Bloomberg School friends fly to Cuba for discovery
Story by Salma Warshanna-Sparklin • Illustration by Patrick Kirchner
Science diplomat and Nobel laureate Peter Agre and Dean Michael J. Klag will lead the School’s Health Advisory Board members to Cuba February 11–18. Senior officials will share insights into Cuba’s health system and other topics.
life expectancy in Cuba
life expectancy in the U.S.
health spending per capita in Cuba
health spending per capita in the U.S.
Sources: WHO, World Bank
They may have left the perils of combat behind, but for far too many U.S. troops, the wounds of war—in body and mind—remain fresh
Story by Jackie Powder • Photography by Lance Cpl. Mike Atchue/U.S. Marine Corps
A May 4 symposium—organized by Epidemiology Professor Michel Ibrahim, MD, and the Johns Hopkins Military and Veterans Health Institute—will explore the new battles that returning soldiers often confront: mental disorders, suicide, substance abuse and others.
The conference “Service Members and Veterans: Risk Factors and the Continuum of Care” will include participants from military and veterans health systems, civilian researchers and health care providers.
“The unique medical conditions attendant to military service don’t stop when active duty is over,” says Maj. Gen. (ret.) James Gilman, MD, Institute director.
Read our feature “Invisible Wounds” about research documenting veterans’ traumatic brain injuries.
Pain in the Brain
Neuroscience knows heartbreak from a heart attack
Story by Andrew Myers • Illustration by Mark Holmes
Can heartbreak feel like a heart attack? Does sadness sting like a bee? The similarities between physical and emotional pain have intrigued science for decades. Recently, researchers, including biostatistician Martin Lindquist, have wedded advanced brain scans using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with powerful computer algorithms to turn the neuroscience of pain on its head.
They can now distinguish physical pain from emotional pain. Earlier fMRI studies had led researchers to surmise that emotional pain “piggybacked” on the neural circuitry of physical pain to create a similar sensation. Lindquist and team, however, show that the two pains do not share the same neural mechanisms. The research could change our understanding of chronic pain and lead to new treatments—and may turn heads at the June 14–18 meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping.
Four Regions, Two Pains
In one example, the researchers show how four regions known to process pain do so using different neural mechanisms for physical and emotional pain.
- Secondary somatosensory region: Integrates pain and other physical sensations.
- Dorsal posterior insula: Determines where in the body pain is occurring.
- Anterior insula: Judges the severity of pain and aids pain-based decision making.
- Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex: Processes pain, reward and cognitive reactions to pain such as fear and risk avoidance.
Lindquist used scans like these identical cross sections of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex to show that different regions process the two types of pain differently.
The Word on Wolfe Street
What do you think of the Bloomberg School? Be part of our self-study for the School’s accreditation review by the Council on Education for Public Health. Send your comments by March 20. Don’t miss the chance: The accreditation process happens only once every seven years.
More Info: JHSPH
"When work in a field hospital becomes like death, it is difficult to imagine how life has any chance at all."
Bashar al-Assad’s regime has dropped barrel bombs on the Syrian people and even field hospitals and medical outposts. In response, Leonard Rubenstein, director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict, urged the U.S. government to help stop the barbarism by imposing a humanitarian buffer zone in northern and southern Syria in a November 19 New York Times op-ed that he co-authored.
Read It: The New York Times
Why I Love Teaching Online
“Online classes have an amazing diversity of students from all walks of life and around the world. This creates a unique and rich learning environment to discuss complex global health systems problems.”
World Autism Awareness Day
3 Questions for WKC Director M. Daniele Fallin
Interview by Salma Warshanna-Sparklin
The Bloomberg School building glows blue for autism awareness on April 2—a tradition supported by the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
What should everyone know about autism?
Just how common it really is in the U.S.: One in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Nearly all of us know someone directly or indirectly affected by autism.
What makes the center unique?
Our public health approach and focus on prevention. Most autism centers in the U.S. use a clinical approach and are more focused on treatment.
How has the center impacted autism research?
With CDC and NIH funding, we’ve helped build the largest epidemiologically based studies of autism in the country, and we’ve contributed to the official U.S. prevalence estimates and information on genetic and environmental risk factors.
More Autism Research Efforts: WKC