Five young and six established Harvard faculty members have received grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under two programs designed to stimulate innovative and transformative research whose potentially high reward comes with high risk, which makes the researchers unlikely to win more traditional grants.Six faculty members, working on three separate projects, were named recipients of the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Project Award Thursday (Sept. 30). The awards are aimed at “truly daring” projects by scientists rethinking the way science is conducted, according to the NIH.“Complex research projects, even exceptionally high-impact ones, are tough to get funded without the necessary resources to assemble teams and collect preliminary data. The TR01 awards provide a way for these high-impact projects to be pursued,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins.One grant was given to Sunney Xie, Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Xiaowei Zhuang, professor of chemistry and chemical biology and of physics, who are collaborating on one project. Assistant Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and Assistant Professor of Surgery Paola Arlotta of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Associate Professor of Pathology J. Keith Joung of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows Feng Zhang are working together on the second. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Simon L. Dove, of Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston, is collaborating with colleagues at Rutgers on a third project.The second award program, the New Innovators Awards, supports young scientists conducting work on highly creative scientific approaches that may be at too early a stage to qualify for more traditional NIH funding. Recipients include Adam Cohen, an assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology and of physics; Peng Yin, assistant professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS); Sandeep Robert Datta, assistant professor of neurobiology at HMS; Nathalie Agar, instructor in surgery at HMS and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Conor Evans, instructor in dermatology at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital.The Transformative Research Projects:Xie and ZhuangXie and Zhuang, who are both members of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, are seeking to advance understanding of protein function in cells and how disease disrupts that functioning. Both are experts at single-molecule biology and have developed several tools to image and probe what’s going on with individual molecules.“In this joint grant, Sunney and I propose to determine the dynamic cellular architecture of the entire proteome of the model bacterial organism E. coli by combining single-molecule detection, super-resolution imaging, and systems biology tools,” Zhuang said. “A global view of the cellular architecture of bacteria will bring new paradigms to the microbiology field and potentially suggest new therapeutic targets for treating bacteria-based infectious diseases. Moreover, the super-resolution imaging and systems biology tools developed in this project will also broadly benefit biomedical research.”Arlotta, Joung, and ZhangArlotta, Joung, and Zhang are working on a project that seeks to regenerate specific components of the nervous system as a way to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Among the methodologies is one being developed in the Joung lab to create customized proteins that can bind to genetic sequences, allowing them to edit the sequences and change the expression of specific genes.“We are exploring the uses of this technology both for biological research and for the treatment of genetic-based diseases,” Joung said.DoveDove, working with Bryce Nickels at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is working to challenge conventional ways to make RNA by investigating the role of tiny fragments of RNA, called nanoRNAs, in initiating transcription in cells.The Innovators’ work:Adam CohenCohen is seeking ways to monitor the electrical activity in a large number of neurons at once to better understand neural function. He’s working to create an artificial protein based on the microbial green proteorhodopsin protein that flashes with fluorescent light when activated. Once developed, the gene for the protein can be inserted into neurons, which would provide a flash of fluorescence each time the neuron fires. Molecules that have previously been developed for this purpose lack both the sensitivity and speed that Cohen hopes to get from the proteorhodopsin proteins.“I am profoundly grateful” to receive this award, Cohen said. “We are trying a very risky project, in an area that is new for my lab. It would be almost impossible to fund this work through conventional means. Now we have the freedom to give this our best shot for the next five years. I’m really excited.”Peng YinYin, a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, is the principal investigator for the Molecular Systems Lab at Harvard, a group of scientists and students interested in engineering programmable molecular systems inspired by biology. The group plans to use the award to advance one of the tools most essential to biological and medical research, the imaging probe.Imaging probes translate a cell’s invisible biological information, such as proteins or RNA molecules, into viewable signals, such as a change in fluorescence. The information provided by these fluorescent markers helps researchers to understand better the role of cell behavior in the onset of diseases, such as cancer, and their progression.Yin is proposing a novel type of bioimaging probe, one based on “triggered” molecular geometry. Such a probe would assemble itself into a prescribed, identifiable three-dimensional geometric shape upon detecting a target molecule. This new approach has the potential to enable the imaging of a dramatically larger number of distinct molecular species in a single cell, thus providing researchers with a much richer, more accurate view of what is happening in a cell.Yin said the award “will allow my group to undertake an audacious research plan. Working in the highly stimulating environment of the Wyss Institute, … we hope to advance the vision of engineering programmable molecular systems to provide tools for addressing important biomedical challenges.”Nathalie AgarIn neurosurgery for brain cancers, the main objective is to maximize removal of the tumor while preserving healthy tissue. Agar’s project aims to develop and implement a real-time molecular analysis of the tissue involved, using three-dimensional mass spectrometry in combination