the membrane of the bacteria by observing the treated bacteria with scanning electron microscopy.”
American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) make antimicrobial peptides as part of their innate immune system, the first line of immune defense that is shared by most higher-organisms. Antimicrobial peptides are small positively-charged peptides that can have both a host defense role and may exert a direct antimicrobial effect on bacteria.
The Apo6 peptide severely damages the membrane of F. novicida and disrupts the cell, which eventually leads to the death of the bacteria. Apo6 treatment was able to significantly increase the survival of Francisella-infected A549 cells and was able to prolong the survival of Francisella infected wax-worm larvae, an invertebrate infection model. (image credit: Dr. Kent Vleit, University of Florida).
Komodo Dragon-inspired Peptide Drgn-1 Promotes Clearance and Healing of Polymicrobial Biofilm-infected Wounds
New research has identified a histone H1-derived peptide from the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), called VK25, which could be used as a cationic antimicrobial peptide (CAMP). Using this peptide as inspiration, researchers designed a synthetic peptide DRGN-1, which contains two reversed amino acids at the N-terminus from the original protein sequence (VK25), and evaluated the antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity of both peptides against P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. DRGN-1, but not VK25, exhibited potent antimicrobial and anti-biofilm activity, permeabilized bacterial membranes, and bound to DNA.
“Interestingly, wound healing was significantly enhanced by DRGN-1 in both uninfected and mixed biofilm (P. aeruginosa and S. aureus)-infected murine wounds,” said Dr. van Hoek.
In a scratch wound closure assay used to elucidate the wound healing mechanism, the peptide promoted migration of HEKa keratinocyte cells, which was inhibited by mitomycin C (proliferation inhibitor) and AG1478 (EGFR inhibitor). DRGN-1 also trans-activated the EGFR-STAT1/3 pathway. Thus, DRGN-1 is a strong candidate for development as an alternative to antibiotics, especially for mediating the innate immune response and promoting wound healing. (image: komodo dragon, credit: Dr. Kent Vleit, University of Florida)
Thank you for your RSVP
Thank you for your RSVP to the ASM Officers' Reception.
Saturday, June 18th from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
The Westin Boston Waterfront
Grand Ballrooms BCDE (Concourse Level)
425 Summer Street
Medical Surge Capacity in the National Capital Region: Modeling a Pneumonic Plague Bioterror Event
New research presented at the 2016 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting shows that the Washington, DC National Capital Region (NCR) may be limited in its capacity to provide medical care to all potential victims of a large-scale bioterror event. The findings of this study highlight the need to invest in regional health care coalitions to optimize patient distribution and use of resources during a surge event and to maintain and strengthen other regional and Federal resources for emergency public health response.
“While bioterror events are extremely rare occurrences nationally and globally, it is important to raise awareness regarding the limitations in local capacity to respond to biological threats, whether that be from a bioweapon or, more likely, from a naturally occurring threat such as a viral hemorrhagic fever or pandemic influenza,” said study author, Michael DeLuca, MS, Georgetown University School of Medicine. Michael DeLuca, MS, of Georgetown University School of Medicine and a Policy Fellow at Health Security Partners, an emerging thought leader on public health and national security.
Specifically, this study demonstrated a large deficit in the number of acute care beds available in the NCR in the first six days to treat the thousands of ill that may result from a successful attack on the area’s public transport system with pneumonic plague.
There is limited publicly available data on the ability of the NCR to respond to a significant biological event. This study examined the medical surge capacity of the NCR by modeling a hypothetical biological terror attack with pneumonic plague (Yersinia pestis) in the area’s metro system.
Medical care demand was estimated using Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ridership data, publicly available data on disease attack rate, infectious dose, reproductive number, incubation period, and clinical severity. This data was used to estimate the total number of exposed and infected persons. The number of available acute care beds in the NCR was calculated using a variety of sources, including the DC Hospital Association utilization and occupancy rate data; Maryland Healthcare Commission, Virginia Health Information, Virginia Department of Health, and data obtained directly from hospital websites. The gap between needed and available beds during the first six days of disease spread, resulting from both primary and secondary infections, was then estimated.
Thank you for your RSVP
Thank you for your RSVP to the Division Officers Forum.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, June 16th from 8:30 - noon at
The Westin Boston Waterfront
Grand Ballrooms C
425 Summer Street
A continental breakfast will be served.
