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Joshua SharfsteinAssociate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training, Joshua Sharfstein, published an article in yesterday’s Politico concerning regulations in the FDA that prevent over-the-counter medications from being updated based on new science and research. The article shares his long-held beliefs on FDA reforms as Congress considers legislation that could result in bi-partisan supported changes. As a former Principal Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Sharfstein is very familiar with the regulations.

In terms of over-the-counter drugs, some of Sharfstein’s hopes for reform stem from learning that several Baltimore toddlers died from the toxic effects of over-the-counter cough and cold medications in 2006. Upon further research, Sharfstein learned that there is no scientific proof that these cold medicines are effective in young children and are more commonly associated with dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries across the country. 10 years ago Sharfstein organized a petition to the FDA for a change to children’s cold and cough medication, however, the FDA still has not acted because it lacks the tools to protect consumers from updates or new research with over-the-counter drugs as it does with prescription medications.

While explaining the weakness in the current FDA regulations, Sharfstein goes on to propose two reforms that would help protect consumers, as well as assist the FDA and manufacturers in developing new over-the-counter products and updating older products thanks to newer scientific developments.

The full article can be accessed online via Politico.

I love naps. I even enjoy going to bed “early”. Cuddling up with some blankets and a pillow, and drifting off is one of my favorite things to do. Any chance to catch some extra sleep is pure joy, and I’m apparently not the only one who needs more sleep.

Much of the population suffers from a lack of sleep. So much, in fact, it is now being seen as a public health issue. Adam Spira, an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health, will be highlighting the importance of sleep as a public health issue at the third annual Johns Hopkins Sleep and Circadian Research Day next Monday, June 26.

Recently, Spira did a short interview for the Summer 2017 issue of the Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health magazine. I’ve copied it below:

In the context of public health, where does sleep fit in?Adam Spira

There’s an increasing recognition of the implications of not getting enough sleep and disturbed sleep—whether it’s increased risk for chronic medical conditions, and for Alzheimer’s disease, injury, educational outcomes, mental disorders or addiction.

Are there effective ways to treat sleep disturbances without medication?

We have very good behavioral interventions, like cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, but they’re not yet as accessible as they need to be, and there aren’t enough trained providers.

In general, do you think that people understand the importance of sleep to overall health?

Our lives are very busy, and sleep can appear to be the thing that’s expendable. Along with diet and exercise, sleep is one of the three legs of the stool that form the foundation for health.

I personally think we should all take naps in the name of Public Health on June 26, 2017. Don’t you agree?

Public Health often crosses disciplines and requires collaboration. At the Bloomberg School of Public Health, we see this daily in the classrooms, special lectures and cross-department research. In response to the Johns Hopkins University’s call for creating innovative, interdisciplinary solutions, the Alliance for a Healthier World was born. Now they are offering grants of up to $25,000 to faculty members and students. Another round will be offered this coming fall.

David Peters, chair of the Department of International Health, is the director of the alliance. He says the center hopes the grants will help to “create new ideas, new collaborations and achieve research that has some impact”. Eventually, the goal is to increase partnerships with governments, foundations and corporations. Implementation will focus on vulnerable or low-income communities overseas.

Although headed by a Bloomberg School professor, the alliance already has participation or interest from every division and school across the university, as well as the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

For more information on the grants, make sure to read the full article and check out the Alliance for a Healthier World’s website.

If you’ve been following the JHSPH Instagram Account (johnshopkinssph), then you probably saw the beautiful picture from April 2, 2017 of the Bloomberg School lit up in blue lights. While April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day and April is National Autism Awareness Month, Autism research is a part of daily life here at JHSPH.

The Wendy Klag Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities promotes research and education regarding the origins, detection, measurement and prevention of conditions that affect behavioral, socioemotional and/or cognitive development. As one of the centers and institutes affiliated with JHSPH, the Wendy Klag Center offers funding for student and post-doctoral research projects, student travel awards and internship placement. If the mission and research of the Wendy Klag Center are of interest to you, be sure to take a look at the opportunities available to Bloomberg School students.

And if you want to learn more about the Wendy Klag Center and the state of Autism and Autism research in the United States, enjoy this award winning video.

 

In the US, it’s common to see a ribbon pinned somewhere to show support for a disease. Pink for breast cancer, red for heart diseases, yellow for leukemia (and a long list of other items). But one that you won’t find a ribbon for is gallbladder cancer. With gallbladder cancer a far less common disease in the US, it doesn’t receive the attention that more common diseases receive. However, look outside peoples of European decent and gallbladder cancer is far more common. In fact, there is such a significant difference in the cases of gallbladder cancer between those of European decent and South Asian, Indian, Central and South American, and Native American decent, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, along with the National Cancer Institute and Tata Memorial Cancer Center in Mumbai, India, began searching for a common gene. On Tuesday, March 6, they published their finding of that common DNA variants.

The researchers discovered the combination of two DNA variants, one previously linked to gallstones, led to a predisposition to gallbladder cancer. These variants were shown for the first time to be inherited and the researchers will continue to look for additional DNA variants.

Gallbladder cancer is considered quite deadly as often it isn’t discovered until the cancer is well advanced and has spread to other organs. The findings will hopefully lead to earlier detection and better treatment. You may read the news release of the research on our website.