global health
Ending Malaria Is Possible
April 25 marks “World Malaria Day,” which is celebrated every year to recognize global efforts to control the disease, to commemorate those who...

A world without malaria is possible, and may not be as difficult to achieve as one might think. Infection rates are already declining and effective methods for prevention and treatment do exist.

Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.

But something else happened.

Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.

“So it’s really been a mystery — why do children stop dying at such high rates from all these different infections following introduction of the measles vaccine,” says Michael Mina, a postdoc in biology at Princeton University and a medical student at Emory University.

Scientists Crack A 50-Year-Old Mystery About The Measles Vaccine

Photo credit: Photofusion/UIG via Getty Images

November 15th, 2016

Finally got around to reviewing the epinephrine/glucagon and insulin signalling pathways and typing up some biology notes. I’m trying out a new study method; rather than spending hours handwriting my lecture notes I’m going to type them, then annotate then with textbook readings and tutorials.
Bill and Melinda Gates make the case for investment in global development and vaccines
Bill and Melinda Gates released their traditional annual public letter, styled as a report to Warren Buffett.
By Melvin Sanicas

Bill and Melinda Gates released their annual letter, styled as a report to Warren Buffett on his investment of over $30 billion in their work. Bill and Melinda emphasize the value of global development and stress the importance of vaccines — which they call one of the best deals in global health.


A new report shows that the refugee crisis hasn’t slowed down — and people don’t always end up where you think.

The flow of refugees is steadily increasing, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As of mid-2016, there were 16.5 million refugees globally, 5 million more than in mid-2013. More than 30 percent of all refugees as of mid-2016 came from Syria, the largest source of global refugees.

This growing refugee population brings many challenges. Because of school shortages in overcrowded camps, refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, reports the UNHCR. Preventable, treatable diseases like diarrhea, measles and malaria threaten the health of refugee children, especially those under 5. And in many cases, parents aren’t able to secure jobs outside the camps to provide an income for their families.

CHART: Where The World’s Refugees Are

Charts by Katie Park


Bans like this are based in right-wing lies and won’t stop abortion, just make them less safe. When news outlets report on this, they should be explaining that fact.


November 18th, 2016

Early morning biochemistry setup, and thinking about lab work. Tbh when my supervisor asked if I could be at the lab at 8am my heart died a little, but I’m eternally grateful that she’s taking me under her wing. I’m eternally grateful that she’s not using me as her “dish-washer,” that she’s teaching me the nuts and bolts of a research lab, encouraging questions, and encouraging me to do my own research. She actually felt bad for asking me to grab ice for her???? We need more researchers like this because lets be real even university level labs don’t cover a fraction of the knowledge you need to work in a real lab and that’s really a shame. 


Microscopic ‘cages’ could change the way medicines are delivered

Thousands of lives could be saved and millions of vaccines doses protected - by encasing them in miniature silica shells. 

Worldwide huge quantities of medicines, including vital vaccines, are lost because they need to be kept refrigerated. If they’re not proteins within them break down, losing effectiveness and even turning toxic. Breaks in the ‘cold chain’ are a major problem in many countries around the world and seriously impact on vaccination programmes in particular, because they rely on a high proportion of people in an area receiving an effective vaccine dose.  

But scientists from the University of Bath have developed a way to encase proteins in a silica shell, like a tiny cage. Amazingly this can keep proteins which would normally degrade at room temperatures intact at up to 100ºC, and when released they still work as they should. 

Lead researcher Dr Asel Sartbaeva (pictured) came up with the idea when she took her daughter to be vaccinated and saw the vaccines needed to be kept cold. 

She said: “Once the proteins in a vaccine break down and tangle up, it’s useless. You can think of it like an egg that’s been boiled – it can’t be unboiled.

“So the ability to store and transport proteins at room temperatures or even hotter would remove a major logistical problem for safely delivering vaccines and other medicines to patients around the world.”

Silica, which sand is made from, is non-toxic and inert. It’s also cheap and abundant. The research team hopes their method can be used to eliminate the need for refrigeration in vaccine storage and transportation - not only would this make it easier to get medicines to the people who need them, but it would make it a lot cheaper too.  

The team needs to do more work to get the technique, which they call ensilication, ready for clinical trials using vaccines, but so far the results have been promising. 