ASM Microbe 2016 Meeting
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ASM Biodefense Meeting
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Register for ASMCUE by May 16 and Save $100!
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Why Join ASM?
Why Join ASM?
"Societies Coming Together in Support of Life Sciences Education"
Life Sciences Education
"The Curious Incident of the Translational Dog The Didn't Bark"
Trends in Cell Biology
"No Shortcuts For Research Assessment"
Molecular Biology of the Cell
ASM Branches Listening Tour
- Listening Tour
- Branch and Region Boundaries
- ASM Branch Meetings Calendar
- Links to Branch Websites
- Branch Officers Directory
- Toolkit for Branch Officers
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- ASM Branch Information Available in the ASM Archives
- Branch Organization Committee
Dear ASM Branch member,
I'm on my way to see you. During 2016, I will be on the road for the first ever listening tour of the ASM Branches. I intend to visit in person all 36 ASM Branches in the United States. Actually I've already started. On the first weekend in April, I set out on the first of what will be a series of mostly weekend flying visits, dropping in on ASM Branches and meeting the members in their natural professional habitats.
When I became CEO of the ASM in January, I resolved to test what has been one of my core principles-I was going to listen to ASM members. Visiting all 47,000 ASM members at home seemed a little ambitious, but visiting all 35 branches could give me an incredible overview of part of the organization that is vital to our collective community. I know that once you have visited one ASM Branch, you have seen only that one branch, because they are as diverse as microbial sciences are. So I plan to see all 36 branches.
I want to hear firsthand what the branches need, what they cannot easily find elsewhere, and what they hope ASM Central can do for them. I also want to share the vision for the future of ASM as an organization and to communicate directly about the changes already underway at Headquarters and what changes are to come. It is also a great opportunity for making new friends and having a good time together.
Equally important to me is the chance to forge personal relationships with so many working microbiologists. During my first two visits, at the Indiana and Rio Grande Branches, I heard exciting stories of scientific discovery and of professional growth. For example, I met Indiana University SouthEast senior Tyler Mercer who is looking for ways to stay in the lab after he graduates. Tyler has become mesmerized by phages and by science in general, but he comes from a family background where there was not much support for studying science. It occurred to me that ASM has made a crucial difference for Tyler. Not only did ASM members show Tyler ways to pursue microbial science, but the very existence of the Indiana ASM Branch reassured him that there are other people who care a great deal about phages and that these people make a good living and have a great career by putting their curiosity and knowledge to work. I left Fort Wayne thinking that this is exactly why we are in business as an association. We are here to make members better off because of their involvement with ASM.
So the ASM Branches listening tour is off to a flying start. On this page you can see my future itinerary and stops so far. I will also post simple videos and photos I take during my visits. Stay tuned, and feel free to connect. As I will tweet about my Branch visits, follow me on Twitter @sutefune or just email me firstname.lastname@example.org. If your ASM Branch is not yet on my schedule, feel free to reach out so that we can meet!
Onward and forward, ASM Branches!
BRANCH VISITS AND DATES
April 1-2, 2016 - Indiana Branch ASM Meeting April 2016
April 1-2, 2016 - Rio Grande Branch ASM Meeting April 2016
April 9, 2016 - Rocky Mountain Branch ASM 2016 Spring Meeting
April 14, 2016 - Washington DC Branch ASM Joint Meeting with George Mason University Student Chapter ASM April 2016
April 20 2016 - Northeast Branch ASM Spring Meeting
April 22-23, 2016 - Michigan Branch ASM 2016 Spring Meeting
April 23, 2016 - Intermountain Branch ASM 2016 Meeting
April 25, 2016 - Eastern Pennsylvania Branch
April 29, 2016 - Virginia Branch
May 10-11, 2016 - Illinois Branch ASM (IL Society For Microbiology) 2016 Spring Meeting
May 26, 2016 - Puerto Rico Branch
October 27-29, 2016 - Southern California Branch 80th Annual Meeting
VIDEOS AND PHOTOS FROM THE TOUR
Indiana Branch - Fort Wayne, IN
Rio Grande Branch - El Paso, TX
ROCKY MOUNTAIN BRANCH - DENVER, CO
WASHINGTON, DC BRANCH - FAIRFAX, VA
MICHIGAN BRANCH - GRAND RAPIDS, MI
INTERMOUNTAIN BRANCH - SALT LAKE CITY, UT
Justin Nielsen and Luke Goldston, Utah State University Eastern discuss their work with Small World Initiative
ASM's Gift Membership
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Searching for the perfect gift to help kick start your graduate’s future? Congratulate students, colleagues, or family members with the gift of individual ASM membership.
