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RPI researcher uses simple formula for chemical reactions to predict COVID-19 trajectory – Times Union

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 11:55 am

TROY A scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created a coronavirus transmission model inspired by one he uses to predict chemical reactions to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast COVID-19 deaths across the country.

Developed by Yunfeng Shi, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer, and Jeff Ban, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Washington, the model uses fatality data collected by Johns Hopkins University and mobility data collected by Google to predict disease spread based on how much a population is moving within its community.

The researchers tested their model against data from 20 of the hardest hit counties in the United States and found it to be valid. Their findings are available in preprint on medRxiv, an online repository of papers that have been screened but not peer-reviewed.

The team has also been able to show how the forecasts change as schools open, communities lockdownand masks are mandated. The researchers website, which illustrates those forecasts, was developed by Tanooj Shah, a graduate student in Shis group.

Theres no mystery as to why theres an outbreak, Shi said. Theres no mystery to how we control it. The science is absolutely there. We want to use the model to give the local government some concrete predictive insight to implement certain policies.

Shi is a computational materials scientist who was curious about how simple chemical reaction analogs could be applied to forecasting COVID-19 transmission. Combined with Bans expertise in transportation and mobility, the two have developed a straightforward model that has been accurately predicting disease transmission.

They are now sharing their unique approach to forecasting COVID-19 spread with the CDC on a weekly basis, along with a collective of other research teams made up of infectious disease specialists, machine learning experts and modelers from across the nation. Combined, the models form an ensemble forecast from a multitude of perspectives.

The novelty of the model lies in the integration of physical modeling and data-driven approaches, which can bring useful insights about the infection and outbreak of COVID-19, Ban said. The findings of the research, such as the critical relative mobility indicator, can be used by policymakers for making informed decisions about when and how to reopen local economies.

The engineers plan to continue sharing their model results each week for the duration of the pandemic.

Pawel Keblinksi, the head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer, said the model is unique because of its simplicity and that it demonstrates that social mobility is a major contributing factor in controlling the spread of the virus.

"This is an example of the minimalist approach that Professor Shi used successfully to model complex physical reactive processes, including polymer or complex crystal growth," Keblinski said.

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RPI researcher uses simple formula for chemical reactions to predict COVID-19 trajectory - Times Union

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$5,000 Reward Offered In Chemical Attack That Left Germantown Grandmother Blind – CBS Philly

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 11:55 am

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of a suspect that attacked a Germantown grandmother earlier this month. Investigators say the suspect threw a mixture of dangerous chemicals in the womans face as she left her Germantown home on the 5100 block of Newhall Street.

The attack on Oct. 6 left 61-year-old Helen Jones with burns to her lips, tongue and eyes. Family members told Eyewitness News the potent mixture included Draino and it burned through Jones skin, leaving her blind.

Shes a phlebotomist, so she was leaving her home like she does every day. And he [the suspect] asked her, was she good, as if he was asking her about her safety, stepdaughter Aneesha Summerville said. When she looked up to him to respond to him to say yes, he threw a chemical in her face and ran off.

Police dont have a good description of the suspect. They say he was wearing a mask.

Summerville believes the suspect likely has a mental illness since the attack was random and unprovoked.

This random acid attack is a disturbing crime, FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby said. We need to find this male suspect immediately to prevent another attack.

Anyone with information is being asked to call Northwest detectives at 215-686-3353, 9-1-1 or 686-TIPS.

Meanwhile, the family has created a GoFundMe to help with medical bills and the trauma therapy Jones will need.


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$5,000 Reward Offered In Chemical Attack That Left Germantown Grandmother Blind - CBS Philly

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Two University of Chicago researchers elected to National Academy of Medicine – UChicago News

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 11:54 am

University of Chicago faculty members Melody Swartz and Holly J. Humphrey have been elected members of the National Academy of Medicineone of the highest honors in the field.

Swartz, the William B. Ogden Professor of Molecular Engineering at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, was honored for pioneering contributions to the fields of lymphatic physiology, cancer research and immunotherapy. She holds a joint appointment in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research and is co-founder of the Chicago Immunoengineering Innovation Center.

Swartzs research focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of how the lymphatic system regulates immunity in homeostasis and disease, particularly in cancer and chronic inflammation. Her lab applies this knowledge to develop novel immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer, including lymph node-targeting vaccines. Her quantitative and interdisciplinary approach draws on bioengineering, immunobiology, physiology, cell biology and biomechanics.

Swartzs many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2012), as well as her election to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (2018).

Humphrey, the Ralph W. Gerard Emeritus Professor in Medicine at the University, is currently president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. The academy honored Humphrey, MD83, for transforming medical education learning environments by creating cultures of equity, diversity, and belonging that prepare future health professionals to care for diverse populations and address social determinants of health.

