ZIP code or genetic code?

first_imgThe analysis included variables such as clinical diagnoses, imaging test results, blood chemistry tests like red and white blood cell counts, cholesterol levels, and many others, as well as environmental factors such as air pollution levels, climate conditions and socioeconomic status, all extrapolated from the patients’ ZIP codes.Nearly 40 percent of the diseases in the study (225 of 560) had a genetic component, while 25 percent (138) were driven at least in part by factors stemming from sharing the same household, social influences, and the like. Cognitive disorders demonstrated the greatest degree of heritability — four out of five diseases showed a genetic component — while connective tissue diseases had the lowest degree of genetic influence. Of all disease categories, eye disorders carried the highest degree of environmental influence, with 27 of 42 diseases showing such effect. They were followed by respiratory diseases, with 34 out of 48 conditions showing an effect from sharing a household. The disease category with lowest environmental influence was reproductive illnesses, with three of 18 conditions showing such effect, and cognitive conditions, with two out of five showing an influence.Overall, socioeconomic status, climate conditions, and air quality in each twin pair’s ZIP code had a far weaker effect on disease than genes and shared environment — a composite measure of external, nongenetic influences including family and lifestyle, household, and neighborhood.In total, 145 of 560 diseases were modestly influenced by socio-economic status derived by ZIP code. Thirty-six diseases were influenced at least in part by air quality, and 117 were affected by changes in temperature. The condition with the strongest potential link to socioeconomic status was morbid obesity. While obesity undoubtedly has a genetic component, the researchers said, the findings raise an important question about the influence of environment on genetic predispositions. Thirty-six diseases were influenced at least in part by air quality, and 117 were affected by changes in temperature. “This finding opens up a whole slew of questions, including whether and how a change in socioeconomic status and lifestyle might compare against genetic predisposition to obesity,” Patel said.Lead poisoning was, not surprisingly, entirely driven by environment. Conditions such as flu and Lyme disease were, again unsurprisingly, affected by differences in climate.When researchers looked at classes of diseases by monthly health care spending, they found that both genes and environment significantly contributed to cost of care, with the two being nearly equal drivers of spending. Almost 60 percent of monthly health spending could be predicted by analyzing genetic and environmental factors.Large-scale analysis like this study can help forecast long-term spending for various conditions and inform resource allocation and policy decisions, the researchers said.Detailed study results available here: were Braden Tierney and Arjun Manrai of Harvard Medical School, and Jian Yang and Peter Visscher of the University of Queensland, Australia.Data sets for the study were provided by Aetna insurance company. Aetna had no funding role in the study. The research was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (grants 1078037 and 1113400), National Science Foundation (grant 1636870), and Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation. “The nurture-versus-nature question is very much at the heart of our study. We foresee the value of this type of large-scale analysis will be in shining light on the relative contribution of genes versus shared environment in a multitude of diseases,” said senior study author Chirag Patel, assistant professor of biomedical informatics in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS.The new method, the team said, underscores the value of large-scale analyses in informing national research efforts such as the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us program, part of the Precision Medicine Initiative that aims to tease out biologic, genetic, social, and environmental factors in disease and health as a way to inform individualized therapies. The findings of the new study can help direct research efforts by clarifying the relative influence of genetic versus environmental factors for a range of diseases.“Our findings can provide signposts that inform subsequent research efforts and help scientists narrowly focus their pursuits,” said study first author Chirag Lakhani, a postdoctoral research fellow in biomedical informatics at the Blavatnik Institute. “For example, if our study of twins shows that there is very little heritability effect in a certain family of eye disorders, then future research should pursue alternative explanations.”Using the database of 45 million-plus patient records — which also included more than 724,000 sibling pairs — the investigators estimated the influence of genes and environment in fraternal twins, who share half of their genome, or DNA, and identical twins, whose DNA is 100 percent the same. Same-sex twins can be either identical or fraternal, while opposite-sex twins are always fraternal, but the researchers did not know which same-sex pairs were identical. To circumvent this hurdle, they developed a novel statistical method that inferred the probability that a pair of twins was fraternal (non-identical) or identical. In doing so, the researchers were able to separate purely genetic from nongenetic contributions.All the patients had been part of the insurance database for at least three years, giving the researchers more than just a snapshot in time. The newly published study, which involved young twin pairs, newborns to 24 years of age, was not designed to follow disease development over time, so the researchers were unable to assess the genetic and environmental influences of diseases that tend to develop in middle and older age, such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative conditions. Almost 60 percent of monthly health spending could be predicted by analyzing genetic and environmental factors.center_img When it comes to disease and health, which is more powerful — ZIP code or genetic code?The degree to which nature and nurture affect disease and health remains one of the eternal — and still unanswerable — questions in medicine.Now a team of investigators from Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the University of Queensland in Australia have tackled this question in a decidedly novel way.In what the researchers describe as a coup for big data and a scientific first, the team has used a massive insurance database of nearly 45 million people in the U.S., including thousands of twin pairs, to determine the effects of genes and environment in 560 common conditions. The diseases analyzed span 23 categories, ranging from cardiovascular illness and neuromuscular diseases to skeletal conditions.The work, published Jan. 14 in Nature Genetics, is thought to be the largest assessment of U.S. twins to date, the researchers said. It is also the first one to go beyond the traditional one-disease-at-a-time approach and analyze hundreds of the most common conditions among more than 56,000 twin pairs. To date, most twin or familial studies of genes and environment have looked at just a single disease or environmental factor.Many diseases are neither purely genetic nor purely environmental, but rather the result of a complex interplay between the two. Unlike classic inherited conditions — those caused strictly by mutations in a gene or a set of genes — environmentally fueled conditions are the sole result of factors external to an individual’s biology. Most diseases do not fall neatly in either category but have elements of both. Disentangling how genes and environment contribute to multiple diseases in the same population has been astoundingly difficult, the researchers said. The new study aims to solve this challenge by developing a large-scale analytical approach. The condition with the strongest potential link to socioeconomic status was morbid obesity.last_img read more

