• EmergenciesDeep Learning in the Emergency Department

    Using a deep-learning model designed for high-dimensional data, researchers have shown that it is possible to predict emergency department overcrowding from complex hospital records. This application of the “Variational AutoEncoder” deep-learning model is an example of how machine learning can be used to interpret and extract meaning from difficult data sets that are too voluminous or complex for humans to decipher.

  • Chlorine contaminationGroundbreaking Research on Chlorine Spread

    Chlorine can kill in minutes if inhaled in high concentration. Since 2010, DHS S&T led a project, called Jack Rabbit, aiming to improve ways to detect and deal with chlorine spread. Recent events highlight the need for responders to be prepared with the best information possible for this type of hazard.

  • Emergency preparednessThe Strategic Stockpile Failed; Experts Propose New Approach to Emergency Preparedness

    A new analysis of the United States government’s response to COVID-19 highlights myriad problems with an approach that relied, in large part, on international supply chains and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). A panel of academic and military experts is instead calling for a more dynamic, flexible approach to emergency preparedness at the national level.

  • Guns68 Percent of Firearm Deaths Are from Self-Harm, Majority in Older Men in Rural Regions

    A new study of gun injuries and deaths in Ontario found that 68 percent of firearm-related deaths were from self-harm, and they most often occurred in older men living in rural regions, pointing to the need for targeted prevention efforts.

  • Public healthWastewater Requires Additional Treatment to Reduce Spread of Coronavirus

    Wastewater must be further treated to minimize the risk of dissemination and infection of SARS-CoV-2, according to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers, who found coronavirus RNA in samples from Israeli water treatment plants.

  • Truth decayCalling Out Bad Science

    Two weeks ago, a group of scientists posted an article in which they claimed that certain features of the COVID-19 virus lend support to the theory that the virus was synthetic, that is, that it was made or modified in a lab rather than having evolved naturally. Since such claims serve as the basis for conspiracy theories, and since the article has not yet been peer-reviewed, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security took it upon themselves to do an informal peer review of the article. Their detailed, page-by-page review of the article is unequivocal in its conclusions: the authors failed to provide accurate or supportive evidence to back up their claim. Moreover, the article contains many errors of both facts and interpretation.

  • Genome editingHeritable Genome Editing Not Yet Ready to Be Tried Safely and Effectively in Humans

    Human embryos whose genomes have been edited should not be used to create a pregnancy until it is established that precise genomic changes can be made reliably without introducing undesired changes — a criterion that has not yet been met by any genome editing technology, says a new scientific report.

  • Disaster casualtiesUniform Framework for Quantifying Disaster-Related Deaths, Illness

    To more accurately quantify disaster-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies supporting disaster response should adopt a uniform national framework of data collection approaches and methods for distinguishing direct from indirect disaster deaths, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • GunsGunshot Injuries in California Drop, but Percentage of Firearm Death Goes Up

    Gun-violence research experts say that despite a significant drop in firearm injuries in recent years in California, there has been a substantial increase in the state’s overall death rate among those wounded by firearms. “We found that the number of nonfatal firearm injuries in California decreased over an 11-year period, primarily due to a drop in firearm assaults,” said Sarabeth Spitzer, lead author and a UC Davis research intern at the time of the study. “However, the lethality of those and other firearm injuries did not go down. In fact, it went up.”

  • CybersecurityNew Technique to Prevent Medical Imaging Cyberthreats

    Complex medical devices such as CT (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and ultrasound machines are controlled by instructions sent from a host PC. Abnormal or anomalous instructions introduce many potentially harmful threats to patients, such as radiation overexposure, manipulation of device components or functional manipulation of medical images. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed a new artificial intelligence technique that will protect medical devices from malicious operating instructions in a cyberattack as well as other human and system errors.

  • The Russia connectionName Your Poison: Some of the Exotic Toxins Which Fell Kremlin Foes

    The poisoning last Thursday by Kremlin operatives of Alexey Navalny, one of the leaders of the Russian opposition (he is now fighting for his life in a German hospital) is reminiscent of dozens of other such poisonings of opponents and critics of the Russian (and, before that, Soviet) regimes. Poisoning has been the Russian secret services’ preferred method of dealing with irritating critics, and these services have at their disposal a large and sophisticated laboratory — alternatively known as Laboratory 1, Laboratory 12, and Kamera (which means “The Cell” in Russian) – where ever more exotic toxins are being developed for use against regime opponents and critics.

  • AnthraxFirst Oral Anthrax Vaccine for Livestock, Wildlife

    Anthrax, a disease caused by a bacterium called Bacillus anthracis, contaminates surface soil and grasses, where it may be ingested or inhaled by livestock or grazing wildlife. This is especially common in the western Texas Hill Country, where each year the disease kills livestock and wildlife. There may soon be a new weapon in the centuries-old battle against anthrax in wildlife.

  • The Russia connectionKremlin Refuses to Have Navalny Flown to Germany for Treatment, or have German Doctors Examine Him in Russia

    The Kremlin says it will not allow opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who is in a coma in a Siberian hospital with suspected poisoning, to be flown to Germany for treatment because of “medical reasons.” The attending physician at the Omsk hospital’s ICU said Navalny suffers from “metabolic disorder,” and that there was no need for foreign specialists to examine him. Navalny’s wife was not allowed to see him. Navalny’s personal physician said that “they are waiting three days so that there are no traces of poison left in the body, and in Europe it will no longer be possible to identify this toxic substance.” Other medical experts agree with her, and also support her assertion that “metabolic disorder” is not a diagnosis but a condition which, among other things, can be caused by poisoning.

  • Public healthData Omission in Key EPA Insecticide Study Shows Need for Reviewing Industry Studies

    For nearly fifty years, a statistical omission tantamount to data falsification sat undiscovered in a critical study at the heart of regulating one of the most controversial and widely used pesticides in America. Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide created in the late 1960s by the Dow Chemical Co., has been linked to serious health problems, especially in children. It has been the subject of many lawsuits and banned in Europe and California. The EPA itself nearly banned the chemical, but in 2017 the Trump administration backtracked and rejected EPA’s own recommendation to take chlorpyrifos off the market. The EPA plans to reconsider the chemical’s use by 2022.

  • Nuclear threatsNuclear Threats Are Increasing – Here’s How the U.S. Should Prepare for a Nuclear Event

    By Cham Dallas

    On the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some may like to think the threat from nuclear weapons has receded. But there are clear signs of a growing nuclear arms race and that the U.S. is not very well-prepared for nuclear and radiological events. Despite the gloomy prospects of health outcomes of any large-scale nuclear event common in the minds of many, there are a number of concrete steps the U.S. and other countries can take to prepare. It’s our obligation to respond.