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What better way to support your graduate and the field of microbial sciences? Give the gift of ASM membership.
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Please note that the Supporting member type does not receive discounts on ASM products. Supporting members receive access to all of ASM's online resources including the online version of Microbe.
Hello bLogPhase reader,
I am Stefano Bertuzzi, the Chief Executive Officer of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). I use bLogPhase to communicate my thoughts with ASM members as well as anyone interested in science and various policy issues related to science. Before joining ASM, I blogged for ASCB on similar topics.
I have a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan, Italy, and a Master's degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. As a student, postdoc and PI, I was a bench researcher in the U.S. and Italy for 15 years before moving over to the science policy side at NIH in 2006. I have enjoyed every step of my scientific career and coming to the world of scientific associations has opened even wider horizons for me on what a scientist can do in modern society.
I've always liked to write. For a brief time, I had a fling considering writing as a career, and even became a registered journalist in my native Italy. But research science won out. But now, with bLogPhase I am looking at a new part time career as a blogger. As excited as I am about writing bLogPhase I realize that a blog has to be a two-way street. This blog needs your comments, corrections, additional thoughts, push back and, I hope, an occasional "Bravo." (Well, at least no rotten tomatoes.) So post your comments and your ideas. This is a space for ASM members and all those interested in the microbial sciences, science policy and science communications to interact.
Before joining ASM, I was the Executive Director of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and previously the Science Policy Director at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) where I greatly enjoyed working with Tom Insel, an extraordinary scientist and advocate for research into mental disorders. Before NIMH, I was in the Office of the NIH Director, in charge of the Return on Investment Program. There, I worked with Lana Skirboll, Lynn Hudson, and Elias Zerhouni. I am indebted to all of them for infusing me with an incurable passion for public service and science policy.
My wife, Elena, and I have been together since high school. We have two young children, Davide and Celeste. I love being on the water, sailing or windsurfing. I am an avid reader as regular readers of bLogPhase will soon discover.
So follow me and please jump in with your comments.
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I am Vincent Racaniello, Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. I am using Zika Diaries to communicate the experiences of my laboratory as it moves from working on poliovirus (for 35 years) to Zika virus.
I was fortunate to be trained in virology by two brilliant virologists. I obtained my Ph.D. with Peter Palese at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. As his first student, I received a great deal of attention as I worked on influenza viruses. For my postdoctoral work I was lucky to work with David Baltimore, just a few years after he received his Nobel Prize. In his laboratory at MIT I produced the first infectious DNA copy of an animal virus, a finding that revolutionized the study of viruses. I moved to Columbia in 1982 to start my own laboratory. Over the years our main focus has been on poliovirus.
Halfway into my research career, I developed an interest in science communication. I became part of the team that produced the ASM textbook 'Principles of Virology' in 2000. Having learned about all viruses (not just poliovirus), I wanted to share this knowledge with the public. Blogging had just become much easier, so in 2004 I started writing at virology blog (virology.ws), which I continue to this day. I also produce, with ASM, a suite of science podcasts, including the flagship This Week in Virology (microbe.tv). When I decided to teach an undergraduate virology course at Columbia University, I recorded all my lectures and released them at YouTube. All of these efforts are enhanced by the ability to reach millions via Twitter, Facebook, and other internet based technologies. You know where to find me - just google me.
Despite all this fun and fascinating activity, I jumped at the opportunity to write a new blog for ASM. Zika virus moved into world view in 2015 and many virologists, including myself, have moved to work on this important virus. I thought it would be illuminating to provide a weekly, personal view of our success and failures. All centered on an image from my laboratory (yes, I’m also at Instagram.com/profvrr).
Questions and comments are always welcome.
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Florida Branch ASM 2016 Annual Meeting
Florida Branch ASM 2016 Annual Meeting
Date: October 14-16, 2016
Location: University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Special Features: Special topics will include one-day R workshop and panel discussion on online teaching
- ASM Distinguished Lecturer – Dr. Briana Burton of University of Wisconsin
- Dr. Jack Fell of University of Miami
Website for Meeting/Registration Information: http://flasm.org/2016-meeting.html
Premium Members Get One Free Online Review Journal Subscription
Premium members receive one subscription to the online review journal of their choice - an $89 value!