with radiology imaging as a guide for neurosurgery. The project involves a cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional team, with groups from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Purdue University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as industrial collaborators.The grant gives the effort the recognition and opportunity to make progress in developing and implementing the technology, Agar said. A further goal is to create portable tools that may be used in operating rooms that don’t have the same level of imaging that is available in highly specialized centers.Conor EvansEvans’ research is focused on developing optical approaches for detecting, understanding, and treating therapeutically resistant metastatic cancer. Although much progress has been made in detecting and treating cancer, metastatic cancer, which has spread through the body, remains the leading cause of death in patients with advanced cancer. In ovarian cancer, 90 percent of all fatalities arise from microscopic, difficult-to-visualize lesions that often resist treatment. A lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia, is a major cause of treatment resistance in cancer, and is likely responsible for resistant ovarian disease.Evans hopes to overcome hypoxia-induced resistance by developing a new microscopic and translational imaging approach for battling metastatic disease. He plans to map the detailed relationship between hypoxia and therapeutic response by developing new oxygen-imaging probes, high-throughput microscopy platforms, and multimodal microendoscopes to directly visualize treatment resistance. Furthermore, to fight treatment resistance, he hopes to develop an oxygen-independent therapy that improves the survival of women with ovarian cancer.“As a young investigator and new faculty member at Harvard, I am excited to receive the New Innovator award, as it provides an unparalleled opportunity for me to pursue my research goals in fighting treatment-resistant metastatic cancer,” Evans said. “This award gives me the resources to explore the underlying relationships between hypoxia and resistance in cancer, which will allow us to better understand therapeutic resistance and build more effective therapies for patients.”Sandeep Robert DattaDatta studies the mammalian sense of smell for insights into how the brain extracts information from the environment and converts that into action. He is specifically interested in odors that cause innate responses, those that are of critical importance to an animal, such as the odor of food, of a predator, or of a mate. These odors may be processed by special receptors in the nose, unlike the complex combinations of receptors that process other odors. This simplifies the still-complex task that Datta and members of his lab have undertaken, which is to link specific odors to certain neural circuits and to understand how electrical signals in that circuit then lead to specific animal behavior.“This grant will enable me to perform the next generation of experiments today instead of five years from now, and give me the freedom to follow the science wherever it leads,” Datta said. “It is gratifying to be given the opportunity to freely explore the complexities of the brain without the tether of constantly searching for funding.”
One of the biggest questions confronting the field of stem cell science is whether iPS cells — stem cells created by reprogramming adult cells — are the equal of the field’s gold standard, human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).Now, a team of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers, in collaboration with scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, have demonstrated that many iPS cells are, in fact, the equal of hESCs in creating human motor neurons, the cells destroyed in a number of neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s. Another HSCI group, working with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, has produced a simple, quick method for testing the equivalency of iPS cell lines with human embryonic stem cells.The latter group, led by Professor Alex Meissner of HSCI, Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), and the Broad, conducted a genomic analysis of 20 commonly used hES cell lines — 17 from Harvard and three from the University of Wisconsin — and created “epigenetic and transcriptional reference maps” for them.The study, which was published by the journal Cell, then compared a dozen iPS cell lines, derived by the team of Professor Kevin Eggan at HSCI and SCRB, with the 20 hESC lines, and found that the 12 iPS cell lines showed a pattern of variation similar to that of the reference embryonic stem (ES) cells.“The reference maps provided us the necessary understanding of the range of variation that is found between pluripotent cells,” Meissner said. “This means that when someone now creates an iPS line, they can compare it to what the map shows and see if it falls within the expected range, and, if it doesn’t, where it doesn’t.”Doug Melton, co-director of HSCI and co-chair of SCRB, said the two “papers represent further advances in studies on ES and iPS cells, showing how careful and thorough characterization of cell lines enables one to effectively use these stem cells for studies on human development and disease. The advance here is to use a detailed molecular characterization (transcription analysis and DNA methylation patterns) to find a signature, or scorecard, for cell lines. It is impressive to see two labs collaborate so effectively to take on such large and important projects.”The 12 iPS cell lines used by Meissner were part of a set of 16 created by Eggan’s team and his collaborators at Columbia. In a study published in Nature Biotechnology, the Eggan group reported that “all 16 lines were turned into motor neurons and were usable. Some needed more ‘coaxing’ than others,” Eggan said, “ but the main message is that, on average, iPS cell lines behaved as well as human embryonic stem cell lines.”Meissner said Harvard has applied for a patent on the new cell characterization method. “When you generate iPS cell lines, you have to put them through assays to make sure they are pluripotent,” which means they can develop into any cell type in the body. “The current test in humans generally involves generating a teratoma, a germ cell tumor, and that can take two months. This new test is a much more accurate predictor of pluripotency, and is easy to scale up to test millions of cell lines quickly,” Meissner said.Postdoctoral fellow Christoph Bock of the Meissner lab was the first author on the Cell paper, and Gabriella L. Boulting of the Eggan lab was first author on the paper in Nature Biotechnology.