Brown leading Whitman in LAT/USC poll

first_imgExperts say personal issues have damaged the Meg Whitman campaign, allowing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown to secure a 13-point lead, according to the latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll.Former governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown leads Whitman, former eBay CEO and Republican candidate, 52 percent to 39 percent.“She’s got a problem that’s not issue-related — it’s a personal one,” said Darry Sragow, interim director of the poll, during a press call about the numbers.The latest LAT/USC poll is part of a six-survey series on the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 2. For this poll, 1,501 voters were polled from Oct. 13 to Oct. 20.Democrats had favorable numbers for both major elections in the poll.Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer holds onto an eight-point lead against Republican senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina.Though the poll has Boxer leading Fiorina 50 percent to 42 percent, this is not necessarily indicative of what the results will be for such a close race, said Tom Hollihan, professor of communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.“A poll today is accurate, but it’s accurate today. It’s not necessarily going to predict the outcome on Election Day,” Hollihan said.Students said, however, that they aren’t sure how much impact it will make on the minds of young voters.“I think it will target young people to get more information about what’s going on,” said Zac Levine, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “But I don’t think students will necessarily be influenced by the polls.”Hollihan agreed.“Political events like the big rally on Friday are much more likely to be inspirational to engaged university students as a result of this poll, even if it has USC’s name on it,” he said.Other events can also sway public opinion, such as the allegation by Whitman’s former housekeeper that Whitman knew she was of illegal status while under employment.“If you look at the tea leaves here, it does seem that the incident involving the housekeeper seemed to have a very big effect,” said Manuel Pastor, a USC professor of American studies and ethnicity.October’s 66-question poll surveyed only registered California voters and was created by two polling firms, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinian Rosner and Republican firm American Viewpoint.“Over the course of the campaign, different events occur and it’s good to be able to track what the impact of those events is on public opinion. Each of these polls is just a snapshot of public opinion at the time,” said Ann Crigler, a USC professor of political science and interim director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.The LAT/USC poll is unique in its survey of voter enthusiasm and oversampling of Latino voters that Crigler said is an important sector of the California electorate.She also said students working on the poll help spread interest around campus.“A lot of students aren’t from California, so they haven’t really kept up with what’s going on, but now they’re more interested and they’re sharing that with their friends,” Crigler said. “They’re like ‘Wow, that’s our school.’”last_img read more