Clinical Microbiology Reviews (CMR)
Clinical Microbiology Reviews (CMR) analyzes the latest developments in clinical microbiology and immunology, providing the current state of knowledge in the field, as well as balanced, thought-provoking perspectives on controversial issues.
|Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews (MMBR)
Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews (MMBR) keeps researchers current with the latest developments in microbiology as well as related fields such as immunology and molecular and cellular biology. Review articles explore the significance and the interrelationships of the latest discoveries that build our understanding of bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and other higher eukaryotes.
Members should indicate their preference when completing their join or renew transaction. Questions? Contact email@example.com or call (202) 942-9319.
ASM Membership: Perceptions Needs and Challenges
ASM MEMBERSHIP: PERCEPTIONS, NEEDS AND CHALLENGES
Key Findings of the Membership Survey Report
This report summarizes the key findings of an online survey conducted by Cell Associates on behalf of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The membership group at ASM was interested in learning more about the needs and perceptions of its members with regard to membership in the society to aid in developing a strategic plan.
To accomplish this, an online survey was conducted from November 19 through November 23, 2015. During the period that the survey was open, a total of 1,020 qualified surveys were submitted. The responses from these individuals serve as the basis for this report.
Demographics of Survey Respondents
Location: Seventy-one percent (71%) of the survey respondents were located in North America, 13% were in Europe, 8% were in Asia, and the remaining 8% were in other parts of the world.
Affiliations: Two-thirds (69%) of the survey respondents were affiliated with universities/academe. Nine percent (9%) worked in government organizations. Five percent (5%) worked in hospital/medical settings while an equal percentage worked in biotech/pharma/CROs.
Work or Study: The top three areas of work or study were molecular biology and physiology (34%), host-microbe biology (32%), and applied and environmental science (27%). Other areas were cited somewhat less often: teaching and education (21%), clinical science and epidemiology (16%), therapeutics and prevention (12%), and ecological and evolutionary science (10%).
Age: Twenty-five percent (25%) of the survey respondents were less than 35 years of age. Twenty-eight percent (28%) were 35 to 49 years old. Thirty-five percent (35%) were 50 to 64 years old. Eleven percent (11%) were 65 years or older.
Work Status: Seventeen percent (17%) of the survey respondents were students, 78% were in some phase of their working career, and 5% were retired.
Gender: 52% were male, 47% were female, and 1% preferred not to respond.
Key Findings of the Survey
Factors in Joining a Professional Society or Association
The factor that most influenced the decision to join a professional society or association was access to relevant, up-to-date information, which was cited by 65% of the survey respondents. Other factors that were cited less often include networking (42%), discounts for meetings and courses (40%), peers and colleagues being members (32%), and cost (29%).
Approximately one-third (35%) of the survey respondents were ASM members for 3 years or less. One-fifth (22%) were members for 4 to 9 years. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of the respondents were members for 10 or more years.
The most common ways that survey respondents first learned about ASM were from faculty (37%), from colleagues (25%), and from publications (15%).
The most common reasons for becoming an ASM member were for professional or career development (54%), to learn about the latest advances in one’s field (51%), to access ASM journals (45%), and to present one’s research (42%).
A majority (72%) of the survey respondents belonged to other professional societies or organizations. Twenty-six percent (26%) of the respondents only belonged to ASM.
Awareness/Recognition of ASM Benefits
When asked which benefits ASM provides, the top responses were “opportunities to publish/present my research” (67%), “advocacy for the microbial sciences” (62%), and “a place for the microbial sciences to thrive” (61%). “Educational opportunities” (56%), “networking opportunities” (53%), “access to experts in my field” (41%), and “access to potential research collaborators” (34%) were cited somewhat less often.
Importance of ASM Member Benefits
The most important ASM member benefits were journals (61%) and Microbe magazine (48%). Other benefits were cited less often: discounts to meetings (36%), general and/or ICAAC meeting (31%), networking opportunities (31%), books and manuals (29%), ASM website (29%), and career and professional development programs (25%).
Recommending ASM to Colleagues
The vast majority (91%) of survey respondents recommended ASM membership to their colleagues to one degree or another.
Current Member Challenges
The professional challenges that members currently faced most often were funding (55%) and keeping current in one’s field (52%). Maintaining a competitive research program (34%), limited resources apart from funding (27%), networking (26%), and learning about career opportunities (24%) were cited less often.