Lifestyle habits in adulthood may increase women’s life expectancy by 14 years, men gain 12 Eric Rimm, professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, discussed the recently released 2020–2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Rimm served on the Scientific Advisory Committee in 2010.Q&AEric RimmCHAN SCHOOL: What’s your assessment of the new guidelines?RIMM: This is the first time that the guidelines include advice for children under 2. They now actually address healthy eating across the lifespan. I think this is an important change because of the likely role that early diet plays in laying the foundation for healthy dietary habits and a lifetime of disease prevention. The government made a conscious effort to include more pediatricians on the advisory committee, including Elsie Tavares, who has an appointment in our Department of Nutrition. These guidelines will be used to inform government nutrition policy, so I think that was a good step forward.What was disappointing to me was that the government decided to take a pass on changing recommendations for daily calories from added sugar. The scientific advisory committee had recommended lowering limits from 10 percent to 6 percent, but the official government guidelines kept the recommendation at the upper level.However, I agreed with the decision to leave out the committee’s recommendation to lower alcohol guidelines for men from a maximum of two daily drinks to one. I was the alcohol expert in 2010, and I believe the science still supports what was in the previous guidelines in 2010 and 2015, that is, up to two drinks a day for men and one for women. I think it is important that if a government body is going to make a substantial change in policy statement about alcohol that it be as scientifically accurate as possible.Going forward, we need to focus on understanding and promoting healthy drinking patterns. The guidelines are very clear on up to two drinks for men in any given day — not seven on Friday and seven on Saturday. With people drinking a lot more at home during the pandemic, it may be a good time to remind people that binge drinking is harmful.CHAN SCHOOL: How can the average person make sense of the guidelines and apply some of the recommendations in their own diets?RIMM: The guidelines are primarily aimed at policy makers and academics, so people may find some of the recommendations difficult to translate to their lives. Take counting calories, for example. If you give most people a plate of food and ask them how many calories it contains, they won’t know. I don’t blame them. It’s a really hard thing to think about when you’re making a meal.I think a perhaps more helpful thing to focus on is eating whole foods instead of processed foods. We know that it’s better for you to eat food in its natural form. Highly processed grains like white bread, for example, strip all the good stuff out. Another important step is to choose healthier proteins — chicken and fish over red meat, or soy proteins over animal proteins.Much of the guidelines do discuss healthy dietary patterns including the Mediterranean Diet or vegetarian diet. To help make them affordable, you can buy inexpensive proteins like dried beans, and also incorporate frozen fruits and vegetables into your diet.CHAN SCHOOL: What nutrition policy changes do you hope to see in the next few years?RIMM: In 2015, the advisory committee recommended incorporating sustainability into the dietary guidelines — for example, encouraging a more plant-based diet to lower the production of greenhouse gases. This was not included in the government’s official 2015 guidelines, and it did not improve in 2020. The 2020 guidelines were set up by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services with very specific parameters around what topics the scientists on the Advisory Committee could address, and sustainability was not listed. Recently, the EAT-Lancet report has really become the source for thinking about sustainability in the way we eat, but I think these conversations still have a place in the guidelines. I’m optimistic that they will eventually be included.I’m also hopeful that standards around school meals set during the Obama administration, such as lowering amounts of saturated fat and sodium, will be restored. We’re essentially training kids’ palates for unhealthy food for life, which is so disheartening, especially since we know it’s possible to serve healthy school meals that kids will actually eat and enjoy.Another important area is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food insecure people in the program should be free to purchase what they want, but I think we are setting them up to fail. We need to provide incentives to help people on SNAP buy healthier food. There is robust evidence to show that if you do this, it works. Good fat vs. bad fat vs. high carb vs. low carb Related Study finds greater adherence lowers risk of Type 2 diabetes by 23% Researchers with widely varying views on dietary guidelines come to a consensus Five healthy habits to live by The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Growing support for plant-based diet Author Greenberg examines health, sustainability of seafood diet Eating our way to a sustainable future
