Thursday, February 22

Health

Duke Shuts Down Huge Plant Collection, Causing Scientific Uproar
Health

Duke Shuts Down Huge Plant Collection, Causing Scientific Uproar

Duke University has decided to close its herbarium, a collection of 825,000 specimens of plants, fungi and algae that was established more than a century ago. The collection, one of the largest and most diverse in the country, has helped scientists map the diversity of plant life and chronicle the impact of humans on the environment.The university’s decision has left researchers reeling. “This is such a devastating blow for biodiversity science,” said Erika Edwards, the curator of the Yale Herbarium. “The entire community is simultaneously shocked and outraged.”Scientific societies have also protested the move. “Duke’s decision to forgo responsibility of their herbarium specimens sets a terrible precedent,” the Natural Science Collections Alliance wrote in a letter to the university last F...
How Sleep Affects Your Mood: The Link Between Insomnia and Mental Health
Health

How Sleep Affects Your Mood: The Link Between Insomnia and Mental Health

It started with mild anxiety.Emily, who asked to be identified only by her first name because she was discussing her mental health, had just moved to New York City after graduate school, to start a marketing job at a big law firm.She knew it was normal to feel a little on edge. But she wasn’t prepared for what came next: chronic insomnia.Operating on only three or four hours of sleep, it didn’t take long for her anxiety to ramp up: At 25, she was “freaking nervous all the time. A wreck.”When a lawyer at her firm yelled at her one day, she experienced the first of many panic attacks. At a doctor’s suggestion, she tried taking a sleeping pill, in the hopes that it might “reset” her sleep cycle and improve her mood. It didn’t work.Americans are chronically sleep deprived: one-third of adults ...
Old and Young, Talking Again
Health

Old and Young, Talking Again

On Fridays at 10 a.m., Richard Bement and Zach Ahmed sign on to their weekly video chat. The program that brought them together provides online discussion prompts and suggests arts-related activities, but the two largely ignore all that.“We just started talking about things that were important to us,” said Mr. Ahmed, 19, a pre-med student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.Since the pair met more than a year ago, conversation topics have included: Pink Floyd, in a long exploration led by Mr. Bement, 76, a retired sales manager in Milford Township, Ohio; their religious faiths (the senior conversation partner is Episcopalian; the younger is Muslim); their families; changing gender norms; and poetry, including Mr. Ahmed’s own efforts.“There’s this fallacy that these two generations can’t co...
More Young People Are on Multiple Psychiatric Drugs, Study Finds
Health

More Young People Are on Multiple Psychiatric Drugs, Study Finds

The NewsGrowing numbers of children and adolescents are being prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs to take simultaneously, according to a new study in the state of Maryland. The phenomenon is increasing despite warnings that psychotropic drug combinations in young people have not been tested for safety or studied for their impact on the developing brain.The study, published Friday in JAMA Open Network, looked at the prescribing patterns among patients 17 or younger enrolled in Medicaid in Maryland from 2015 to 2020. In this group, there was a 9.5 percent increase in the prevalence of “polypharmacy,” which the study defined as taking three or more different classes of psychiatric medications, including antidepressants, mood-stabilizing anticonvulsants, sedatives and drugs for A.D.H.D. and ...
US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages
Health

US Agencies Start Inquiry Into Generic Drug Shortages

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday that they would examine the causes of generic drug shortages and the practices of “powerful middlemen” that are involved in the supply chain.The federal agencies’ inquiry is aimed at the group purchasing organizations and drug distributors that have been in the spotlight in recent months as drug shortages reached a 10-year peak. The agencies want to examine the companies’ influence on how the drugs are sold to hospitals and other health facilities, assessing whether the middlemen put pressure on pricing and manufacturing that led to breakdowns.During Congressional hearings in the last year, oncology experts have testified about the effects of the shortages, describing difficult decisions that for...
Will the Super Bowl Affect Fans’ Political Views? Bet on It.
Health

Will the Super Bowl Affect Fans’ Political Views? Bet on It.

Damian R. Murray, a psychologist at Tulane University, studies how various social circumstances and life events affect people’s political views. For instance, he found recently, becoming a parent makes a person grow more socially conservative. On the eve of the Super Bowl, he sat down for an interview with The New York Times to discuss another recent study, which examined how the political perspectives of sports fans can be altered by their teams’ wins and losses.This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.What inspired this work?These games are so emotionally potent, and people are so emotionally invested. The question is: What might be the downstream, real-world implications for things that have nothing to do with the sporting event itself? Are there consequences for poli...
Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45
Health

Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45

Brooke Ellison, who after being paralyzed from the neck down by a childhood car accident went on to graduate from Harvard and became a professor and devoted disability rights advocate, died on Sunday in Stony Brook, N.Y. She was 45.Her death, in a hospital, was caused by complications of quadriplegia, her mother, Jean Ellison, said.As an 11-year-old, Brooke had been taking karate, soccer, cello and dance lessons and singing in a church choir. But on Sept. 4, 1990, she was struck by a car while running across a road near her Long Island home in Rockville Centre, in Nassau County. Her skull, spine and almost every major bone in her body were fractured.After waking from a 36-hour coma, she spent six weeks in the hospital and eight months in a rehabilitation center. And for the rest of her lif...
J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb CEOs Will Testify at Senate Hearing on Drug Prices
Health

J&J, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb CEOs Will Testify at Senate Hearing on Drug Prices

The chief executives of three major pharmaceutical companies are set to appear in front of the Senate health committee on Thursday to defend how much they charge for drugs in the United States, drawing them further into a confrontation with lawmakers and the Biden administration over the cost of some of the most widely used prescription medications.The three executives scheduled to testify — Joaquin Duato of Johnson & Johnson, Robert M. Davis of Merck and Christopher Boerner of Bristol Myers Squibb — are expected to clash with the health committee’s chairman, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who has made reining in drug prices a signature cause of his late-career years in Congress.Mr. Sanders plans to focus the hearing on why drug prices are higher in the United States...
Alternating Arms for Vaccines May Boost Your Immunity, Study Says
Health

Alternating Arms for Vaccines May Boost Your Immunity, Study Says

If you’ve presented the same arm for every dose of a particular vaccine, you may want to reconsider. Alternating arms may produce a more powerful immune response, a new study suggests.The researchers studied responses to the first two doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Those who alternated arms showed a small increase in immunity over those who got both doses in the same arm.For individuals who respond poorly to vaccines because of age or health conditions, even a small boost may turn out to be significant, the researchers said. At this point in the pandemic, with most people having had multiple vaccine doses or infections, alternating arms for Covid vaccines may not offer much benefit.Yet if confirmed by further study, the results could have implications for all multidose vaccines, including chi...