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(US) She Blew the Whistle on Pathogens That Escaped From a Government Lab. Now She’s Being Fired – Vice (Maddie Bender | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 10, 2020
 

A scientist who manages a biosafety lab in Washington State says she’s being retaliated against for reporting a leak of an unknown quantity of unknown aquatic pathogens into Lake Washington.

A career scientist who works for the U.S. government is alleging that her supervisors have retaliated against her for sounding an alarm about biosafety and workplace hazards. Her lawyers claim that she has been unfairly targeted for complaining about a litany of issues at a government science research center since 2017, including requesting an investigation after an unknown quantity of pathogens were released from her organization’s biosafety laboratory into the second-largest body of water in Washington State.

Evi Emmenegger worked at the Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) in Seattle since 1996 until this January, when she was placed on administrative leave and served with a notice of proposed separation. The center is a branch of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which studies natural resources and environmental and ecosystem health, water use, and Earth science.

Emmenegger managed an aquatic biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) lab, one of the few in the U.S. built for studying aquatic pathogens that pose a high risk to the environment. She also conducted research on fish diseases in a BSL-2 facility and the BSL-3 lab contained within it.

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Does Research Have Any Value in a Refugee Crisis? – Scholarly Kitchen (Haseeb Irfanullah | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 5, 2020
 

Bangladesh is now hosting more than 859,000 Rohingyas — the ethnic Muslim minority of Myanmar — at 34 refugee camps on its southeastern Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf peninsula. Between 25 August and 31 December 2017, over 723,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh to save themselves from genocide in Myanmar. These people are staying in camps created by clearing 2,500 hectares of forestland. The Government of Bangladesh, donors, UN agencies, and national and international NGOs are collectively managing this unmeasurable humanitarian crisis.

This Scholarly Kitchen piece makes a good point about worrying less about publishing in prestigious journals for academic sake and more about making sure the outcomes are given to people who can actually make use of the information.

The challenges around this crisis are multi-dimensional and complex — fulfilling refugees’ everyday basic needs, protecting them from illegal exploitation, ensuring the future of the 55% who are children, saving them from epidemics and pandemics, reducing potential tension between the Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi hosts, and tackling geopolitics around this crisis to name but a few. To researchers, this crisis gives a tremendous opportunity to explore the situations, explain the challenges, test ideas and innovations, recommend solutions, and evaluate actions.
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But academic research takes time. Response to humanitarian emergencies like a refugee crisis, on the other hand, is all about urgent action. Here a delay can be a question of life or death. Refugee crises thus demand actions based upon past experiences — what worked and what could work given certain factors within a specific context and ground reality.
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Flattening the Curve, Then What? – The Hastings Center – Infographic Now Added (Mark A. Rothstein | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 29, 2020
 

The metaphor “flattening the curve” has succinctly captured the challenge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. With no vaccine or effective treatment, the use of social distancing measures attempts to delay the spread of infection and keep the need for intensive, hospital-based health services within the capacity of our health care system. Unfortunately, too narrow a focus on flattening the curve may obscure larger gaps and deficiencies in our public health system that we have long ignored and must address.

A characteristically articulate and incisive reflection on where to next for COVID-19.

Besides lowering the peak demand for health services, the “flattening” approach includes raising the baseline of available resources, such as coronavirus tests, hospital and ICU beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and trained health care workers. In short, we need greater surge capacity. Although a lack of funding for public health infrastructure and personnel is evident, another key reason for a lack of surge capacity is that excess capacity is inconsistent with the business models of for-profit hospitals, bottom-line sensitive nonprofit hospitals, and underfunded public hospitals. Most hospital administrators and executives traditionally have sought to increase utilization rates and eliminate excess capacity, such as empty beds and unused equipment and supplies.
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The nationwide pandemic also highlights the fragmentation of our public health system. Unlike most countries, the U.S. has no national public health agency, with public health primarily the responsibility of state and local governments. Many jurisdictions lack the financial means or expertise to respond to a public health emergency, including the ability to manage quarantine or other mandatory social distancing measures. The authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is limited to controlling international and interstate health threats, as well as providing research, education, laboratory services, data collection and analysis, consultation, and policy recommendations for the states. A more centralized public health structure, regardless of the merits, would run counter to practices in place since colonial times and reflected in the Constitution’s separation of powers between the federal and state governments.
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Infographic about COVID-19

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To access the full-size infographic, right-click this link and select save as
The above infographic is a modified version of a resource from Shutterstock.

(US) Nobel Prize-winning scientist Frances Arnold retracts paper – BBC News (January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 27, 2020
 

American scientist Frances Arnold, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, has retracted her latest paper.

This story highlights why lab heads need to be vigilant, rather than just adding their names to papers from their labs. We suspect there are a lot of papers out there that the senior author has not even read them.

Prof Arnold shared the award with George P Smith and Gregory Winter for their research on enzymes in 2018.
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A subsequent paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams was published in the journal Science in May 2019.
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It has been retracted because the results were not reproducible, and the authors found data missing from a lab notebook.
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Reproduction is an essential part of validating scientific experiments. If an experiment is a success, one would expect to get the same results every time it was conducted.
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