CDC begins sharing flu virus genetic data

first_imgAug 23, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published the genetic blueprints for more than 650 influenza virus genes to launch a new data-sharing program intended to stimulate influenza research.In collaboration with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), the CDC will release genetic information on several hundred flu virus samples from US patients each year, the agency said yesterday in a news release.The genetic sequence data will include seasonal flu viruses, any animal flu viruses that infect humans, and any emerging strains, such as H5N1, officials said.The information will be deposited in two databases: GenBank, a public library of virus sequences managed by the National Institutes of Health, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Influenza Sequence Database.Until now, the sequence data were available only to a few flu researchers who work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend which viruses should be included in flu vaccines. “The sequence data will now be available through GenBank to anyone with Internet access,” the CDC said.The genetic data shed light on a virus’s origin and relationship to other flu viruses. Scientists can use the information to help determine whether a virus is susceptible to antiviral drugs and whether it is evolving in a way that would make it more contagious, possibly setting the stage for a pandemic, the CDC said.The withholding of genetic data on H5N1 viruses has drawn criticism in recent months. In July, virologists quoted in a Nature article complained that Indonesia’s and other countries’ refusal to share H5N1 data was hindering scientists’ understanding of the virus.The CDC said it has been working with the WHO to encourage countries with H5N1 avian flu to share their data. “After the Indonesian government recently agreed to make available the sequences for viruses from Indonesian bird flu patients, CDC placed total genome sequences for over 40 H5N1 viruses into a public-access database,” the agency said.CDC hopes to set example”We hope these initiatives will set the stage for other countries to adopt similar approaches to the release of influenza virus sequence data that they manage,” Dr. Nancy Cox, director of the CDC’s Influenza Divison, commented in the news release.The APHL, which consists mainly of state and local laboratory officials, gained approval from all 50 state labs to release sequence data from flu viruses tested in the labs, the CDC said.  State labs subtype flu viruses and submit some of them, including any unusual ones, to the CDC for further characterization.Under the new agreement, if the CDC identifies a new strain, the state lab that submitted it will be notified before the sequence data are posted in GenBank or the Los Alamos database, officials said.APHL President Dr. Jane Getchell said in the CDC statement, “State health department laboratories analyze and subtype thousands of influenza viruses each year. If a novel virus is out there, we will likely be the first to detect it. This is why public health labs are a critical part of our country’s early warning system for pandemic influenza, and why this collaboration with CDC is so important.”WHO explains steps for releasing H5N1 dataIn related news, the WHO today issued a brief explanation of how it works for the public release of H5N1 virus sequences—while downplaying somewhat the importance of such data.The agency said the sequencing of H5N1 viruses is done collaboratively by labs in countries with H5N1 outbreaks and the international network of H5 reference labs coordinated by the WHO. The agency explained that it needs permission from the source country to publish the sequence data.”WHO seeks to facilitate the timely release of sequence data to the public domain,” the statement said. “Formal procedures exist by which the WHO reference laboratory initially informs the originating laboratory of sequence results and simultaneously requests permission to place these results in the public domain. In the event of a negative reply or no reply, WHO directly approaches the Ministry of Health in the originating country, requesting authorization to release sequence data.”While genetic sequencing is important for developing vaccines and monitoring drug resistance, the WHO said, epidemiology is the primary tool for spotting changes in the H5N1 virus. “Epidemiological findings remain the most important alert to changes in the virus that indicate improved transmissibility among humans,” the agency said.See also:Aug 22 CDC statement about flu virus sequences 12 CIDRAP News story “Report: H5N1 mutated rapidly in Indonesian cluster” 23 WHO statement about procedures for releasing H5N1 sequencesGenBank homepage Alamos National Laboratory Influenza Sequence Database homepage read more