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Norway’s $970-billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, should allocate a bigger share of its investments to renewable energy to boost returns, a U.S. energy policy think-tank said in a report on Wednesday.The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) also said Norway’s parliamentary elections on Sept. 11 would provide an opportunity to review whether the fund should be allowed to invest in unlisted infrastructure projects, such as wind or solar farms.Norway’s wealth fund pools the state’s revenues from oil and gas production. But a 75 percent drop in the price of oil between mid-2014 and January 2016 has depressed its returns, increasing pressure for an overhaul.The fund, managed by the country’s central bank, has a mandate from Norway’s finance ministry to invest in renewable-only investment to the tune of about $5-8 billion, but some green groups say that is too modest a sum.The finance ministry has twice rejected a proposal from the fund to invest in infrastructure projects, citing political risk and the modest size of the unlisted infrastructure market. The fund currently invests in stocks, bonds and real estate abroad only.“One way to achieve a good outcome would to be to invest in renewable energy, a fast-growing segment of the global energy economy and one that is now widely seen as a mainstream sector with a positive investment outlook,” the IEEFA report said.The IEEFA said renewables were driving deals in the listed and unlisted infrastructure market, estimated to total about $4.8 billion.Earlier this year, the Finance Ministry agreed with the central bank to allow the fund to increase its equity holdings to 70 percent from 62.5 percent of its total investments to try to boost the fund’s returns.This means the fund will have to re-allocate more than 500 billion crowns ($64.24 billion) over several years.The IEEFA said Norway should invest about 35 percent of this money, or about 190 billion crowns, in renewable energy, spreading it across publicly traded utilities, listed infrastructure companies, and direct investments in listed and unlisted infrastructure.Each of these investment opportunities have track records with returns that meet or exceed the fund’s historical performance, the IEEFA said.“The Ministry of Finance was shortsighted in its rejection of unlisted infrastructure,” Tom Sanzillo, the IEEFA report author said in an email.“The incoming government has a huge opportunity to boost the Norwegian economy with stable and attractive clean energy investments,” he said.Norway’s wealth fund should boost investments in renewables -report IEEFA Report Details Investment Opening for Norway
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Janice Montalvo was charged in a fatal hit-and-run involving a bicyclist on Thursday, police said. (SCPD)A Centereach woman has been charged in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist in Terryville on Thursday, Suffolk County police said.Janice Montalvo, 54, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving a fatality and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.The fatal crash occurred just after 9 p.m. Thursday as 51-year-old Bradford Packer, of Port Jefferson Station, was riding his bike northbound on Route 112, police said. That’s when Montalvo allegedly struck him as she was traveling westbound on Nesconset Highway, police said.Montalvo allegedly fled the scene in a light-colored Hyundai, which had significant front-end damage, according to police. She was arrested Friday following an investigation by Suffolk police’s Vehicular Crime Unit, police said.Packer was transported by ambulance to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was pronounced dead, police said.Montalvo is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday at First District Court in Central Islip.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A teenager has been arrested for allegedly firing a handgun into a crowd of people during a heated argument about a mile from his Freeport home last month, Nassau County police said.Nathanial Paulino was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. No injuries were reported in the shooting.Special Investigations Squad detectives said that the 18-year-old alleged gunman got into an argument with a group of men on North Main Street when he pulled out the gun and opened fire at 6:30 p.m. April 11.Paulino and the group fled before the arrival of officers, who found two bullets struck a local delicatessen.Paulino surrendered himself to investigators at the First Precinct station house this week. He will be arraigned Friday at First District Court in Hempstead.