US gives Caribbean failing grade for trafficking

first_imgBRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The United States Thursday said several Caribbean countries were not in compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons (TIP).Of the Caribbean countries listed in the “2019 Trafficking in Persons Report,” only the Bahamas and Guyana “fully” met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.Washington said the authorities in Nassau and Georgetown continued to demonstrate “serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period” and as a result, the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries remained on Tier 1.It said the efforts by the Bahamas included passing a national action plan, increasing funding for victim assistance and anti-trafficking prevention, elevating national anti-trafficking planning to the office of the Prime Minister, and instituting an anti-trafficking course into the training curriculum of the Immigration Department.“Although the government meets the minimum standards, authorities initiated significantly fewer investigations and inconsistently applied screening procedures to vulnerable populations. Credible allegations of corruption raised concerns about vulnerabilities of potential trafficking victims during the reporting period,” it said.In the case of Guyana, the US State Department, which released the report noted that Guyana “demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by increasing funding for victim assistance, identifying and assisting more victims for the third consecutive year, and opening and operating a trafficking shelter outside of the capital area.“Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not provide adequate protection and shelter outside the capital, or for child and male victims. The number of trafficking investigations and new prosecutions decreased, and the number of successful convictions remained low,” the report noted.But the report noted that the Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago had been placed on Tier 2.In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, Washington said that the island does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.“The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Antigua and Barbuda remained on Tier 2. These efforts included amending the trafficking law so that penalties are commensurate with penalties of other serious crimes, passing a national action plan for 2019 to 2021, drafting formal standard operating procedures on victim referral specific to each agency, increasing training on indicators of trafficking, and liaising with another government on trafficking investigations.“However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not initiate any prosecutions and identified fewer victims. To date, the government has failed to convict a trafficker, and did not report the decision on penalties for complicit police officers in a 2015 case during the reporting period.”Washington said that while the authorities in Barbados conducted raids on nightclubs suspected of trafficking, screening vulnerable individuals for trafficking, providing anti-trafficking training for immigration officials and the police force, as well as a public awareness campaigns, they were not sufficient to upgrade the island.“However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government identified no victims for the past two reporting periods, initiated no new prosecutions for the fifth consecutive year, and has never secured a trafficking conviction.“The government did not complete its national action plan or an anti-trafficking manual for interviewing and providing assistance for suspected trafficking victims. Government agencies continued to report a lack of resources for their anti-trafficking activities.”Washington said that the Barbados government’s anti-trafficking law did not provide penalties that were commensurate with other serious crimes.Belize remained on Tier 2 even as the Dean Barrow government made key achievements during the reporting period.These efforts included initiating two new prosecutions for the first time in four years and appointing new leadership and dedicating five officers to the anti-trafficking police unit.“Despite these achievements, the government did not investigate or prosecute any public officials for complicity in trafficking-related offenses, despite allegations of official complicity. Authorities arrested or deported victims for immigration violations due to improving, but inconsistent application of formal victim identification procedures.””Washington said that Belmopan did not convict any traffickers for the third consecutive reporting period, due in part to a slow and cumbersome justice system.Haiti, the only French-speaking CARICOM country, is reported to have made “significant efforts’ to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, with the government demonstrating overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period”.These efforts included investigating, prosecuting, and convicting more traffickers, passing a national action plan, closing several abusive orphanages, and increasing law enforcement training. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.But the report noted that the government did not criminally prosecute recent cases of alleged official complicity.“The government did not allocate sufficient funding for its anti-trafficking efforts or victim services and did not implement its standard operating procedures for victim identification. The government’s weak judicial system and lack of awareness about trafficking among police, prosecutors, and judges hindered prosecution and conviction of traffickers. The government did little to combat child domestic servitude,” the report noted.In the case of Jamaica, the State Department said while Kingston is “making significant efforts’ to deal with TIP, it still does not however “fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”.It said among the efforts undertaken by the government included investigating and prosecuting more suspected traffickers, achieving a swift conviction that included prison time, and publishing its first annual report on trafficking in persons in Jamaica.“The government also increased funding for anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Increased funding did not result in improved protections for victims or increased accountability for traffickers.“The government identified fewer victims compared to the previous year; it provided minimal services to identified victims and did not refer any Jamaican victims to shelters; and it convicted only one trafficker. Public awareness and outreach activities were ineffective in increasing officials’ and the public’s capacity to identify and appropriately respond to suspected cases of trafficking in their communities.”Despite passing a national action plan, St. Lucia was considered not to have fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, even as Washington acknowledged that the island “is making significant efforts to do so”.It said Castries had investigated suspected traffickers, funding anti-trafficking prevention, conducting baseline trafficking research, and training its personnel in measures to combat trafficking.“However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not identify any victims for the third consecutive year, has not initiated a prosecution since 2015, and has never convicted a trafficker.“The government did not formally approve standardized written procedures to identify victims, although they were used informally by law enforcement.”St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which also fell into the Tier 2 category was complimented on making efforts to deal with TIP including passing legislation that allowed authorities to screen for suspected traffickers and trafficking victims, increasing training to relevant government officials, increasing cooperation with foreign governments to combat trafficking, extending and updating the national action plan through 2020, and improving its public awareness campaigns.“However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Authorities have not prosecuted a trafficking case since 2015 and have never convicted a trafficker. The government’s anti-trafficking law, which allowed for fines in lieu of imprisonment, was not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes. Government agencies cited a lack of resources for anti-trafficking efforts.”Washington said that the Dutch-speaking CARICOM country of Suriname demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period including approving a new action plan, developing a new formal victim referral process, convicting more traffickers and imposing significant prison terms, and launching a new trafficking hotline and campaign.“However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Authorities investigated and prosecuted fewer cases and identified fewer victims amid inadequate efforts to screen vulnerable individuals, including detained migrants prior to deportation.”Trinidad and Tobago, which is now facing an influx of Venezuelan nationals fleeing the South American country because of the ongoing economic and political situation, was informed that it “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” even though “ it is making significant efforts to do so” and therefore remains on Tier 2.Washington said Port of Spain had undertaken several initiatives including increasing anti-trafficking training for its officials, initiating investigations against three potentially complicit officials, initiating more prosecutions, establishing a new intelligence task force to improve investigations, and developing a new memorandum of understanding between its children’s authority and anti-trafficking unit to better protect child victims.“However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government had yet to secure a conviction under its 2011 anti-trafficking law.“Public officials, media, and experts noted increasing reports of potential government complicity in trafficking cases, with insufficient government attention to the issue. Due to a lack of screening, the government penalized some trafficking victims, including children, for immigration offenses as a result of the trafficking crime,” the report stated.It said that Port of Spain “did not adequately screen migrants, asylum-seekers, or refugees for trafficking indicators, including among Venezuelans.“The government decreased the amount of funding for victim services and did not provide adequate victim care in some cases,” the report added.last_img read more