ASM’s Focus on Members’ Fields of Interest
A majority (73%) of the survey respondents felt that ASM provides sufficient focus on their field of work or study. Ten percent (10%) of the respondents felt that ASM does not provide sufficient focus on their fields. The remaining 17% were not sure.
Areas That Members Would Like to See ASM Provide More Focus On
Regarding what survey respondents would like to see more of from ASM in the future, the top two response categories were more focus on their disciplines (19%) and various items concerning meetings (16%). Other types of responses cited less often included careers (11%), networking (11%), grants, funding (10%), professional development (8%), communications (7%), and publications (7%).
What One Thing Respondents Would Most Like to See ASM Provide for Members
Survey respondents were asked what one thing they would like to see ASM provide for members at their career stage. Respondents most wanted to see more focus on grants, funding (21%), networking (15%), and careers (12%). Several other types of responses were cited less often, including professional development (9%), job listings (8%), seniors/retirement planning (6%), and communications (6%).
FACT SHEET: Preparing for and Responding to the Zika Virus at Home and Abroad
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2016
FACT SHEET: Preparing for and Responding to the Zika Virus at Home and Abroad
Since late last year, the Administration has been aggressively working to combat Zika, a virus primarily spread by mosquitoes that has recently been linked to birth defects and other concerning health outcomes. The Federal Government has been monitoring the Zika virus and working with our domestic and international public health partners to alert healthcare providers and the public about Zika; provide public health laboratories with diagnostic tests; and detect and report cases both domestically and internationally.
The Administration is taking every appropriate measure to protect the American people, and today announced that it is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to enhance our ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus, both domestically and internationally. The Administration will submit a formal request to Congress shortly.
The Pan American Health Organization reports 26 countries and territories in the Americas with local Zika transmission. While we have not yet seen transmission of the Zika virus by mosquitoes within the continental United States, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories in warmer areas with Aedes aegpyti mosquito populations are already seeing active transmission. In addition, some Americans have returned to the continental U.S. from affected countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands with Zika infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 50 laboratory-confirmed cases among U.S. travelers from December 2015- February 5, 2016. As spring and summer approach, bringing with them larger and more active mosquito populations, we must be fully prepared to mitigate and quickly address local transmission within the continental U.S., particularly in the Southern United States.
The requested resources will build on our ongoing preparedness efforts and will support essential strategies to combat this virus, such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs; accelerating vaccine research and diagnostic development; enabling the testing and procurement of vaccines and diagnostics; educating health care providers, pregnant women and their partners; improving epidemiology and expanding laboratory and diagnostic testing capacity; improving health services and supports for low-income pregnant women, and enhancing the ability of Zika-affected countries to better combat mosquitoes and control transmission.
There is much that we do not yet know about Zika and its relationship to the poor health outcomes that are being reported in Zika-affected areas. We must work aggressively to investigate these outbreaks, and mitigate, to the best extent possible, the spread of the virus. Congressional action on the Administration’s request will accelerate our ability to prevent, detect and respond to the Zika virus and bolster our ability to reduce the potential for future infectious disease outbreaks.
Department of Health and Human Services - $1.48 billion
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - $828 million. The request includes funding to support prevention and response strategies through the following activities:
· Support Zika virus readiness and response capacity in States and territories with mosquito populations that are known to transmit Zika virus, with a priority focus on areas with ongoing Zika transmission;
· Enhance mosquito control programs through enhanced laboratory, epidemiology and surveillance capacity in at-risk areas to reduce the opportunities for Zika transmission;
· Establish rapid response teams to limit potential clusters of Zika virus in the United States;
· Improve laboratory capacity and infrastructure to test for Zika virus and other infectious diseases;
· Implement surveillance efforts to track Zika virus in communities and in mosquitoes;
· Deploy targeted prevention and education strategies with key populations, including pregnant women, their partners, and health care professionals;
· Expand the CDC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, improve Guillain Barré syndrome tracking, and ensure the ability of birth defect registries across the country to detect risks related to Zika;
· Increase research into the link between Zika virus infections and the birth defect microcephaly and measure changes in incidence rates over time;
· Enhance international capacity for virus surveillance, expand the Field Epidemiology Training program, laboratory testing, health care provider training, and vector surveillance and control in countries at highest risk of Zika virus outbreaks; and
· Improve diagnostics for Zika virus, including advanced methods to refine tests, and support advanced developments for vector control.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – $250 million. The request seeks a temporary one-year increase in Puerto Rico’s Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to provide an estimated $250 million in additional Federal assistance to support health services for pregnant women at risk of infection or diagnosed with Zika virus and for children with microcephaly, and other health care costs. This request does not make any changes to Puerto Rico’s underlying Medicaid program, and the additional funding will not be counted towards Puerto Rico’s current Medicaid allotment. Puerto Rico is experiencing ongoing active transmission of Zika. Unlike States, Puerto Rico’s Medicaid funding is capped, which has limited capacity to respond to these emergent and growing health needs.