Earlier this month, I discussed the untapped potential of women around the world with attendees of the Iowa International Center’s Dialogue Series in downtown Des Moines. I also shared a bit of my personal story, which has shaped my perspective on practical financial approaches for giving more female leaders the support they need and deserve.Coming of age in Bangladesh during a time when cultural and familial pressures kept most women from pursuing their ambitions was not easy for an individual like me. From a young age, I found intellect, curiosity and an intense yearning to defy the odds hard to squash. Fortunately, mentors, both male and female, encouraged me to pursue my ambitions.Although the influence of these mentors has been key to my success, and the success of others like me, the criticality of financial support cannot be overstated. During the Dialogue Series, I discussed three specific and practical methods for injecting financial support into the lives of promising young women across the globe:ScholarshipMicrofinanceEqual payScholarshipToday, more women than men are enrolled in college. Scholarships have undoubtedly played a major role in that trend. Financial assistance not only helps a deserving female continue her education; it can also help young women pursue a career in advanced-degree professions they may not otherwise be able to afford. What’s more, scholarships awarded to women represent a better return on investment, as women are more likely than men to complete college and attend graduate school. Without the burden of student loans, these women can more readily leverage the income generated by higher-level careers to help finance the next generation of college graduates. For many young women, scholarships represent more than money. They also build confidence and a sense of community responsibility. Earning my own scholarships were key, pivotal moments in my quest to prove myself. I had earned more than money to send me to school; I had earned dignity and respect from my family and community, all while hopefully setting an example for other young women in my corner of the world.MicrofinanceAt 17, I started a home-based tutorial business alongside my brother, giving math, English and science lessons to students in grades six and above. Over time, I founded two other businesses, including a cafeteria supplying box lunches to one of the largest public schools in Bangladesh and a boutique with three other women. It was during this period of my life that I was introduced to the concept of microfinance, which describes broad financial services for entrepreneurs and others lacking access to traditional credit and other banking services. With loans as low as $125, microfinance has proven to be life changing in many parts of the world.I have seen firsthand the benefits of microfinance. When I was growing up, many of the upper-class families in Bangladesh had in-home servants. Often, beggars off the street or those dwelling in slum quarters of the city would take a servant’s wage-paying job in exchange for food, shelter and nominal wage. In the early 1990s, however, fewer individuals were clamoring for maid servant work. Large clothing manufacturers were setting up left and right, creating better paying jobs that also gave workers a new and marketable skill. Those who aspired for more eventually used those skills in combination with microfinance programs to set up their own businesses. The empowerment that came from running a successful venture led to a contagious sense of freedom and feeling of great accomplishment that spread to more women.Equal PayAmerican equal pay advocates have successfully maintained a steady drum beat for their cause, earning a great deal of awareness and inspiring a decent amount of action. Over the more than 100 years these advocates have been calling for change, the U.S. has experienced a series of legislative solutions, private-sector policies and even the declaration of April 14 as Equal Pay Day. Still, the U.S. ranks 65th in wage equality out of the 142 countries examined in the 2014 World Economic Forum report.When it comes to equal pay, both genders bear responsibility for change. For their part, women in business have a responsibility to look out for themselves—something of which I’ve become more aware over time. When I was first offered a C-level position, I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation, accepting the first salary and benefits package offered. A male counterpart may have taken the time to consider all of his options and to negotiate a compensation package based on his worth assessment. Since that time, I’ve learned the importance of knowing your worth and the artful skills of negotiation—both critical factors for those who support fair pay regardless of gender.How You Can HelpHelping women around the world achieve success doesn’t have to be as large as developing a scholarship program or funding a microfinance endeavor. Even something small, like advocating for fair pay or pushing against preconceived ideas can help others do the same.To learn more about the role of financial support in helping women around the world achieve career success, download the white paper “Financial Support Critical to Greater Female Leadership.” 14SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Shazia Manus At AdvantEdge Analtyics, Shazia Manus applies a futurist view to the field of analytics, helping credit unions discover new possibilities for exceptional member experiences. Prior to joining CUNA Mutual Group … Web: advantedgeanalytics.com Details
(WBNG) — Almost 800 letters were delivered by the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club and teacher Sarah Eisele from Johnson City Elementary School to the Veterans House in Oxford. Organizers added next year they hope to double the number of letters. Organizers say it was a successful day and hope to involve more school districts next year. The letters were written by students in grades pre-K through 5th from Johnson City, Chenango Forks, and Windsor Central School Districts. To learn more about the Nam Knights not for profit organization that supports Veterans and law enforcement, click here.
(CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing) – You have a few crucial moments for talking about pandemic preparedness. Use them well.As most readers of this newsletter know, the World Health Organization (WHO) says we are currently in phase 3 of six pandemic phases (see chart at right). We’re no longer in phase 1, because a novel flu virus, H5N1, has appeared on the scene. We’re no longer in phase 2, because H5N1 has successfully passed from a bird to a human (a few hundred times so far). We’ve also seen a few cases of human-to-human transmission, but not enough, in the WHO’s judgment, to justify ratcheting up to phase 4.As the WHO chart shows, the distinctions among phases 3, 4, 5, and 6 are qualitative, depending on whether human-to-human transmission is “very limited,” “increased,” “significant,” or “efficient and sustained.”Let me propose a complementary but different set of phases for planning pandemic communications. The WHO pandemic phases are grounded solely in what the virus is doing. The following pandemic communication phases are grounded also in the:Intensity of the level of public concernLocation of the disease1. Pre-pandemic coldIn the WHO’s phases 1 and 2, pandemic preparedness is off the public’s agenda, and most communication effort would be wasted. There are exceptions—during a severe seasonal flu outbreak, for example, or right after a pandemic. But unless something has happened to arouse the public’s interest and thus create a pandemic teachable moment, the chances of inspiring much pandemic preparedness are next to nil. It still makes sense to lobby for improvements in areas such as public health infrastructure and vaccine technology. But don’t expect to create a communication phase 1 pandemic buzz. Save your ammunition.2. Pre-pandemic warmIn the WHO’s phase 3, our current phase, the opportunities to communicate improve. At least you can point to H5N1. But people get used to the existence of H5N1 on the horizon, and need something more to recapture their interest—a local outbreak in birds, for example, or a human-to-human cluster anywhere.In between these teachable moments, it’s not easy to keep the general public (or the media) interested. Reaching out to stakeholders is more feasible. Pandemic communication phase 2 is actually a pretty good time to talk to customers, suppliers, and even employees. You won’t get too strong a reaction—your problem will be apathy, not panic—but you can start building baseline awareness. Try raising pandemic preparedness at safety meetings, for example; think about creating pandemic posters, phone stickers, and the like.Communication phase 2 is also a good time to cement your progress with people whose awareness has already been aroused during prior teachable moments. For example, get them involved in company preparedness activities, urge them to share their concern with friends and coworkers, and advise them on the next steps in household preparedness.3. Pre-pandemic hotCommunication phase 3 comes into play whenever the issue catches fire. This phase includes the periodic teachable moments during the WHO’s phase 3—for example, the first time an H5N1-positive bird is found in North America. It might also include less obvious teachable moments, such as a pandemic-focused movie or TV docudrama. The biggest day so far on the CDC’s pandemic Web site was the day CIDRAP Director Michael Osterholm, editor-in-chief of this newsletter, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.A teachable moment of special importance occurs any time H5N1 (or any flu strain) looks like it’s getting better at human-to-human transmission. The WHO may take a while to declare phase 4. You don’t have to wait. As soon as word spreads that the WHO is thinking about phase 4, you’ve got a teachable moment. And when the WHO makes the move, you’ve got a gigantic teachable moment.Capitalizing on teachable moments is crucial to getting your company prepared. While you’re in communication phase 2, spend a lot of effort planning for the next time you get to communication phase 3. (Communication phases 2 and 3 oscillate as teachable moments come and go.)4. Pandemic imminentBy the time a pandemic looks imminent, the WHO will definitely be in phase 4, maybe even phase 5. Nobody will know the odds of getting this far and not progressing to the WHO’s phase 6. Nobody will know whether the pre-pandemic virus will zoom through 4 and 5 or dawdle in them. And at least for a while, nobody will know whether the pandemic that looks imminent is going to be severe or mild.Still, communication phase 4 is the mother of all teachable moments. As soon as credible experts start saying a pandemic looks imminent (the defining characteristic of communication phase 4), people you’ve been trying to reach for years will suddenly start paying attention—and complaining that you didn’t warn them earlier. Don’t get defensive; focus instead on urgent preparedness messages.The tone of your communications should start shifting. You don’t have to arouse people’s concern any more; the situation is doing that for you. Don’t give in to the temptation to overreassure them, either. Now the task is to validate their rising fear, help them bear it, and guide them through it.5. Pandemic elsewhereSuppose the WHO declares a pandemic. But it isn’t “here” yet. You may have only a day or two for last-minute preparations; you may have weeks or conceivably even months.If you’re a multinational company, you’re in communication phase 6 in some of your locations and phase 5 in others. Don’t lose sight of the distinction.By now you’re starting to get