Following an internal medicine residency, pulmonary and critical care fellowship, and chief residency at the University of Chicago, she served for 14 years as director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program. During her tenure as dean for medical education, her signature programs focused on equity, diversity and inclusion, mentoring, and professionalism.

She is also the chair of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicines Board of Directors, chair emeritus of the American Board of Internal Medicine and of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, and a past president of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine.

Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

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Two University of Chicago researchers elected to National Academy of Medicine - UChicago News

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Clemson Continues to Lead on COVID-19 Testing, Expands Saliva-Based Capacity University received portion of $16.7 million commitment from State of…

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 11:54 am

Clemson Universitys robust testing strategy has been supplemented this week by additional capacity through saliva-based testing. In the three days of expanded saliva testing, the University has processed 1,599 tests, with 95% of results being returned the same day of the test.

The recent development of a laboratory certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments commonly called a CLIA Lab based in Jordan Hall on the main university campus has facilitated the increase in capacity. The University received a commitment of $6.9 million through Governor Henry McMaster and the States Joint Bond Review Committee to assist in the development and expansion of the CLIA Lab.

This funding provides the additional high capacity lab facilities, testing support and reporting resources to help Clemson University meet its obligations to its students, faculty and staff and further its Land Grant Mission of helping the State of South Carolina, Clemson University President Jim Clements said. Clemsons continued partnerships and collaborations with the other research universities across the state as well as its close working relationship with SC-DHEC will further the state and our communitys response to this pandemic.The goal of the CLIA labs is to 1) provide regular, rapid testing of Clemson faculty, staff, and students and 2) collaborate with DHEC to expand and facilitate rapid testing availability for the entire Upstate community and other institutions of higher education throughout the State.

Collaboration between Clemsons new CLIA labs and DHEC will help fight community spread through expanding availability of faster, less-invasive saliva-based tests to off-campus Clemson students, local school districts, and other members of the Upstate community.

Overseen by Delphine Dean, the Ron and Jane Lindsay Professor of Bioengineering, with the help of Mark Blenner, the McQueen Quattlebaum Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, the lab employs 20 graduate students serving as the labs technicians. Approximately 30 undergraduates are helping with sample collection and are training in data handling and other tasks to assist the technicians.

When fully operational, the lab will be able to test 5,000 samples daily and return results the same day.

This is a multidisciplinary, University-wide effort to create a lab that is a cutting-edge solution to help fight COVID-19, Dean said. Were trying to ramp up quickly but safely.

Angie Leidinger, Clemsons vice president for External Affairs, said the lab is an example of the ingenuity that researchers are showing in the face of a global pandemic that is unprecedented in modern times.

Were grateful to Governor McMaster and the JBRC for this investment, Leidinger said. This funding not only assists in the immediate needs related to COVID, but also positions Clemson and the State of South Carolina to be a leader in competitive health-related research grants in the future.

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Clemson Continues to Lead on COVID-19 Testing, Expands Saliva-Based Capacity University received portion of $16.7 million commitment from State of...

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Applications to medical school are at an all-time high. What does this mean for applicants and schools? – AAMC

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 11:52 am

At Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, applications for admission to the class of 2025 are up more than 35% compared to the same time last year. At Boston University School of Medicine, theyve risen by 26%. And at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, admissions officers have seen applications increase by 27%.

In fact, nearly two dozen medical schools have seen applications jump by at least 25% this year, according to AAMC data.

Final tallies wont arrive for another month or so all schools application windows must close first but early numbers are striking. So far, there are more than 7,500 additional applicants nationwide, according to data from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which processes submissions for most U.S. medical schools. Thats an increase of nearly 17%.

Consider some edifying context: In the past decade, the year-over-year increase has averaged less than 3%.

Weve been experiencing a leveling off in recent years, so the large increase was quite surprising, says AAMC Chief Services Officer Gabrielle Campbell. Its also inspiring.

Experts don't know exactly what's behind the increase, but they point to several likely factors. Some are rather mundane, including students having more time to focus on applications as college classes moved online. But at least some of this year's applicants are driven by COVID-19 patients terrible suffering and front-line providers extraordinary heroism.

I make an analogy to the time after 9/11, when we saw an increase in those motivated to serve this country militarily, says Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC senior director for student affairs and programs. This certainly seems like a significant factor this year.

Even in a usual cycle, applying to medical school is no simple matter. Candidates spend many months preparing for the MCAT exam, writing essays, and collecting recommendations. Applying for entry in 2021 meant completing the AMCAS application in the spring or summer of 2020, followed by individual schools required secondary applications. Once applications are completed, applicants anxiously await interview invitations, which could extend into the spring of 2021.

