2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine announced for parasite medications! #FirstChineseWoman!!

Congrats to Campbell, Omura, and Youyou Tu on winning the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine!! News story from NYT here!

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura won for developing a new drug, Avermectin. A derivative of that drug, Ivermectin, has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis, which causes the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis. They shared the $900,000 award with Youyou Tu, who discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria.

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#Ebola Update: With over 6000 deaths, President Obama urges Congress to approve more funding #science

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The CDC (with WHO) has released updated case counts for the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa as of December 3, 2014. The total confirmed cases is now over 17,000, with over 6,000 deaths from the disease. cdc123

President Obama has urged the US Congress to pass additional funding to fight the Ebola outbreak:

President Obama on Tuesday hailed U.S. efforts to develop a vaccine for Ebola and pleaded with Congress to pass his $6.2 billion request to combat the virus at home and abroad, warning that while efforts in the West African hot zone have shown progress, the fight is “not even close to being over.”

The United States has designated 35 hospitals across the country as Ebola treatment centers, which will dramatically increase the number of hospital beds available for treating ebola patients.

A potential Ebola case in Boston has initially tested negative for the ebola virus and positive for malaria.

During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Dr. David Hooper, chief of the MGH Infection Control Unit, said initial tests for Ebola were negative, but did test positive for Malaria. While the patient will be retested over the next few days, the changes of a positive result were low.

NIH awards $25 million to J. Craig Venter Institute for infectious disease research

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Will Dunham writing for Reuters announces NIH funding of infectious disease research to the tune of 25 million over 5 years. The awarded money is to focus on infectious disease at the genetic level. More funding is always good! Congrats to the J. Craig Venter Institute!

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has awarded $25 million to the J. Craig Venter Institute to back an initiative to study infectious diseases like malaria and influenza at the genetic level to help find better treatments and preventive measures.

The institute, with offices in Maryland and California, will use the 5-year grant from NIH to establish the Genome Center for Infectious Diseases to study the genetic secrets of a wide range of bacteria, viruses and parasites, officials said on Thursday.

Mosquitos, Malaria, and Murder… Oh My!

I hate bugs/insects/creepy crawlies just as much as the next person (OK, probably more…) but I never realized that mosquitos were not only obnoxious summer-day-fun-ruiners, but also the most lethal animal in the world.  Here’s the infographic:

Mosquito-Week-Infographic

First of all, don’t even get me started on how humans are so high up on the list…SAD.

Anyway, clearly Mosquitos are lethal murderers and the most dangerous animals in the world.  They are one of the most populated animals, and they are apparently found nearly everywhere in the world (except Antarctica).  Most of the deaths are attributable to the diseases carried by mosquitos, like malaria.

I bring this up, because last month there was a lot of buzz (haha) in the news about mosquitos thanks to the one and only Bill Gates and his “Mosquito Week”.  From trips to southeast Asia, Gates has grown passionate about trying to fight mosquitos and mosquito-born diseases.  Check out his TED talk.

The good news is when you have a philanthropist like Bill Gates support a cause like this, it stimulates scientific research, drives progress, and improves human health.   I’m eager to see the long-term effects of his philanthropy, and I don’t doubt that eventually malaria, and other mosquito-born diseases will be eradicated thanks to the efforts of Bill Gates.  When you invest in science, everyone wins!