Developers, doctors and researchers meet at the intersection of health and wearable technology.
Story by Rin-rin Yu • Image exdez/iStock
Digiceuticals—sensors and apps that do everything from monitoring sleep patterns to measuring glucose levels—are becoming a go-to source of data used by researchers in clinical trials and by doctors creating individualized treatments for patients.
Researchers, health care providers and developers will explore how emerging technologies like these can improve health among different populations at the Connected Health Conference, October 25–27 in Boston. Attendees will examine video games for rehabilitation, smartphone technology in high-, middle- and low-income countries and other tech trends in research.
“We’ve moved … from a space littered with shiny new objects supported by scant evidence to one where rigorous evaluations are being conducted to test the clinical and population-level impacts of these technologies,” says conference advisory board member Alain Labrique, PhD ’07, MHS ’99, MS, an associate professor in International Health.
Bringing it Home
Early childhood expert Anne Duggan’s research strengthens home visiting programs to help families thrive.
Story by Jackie Powder • Photo monkeybusinessimages/iStock
Home is ground zero for early childhood development. It’s where we forge critical neural and emotional connections that serve as a template for life.
Children raised in homes defined by stress, chaos or danger are more likely as teens and adults to struggle with psychological and physical problems and engage in risky behaviors like smoking, unsafe sex and drug use.
To shift those trajectories, the field of home visiting crosses the threshold into the lives of vulnerable families to help them create a healthy home environment.
“If we want to do right by families facing adversity, we need to help parents provide consistent nurturance—even in the face of stress—and help them overcome those stresses,” says Anne Duggan, ScD ’85, a professor in Population, Family and Reproductive Health.
At-risk families typically come to the attention of home visiting programs through health clinics or social services organizations. A trusting home visitor/family relationship is key to the work, increasing the likelihood that a family will take advantage of resources like behavioral health services, quality child care or job training, she says.
A national leader in home visiting research, Duggan has been a maternal and child health researcher for 30 years. She directs the federal Home Visiting Applied Research Collaborative, launched in 2012 to define and carry out a national home visiting research agenda. She is also co-principal investigator of a federal study evaluating the impact of current public policy expanding home visiting nationally.
“At the heart of it, we’re talking about changing people’s behavior,” says Duggan, who will be taking part in HARC’s third annual Collaborative Science of Home Visiting meeting on January 31, 2018, in Washington, D.C. “The home visitor’s job is to help move a family toward positive change.”
Population scientists cross borders to share findings and methods.
Story by Rin-rin Yu • Photo anilyanik/iStock
Why do women survive famines and epidemics better than men? Why do tall people tend to live longer?
Answering these questions is a focus of research in biodemography, one of 19 themes to be covered at the 2017 International Population Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, October 29 to November 4, 2017.
Stan Becker, PhD ’78, a professor in Population, Family and Reproductive Health, will chair a conference session on methods. Becker has attended the conference over the past 30 years and has noticed some trends.
In addition to biodemography, gender has become a hot topic, as has population, consumption and the environment.
Learning about methods and research results from other countries is critical, Becker says, noting that population researchers would otherwise tend to be “pretty parochial,” especially in the U.S.
More than 2,000 scientists, policymakers and government officials from around the world will gather for this year’s IPC, which meets every four years as a major activity of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.
Our growing species
Projected population in 2050
Projected global life expectancy, 2045–2050
In Case You Missed It
The Word on Wolfe Street
Ellen Silbergeld, in an August 9 PBS NewsHour piece on the longtime use of antibiotics to speed animal growth in industrial agriculture, criticized non-enforceable FDA regulations, saying that the measures essentially allow the farming operations to use the “exact same” amount of antibiotics even in the absence of animal disease.
Watch it: bit.ly/ELLENSILBERGELD
An August 17 story in The Independent featured Paul Sasha Nestadt’s study that determined that the rate of suicide by firearm in Maryland’s rural regions is 66 percent higher than the state’s urban suicide rate, a disparity driven, in part, by greater access to firearms in rural areas.
Follow it: bit.ly/PAULNESTADT
“They know the community much better. They understand the culture. They’re there when the crisis occurs. That’s a very big benefit.”
In a September 8 NPR segment on post-disaster relief, Paul Spiegel observed that local aid organizations are the “unsung heroes” of recovery efforts, although they are often stymied in their assistance efforts by inadequate funding.
Read it: bit.ly/PAULSPIEGEL
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Trop Med in Baltimore
3 Questions for Robert Gilman
Interview by Jackie Powder
International Health Professor Robert Gilman has conducted infectious disease research in Peru for 30-plus years. He’ll return to Baltimore for the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene’s annual meeting November 5–9, where some of his current and former students will be presenting.
What will your students be presenting?
They’ll be talking about studies on norovirus, sapovirus, Chagas disease and more. For them, it’s part of the process of entering the scientific world and developing how you present and what you present.
Is there something specific on the agenda that you’re looking forward to?
The Fogarty International Center is having a meeting to mark its 50th anniversary. Fogarty grants have been absolutely essential for training U.S. and international scientists and supporting global health research.
In your experience, what can be a particularly beneficial takeaway from this type of conference?
It’s a setting where people from developed and developing countries share knowledge. A lot of health advances that occur in developing countries are later used in developed countries. It’s not just a one-way transfer.