• Why has healthcare become such a target for cyber-attackers?

    More than 16m patient records were stolen from healthcare organizations in the United States and related parties in 2016. That year, healthcare was the fifth most targeted industry when it came to cyber-attacks. And earlier this year, Britain’s National Health Service was crippled by a ransomware attack that locked up the computers holding many of its records and booking systems. As connected technology becomes even more embedded in healthcare, this cyber-threat is only likely to grow. But if we want to protect our health from cyber-attacks, we shouldn’t fear technology. Instead, we need to understand it better and realize that the threat becomes much worse when people make simple mistakes.

  • New Web-based tools help protect the food supply

    Our economy, livelihood and wellbeing depend on food and its supply chains. Supply chains may break if a natural disaster destroys a crop in its primary production region, or if someone tampers with food to cause harm or raise profits. In such cases we need to find out quickly about these incidents and find alternative sources of food ingredients and supplies.

  • Climate change to deplete some U.S. water basins, reduce irrigated crop yields

    A new study by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation. The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience reduced precipitation by midcentury. Less rainfall to the area will mean reduced runoff into water basins that feed irrigated fields.

  • Human fingerprints on Europe’s recent heat

    This June, Europe experienced some remarkable heat. Temperature records were smashed across the west of the continent with extremely hot days followed by warm uncomfortable nights for many. Research has found that excess deaths during recent European heatwaves can be attributed to the human influence on the climate. These extreme heat events are becoming more common in Europe and around the world. Researchers say that in order to be prepared for future severe heatwaves, we need to understand how and why they are changing.

  • Bolstering counter-WMD capabilities in the southeast Europe and Black Sea regions

    The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) DIABLO SHIELD training event and field exercise took place in Tblisi, Georgia, 24-28 April. DIABLO SHIELD emphasizes countering biological threats, and is part of the U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) Diablo Pathways series of engagements that support the development of counter-WMD capabilities in the southeast Europe and Black Sea regions.

  • Safe water for slum dwellers

    Attempts to deliver safe water to people living in some of the world’s poorest slums are falling at the final hurdle, according to experts. Sewage-contaminated drinking water causes serious illness such as diarrhea and other gastrointestinal and stomach problems – putting millions of lives at considerable risk each year. Globally, there are 1.7 billion cases of diarrhea annually resulting in over 0.5 million deaths of children under five years old. New research has shown that despite good progress, millions of slum dwellers are still exposed to considerable risk because water supplies are being contaminated by human waste just meters from the family home.

  • Decrease in lead exposure in early childhood likely responsible for drop in crime rate

    Exposure to lead in the preschool years significantly increases the chance that children will be suspended or incarcerated during their school careers, according to new research. Conversely, a drop in exposure leads to less antisocial behavior and thus may well be a significant factor behind the drop in crime over the past few decades.

  • Claim of greatly improved survival rate for gunshot victims debunked

    The survival rate of U.S. gunshot victims has not shown a marked improvement, as other recent studies have suggested, according to new research. The purported increase in survival rate had been credited to improvements in emergency treatment and medical care of critically injured patients. But on close analysis, researchers found problems in the way data was collected and coded.

  • New foot-and-mouth disease rapid diagnostic kit licensed

    DHS S&T announced today the licensing of a rapid-response (three-hour) Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) diagnostic kit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB). S&T says that the diagnostic kit, developed by a large research consortium of federal agencies, academia and animal health industry scientists, is the first licensed FMD diagnostic kit that can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland, critical for a rapid response in the event of a FMD outbreak.

  • How plague attacks us – and how we should defend ourselves

    The plague that is believed to have caused the Black Death still occasionally ravages populations, albeit to a much smaller extent than before. Now we know more about how the bacteria attack us. But how does the plague bacterium attack human beings, and how does the body defend against its constantly evolving attacks? New research on the bacterium is yielding new answers.

  • Preventing outbreaks: U.S. investment in global health security training

    Biological agents including viruses, bacteria, and toxins, can devastate local economies with their potential effects on humans and livestock. In addition to potentially catastrophic immediate impact, these agents could also set in motion long-term disasters, causing regional instability and challenging international security. For these reasons, the U.S. Department of State invests in many programs to reduce biological security risks.

  • Deadly heatwaves on the rise

    Seventy-four percent of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a new study. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world’s human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent. “We are running out of choices for the future,” says one expert. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

  • Possible correlation found between TMI meltdown and thyroid cancers

    Three Mile Island (TMI), located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had a partial meltdown accident on 28 March 1979. During the accident, radiation was released into the environment, which the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said was in small amounts with no detectable health effects. Penn State College of Medicine researchers have shown, for the first time, a possible correlation between the partial meltdown at TMI and thyroid cancers in the counties surrounding the plant.

  • Stacking countermeasures for layered defense against chemical, biological threats

    Just as we must protect computer systems against assaults in the form of viruses and trojans in the cyber world, we must protect our soldiers from a multitude of chemical and biological threats on the battlefield. No one countermeasure can mitigate every threat, which is why the Joint Science and Technology Office at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is developing a portfolio of novel capabilities and medical countermeasures to protect our troops.

  • Meeting human resource needs of “full earth”

    A new concept proposes to provide food, energy and water resources for the world’s growing population by combining systems that simultaneously use different parts of sunlight’s spectrum to produce crops, generate electricity, collect heat and purify water. The world’s human population is expected to grow from seven billion to more than ten billion over the next two to three generations, leading to a “full earth” scenario.