January 30, 2018

Public Health & Healthcare Preparedness
Strengthening Public Health Systems and Services Through National Partnerships to Improve and Protect the Nation's Health.
The purpose of this notice of funding opportunity is to announce a program to strengthen the nation's public health infrastructure, ensure a competent, current and connected public health system, and improve delivery of essential services through capacity building assistance.  (Grants.gov, 1/29/18)
Population-Based Surveillance of Birth Defects Potentially Related to Zika Virus Infection -- 15 States and US Territories.
CDC analyzed data from 15 US jurisdictions conducting population-based surveillance for birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection.  (CDC, 1/26/18)

PEPFAR -- 15 Years and Counting the Lives Saved.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci: In the long history of successful public health initiatives, such as those leading to the eradication of smallpox, the elimination of polio throughout most of the world, and the marked reduction globally in vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, few programs have matched the impact of one that began in 2003, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. This innovative program has had an unprecedented impact on the pandemic of HIV and AIDS.  (New England Journal of Medicine, 1/25/18)
Can Virus Hunters Stop the Next Pandemic Before it Happens?
"We're trying to improve the crystal ball, which is very murky," says Jonna Mazet, the global director of USAID PREDICT and a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Davis. The question is: is targeting animal vectors the best way to achieve that goal?  (Smithsonian Magazine, 1/25/18)
Former Drug Industry Executive Will Lead Dept. Of Health And Human Services.
Alex Azar, former president of the US arm of Eli Lilly & Co., was confirmed Wednesday as the secretary of health and human services.  (NPR, 1/24/18)
FEMA Abruptly Cuts Housing Funds For Dozens Of Puerto Rican Families.
Dozens of Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria and currently living in Connecticut hotels have been told they will no longer get federal assistance to pay for their lodgings, just days after being promised an extension to their temporary housing assistance.  (BuzzFeed, 1/24/18)
Short-Term Spending Bills Leave Public Health Agencies in Suspense.
Congress's inability to pass a long-term spending bill has major ramifications for public health, advocates and former agency officials warn. State and local agencies -- like health departments -- rely on federal funding and grants from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.  (The Hill, 1/24/18)
Chinese Opioid Dealers Exploit US Postal Service Flaw to Ship Illegal Drugs, Investigators Say.
Congressional investigators said Wednesday that Chinese opioid manufacturers are exploiting weak screening at the US Postal Service to ship large quantities of illegal drugs to American dealers.  (PBS, 1/24/18)
NIH Begins Large HIV Treatment Study in Pregnant Women.
The study will evaluate the current preferred first-line regimen for pregnant women recommended by the World Health Organization and two regimens containing newer antiretroviral drugs that are becoming more widely used.  (NIAID, 1/24/18)

Federal Funding Doesn't Fully Support Hospitals Facing Large-Scale Emergencies Like Flu.
Public health experts told lawmakers on Tuesday that our nation's hospitals don't have enough funding to handle large-scale emergencies like the current flu epidemic. (Modern Healthcare, 1/23/18)


See also: PAHPA Hearing Witnesses Question US Government's Preparedness, Response Commitment (Homeland Preparedness News, 1/24/18)


US CDC Director Urges Flu Vaccinations as Pediatric Deaths Mount.
Of the 30 US children who have died from the flu so far this season, some 85 percent likely will not have been vaccinated, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who urged Americans to get flu shots amid one of the most severe flu seasons in years.  (Reuters, 1/22/18)

See also: 
APHIS Adds the Philippines to the List of Regions Affected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.
This action comes after HPAI was reported in the Philippines in August 2017.  In response to the outbreak, APHIS immediately placed restrictions on imported poultry and poultry products from that country to minimize the risk of introducing HPAI into the United States.  (USDA, 1/17/18)

