Infectious Insights Blog

A Tale of Two Operas…and TB

Tuberculosis (TB) is often seen as a disease of the past. Before the advent of antibiotics, the treatment for TB was bed rest, fresh air and good food – but only if you were lucky enough to afford a sanatorium. Without drugs, many people died a slow and unpleasant death, suffering from night sweats, weight loss and terrible coughing fits (with blood). Nowadays, “consumption” has an air of tragic romance about it, often being associated with the slow wasting death of beautiful, young women. Perhaps because of some famous works of art depicting the suffering caused by TB, and its association with poverty. Two of my favorite operas have leading ladies who succumb to consumption. In La Boheme, the association of TB with poverty is made clear when Mimi, the seamstress, becomes fatally ill while living in poor lodgings, likely with bad nutrition and no heating. Mimi shows the classic [...]

March 22nd, 2016|

Are We There Yet? The Answer is No.

International Women’s Day is here again – March 8, 2016. It is a time to celebrate our progress and reflect on our achievements. However, it is also a time to articulate the large amount of change that is still needed to achieve equality. This year’s theme is “Pledge for Parity” and the statistics are quite sobering. According to a World Economic Forum report in 2015, “it will take until 2133 to achieve global gender parity.” This figure seems bad enough, until you realise that in 2014, they predicted in would only take until 2095 – so, a big decrease in the speed of progress. Why is this still the case? There a large number of reasons and barriers to parity. One area in which research regularly points out problems deals with our own subtle biases – sometimes held by us without realising them. A number of studies have shown that there are [...]

March 18th, 2016|

Leprosy: It’s Still Here

Malcolm Duthie, right, visits a home in the Philippines, where leprosy still remains a problem, particularly for younger people. As we near the end of the first month of 2016, it’s hard to believe that a disease first mentioned in written records in 600 BC still exists in today’s world. But the reality is leprosy is still here – found in more than 100 countries around the world. According to our colleagues at the American Leprosy Missions, 52 children around the world are diagnosed with leprosy … every day. And we know that many more will remain undiagnosed due to stigma, fear and lack of medical expertise. IDRI leprosy diagnostics These statistics are even harder to digest when we note that leprosy was targeted for elimination by the early 2000s. According to case reports, that goal was achieved. Yet news stories about leprosy still abound. [...]

January 8th, 2016|

IDRI’s 3rd Annual Gift Guide for Geeks

The pressure is on. Shopping days are numbered. Expectations are high. What do you get for your favorite geek on your holiday shopping list??? We asked that question of IDRI employees, who shared their recommendations for their best gift ideas for geeks. What happens when the power goes out and your cell phone dies? Never fear, says Chris Antony. Just make sure you have this hand crank emergency charger on hand. A great stocking stuffer! For the geek who likes to cook, Rob Lin suggests these two great cookbooks that combine science and cooking: The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science and Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks and Good Food. For the geek who likes a nice glass of wine every now and again, Elyse Beebe suggests these beaker wine glasses from the I Love Science Store. From Alyssa Manning: “I suggest My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla. I got it for my geeky Dad last year!” If you have loved ones who want to use technology to monitor their health, Aarthy Vallur recommends the AliveCor Mobile ECG. “It’s a great gift for parents or retirees. I got one for both my Dad and my in-laws and they love it!” […]

December 15th, 2015|

Now is the Time: HIV Cure

A couple years ago, the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands convened dozens of leaders from science, government, philanthropy and industry at a meeting called the “Summit on Public-Private Partnerships for Research Toward a Cure.” IDRI was honored to be represented at this meeting as we discussed ways to bring HIV to an end. From this meeting the following strong and important consensus statement was agreed upon:  “More than 30 years into the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, scientific and clinical research has taken us to the point where a cure for HIV/AIDS is possible. Driven by the evidence supporting such possibility, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands recently brought together key stakeholders from academia, government, foundations, and industry to discuss what actions could be taken to accelerate efforts towards the goal of a cure for HIV infection. The group concluded that now is the time to work collectively and aggressively to reach this goal with the ultimate objective of making a cure available to every person in need, wherever they happen to live in the world. Although effective antiviral therapies exist that can control HIV infection, curing HIV/AIDS — eradicating the virus from infected individuals or eliminating the need for lifelong antiviral therapy — will require an extraordinary, collaborative global effort, backed by strong and sustained political and industrial leadership. We believe that developing a cure for HIV is one of the most important biomedical challenges of the 21st century. It is clear that the task is too large and too complex for any one laboratory, company, or country to undertake in isolation. […]

December 1st, 2015|
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