Dominican Irwin LaRoque is the new CARICOM Secretary-General

first_img Share Share Sharing is caring! Ambassador Irwin LaRoque(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has been selected to serve as the seventh Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by the Heads of Government. Ambassador LaRocque, 56, a national of Dominica replaces His Excellency Sir Edwin Carrington of Trinidad and Tobago.Ambassador LaRocque is the current Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration at the CARICOM Secretariat, having served in that post since September 2005.Ambassador LaRocque was educated at Queen’s College, and the New School for Social Research, both in New York and New York University, majored in Political Philosophy, Political Economics and Economics respectively.Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary-General, he served as Permanent Secretary in various Ministries in Dominica for more than fourteen years, including in the Ministries of Trade, Industry, Enterprise Development, Tourism, and Foreign Affairs, where he headed the diplomatic service. He also served as the principal advisor to the Government of Dominica on all matters pertaining to economic integration and regional and international trade.He was Dominica’s senior policy adviser on the revision of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas and served on the CARICOM Inter-Governmental Task Force which drafted the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.Ambassador LaRocque has a wealth of experience in management, public administration, economic development, trade, foreign affairs and diplomacy. During the period when Dominica underwent a structural adjustment programme, Ambassador LaRocque was a member of the Cabinet-appointed Public Sector Reform Task Force, which included the private sector, trade unions and non-governmental organisations, with responsibility for the overall management, planning and performance review of the public sector reform process. He also served as the Chairman of the Consultative Working Group, a public/private sector consultative and advisory committee appointed by the Dominica Cabinet, with focus on the enabling environment for private sector development and growth.He has served on several Boards, including those of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Caribbean Export, the Dominica Agricultural, Industrial and Development Bank, and the Dominica National Development Corporation.As Assistant Secretary-General, he has provided strategic leadership for the continuing implementation and further development of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), as well as the Sectoral Programmes of the Community including agriculture, services, industry and energy.Ambassador LaRocque has managed diplomatic negotiations with third countries and international development partners which required political acumen for successful completion. He has testified, on behalf of the Community, before the US International Trade Commission on trade relations between the Caribbean and the US with emphasis on extending and expanding the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).He is currently the Co-Chair of the US-CARICOM Trade and Investment Council and is leading the negotiations with the United States Trade Representative Office for a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.He has gained considerable experience with the European arrangements through his involvement in developing and negotiating with the Commission of the European Union, development assistance under the European Development Fund.Ambassador LaRocque’s experience in national public sector reform will be critical in the reform and restructuring process of the CARICOM Secretariat, which is currently in progress.Ambassador LaRocque has served and had a close working relationship with several Prime Ministers of his homeland, and also in the Region by interacting with and providing advice to various Heads of Government and Cabinets in his capacity as Assistant Secretary General.CARICOM Chairman Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis in announcing the selection said: “My colleague Heads of Government and I believe that Ambassador LaRocque possesses the requisite skills of visionary leadership, courage and commitment required to guide the Community at this time of change and uncertainty.”Secretary-General-designate LaRocque in his reaction expressed his deep appreciation for the confidence reposed in him by the Heads of Government.“I am humbled and privileged for this opportunity to continue my service to the Governments and people of the Caribbean Community. As we strive towards the goal of a Community For All, the confidence of the Heads of Government, the support of the people of the Community and the committed staff of the CARICOM Secretariat are vital in achieving that objective.”Press ReleaseCARICOM Secretariat Tweetcenter_img 35 Views   no discussions Share LocalNewsRegional Dominican Irwin LaRoque is the new CARICOM Secretary-General by: – July 22, 2011last_img read more

Report: Tyler Skaggs received drugs from Angels PR official

first_imgLongtime Angels public relations official Eric Kay was aware of Tyler Skaggs’ drug use and supplied him with drugs shortly before he died, according to a report published on Saturday by ESPN’s Outside the Lines.Kay reportedly told the Drug Enforcement Administration that he and Skaggs had used opioids together for years, and he had watched Skaggs snort three lines of crushed opioids in the pitcher’s hotel room hours before he died July 1 in Southlake, Texas.Kay also told DEA officials about five other players he believed were using opioids while with the Angels, according to the report.The Angels issued a statement denying they had any knowledge of drug use by Skaggs or any other players or staff members. “I have had a lot of conversations with Eric Kay about a lot of things, but opioids and Tyler Skaggs were not one of them,” Mead told ESPN.Mead had worked for the Angels for 40 years before leaving in June to become president of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.Kay also told the DEA that Angels traveling secretary Tom Taylor was aware of Skaggs’ drug use. Taylor, via the Angels, issued a statement denying that allegation.“Before Tyler’s death, Eric Kay never told me anything about Tyler or any player seeking narcotics, or about Eric providing narcotics to any player,” Taylor said.Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in suburban Dallas just before the Angels were to begin a series against the Texas Rangers. Two months later, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office reported that Skaggs had died because he choked on his own vomit. Opioids oxycodone and fentanyl were found in his blood, along with alcohol. The Southlake Police Department and Major League Baseball have been investigating the case.After results of the autopsy were released, Skaggs’ family issued a statement indicating they had hired well-known Texas attorney Rustin Hardin to assist in their investigation of how Skaggs obtained the drugs.“The Skaggs family continues to mourn the loss of a beloved son, brother, husband, and son-in-law,” Hardin said in a statement to ESPN. “They greatly appreciate the work that law enforcement is doing, and they are patiently awaiting the results of the investigation.”Kay reportedly told the DEA he had supplied Skaggs with drugs for years. An examination of their Venmo accounts showed numerous online payments from Skaggs to Kay over two years, ranging from $150 to $600.According to ESPN, Kay told the DEA he had supplied Skaggs with six illegally obtained oxycodone pills a few days before the team left California the night of June 30 for the trip to Texas.On the afternoon of July 1, as the team was preparing to leave its hotel, located about 20 minutes north of Globe Life Park in Arlington, teammates worried that Skaggs had not replied to messages. He was found in his room, unresponsive. According to the coroner’s report, he was still wearing the black jeans he had been pictured in on the flight the night before. The players wore western attire because they were beginning a weeklong trip to Texas, also including a stop in Houston.Skaggs’ death rocked the Angels and all of baseball. The game was postponed the day of his death, and the Angels returned to action the following day, with patches bearing Skaggs’ No. 45.On July 12, the first home game after his death, all the Angels wore Skaggs’ name and number on their jerseys. Taylor Cole and Félix Peña combined on a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners, with the players all laying their jerseys on the mound after the game.The Angels wore No. 45 patches for the rest of the season, and players on other teams who had known Skaggs also continued to honor him. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img “We have never heard that any employee was providing illegal narcotics to any player, or that any player was seeking illegal narcotics,” Angels President John Carpino said in the statement. “The Angels maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff. Every one of our players must also abide by the MLB Joint Drug Agreement. We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler and fully cooperate with the authorities as they continue their investigation.”Kay had worked in Angels’ media relations department for 24 years, although he has been on administrative leave since July, shortly after Skaggs died. He is reportedly currently undergoing outpatient drug treatment.Kay’s Irvine-based attorney, Michael Molfetta, told ESPN that he is not currently aware that Kay is the target of investigations by any of the involved law enforcement agencies. Molfetta refused comment when reached Saturday afternoon by the Southern California News Group. Kay did not respond to a message.Kay told federal officials that two other Angels officials were aware of Skaggs’ drug use years earlier, according to ESPN.One of them was Tim Mead, the longtime vice president in charge of communications, who reportedly learned of the drug use among Skaggs and Kay in 2017. Mead, reached by phone Saturday, declined comment. A day earlier, Mead had told ESPN he was unaware of drug use by Skaggs or Kay.last_img read more

