Category Archives: Q&A

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with the CDC on the Approval of New Meningitis Vaccine

Last year, almost all of the Princeton students received two doses of the meningitis B vaccine called Bexsero, which was developed by Novartis. Bexsero, while not formally approved by the FDA in the US, had been approved in other nations globally and as a result, was recommended by the CDC and FDA for use to control the Princeton outbreak. Data was also collected by Princeton and CDC on the effect of the vaccine on the Princeton outbreak.

However, recently, the FDA approved Trumenba, developed by Pfizer, as a vaccine for meningitis B. At the same time, Bexsero, used at Princeton, has still not been approved by the FDA. Why has the vaccine which was used not only at Princeton but also as UCSB not approved by the FDA? Does data suggest that Trumenba performs better than Bexsero? Or are there other reasons behind approving Trumenba?

Below is a Q&A with Dr. Manisha Patel, who has been involved been involved with the Princeton meningitis outbreak. The discussion focuses on the differences between the two vaccines, reasons why Bexsero was recommended for the Princeton outbreak and reasons why Trumenba was approved first by the FDA.

PPHR: What makes meningitis B so difficult to vaccinate against? I understand that in morbidity and mode of transmission, all serogroups of meningitis are relatively similar.

PATEL: The main question is “Why don’t we have a meningitis B vaccine when vaccines for serogroups A, C, W and Y are available?” Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: Interview with the CDC on the Approval of New Meningitis Vaccine

Exclusive Q&A with CDC’s Head of Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Disease Branch Dr. Thomas Clark

Recently, a student at Drexel passed away from meningitis caused by the serogroup B bacteria which caused an outbreak here at Princeton. The student had been in close contact with Princeton students a week before becoming ill. Further studies revealed that the bacterial strain in the Drexel student was the same as the outbreak strain at Princeton, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Find out about the concerns regarding the transmission of the bacteria and further steps to be taken directly from Dr. Thomas Clark, head of the meningitis vaccine initiative at CDC.

PPHR: Are there any concerns about spreading the disease even after students are vaccinated (both doses)?

Dr. Clark: Yes. When it comes down to it, we study vaccines and learn if they work or not, and whether they are effective at protecting against disease in people. Continue reading Exclusive Q&A with CDC’s Head of Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Disease Branch Dr. Thomas Clark

Q&A with President Emeritus Harold Shapiro: Public health and policy–what does it involve?

The full scope of Public Health’s responsibilities is something which is continuously being debated.  Many things come to mind when we think of public health. Compulsory vaccines, combatting epidemics and outbreaks all come to mind. But who makes these decisions? And how are the ethical concerns evaluated and dealt with by the state and federal governments? Additionally, how is public opinion taken into consideration when evaluating the ethics behind key scientific discoveries? Below is a Q&A with Professor Harold Shapiro who is former President of Princeton and professor in the departments of economics and public policy. He has served as the chair of the National Bioethics Advisory Committee established during President Clinton’s administration.  He has dealt with issues of cloning and embryonic stem cell research—two of the most prominent ethical and moral questions raised by developments on the scientific frontier in recent years.

Find out what he has to say about ethical protocols, ethical issues as well as his view of public health and bioethics in the following Q&A. Continue reading Q&A with President Emeritus Harold Shapiro: Public health and policy–what does it involve?

Q&A with Head of CDC’s Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Disease Branch Dr. Thomas Clark

Meningitis is an infection in the membrane layers surrounding the brain and the spinal cord called the meninges. It is airborne and is spread through close contact such as coughing or sneezing. The outbreak is related to type B (serogroup B) meningococcal bacteria which is the cause of the eight cases of meningitis at the University. The vaccine Bexsero has recently been developed and licensed in Europe and Australia to protect against type B (serogroup B) meningococcal disease. As has been announced by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Princeton University, the meningitis cases have been declared to be an outbreak. As a result, the CDC is importing Bexsero for use among students at Princeton University.

PPHR spoke with Dr. Thomas Clark, the head of CDC’s meningitis and vaccine preventable disease branch. Continue reading Q&A with Head of CDC’s Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Disease Branch Dr. Thomas Clark

Alzheimer’s Research–The Road Ahead: A Q&A with the NIA Director of Neuroscience

Statistics illustrate the extent to which Alzheimer’s disease is prevalent in the United States. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and nearly 5.2 million Americans of all ages have this disease in 2013. In fact, it is estimated that in 2013, Alzheimer’s will cost the nation nearly $203 billion and the cost is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by the end of 2050.2 These numbers all raise concerns as to what is essentially going on about Alzheimer’s research, diagnosis, treatments and prevention.

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. The Princeton Public Health Review reached out to Dr. Neil Buckholtz, the Director of the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute of Aging (NIA). Continue reading Alzheimer’s Research–The Road Ahead: A Q&A with the NIA Director of Neuroscience