Cloud computing method greatly increases gene analysis

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed new software that greatly improves the speed at which scientists can analyze RNA sequencing data. RNA sequencing is used to compare differences in gene expression to i…

Pakistani injection drug users twice as likely to donate blood

Thirty percent of injection drug users in Pakistan are paid to donate blood, which could contaminate the global blood supply and increase the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C, according to a study in three Pakistani cites conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study, “HIV/AIDS Risk Behaviors and Correlates of Injection Drug Use Among Drug Users in Pakistan,” appears in the June 2003, issue of the Journal of Urban Health.

Vehicle traffic associated with increased carcinogen levels

Assessing a community’s cancer risk could be as simple as counting the number of trucks and cars that pass through the neighborhood. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have identified a significant association between vehicle traffic and curbside concentrations of carcinogens benzene, 1,3-butadiene and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The findings may be especially relevant for urban communities where people live in close proximity to high volume roadways. The study is published in the June 2003 issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.

Americans pay more, get less for health care

Americans spend considerably more money on health care services than any other industrialized nation, but the increased expenditure does not buy more care, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They found that the United States spent 44 percent more on health care than Switzerland, the nation with the next highest per capita health care costs, in the year 2000. At the same time, Americans had fewer physician visits and hospital stays were shorter compared to most other industrialized nations. The study suggests that the difference in spending is caused mostly by higher prices for health care goods and services in the United States. The results are published in the May/June 2003, edition of the journal Health Affair.

Initiative could cut blindness by two-thirds

Over 52 million people worldwide can avoid going blind if current and new resources are successfully implemented, according to a new study. Researchers for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that without extra intervention, the global number of blind individuals would increase from 44 million in 2000 to 76 million in 2020. “Vision 2020 – The Right to Sight”?an initiative cosponsored by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and aimed at eliminating avoidable blindness from cataract, trachoma, onchocerciasis, vitamin A deficiency and refractive errors?would decrease the 2020 projection by 52 million individuals. The economic gain of this program would be approximately $102 billion. The study, “The Magnitude and Cost of Global Blindness: An Increasing Problem That Can Be Alleviated,” will appear in the April 2003 issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Lead Levels Linked to Hypertension in Menopausal Women

Blood lead levels are associated with increased blood pressure and the risk of clinical hypertension in women aged 40 to 59 years, according to a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Tulane University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study found blood pressure increased by lead levels well below the exposure levels of concern for adults set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the levels for children set by the CDC. Blood lead levels can increase in women over the menopause, as lead is released from bone. The study is the first to document adverse health impacts as a consequence of bone lead release. It is published in the March 26, 2003, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Trachoma Leaves Millions Blind, Costs $2.9 Billion to Global Economy

Researchers for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the International Trachoma Initiative have calculated the human toll and economic burden of trachoma, a chronic infection that causes blindness. They estimate that there are 3.8 million cases of blindness and 5.3 million cases of low vision in countries known or suspected to have trachoma. In addition, they estimate $2.9 billion in lost productivity to low vision or blinding trachoma. The results appear in the article “Estimating the burden of trachomatous visual loss” in the April 2003 issue of Ophthalmic Epidemiology.

Food fortification spurred by military purchases

Food fortification with vitamins and minerals is one of the most effective methods to improve health and prevent nutritional deficiencies. It is greatly responsible for the virtual eradication of disease such as goiter, rickets, beriberi, and pellagra in the United States. New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that developing nations could implement successful food fortification programs by requiring fortified foods for their military personnel. The conclusions are based on a detailed review of the history of food fortification programs in the U.S., which is published in the January 22, 2003, edition of the journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

19.2 Million U.S. Adults Have Chronic Kidney Disease

Eleven percent of the U.S. adult population has varying stages of chronic kidney disease, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The researchers concluded that chronic kidney disease warrants improved detection and classification using standardized criteria to improve patient outcomes. Their research is published in the January 2003 issue of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

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