Infectious Insights Blog

An Orwellian Dystopia and a Terrible Disease

Recent events have led to a large increase in the sales (and possibly reading) of "1984" by George Orwell with his highly charged description of a dystopia set in the future. Orwell wrote a number of books that have remained powerful and relevant, including his most famous - "Animal Farm." But Orwell wrote a large number of books and essays – and it is one of his other books that left a lasting impression on me. In “Down and Out in Paris and London,” Orwell presented a memoir of his life in poverty in both cities. The book provided an insight into the struggles faced by many to survive in the face of limited means and opportunities. His description of casual employment in the hotel trade in Paris, and life on the road as a “tramp” in England are vivid and insightful. This recommended reading provides an insight into poverty and [...]

February 3rd, 2017| |

Leprosy: Final Steps Remain

The road to visit leprosy patients in the Philippines can be arduous. As the last Sunday of the first month of 2017 arrives, World Leprosy Day serves as a reminder that this ‘ancient’ disease still exists. By the conventional measurements used by global health experts and policy makers, leprosy is now statistically much less of a burden. Indeed, in my lifetime, massive advances have been made to ‘eliminate’ leprosy with approximately 200,000 new cases diagnosed and reported each year. Thankfully the advanced cases that once used to be common are now seen much less regularly. Using IDRI's leprosy diagnostic, a person can be tested at home, even in a remote area. Elimination has not yet been achieved, however, and a great many people are still affected by this disease. I remain extremely privileged to have active and productive collaborations all over the world sharing in [...]

January 28th, 2017| |

IDRI’s 5th Annual Gift Guide for Geeks

Haven’t had time to shop for a holiday gift for the geek on your list? Never fear – IDRI scientists have stepped in again to help you find the perfect present for your favorite geek. We’re pleased to share with your our 5th annual Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks! Alyssa Manning says “These tops are awesome!” They are made of many different pure metals (when possible) and are all exactly the same size and shape. “Great way to have fun with density!” To keep things local, Julie Early suggests Rocks for Brains, which focuses on broadening the appreciation of geology in the Pacific Northwest through “whimsical and functional pieces of art.” Linda Hawkins offers up something that is perfect for those with Einstein-like hair: hair chalk! “Hair chalk is not just for the kiddies and pre-teens, but also for those science nerds who want to complete their look,” said Linda. [...]

December 19th, 2016| |

The Role of a Mentor: Paying It Forward

As a young girl growing up in Trinidad, it was easy to fall through the cracks. At a time when boys were encouraged to pursue science and girls were politely pushed in other directions, I could have easily missed out on my scientific career path without the influence of my high school chemistry teacher. He was a true mentor, encouraging me, showing me that I was good at science and helping me believe that there were no limits. That was my first brush with having a great mentor, but certainly not my last. When I was at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, there was a professor who was in charge of one small aspect of a project I was working on. Like my high school teacher, he inspired me to strive for more. I went on to work with him in Tanzania, where we continued one-on-one training [...]

December 6th, 2016| , , |

The Role Rainier Beer Played in IDRI’s Founding

NOTE: This month, IDRI is celebrating its 23rd anniversary. The photo below shows founder Steve Reed, with a small sign pointing to the original IDRI site, sandwiched between a video store and a pizza joint on Nickerson Street in Seattle. It’s all about relationships. It was interesting to read about Rainier beer a couple of months ago in the local newspaper. And that made me recall the role that Rainier beer played in IDRI’s development – actually, in its birth. When I first moved to Seattle, I worked at the Issaquah Health Research Institute. I went from being an associate professor at Cornell to a postdoc in Issaquah, but that's another story. The institute in Issaquah was a small organization; we grew it over time and eventually it became Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and now the Center for Infectious Disease Research. But in those days, it was a little bit lonesome [...]

August 22nd, 2016| , |
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