Images: University of Bath

Read the paper
The Latest On Zika: Microcephaly, GBS, Transmission, Prevention
More than a year after being declared an international health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed Zika no longer a public health emergency – an acknowledgement not that the outlook is improving, but that the virus is here to stay. Cases are still reported regularly - so far the WHO has documented cases in 76 countries and territories in the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Western Pacific.

39 countries with locally acquired circulation of Zika virus since January 2007

20X more likely for pregnant women with Zika to have a baby with microcephaly

13 countries had an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome coinciding with a Zika outbreak

26 additional species of mosquitoes may be able to transmit Zika

3 Zika vaccine candidates advance to human studies

The United States spends the most on health care per person — $9,237 – according to two new papers published in the journal The Lancet.

Somalia spends the least – just $33 per person.

The data covering 184 countries was collected and analyzed by the Global Burden of Disease Health Financing Collaborator Network, a network of investigators from around the world with expertise in various aspects of health care. In between those two extremes, the spending is quite literally all over the map. And the amount of spending doesn’t necessarily translate into better health care. For more insights, we spoke to Dr. Joseph Dieleman, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation at the University of Washington. He authored the two papers, one looking at health financing from 1995 to 2014, and the other estimating future health financing to 2040.

Obviously, wealthy countries spend more on health than do poor countries. Overall, where does the money come from?

What Country Spends The Most (And Least) On Health Care Per Person?


December 15th, 2016

T-minus 24 hours until I’m done first semester of second year uni :D Woke up early to finish lab work (buffers are seriously tough love) and to replace my gel electrophoresis needle (I think I accidentally tossed mine out). Some global health review today and trying not to freeze because the heat in our building keeps shutting off. A few years ago when the ice storm hit Toronto I was sitting at home in Calgary and thinking to myself “Ha! I’ll never live in Toronto” and look at me now.

Public discussion of periods is still a taboo in many parts of the world. But this week in India, everybody’s talking about the topic.

The reason: an announcement by a Mumbai media firm called Culture Machine: The company has announced that its 75 women employees could take the first day of their period as a paid day off if they experience pain or discomfort. Some reactions have been supportive — and some not.

The rationale at Culture Machine: to reduce the stigma around menstruation as well as make it easier for women to catch a break if they’re coping with period pain. Devleena Majumder, president of human resources at the company, said the new policy was formulated after a conversation she had with her team about three weeks ago, over evening coffee. The women were saying how difficult it was to commute to work by public transport on the first day of their period, but they didn’t want to use their sick leave to stay home. As the company explained in an press release, they decided that giving woman time off to “keep up with their natural biological cycle” would “empower them to be their "prime selves.”

Company In India Gives Women A Day Off If Their Period Is Painful

Illustration: Hanna Barczyk for NPR
Meat industry blamed for largest-ever 'dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico
A new report shows toxins from suppliers to companies like Tyson Foods are pouring into waterways, causing marine life to leave or die.
By Oliver Milman

The global meat industry, already implicated in driving global warming and deforestation, has now been blamed for fueling what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Toxins from manure and fertilizer pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay.

Meat Is murder for animals, the environment, your health - mind, body, & soul.
Why U.S.-Trained Surgeons Often Aren't Ready For Humanitarian Work Abroad
A study compares surgeries performed by Doctors Without Borders volunteers in the developing world with those taught to U.S. surgical residents — and finds "a dramatic mismatch."

“What poor countries need are surgeons who can do C-sections and hysterectomies, skills honed in the U.S. by OB-GYNs. But only 0.1 percent of general surgery residents in the study had been trained to do a C-section. Yet it’s the most commonly performed surgical procedure in MSF projects.

“The need for C-section is extraordinary,” says Kuwayama. That is because poor women are often malnourished. “Chronic malnutrition means women’s pelvises don’t develop fully, and the baby has trouble making it through the pelvic outlet to be delivered vaginally.

"The developing world also needs surgeons who can fix a broken thighbone or a shinbone, skills largely under the purview of orthopedic surgeons in the U.S. Fewer than 2 percent of all general surgical residents are trained in orthopedic procedures.”

Good intentions are not enough. Simple research is not enough. You have to research specifically what your intended patient population needs. This can be done through going to NGO recruitment events (in person or webinars), talking to those who have done overseas work and reading books in that field (in this case, case studies in the field, field hospitals, memoirs of field doctors/nurses etc.).


[8:20am; November 14th 2016]

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix