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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Growing Older and Cognition: Your Mileage May Vary

What does current science have to offer in the way of advice on staying mentally sharp as you grow older? General guidelines and useful tips, with expectations of more to come—someday.

“Some things seem to work; exactly what doses, what combinations, and how they should be applied, is unclear,” said Marie Bernard, deputy director at the National Institute on Aging, during a forum at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

aaas aging speakers

From left: Sevil Yasar, Marilyn S. Albert, and Marie Bernard at AAAS on Wednesday

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The Impact of Aging: June 15 Public Event

Aging

Image: Shutterstock

Growing Older, Cognition, and What Science Has to Offer

A Free Event
Hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Through the Support of the Dana Foundation

Wednesday, June 15
5:30 – 8:00 p.m. (ET)

AAAS Headquarters
1200 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC, 20005

*RSVP: https://www.cvent.com/c/express/84aef939-c5e8-46ef-9b55-68b7323c66b0

If we live long enough, aging is inevitable, and more people in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Yet, age is a major risk factor for most common neurodegenerative diseases, so its consequences for individuals, families and society are anything but trivial. But how we age is not fixed. There are things we can do to mitigate the harsh effects that aging can have on our brains, on the way we think, understand, learn and remember. Continue reading

June 7: Free Public Briefing on Opioid Dependence

Addiction

Image: Shutterstock

Opioid Dependence

A Public Luncheon Briefing
Hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Through the Support of the Dana Foundation
In Conjunction with the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus

Tuesday, June 7 2016
12-1 p.m.
B339 Rayburn House Office Building
Lunch Provided
*RSVP: https://www.cvent.com/c/express/6e694162-d32c-421d-b68f-071d95f5f712

The abuse of and addiction to opioids is a serious public health problem; more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record, according to the CDC, and the majority of these deaths involved an opioid. U.S. lawmakers have taken note with a series of actions this year aimed at addressing this. Come and hear from experts about the science behind the epidemic.

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The Science and Policy of Marijuana

Science and policy are often in tension with one another, but in the case of cannabis, as medicinal or recreational marijuana, science seems to be playing catch-up.

“Cannabis was scheduled [made illegal] in the absence of science,” and now is being legalized in some areas, still in the near-absence of science, said J. Michael Bostwick, a practicing psychiatrist and a senior associate dean at Mayo Medical School. In 1970, when Congress classified cannabis as Schedule 1 (“drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”), scientists did not know which neuronal receptors it activated or what exactly in the substance was causing which effects.

aaas nida

NIDA’s Nora Volkow and DC council member David Grosso listen to psychiatrist J. Michael Bostwick answer a question from the audience at AAAS.

More than four decades later (and 5,000 years since people first started using it as pain reliever), we still don’t know much more of the botanical substance’s potential as a medicine, because its Schedule 1 status means US researchers have to jump through hoops at several different agencies to get access to the legal federal supply. That’s just the start, science-wise: As with any plant, cannabis varies widely in quality, strength, and in what other compounds are bound within the plant, so research—and comparing previous studies in the US and elsewhere—can be tricky.

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