Wellington Heat advances with win over Nevada (Mo.) Griffons

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow —  The Wellington Heat advanced in the losers bracket with a 7-5 victory over Nevada (Mo.) Griffons on Tuesday afternoon in the NBC World Series in Wichita at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.The Heat will play the winner of the Valley Center Dawgs and San Luis Obispo on Wednesday.Wellington opened a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and would sustain the lead throughout. The Griffons would make it interesting in the final inning. The Heat were leading 7-3 but gave up two runs. Nevada had runners on first and second before the Heat made the final out.The Heat are now 2-1 in the NBC tournament.  Brady Bowen was the winning pitcher for the Heat. Wellington had 10 hits to the Griffons 9.Third baseman Robbie Rea was 2-of-2 at the plate for the Heat.The box score for the game can be found here. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comment (1) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. 0 Vote up Vote down Love the game · 366 weeks ago Wellington 8 Final San Luis, CA 2 Report Reply 0 replies · active 366 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more


first_imgGAA: Kevin Cassidy has re-opened old wounds with former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness by blasting him as a ‘hypocrite’ over his stance on the team holiday row with the Donegal County Board.Cassidy claims McGuinness blocked him and his wife on going on the end of season trip in 2011.The Gaoth Dobhair fumed, “Jim McGuinness must have a short memory because it wasn’t that long ago that he blocked my wife and I from going on a team holiday. “The phrase; pot, kettle, black springs to mind!! But then again for me the words Jim McGuinness and hypocrisy go hand in hand!”McGuinness had a go at the Donegal County Board for not compensating players and management staff – who couldn’t go on the team holiday to Dubai last season due to work commitments.The GPA have backed McGuinness, while the Donegal County Board claim they’re following Croke Park guidelines.However, McGuinness says he has consulted with Croke Park officials and they have told him the players and staff should’ve received a voucher as compensation for being unable to make the trip. McGuinness feels the players and staff deserve much better and stressed his reluctance not make the issue public.However, he felt the issue was never going to be resolved and that’s why he made it public in his column with The Irish Times.However, in his column with The Gaelic Life, Cassidy who had a very public fall-out with McGuinness in 2011 called McGuinness a ‘hypocrite’.CASSIDY BLASTS MCGUINNESS AS ‘HYPOCRITE’ OVER TEAM HOLIDAY STANCE was last modified: October 1st, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:GAAHome-page Sportnewslast_img read more