All posts by janiek

The Resurgence of Measles in the U.S.: Causes, Consequences, and Future Directions

By Madeleine Winter

Within the past decade, there has been a significant resurgence of measles outbreaks in the United States. Between January 1 and March 14 of 2019, the CDC reported 268 individual cases of measles in 15 states. In 2018, the CDC reported a total of 372 cases of measles and in 2014, a record number of 667 cases in 27 states. Measles was declared as eliminated from the United States in 2000, which makes these recent statistics particularly concerning.

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Human Trafficking and Healthcare: Using a Public Health Approach to Combat and Prevent Human Trafficking

By Nathnael Mengistie

According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is the act of controlling or exploiting a person for sex, labor, or other services through fraud, force, or coercion. This grave human rights violation affected an estimated 20.9 million or more individuals worldwide in 2016. In recent years, however, numerous countries, including the United States, have passed different laws to combat this issue. In fact, on January 9th 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), a law that aims to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and punish offenders not only in the US, but also abroad. This legislation was first passed in 2000 and has since been expanded and reauthorized numerous times. This landmark anti-trafficking law formed the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which publishes a yearly Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), and it also established the T-visa, which allows trafficking victims who came from outside the US to become permanent residents. Furthermore, the current administration has also authorized $430 million to fight human trafficking and passed additional laws, such as the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, which increases the prosecution of traffickers. Although these efforts are certainly commendable, American law regarding human trafficking still focuses on prosecution and fails to recognize the importance of a victim-centered approach to end this heinous crime. In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that there was a 41% increase in the number of prosecutions for human trafficking offenses from 2011 to 2015, which illustrates the government’s focus on the criminal justice aspect of human trafficking. Although it is important to prosecute traffickers, members of the anti-trafficking movement should also focus on identifying human trafficking victims and providing long term support to human trafficking survivors. One of the reasons why this is not the case is because it is challenging to identify trafficking victims due to the obscure nature of the crime.  Nevertheless, framing human trafficking as a public health issue and increasing the involvement of healthcare professionals will not only allow us to identify trafficking victims and empower survivors, but also help us address the socio-economic determinants that facilitate human trafficking by working with policy makers, clinical professionals, law enforcement, and educators because human trafficking is a multifaceted problem. By using a public health approach to combat human trafficking and collaborating with different professionals, we are increasing our scope and our reach because public health is concerned with the well-being of entire populations and not just specific individuals.

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Report on Research on Displaced Children with Cancer in Lebanon

By Andrew Wu

One of the greatest current humanitarian catastrophes is the worsening refugee crisis caused by the conflict in Syria, which has many unfortunate implications in public health, especially pediatric care. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are around 554,288 displaced Syrians under the age of 18 in Lebanon (this is an underestimate due to a halt on refugee registration). Assuming the annual incidence of pediatric cancer is 17 in 100,000 children; there are 90 new cases each year. Lebanon, which borders Syria on the north and the east, is bearing some of the burdens of an increasing population of displaced peoples. All Lebanese citizens have some form of healthcare coverage, with almost two-thirds of its citizens relying on a national healthcare plan. However, these government plans do not offer optimal treatments to conditions that may require long-term care, such as cancer. Thus, an influx of displaced refugees can further exacerbate the country’s public health system. Besides the limited aid from various nongovernmental organizations, displaced patients with pediatric cancer lack sufficient finances for treatment and can expect little support from the government or other third-party entities. A research article published by Saab et al. explores these issues, analyzing the mounting challenge of untreated pediatric cancer and possible solutions.

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Activation of the Hedgehog protein pathway: A potential solution to obesity?

By Nicholas Persaud

The United States has faced many epidemics in which diseases and illnesses have had adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of Americans. When we think of epidemics we typically think of Ebola, malaria, the flu, or anything that is infectious. However, the United States has been facing a different kind of epidemic for some time now, one that’s not caused by a virus or bacterium. This epidemic is obesity. Obesity affects children and adults alike, with 78 million adults and 13 million children in the US reported to be obese. The major issue with obesity is not the state of being overweight in and of itself but the many serious health complications that accompany it, which include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. As a result, there has been a great government effort to reduce obesity in children and adults by attempting to change people’s eating and exercise habits. However, this is not the most effective solution since it’s very difficult for people to change their lifestyles. Fortunately, recent research shows that there might be a more effective solution to the obesity epidemic.

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New Findings in Princeton Rabinowitz Lab on the Role of Lactate and Glucose in the TCA Cycle

By Devorah Saffern

A study done at the Rabinowitz lab in the Chemistry and Integrative Genomics Carl Icahn Laboratory at Princeton University was published in this month’s edition of Nature. The work, which analyzed the role of glucose in the nutrient-metabolizing tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), is particularly relevant now because November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. The study analyzes the role of different metabolites in the TCA cycle, such as lactate and glucose, that are involved in the breakdown of food to give energy to our tissues. The Rabinowitz lab’s discovery is directly applicable to tumor proliferation in the pancreas as well as to different types of cancer research, shedding some light on the pathways and importance of lactate as an intermediary metabolite. This paper elucidates some of the questions about the particular mechanisms of glucose in our metabolism.

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