A Social Approach to Tackling Zika

Social media has proven itself to be a useful tool for rekindling old friendships, networking for prospective jobs, staying up-to-date in breaking news, and now, mapping the spread of rampant epidemics. With the Zika virus the latest public health threat to make headlines, scientists have been using data from social media, blog posts, news sites, and Google search terms—to name a few—to curate models that help map the spread of the virus.

“This is a field called digital disease detection…Essentially, it tries to be the weather.com for disease outbreak,” said John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. Brownstein was joined by Johns Hopkins Medical School’s Hongjun Song at the latest in a series of Capitol Hill briefings, which took place on July 6, in Washington, DC. Together with the Dana Foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has been hosting these public briefings for the last six years.

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New Successful Ageing Video Discusses Advances in Geriatric Research

Global life expectancy has gone up 39 years since 1900 and is predicted to rise at least another six years by 2050, according to a United Nations forecast. With people living longer than ever, geriatric research is of vital importance.

London’s annual Successful Ageing program, titled “Live Longer, Live Well – Seize the Day!” focused on the history of geriatric research and new, promising advances. The event was jointly organized by the European Dana Alliance for the Brain and the University of the Third Age.

Professor Richard Faragher, University of Brighton, briefed the audience on topics from genes that may lengthen life to senescent cell elimination, which could slow the effects of aging. We have come a long way in understanding the aging process and are moving towards higher quality, longer lives, he said.

Check out the full video for information on the latest advances:

For more resources on the aging brain, go to our Successful Aging & Your Brain YouTube playlist or view our Successful Aging and the Brain booklet.

– Ali Chunovic

Brainy Reads for Summer 2016

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Need a book to take with you on your summer vacation? We have six brainy suggestions, all written by members of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) or prominent neuroscientists, that are perfect for a sunny day:

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, by DABI member Frances E. Jensen, M.D., HarperCollins

“Jensen provides her sound scientific expertise and presents experimental brain data, as well as her firsthand practice of parenting through vignettes about her sons’ sometimes questionable behavior—hair dye, a car crash, her response to a son having too much to drink as a college student. Jensen also presents humorous, cliché, and disheartening teen stories and testimonials from parents who have sought her advice.” – Marisa M. Silveri, Ph.D., Cerebrum

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A Global Campaign in Photos: BAW 2016

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Audience members exercise at a presentation organized by the University of Guadalajara, Mexico

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) 2016 may be over, but the campaign’s impact is more visible and its scope more tangible than ever. Photos have been pouring in from BAW partners around the world, documenting their activities in celebration of the campaign. The BAW photo gallery is up and is a great way to connect on a personal level with the efforts of partners.

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Students touch brains at an event organized by the University of Portharcourt, Nigeria

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Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

It’s not a common household word, or a name that spends a lot of time in the limelight, but myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that affects approximately 20 out of 100,000 people in the US. According to experts at the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA), this disease is “considered under-diagnosed and the prevalence is thought to be much higher.” With June being Myasthenia Gravis Awareness month, our goal is to help inform the public about the disease by sharing verified facts and resources for further information.

The name myasthenia gravis, which is Latin and Greek in origin, literally means “grave muscle weakness.” It is often referred to as “the snowflake disease” because no two cases are identical. The degree of muscle weakness and general symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient, but common signs include drooping of the eyelid, blurred or double vision, slurred speech, and difficulty chewing or swallowing. The neuromuscular disorder is caused by a breakdown in the normal communication between nerves and muscles, and muscle weakness tends to worsen as the affected muscle is used repeatedly. While MG can affect people at any age regardless of gender or ethnicity, women most commonly experience first symptoms in their 20s and 30s while men are generally affected later in their 70s or older. Avoiding stress and having a well-balanced diet can help improve conditions.

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