I make an analogy to the time after 9/11, when we saw an increase in those motivated to serve this country militarily. This certainly seems like a significant factor this year.

Geoffrey Young, PhDAAMC senior director for student affairs and programs

Now, many candidates wonder if increased competition will make landing a seat tougher than ever. For their part, schools say theyre determined to review all candidates fairly, especially given the upheaval many applicants faced during COVID-19. That means admissions teams are working longer hours, extending timelines, adding interview slots, and offering some sage advice to worried candidates.

Schools want to make sure that when they accept someone, its a good fit for both the school and the applicant, Campbell says. They also want to be sensitive to the many applicants who have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Thats a lot of work, but theyre highly committed to it.

The larger application numbers to date likely stem from several factors, among them that some applicants are seeking a reliable profession in uncertain times. Some aspects of the application process also got easier as medical schools extended deadlines. And of course, theres the motivation to help patients and communities in a time of crisis.

During COVID-19, my hunger to help continues to grow, says Alan Mauricio De Leon of Houston, who teaches at a majority Hispanic charter school impacted by the pandemic. One student, he recalls, slept in his familys car to avoid infecting them. I want to be a change agent to bring equitable, effective care to my community, he says.

Creson Lee is among the applicants motivated at least in part by the dedication of front-line providers. Lee, 24, was deeply impressed by hospital staff when her research job took her to a Penn Medicine COVID-19 testing site to enroll study participants this summer.

Testers would be out there all day under the sun wearing full gear, drenched in sweat, recalls Lee. Theyd always try to keep positive, sometimes putting on a silly PPE fashion show in the driveway. Lee, who already knew she wanted to be a doctor, fleetingly considered waiting for a more typical year to apply. Ultimately, though, it was important to me to run with this inspiration to pursue medicine right now, she says.

During COVID-19, my hunger to help continues to grow. I want to be a change agent to bring equitable, effective care to my community.

Alan Mauricio De Leon Medical school applicant

Some candidates likely were influenced by more practical considerations.

For some people, the job market looked too uncertain, and a lot more people might not have taken a gap year because there were fewer opportunities, says Valerie Parkas, MD, senior associate dean of admissions for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. And then there were helpful changes to the application process. For example, most schools decided early on to move this years interviews online. Its a lot easier and less expensive to put on a nice shirt and log into Zoom than to travel across the country, she says.

For her part, Joanna Wasvary appreciated the extended application deadlines. That, plus my classes going online, means I can give my applications a lot more attention, says the University of Michigan senior. Wasvary therefore decided to forgo her planned gap year and potential work as a medical scribe. Itll be great to be a doctor one year earlier, she adds.

At Boston University, admissions officers have received more than 11,000 applications for 125 spots. Still, Associate Dean of Admissions Kristen Goodell, MD, doesnt think shell need to enlist additional reviewers. One reason is a protocol released last year that guides reviewers to keep certain criteria in mind. The process was designed for fairness, to reduce unconscious bias, says Goodell. But it turns out that knowing what to focus on also helps move through applications faster.

Other schools are building in more time to process applications. Tulane University, which has 16,000 applicants vying for 190 seats, is taking longer to extend interview invites. It just made sense to ensure that were reviewing the majority of applications before we give away all our interview spots, Woodson explains.

Kristen Goodell, MDAssociate deanof admissions at Boston University School of Medicine

One step medical schools dont plan on taking, though, is greatly increasing class sizes. Thats because substantial expansion requires approval from the medical school accrediting body, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education no simple matter. Plus, there's the issue of resources.

Schools usually decide their class size well in advance because they want to be spot-on in matching spaces with resources like clinical training sites, says Young. They dont want to find that they cant adequately train any additional students.

As aspiring doctors face more intense competition this year, admissions officers also offer their advice on some of candidates key concerns:

The increased numbers really shouldnt impact someones decision to apply. If they feel ready, they should apply. If they think their application needs bolstering, theres always next year, says Parkas. Careers are marathons.

Like many other admissions directors, Ivy Nip Asano, MD, director of admissions at the University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, reminds applicants that she is sensitive to extenuating circumstances this year. We understand that we need to take into consideration the effects of the pandemic on students ability to secure opportunities and experiences, she says.

At Boston University, Goodell emphasizes that she is seeking the same traits and abilities shes always sought and never uses some rigid checklist.

Weve already embraced admissions based on competencies. That means applicants dont need specific courses in a certain area, for example. They just need to demonstrate their abilities in that area, she says. This approach offers flexibility, which comes in really handy at a time like this. In addition, Goodell notes that Boston University uses holistic review, which considers an applicants full range of attributes and experiences.