Lessons from the best (and worst) of Sporting News’ college football predictions since 2014

first_imgI’ve learned the college football fans not only think bowl projections are meaningless — they also love to pick apart those projections apart on a weekly basis.  I will hold myself accountable. Over the last six years, I hit on 13 of 24 playoff teams (54 percent) and seven of the 12 championship game participants (58 percent). So I’m a little more than half right on these things, which is fine.  Admit it. Bowl projections are fun, even when you’re wrong. The playoff picks are the most important part, so I looked back at the last seven years to see just how meaningless those picks were. Enjoy.  *Denotes picked to make championship game  COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2020:Preseason top 25 rankings, bowl projections, All-Americans and more2014  SN playoff picks: Alabama vs. Oklahoma*, Florida State vs. Oregon*  Who we got right: Alabama, Florida State, Oregon  Who we missed: Ohio State  Looking back: Not bad for the first year. Nailed the Florida State-Oregon semifinal and had the Ducks in the championship game. The problem is the Oklahoma pick. The Sooners lost five games that season, which led to the hiring of offensive coordinator and future coach Lincoln Riley.  2015 SN playoff picks: TCU vs. Ohio State*, Auburn vs. Oregon*  Who we got right: None   Who we missed: Alabama, Michigan State, Clemson, Oklahoma  Looking back: This was the only year I didn’t get one playoff team right. We fell for the Jeremy Johnson hype on an Auburn team that lost six games. Oregon lost four games with Vernon Adams. Ohio State and TCU were legit playoff contenders, but this was a year we should have just bet on Bama.  2016 SN playoff picks: Alabama* vs. Ohio State, Clemson* vs. Oklahoma Who we got right: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson  Who we missed: Washington  Looking back: We were close to the clean sweep, but Oklahoma finished with two losses and ended up at No. 7 in the final College Football Playoff rankings. This is where the pick Alabama-Clemson every year trend started, but I messed that up the following year. 2017 SN playoff picks: USC* vs. Florida State, Alabama* vs. Ohio State Who we got right: Alabama  Who we missed: Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma  Looking back: We went all in on USC with Sam Darnold following their victory in the Rose Bowl against Penn State the previous season. The Trojans lost at Washington State and Notre Dame in the regular season. We missed Oklahoma again and didn’t account for the two-SEC team scenario. That’s hard to pick in a four-team playoff.  2018 SN playoff picks: Alabama* vs. Oklahoma, Clemson* vs. Ohio State  Who we got right: Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma  Who we missed: Notre Dame  Looking back: Three of four again. We have picked the Buckeyes to make the Playoff every year since the first one, and the argument between Ohio State and Oklahoma for that final spot was intense. We didn’t account for Notre Dame breaking through with an undefeated regular season.  2019 SN playoff picks: Clemson* vs. Texas, Alabama* vs. Ohio State  Who we got right: Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State  Who we missed: Texas   Looking back: We thought Texas was back. The Longhorns’ season fell apart after early-season losses to LSU – the eventual national champion; and Oklahoma – another playoff team. We don’t regret the pick given we got everything else right.  2020 SN playoff picks: Ohio State* vs. Oklahoma, Clemson* vs. Alabama  What we’re counting on: More of the same. These schools have combined for 17 of the 24 CFP appearances, and we have already picked this combination in 2016 and 2018. Unless there are two SEC teams again, then it’s a good bet at least three of these teams make the playoff. Who else are you going to pick? “Bowl projections are meaningless!”  That’s the battle cry you’ll hear most when you release picks for 44 bowls this time of year. You should see the emails and tweets. I started doing bowl projections for Sporting News in 2014 — the first year of the College Football Playoff.  last_img read more