fairly reliable data about how severe the pandemic is shaping up to be. Of course, that can change; flu pandemics can come in waves, and the waves can vary in severity (there’s no clear pattern—later waves can be worse or better than earlier ones). Still, nearly every aspect of your communication phase 5 plan will depend on what you have to say about the severity of the coming pandemic.You’ll need “subplans” for different severity levels. (One possibility is to use the severity categories defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Phase 5 messages for a mild pandemic will focus on such medical matters as symptoms, vaccines and antivirals, and hospital surge-capacity problems. Phase 5 messages for a severe pandemic will need to address much tougher worries, like shortages of essential goods, disruption of essential services, and threats to the social order. And of course you may have to split the difference if the pandemic’s expected severity is intermediate or still hard to predict.6. Pandemic hereEverything changes when the pandemic reaches your location—especially if it’s severe. Of course, you will have endless information and instruction to offer your stakeholders, everything from which facilities are open to what supplies are available to how long people should stay home after recovering. But in the middle of a crisis, the most important communication tasks have to do with sustaining people’s ability to bear the unbearable. Validating how awful it is, demonstrating your candor and your determination (not your overoptimism), celebrating heroes, and mourning victims—these are every bit as crucial as anything else you need to tell your employees, customers, and suppliers.7. Pandemic elsewhere (again)The pandemic is receding in your area. It’s time to regroup, not relax. Another wave may be coming, and it could be worse than this one was. And of course the pandemic is still raging elsewhere, and supply lines are still wrecked. Regrouping won’t be easy.As waves come and go, you may need to get through several iterations of communication phases 6 and 7.8. Post-pandemicIt’s really gone. Now you need a communication effort to help everyone recover. And you have a chance to help everyone segue from debriefing to thinking about long-term preparedness.Bear in mind that other flu strains circulating could pose a pandemic threat. So maybe we’re back in the WHO’s phase 1 or 2, or maybe we’re in the WHO’s phase 3 (or conceivably even 4) for a different strain. Here is one of my communication worst-case scenarios: In the next year or two, we go through a mild pandemic of some strain other than H5N1. H5N1 still looms, and now we need to convince people to stay worried.Focus your planningThe purpose of these eight pandemic communication phases is to focus communication planning on communication issues:Before a pandemic, what matters most is picking your teachable moments, when you have the best chance to arouse people’s concern and action.During a pandemic, the communication phase depends on where the pandemic outbreaks or waves are—and your mid-pandemic messages depend on how severe these outbreaks or waves are.After a pandemic, the communication tasks are to help with recovery and to promote continued vigilance and preparedness for the next pandemic.An internationally renowned expert in risk communication and crisis communication, Peter Sandman speaks and consults widely on communication aspects of pandemic preparedness. Dr. Sandman, Deputy Editor, contributes an original column to CIDRAP Source Weekly Briefing every other week. Most of his risk communication writing is available without charge at the Peter Sandman Risk Communication Web Site, which includes an index of pandemic-related writing on the site.
He added that the gradual easing of lockdown measures had also contributed to higher infections “which has more or less happened all over the world,” ISNA news agency reported.Authorities have progressively lifted restrictions imposed to tackle the virus, and activity has almost returned to normal in most of the country’s 31 provinces.Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the situation had steadily improved with fewer hospitalizations, critical cases and deaths.”It is only normal for infections to slightly grow after reopenings,” he said in televised remarks Sunday. Iran’s health ministry said Sunday a surge in new reported coronavirus infections was due to increased testing rather than a worsening outbreak.After hitting a near two-month low in early May and a lifting of tough movement restrictions, cases of the COVID-19 illness have been rising in Islamic republic which is battling the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of the disease.”The main reason for rising numbers is that we started identifying [infected people] with no or light symptoms,” said Mohammad-Mehdi Gouya, the health ministry’s head epidemiologist. He confirmed 2,364 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to 171,789.Yet 2,596 of total patients hospitalized were in “critical” condition on Sunday, with the number seemingly on a rising trajectory since Thursday, when Iran reported record high daily infections.Jahanpour noted that 72 more people had died in the same period, raising the overall toll to 8,281.There has been skepticism at home and abroad about Iran’s official figures, with concerns the real toll could be much higher.Rising infection figures since a low in early May and lax observance of social distancing have worried authorities, which have reiterated calls for strict adherence to health protocols. Topics :