For his part, Tulane Universitys Woodson advises applicants to make clear why they selected his school. Of course, we want people who will be a good fit for us, but with so many applicants, we also want to focus on those who will actually come here if accepted, he says.

Asano sums up her advice simply: I hope that applicants will share their authentic selves.

If you are a super-strong candidate, youre always going to get interview invitations. If youre a bit weak, no matter what the year, you wont get many. Then there is the group in the middle. For them, applying to more schools might increase the chances of an interview invite, Goodell says. A prehealth advisor can help you figure out which group youre in.

Could all the setbacks this year mean that fewer applicants from underrepresented backgrounds wind up in medical school?

We were concerned that all the disruptions could discourage people from racial and ethnic minority groups or lower socioeconomic backgrounds from taking the MCAT, says Cynthia Searcy, PhD, AAMC senior director of MCAT research and development. But the percent of those examinees actually mirrored those from 2019.

So far, application numbers also look encouraging.

To date, racial and ethnic minorities are applying to medical school in higher numbers compared to the same time last year," says the AAMCs Campbell. "For example, weve seen double-digit increases in the number of Black and Latino applicants.

This could still change, but given the stresses of the pandemic and social unrest that weve seen across the country, this is a positive early sign," she adds.

Once those applications land, holistic review should help ensure that schools consider the full picture of a candidates attributes and experiences, Young notes. He encourages admissions teams to use the AAMCs equity-related resources, including a recent webinar on how to prevent implicit bias in virtual interviews.

Other steps have helped support lower-income applicants. This year, the AAMC dramatically broadened its Fee Assistance Program, which provided $9.1 million worth of support last year. Qualifying applicants can receive a waiver for all AMCAS fees for one application submission with up to 20 medical school designations as well as MCAT benefits.

This year we raised the poverty level cut-off [so more potential candidates could benefit from the program], says Campbell. So far, weve had a 54% increase in [Fee Assistance Program] applications and a 76% increase in approvals.

Meanwhile, Goodell sees a quest for racial and social justice as helping to spur some of the rising application numbers.

So many people have seen that different groups in our country are facing such different effects from COVID-19 based on their ZIP code or their race, she says. This year, applicants are motivated to get out there and fix societal problems. Theyre saying, I need to do something to make this country more equitable, and I think the best way for me to do that is through medicine.

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Applications to medical school are at an all-time high. What does this mean for applicants and schools? - AAMC

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Dr. Kimberly Gilbert Chronicles Her Experience in Medical School in New Book Free Press of Jacksonville – Jacksonville Free Press

Posted: October 25, 2020 at 11:52 am

By Rolling Out Dr. Kimberly Gilbert, a board-certified Atlanta-based physician has penned a new book, So When Do I See the Doctor? The book is about her journey to becoming a physician and the challenges she faced as a result of her race and gender and how she found the strength to complete medical school, residency, and beyond despite hardship.

What inspired you to write So When Do I See the Doctor?

When I started my journey to becoming a physician, there were not any easily accessible stories to read that spoke candidly about the trials that many Black students and doctors, especially Black females, would experience from different perspectives on the road to success. More physicians are starting to tell their stories online, in magazines, and on TV, but I wanted to also give something a little old school in the form of a book. I wanted it to be comprehensive and honest. I also wanted it to be inspirational. The book not only addresses racism and sexism but also intra-racial and intra-cultural issues, and how people in positions of influence can oftentimes encourage or destroy whoever is listening to them.

What is the story behind the title?My first patient in private practice was an older White male. After clearly introducing myself when I entered the patients room wearing my long white coat and name tag, spending over one hour with him listening to his concerns, examining him, reviewing imaging studies with him, and discussing my recommendations, he told me that I had a great plan before asking, So when do I see the doctor?

Name three takeaways for the reader from the book. Despite how society may portray us, Black people are equal and worthy of the same safety, education, respect, and opportunities for success as anyone else. Our ancestors are the reason why we have the opportunities that we have today, and our decisions each day will determine the opportunities of tomorrow for those who follow our paths. No matter what struggles you go through on your journey to success, you can not only persevere but also maintain who you are along the way.

At what point did you know it was time to write this book, was it a deliberate decision or did it evolve?

My husband and friends have been telling me to write a book for years, after hearing my stories as they happened, telling me that very few people outside of medicine think Black female physicians also go through race and gender bias because our accomplishments and career are so prestigious. When the pandemic hit, it exposed so much racial injustice in America, I felt it was the perfect time to bring awareness of its existence in health care.

What is the best piece of writing advice that you received?Be authentic

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Dr. Kimberly Gilbert Chronicles Her Experience in Medical School in New Book Free Press of Jacksonville - Jacksonville Free Press

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