Celebrating Research Week – Controlling the Spread of HIV/AIDS: The African Challenge

March 3, 2007

March 8, 1:30pm – 4:30pm 

The public is encouraged to attend this symposium on the challenges of controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. It will be held at the Royal Bank Theatre at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and features speakers Deborah C. Hay Burgess from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Dr. Julio montaner from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

For additional information, send an email to baconway@interchange.ubc.ca.


New HIV screening recommendations from the CDC for US populations

February 21, 2007

In September of 2006, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention changed their recommendations that all individuals 13-64 be routinely tested for HIV and that requirements for written consent and pre-test counselling be dropped.

Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said the recommendations will make “routine HIV screening feasible in busy medical settings where it previously was impractical,” adding, “Making the HIV test a normal part of care for all Americans is also an important step toward removing the stigma still associated with testing”.

Below are some reactions to the changes.

Article – New CDC HIV Testing Recommendations Could Compromise Patients’ Civil Rights, ACLU Statement Says

Video and Slide Show Presentations – Routine Testing for HIV Infection: New CDC Screening Recommendations for the US Population. (Requires signing up to Medscape, or can use bugmenot.com)


Human-cow embryos

November 18, 2006

BBC News reports:

UK scientists have applied for permission to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs.

Though controversial, I don’t think this is as appalling as it might sound to some (for example, those who think of it producing a human-cow chimera).

The problem is that human eggs for research are in short supply and to obtain them women have to undergo surgery.

That is why scientists want to use cows’ eggs as a substitute.

They would insert human DNA into a cow’s egg which has had its genetic material removed, and then create an embryo by the same technique that produced Dolly the Sheep.

The resulting embryo would be 99.9% human; the only bovine element would be DNA outside the nucleus of the cell.

Of course, a big ethical debate surrounds the whole story. But I tend to think, since it’s just used for research and is not going to be used to produce human tissues, why not as long as it has practical benefits?


Non-invasive Mind-Machine interface not too distant in the future

November 18, 2006

By now, controlling prosthetic limbs or video games by thoughts alone aren’t really news anymore. It sounds cool, but undergoeing surgery just for that does sound a little over the edge. But according to Wired News, that won’t even be necessary soon:

Hitachi’s new neuroimaging technique allows its operator to switch a train set on and off by thought alone, and the Japanese company aims to commercialize it within five years.

Hitachi’s system doesn’t invasively co-opt the nervous sytem, instead using a topographic modelling system to measure blood flow in the brain, translating the images into signals that are sent to the controller. So far, this new technique only allows for simple switching decisions, but Hitachi aims to commercialize it within five years for use by paralyzed patients and those undergoing “cognitive rehabilitation.”


Prescription for IT Disaster

November 15, 2006

The world’s largest non-military IT project is aimed at transforming England’s health care system using information technology. The project – National Program for Information Technology had the ambition of computerizing medical information and services. Since its inception in 2002, it has faced major problems:

In 2002, the English government embarked on a $12 billion effort to transform its health-care system with information technology. But the country’s oversight agency now puts that figure at $24 billion, and two Members of Parliament say the project is “sleepwalking toward disaster”… In scale, the project… (NPfIT) is overwhelming. Initiated in 2002, the NPfIT is a 10-year project to build new computer systems that would connect more than 100,000 doctors, 380,000 nurses and 50,000 other health-care professionals; allow for the electronic storage and retrieval of patient medical records; permit patients to set up appointments via their computers; and let doctors electronically transmit prescriptions to local pharmacies.
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Europe’s New Mobile Health System

November 7, 2006

As the European population ages, e-health tools allow care services to be more flexible and effective in monitoring patients.

The HealthService24 project allows chronically ill, but non critical patients to be monitored at home rather than needing to plan daily routines around hospital visits and stays. This is made possible by broadband communications in conjunction with wearable medical devices.
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Folding@Home

November 7, 2006


The Pande Group at Stanford University’s Chemistry Department provides a software “Folding@Home” that lets users to donate their idle computer time to research in protein folding, misfolding and related illnesses by connecting to a network, forming essentially a supercomputer.
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