Homeland Security & Disaster Preparedness
DHS Highlights Recent Critical Incident Exercises Aiming to Improve Preparedness, Response.
In October, DHS's Science and Technology Directorate organized a training exercise at the Grand Central Terminal in New York City that more than 200 members of the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department and Metropolitan Transportation Authority took part in. The exercise enabled first responders to evaluate new technologies, as well as response tactics and techniques.  (Homeland Preparedness News, 1/29/18)
IARPA Ramps Up Biosecurity Investments in 2018 and Beyond.
The potential for biological weapons to wreak havoc on battlefields and against civilian populations is a key concern for security experts, and the intelligence community's experimental laboratory is taking a lead role in defending against this emerging threat.  (FCW, 1/26/18)
Retired Astronaut Picked to Lead US Geological Survey.
President Donald Trump plans to nominate James Reilly, a former NASA astronaut and exploration geologist, to lead the US Geological Survey, the White House announced today. If confirmed, the 63-year-old Reilly would lead a science agency whose researchers monitor for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, among a host of other duties.  (Science, 1/26/18)
Trump Plans to Ask for $716 Billion for National Defense in 2019 -- a Major Increase.
The proposed budget is a victory for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who recently unveiled a strategy that proposes retooling the military to deter and, if necessary, fight a potential conflict with major powers such as China and Russia.  (Washington Post, 1/26/18)
Homeland Security's S&T Unites with Israeli Partners on Numerous Projects.
While the United States and Israel began annual bilateral meetings 10 years ago, recent days have their actual actions picking up steam. In September 2017, they signed off on a comprehensive chemical/biological project meant to fund new technologies to aid first responders in times of chemical or biological attacks, accidents or other incidents.  (Homeland Preparedness News, 1/25/18)
DNA Origami: Unfolding Risk?
The US military has already shown interest in DNA origami. For example, the Pentagon would like to use the technology to create artificial antibodies that could be integrated into portable devices and used in war zones to detect the hostile use of biological agents such as those that cause smallpox or Ebola virus disease.  (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1/25/18)
International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.
On January 23, while traveling in Paris, France, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participated in the launching conference of the "International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons." This partnership, which was initiated by France, represents a political commitment by participating countries to hold to account those responsible for the use of chemical weapons.  (Department of State, 1/24/18)
Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.
The purpose of the FP&S Grant Program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire and fire-related hazards by assisting fire prevention programs and supporting firefighter health and safety research and development.  (Grants.gov, 1/24/18)
NOAA Coastal Resilience Grants Program (FY 2018).
The principal objective of the NOAA Coastal Resilience Grants Program is to implement projects that build resilience of US coastal communities and ecosystems. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, this solicitation is seeking coastal habitat restoration projects that build resilience by conserving and restoring sustainable ecosystem processes and functions and reducing the vulnerability of coastal communities and infrastructure from the impacts of extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions.  (Grants.gov, 1/24/18)

Radiological & Nuclear Disaster Preparedness
NNSA to Conduct Aerial Radiation Assessment Survey Over Minneapolis in Support of Super Bowl LII.
The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness for major public events.  (NNSA, 1/27/18)

Science & Technology Policy
How Germs from Earth Would Impact Life on Mars.
To get more information on the ins and outs of safely exploring Mars, Teen Vogue went to NASA's planetary protection officer, Dr. Cassie Conley. She answered some of our pressing questions about manned missions to Mars and what we will do to make sure we protect the Red Planet, and we found out that a lot of it comes down to where we land.  (Teen Vogue, 1/29/18)
Scientists Hate the NIH's New Rules for Experimenting on Humans.
This week, after almost a decade of work, some new rules go into effect for researchers funded by NIH. If they're using human beings in their experiments, most of them now have to register their methodologies on a government-built website, clinicaltrials.gov. They have to promise to share whatever they find, even if they don't prove what they hoped -- especially if they don't prove it. They have to get trained up in modern clinical practices.  (Wired, 1/26/18)
House Science Committee Members Say President Trump's Lack of Science Advisers Leaves Us Vulnerable to Disaster.
The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy doesn't have a director nor an official mandate, and it hasn't had one since President Donald Trump took office. The President has yet to nominate anyone for the position, though he is required by law to do so, and has left the directorship open for the longest stretch in its history.  (Popular Science, 1/24/18)
DARPA Wants to Build an Image Search Engine Out of DNA.
In the last few months, the Department of Defense agency tasked with funding science's most far-out hopes has begun investing millions in discovering radical, non-binary ways to work with data. "Molecules offer a very different approach to 'computing' than the 0s and 1s of our existing digital systems," says Anne Fischer, program manager for Darpa's Molecular Informatics program, which has so far awarded $15.3 million to projects at Harvard, Brown, the University of Illinois, and the University of Washington.  (Wired, 1/24/18)
Science After a Year of President Trump.
After a year of President Trump, scientists in the United States are doing their best in difficult circumstances, and Nature applauds them for it. It's increasingly clear that Trump has been just as bad for many aspects of science as we and others feared. Most crucially, the role of science and scientific advice in public life has been repeatedly undermined.  (Nature, 1/19/18)
This Week's Hearings

Ensuring Effective and Reliable Alerts and Warnings. US House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications. 1/6/18, 10 AM. House Capitol Visitor Center, Room 210. More


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