Vaccine Research and Diagnostic Development & Procurement – $200 million. The request includes $200 million for research, rapid advanced development and commercialization of new vaccines and diagnostic tests for Zika virus. It includes funding for the National Institutes of Health to build upon existing resources and work to develop a vaccine for Zika virus and the chikungunya virus, which is spread by the same type of mosquito. Funding will accelerate this work and improve scientific understanding of the disease to inform the development of additional tools to combat it. The request also includes resources for the Food and Drug Administration to support Zika virus medical product development including the next generation diagnostic devices.
Other HHS Response Activities – $210 million. The request includes funding to establish a new Urgent and Emerging Threat Fund to address Zika virus and other outbreaks. This funding would be available to support emerging needs related to Zika, including additional support to States for emerging public health response needs should mosquito populations known to be potential Zika carriers migrate to additional States.
In addition, the request includes funding to support Puerto Rico’s community health centers in preventing, screening, and treating the Zika virus, expand home visiting services targeting low-income pregnant women at risk of Zika virus, and provide targeted maternal and child health.
U.S. Agency for International Development - $335 million
The request includes investments to support affected countries’ ability to control mosquitoes and the transmission of the virus; support maternal health; expand public education on prevention and response; and create new incentives for the development of vaccines and diagnostics. The request would also provide flexibility in the use of remaining USAID Ebola funds. Activities would focus particularly on South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and would:
· Implement integrated vector management activities in countries at-risk of Zika virus;
· Stimulate private sector research and development of vaccines, diagnostics, and vector control innovations through public private partnerships and mechanisms to provide incentives such as advance market commitments or volume guarantees;
· Support training of health care workers in affected countries, including providing information about best practices for supporting children with microcephaly;
· Support for pregnant women’s health, including helping them access repellant to protect against mosquitos.
· Establish education campaigns to empower communities in affected countries to take actions to protect themselves from Zika Virus as well as other mosquito-borne diseases; and
· Issue a Global Health Security Grand Challenge calling for groundbreaking innovations in diagnostics, vector control, personal protection, community engagement and surveillance for Zika and other infectious diseases.
U.S. Department of State - $41 million
The funding request includes support for U.S. citizens in affected countries, medical support for State Department employees in affected countries, public diplomacy, communications, and other operations activities. State would also support the World Health Organization and its regional arm, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to minimize the Zika threat in affected countries while reducing the risk of further spreading the virus. These resources will support critical public health actions underway, including preparedness, surveillance, data collection, and risk communication. Activities would also include support for UNICEF’s Zika response efforts in Brazil; activities to bolster diagnostic capabilities through deployment of equipment and specialized training.
For more information on the Zika virus and CDC guidance about how Americans can protect themselves, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
About the Authors:
Jane Flint is a Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Dr. Flint's research focuses on investigation of the molecular mechanisms by which gene products of adenoviruses modulate host cell pathways and anti-viral defenses to allow efficient reproduction in normal human cells.
Vincent Racaniello is Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Racaniello has been studying viruses for over 35 years, including poliovirus, rhinovirus, enteroviruses, and hepatitis C virus. Dr. Racaniello blogs about viruses at virology.ws and is host of the popular science program This Week in Virology.
Glenn Rall is a Professor in the Blood Cell Development and Function Program and the Associate Chief Academic Officer and Director of the Postdoctoral Program at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Rall's laboratory studies viral infections of the brain and the immune responses to those infections, with the goal of defining how viruses contribute to disease in humans.
Anna Marie Skalka is a Professor and the W.W. Smith Chair in Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Director Emerita of the Institute for Cancer Research, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Skalka’s major research interests are the molecular and biochemical aspects of retrovirus genome replication and insertion in the host cell.
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