Unlocking Autism’s Mysteries
Global experts gather to share the latest research avenues.
Story by Jackie Powder • Illustration by Patrick Kirchner • Source art by Erhui1979/iStock
Many of the world’s leading autism researchers will gather in Baltimore MAY 11 to 14 at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). The annual conference lets researchers share new work and explore innovative research avenues into autism’s causes, diagnosis and management.
M. Daniele Fallin, PhD, director of the Bloomberg School’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and Stewart Mostofsky, MD, an investigator at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, are the scientific program co-chairs. Presentation topics include optogenetics—the use of genetics and light to control neurons—as applied to brain disorders, environmental causes of autism and adults living with autism.
“It’s an opportunity for autism researchers across a broad spectrum of disciplines to come together,” Fallin says of IMFAR, “yet it’s small enough that you can actually spend quality time with leaders in the field—to discuss details of recent papers, hear each other’s latest research findings and discuss future projects and ideas.”
The Bloomberg School Centennial sparks learning, sharing—and fun.
Story by Jackie Powder
Time flies when you’re closing in on 100 years.
Seven months in, the School’s Centennial celebration is in full swing, with Lunch-and-Learn public health history talks, Centennial Policy Scholar seminars and department feature months—just to name a few activities.
There’s a lot happening, and there’s still more to come. Here’s a look at some save-the-date events and updates on continuing activities.
One Hundred Dinners
We topped 100 dinners in DECEMBER 2015—way ahead of schedule!
Across 50 cities, 24 countries and 6 continents, the Bloomberg School’s global community of alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends gathered to share meals, network, honor the School’s legacy—and have fun. Pictured above is a dinner from Seoul, South Korea.
We may have hit our target, but that’s no reason to stop eating our way around the world—Centennial style. With this kind of momentum, we’ll have to rename it the Two Hundred Dinners project. (BTW, there’s still time for an Antarctica dinner!)
Here are some upcoming highlights academic departments across the School are celebrating in honor of the Centennial:
Biostatistics holds a FEBRUARY 10 discussion with Philip E. Bourne, NIH’s first permanent associate director for Data Science, and presents the inaugural “Ross-Royall Symposium: From Individuals to Populations” on FEBRUARY 26.
On World Malaria Day, APRIL 25, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology’s Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute hosts a symposium featuring researchers from the 10 International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research—the first gathering of all the centers at Johns Hopkins.
Future of Public Health
On JUNE 9, find out what’s next in public health.
The School will look ahead—way ahead—to priority public health issues and innovative solutions on the horizon. We’re gathering a group of top-level leaders, doers and thinkers from diverse fields for an afternoon of informative, provocative and energizing discussions. Details to follow soon.
The Centennial birthday party takes place JUNE 13—the School’s official birthday.
The School will also deliver birthday gifts to babies born on this day in our East Baltimore community as well as to local residents celebrating their own Centennial birthdays.
A look at the social determinants of health in Baltimore.
Story by Kate Belz • Illustration by Daniel Hertzberg
The turmoil in Baltimore triggered by Freddie Gray’s death last April has been years in the making.
Stark divisions persist in rates of graduation, incarceration—even heart disease. Life expectancies in some urban Baltimore communities are 20 years shorter than neighborhoods five miles away.
The Institute hopes to shed more light on the city’s stark disparities at its 2016 Social Determinants of Health Symposium.
The APRIL 25 conference will examine structural racism, including inequalities in education, neighborhood services and law enforcement, Blum says.
While the topic is complex, the symposium aims for practical solutions as neighborhood organizations, city agencies and Baltimore’s academic community share evidence-based strategies.
“The goal is to help build the city we will all be proud of,” Blum says.
Baltimore Racial Disparities By The Numbers
Black 78.2% / White 91.1%
High school graduation rates (2013)
Black 12.5 /
Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births (2013)
Black 38.1% / White 11.3%
Childhood asthma, ever diagnosed (2012)
Black 18.5% / White 7.4%
Diabetes, ever diagnosed (2012)
Black 30.5 / White 6.3
HIV/AIDS mortality rate per 100,000 residents (2012)
Black 49.8 / White 6.9
Homicide mortality per 100,000 residents (2012)
Black 38.4% / White 18.8%
The Word on Wolfe Street
It’s not “immutable fate that 32,000 Americans die from firearms each year,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote JANUARY 7. Kristof argued for an evidence-based public health approach to reduce U.S. gun deaths. His ammo: research by Daniel W. Webster and other Bloomberg School faculty.
Follow this Story: NYTimes.com
A slow-moving disaster like Ethiopia’s unfolding famine means no immediate, dramatic TV images, no screaming headlines. This makes it really tough for aid groups to raise the money needed. The tragedy, Tom Kirsch told NPR’s Morning Edition on JANUARY 1, is that early intervention could prevent widespread death.
Stream It: NPR.org
"Policies barring participation in interrogation and force-feeding are necessary to enable health professionals to fulfill ethical obligations."
The Department of Defense should prohibit its health professionals from being part of interrogations or force-feeding detainees on hunger strikes, explained Leonard Rubenstein in a JANUARY 5 Reuters article. Such a policy would protect the rights of military health professionals and detainees, he said.
View It: Reuters.com
My Nagging Question
"In sub-Saharan Africa, we struggle with how to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to women, and from mothers to children. Our challenge is testing women in time and continuing antiretroviral therapy during breastfeeding."
Breakfast at Baetjer’s
3 Questions for Philip Jordan, PhD
Interview by Salma Warshanna-Sparklin • Photography by Chris Myers
On MARCH 25 Phil Jordan’s lab hosts Breakfast at Baetjer’s, a monthly colloquium where Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students and faculty share projects in progress. After launching his lab three years ago, Jordan won a 2015–16 Johns Hopkins Discovery Award for his work on cancer and alternative ways to repair DNA.
What is your lab’s research focus?
Deciphering mechanisms that help to maintain the genome throughout development and to accurately pass on the genome to the next generation.
Which mechanisms in particular?
We study (1) structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) protein complexes and (2) cell cycle kinases, which are proteins that ensure accurate DNA repair and chromosome segregation.
How do they impact public health?
If these proteins aren’t working properly, people may face mental and physical developmental defects, infertility and cancer. That makes understanding how the proteins function and mutations arise all the more critical.
More Info: Phil Jordan's Lab