Preity-Rani VRS time ?

first_imgIts scary how one religion (read: cricket) can impact another (read: Bollywood). As the cricket team goes through exciting re-invention, B-town seems to be taking stock of its A-list. In recent years, they appear to be energetically turning their focus toward inducting and promoting young ‘uns. To be sure, this is restricted to heroines. The lads, The Khans, Akshay, Suneil Shetty, Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgun, Jackie Shroff, and the Big B are off limits. Why? C’mon, they’re heroes, baba! The two biggest casualties are yesterday’s much loved, adored and admired sweethearts — Preity Zinta and Rani Mukherjee. To close Bollywood-watchers, this shift in sentiment is tinged with irony. At a time when Bollywood seems to be maturing, as reflected by the range of films (Aaamir, Fashion, Mumbai Meri Jaan, Sajjanpur, Rock-On, Dev.D) they are bringing out, the total blanking out of two of the most gorgeous and accomplished Bollywood stars is surprising. So what gives? Age? Is 30 the new 40? Does youth — and youth alone — triumph over experience as the prime, preferred choice of the movers n’ shakers in Tinsel Town? Disturbing, troubling …Not really, say trade analysts. They argue that while change is indeed in the air, the masses — the aam janta, not the niche intelligentsia — are reluctant to keep seeing the thobdas of the same 30-plus heroines, day-in and day out. They either want to see them do different stuff or make way for fresh, young lasses. And that explains why Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor, Bipsha Basu, Minnisha Lamba, Kangana Ranaut, even Mallika Sherawat are on riding high. Rani and Preity have been over-exposed and over time have not bothered to go beyond their bubbly and beautiful ghisa-pita image, which doesn’t suit them any more. Here, the myopic directors are to blame too … but that’s another story!The Box Office reflects their lack of sting. Neither has had a commercial hit in ages. Their last hit was KANK! Rani’s bombs include Babul, Tara Rum Pum Pum and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Preity’s thuds include Jaan-E-Mann and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Lear and Videsh are critical successes and ovies in the kitty include another art-house project Har Pal. Their pet directors seem to have forsaken them. Adi Chopra went in for new face Anoushka to co-star with Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne bana Di Jodi, which has proven to be a hit after several misses. Karan Johar invited Priyanka Chopra to share the frame with Abhi and John in Dostana. Loyalists of the two stars are shocked, disgusted and angry at the way they are being treated by the industry. “It is so sad that just because their films have not been successful, they are being penalized. So unfair! What about others in the project like directors, heroes, screenplay writers and everyone else? Both these girls have always been open to do new things and participate in new genres,” complained one. Critics are less generous. They believe with new, young, gorgeous models and beauty queens blitzing the scene everyday, the glamor, fashion and sex-appeal quotient zooming up every second and inhibitions disappearing as never before, no heroine can afford to take her place for granted anymore.She will have to either re-invent herself as a force the new-age audience can’t ignore, move to strong character roles … or get married and disappear into the world of family bliss. Hot n’ happening babes are emerging from the woodwork!At the end of the day, youth is in and Youngistan is their capital. Whether it’s the Fab 4 in cricket or the gorgeous duo in Bollywood, the new world decrees that past is history; it’s the present that rocks. Ad Endorsements re-affirm the predicament. Nestle dropped Rani for South Indian actress Trisha, who ironically replaced Preity in the Scooty Pep ad! The “Bubbly” Zinta (who appears to be more involved with IPL than movies in recent weeks) was also relieved of her endorsements, say insiders, with Perk, Lyril, BSNL and Santro.Deepika, Asin and Genelia are the new kids on the block creating havoc with Katrina Kaif and Priyanka already doing their number. It’s a chilling commentary on our times. One can only hope that both these gorgeous and gifted actresses have seen the writing on the wall and have it in them to re-invent themselves and get something they richly deserve … a glorious second innings! Related Itemslast_img read more