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So far Lee Schoentrup has created 90 blog entries.

A Trip Back in Time: National Hansen’s Disease Museum in Carville, LA

May 19th, 2015|Blog, Leprosy|

Recently, I was in New Orleans to give a talk at Tulane University and found I had a few extra hours to explore. Instead of spending time in the French Quarter or on Bourbon Street, I knew where I wanted [...]

Up for the Challenge: Bike to Work

May 6th, 2015|News|

At IDRI, we’re never afraid of a challenge — whether it’s tackling infectious diseases or biking to work. Once again, IDRI is fielding teams for the Bike to Work challenge; we are small but mighty in comparison to some of the area’s large employers! Last year, IDRI riders pedaled 195 one way trips for 3,096 miles and commuted in by bike 70.8% of work days in May. This roughly equates to 151,719 calories burned, or 1,076 cans of Rainier beer. By not driving to work every day, we saved 3,033 pounds of CO2 from going into the air. If you figure the average car gets 23 miles per gallon and gas was about $3.90 a gallon, we saved 134 gallons of fuel and about $525. Not bad, I’d say. Even though gas is cheaper this year, that hasn’t kept three teams of IDRI bikers from jumping on our bikes this month. We realize how easy it is to replace some or all of our commutes with biking (especially when driving or bussing part of the way still counts). Enough people ride here at IDRI, so it’s pretty easy to find a buddy to commute with. […]

TB Cases in Local School Stir College Memories

April 15th, 2015|News, Tuberculosis|

Recent reports of tuberculosis cases in a local high school dredged up memories of a time this disease paid a visit to the college I attended … Word spread through the hallways of the dorm: “Lacy’s sick, and she won’t be back for a while.” We assumed that our friend, who’d gone home for a few days, had the flu or a stomach bug. But Lacy, who lived directly across the hall from me during our senior year at Mississippi University for Women, didn’t return very quickly – in fact, it was weeks before we saw her again. Diagnosed with active tuberculosis, Lacy was sent to Memphis to recuperate at a hospital, isolated from friends and family during what should have been one of the best times of her life. TB took its toll on Lacy – and on the people around her. Those of us who lived in close proximity found ourselves at the county health department on a regular basis – for TB skin tests and chest x-rays. Like many young people in the U.S., I’d taken my health for granted, and, all of a sudden, I realized I was vulnerable. Luckily, no one else developed active TB, and Lacy eventually returned – to school and to good health. […]

TB Inspired Shorter Hemlines, Recliners

March 24th, 2015|Tuberculosis|

Yesterday’s tuberculosis “cure chair” inspired today’s recliner. Tuberculosis is a disease that has plagued mankind throughout history. The mark it has left on our society is usually quantified in the number of people infected and the number of deaths it has caused. What are not generally discussed are changes in societal norms that were a either a direct result of or due in part to the discovery that TB was caused by contagious bacteria. As we reflect on World TB Day (March 24), the following are some interesting changes in society that were brought on by tuberculosis. In previous centuries, spitting in public was a common occurrence. “No Spitting” public service announcements were distributed on flyers and run in newspapers, culminating in some communities banning the practice altogether. Women’s clothing fashion also changed once spit was identified as a source of infection. Dresses of the day were long and dragged the ground as women walked through the streets. Not wanting to drag their clothing through potentially infectious spit in the streets, hemlines were raised leading to shorter dresses and skirts. […]

Marching Towards VL Elimination

March 11th, 2015|Leishmaniasis, Training|

Bangladesh shares more than history and geography with neighbors, India and Nepal. It also shares the world’s highest burden of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) or kala-azar as it is locally known. All three countries have pledged to an ambitious kala-azar elimination [...]

No More Stereotypes: We Can All Be Scientists

February 17th, 2015|News, Women|

IDRI's Jeff Guderian pokes fun at the stereotype of the "mad scientist." Check out the latest research from the University of Washington. It confirms what we all thought: the images and stereotypes about scientists deter girls from wanting [...]

From the Field: Philippines Leprosy Project

February 9th, 2015|Diagnostics, Leprosy|

NOTE: IDRI scientists often travel to meet with partners/collaborators or to initiate projects in the field. Dr. Malcolm Duthie is working on a newly-funded leprosy project in the Philippines. This week I have the privilege of visiting with partners in [...]

Reasons to Believe: New Hope for Leprosy

January 23rd, 2015|Leprosy, News, Vaccines|

Leprosy clinic in the Philippines. Over the course of a year, IDRI welcomes hundreds of visitors to tour our labs and learn more about our infectious disease research and product development. Invariably, one thing takes our guests by surprise: leprosy, a disease that many associate with biblical times, still exists. While global elimination (which is defined as a prevalence rate of less than 1 case per 10,000 people) of leprosy was officially announced in 2000, the fact is a quarter of a million new cases are reported worldwide each year. Although distributed in more than 100 countries, nearly 3 out of every 5 cases are found in India, where the disease was declared eliminated as a public health problem in 2005. Leprosy remains a very real issue in today’s world. Nearly 15 years after the declaration of elimination on a global scale, media headlines are filled with news about the disease, as World Leprosy Day comes up Sunday, Jan. 25. The declarations of elimination have had far-reaching consequences, ranging from decreases in funding for specialized leprosy research, treatment and rehabilitation programs to the swaying of public and political opinion that the disease is no longer an issue. […]

Simple, Elegant Solution Holds Promise for Drug Resistance

January 9th, 2015|Drugs, News, Tuberculosis|

A lot of interest has been generated by a recent paper in Nature. Researchers have identified a new antibiotic that works against a wide range of bacterial species that cause infection, and resistance did not develop in the laboratory. The need for new antibiotics is great; many infections are now resistant to the drugs we have, and there has been a lack of effort in developing new ones. Much has been said about the reasons why, but one reason is because antibiotics don’t make enough money to cover the cost of developing them. However, it remains the case we urgently need new antibiotics for many infections, including the ones we work on at IDRI, like tuberculosis. Antibiotics are compounds produced by one living organism that kill another and in many cases they are produced by bacteria found in the environment, for example in water, soil, etc. In this research, the authors found a completely new antibiotic produced by a soil bacterium. […]

The Legacy and Lessons of Ebola

January 5th, 2015|Ebola, News|

NOTE: The following was published in the Pacific Standard Magazine on Dec. 29, 2014. Contrary to what many in the global health community seem to believe, 2014 will not go down as The Year of Ebola. It will, however, be remembered as the year that the world was faced with responding to an emerging pathogen in a rapid and efficient way. Not that this is the first time, of course, with SARS and bird flu being recent history, but it is a particularly memorable one nonetheless. We know that a devastating disease will have varying degrees of impact on health systems, which cannot be predicted or fully anticipated. But this deadly disease, which quickly jumped country and continent borders, highlighted both how unprepared we are technologically and the fragility of many health systems. To be fair, to decry the fact that we are unprepared for a multi-continent outbreak of Ebola would have been greeted with a chuckle just a year ago—but now the question is: Which highly infectious disease is next? But today, as we look toward 2015, it’s clear just how real, and just how deadly, threats like Ebola actually can be—it’s also clear that being prepared, and then moving fast, is critical when it comes to saving lives. This will require developing available technologies and a strengthening of health systems, both of which are needed to ensure the capabilities for the rapid response to emerging, deadly pathogens. […]

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