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Good science gone wrong?

Paul Gertler, professor, Haas School of Business and School of Public Health | August 3, 2015

Most scientists want to tell the truth. We want to help people by answering important questions, and sharing what we learn. But the research endeavor is big and messy. And as we’ve learned from the climate change and HIV/AIDS debates, there will always be folks who favor controversy, dogma, and press coverage over scientific consensus. … Continue reading »

The Honeymoon Mutation

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | May 7, 2015

I have been both a practicing obstetrician and a research embryologist. The more I learn about human the evolution of human sexuality the more fascinating it becomes. In a recent study in Science magazine, Stanford scientist Rajiv McCoy and colleagues[i] found evidence of a mutation that may have become more common because in our hunter-gatherer ancestors … Continue reading »

Unaccountability is bad for public health and democracy

Bruce Newsome, Lecturer in International Relations | March 31, 2015

The British Parliament’s Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has reported that the authorities for investigating healthcare failures in Britain are too numerous and unaccountable. I am pleased that at least one committee has criticized the structure of British healthcare, but the PASC airily follows all previous inquiries by recommending a lot of cultural change, and … Continue reading »

Can you trust health news?

John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus, public health | March 16, 2015

Reporting health news isn’t easy, especially when journalists have short deadlines and limited space to parse research that’s frequently complex, nuanced, and laced with caveats. On top of that, there’s often the temptation — for scientists, press offices, and reporters — to oversimplify and oversell research findings to get more attention. I notice this more … Continue reading »

Six things to know about measles

John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus, public health | February 6, 2015

Q. I thought measles was all but eradicated in the United States. Why is it back? A. There are two main reasons. First, though significant progress has been made in reducing global measles incidence, there is still substantial circulation of the virus in other countries. Unvaccinated U.S. residents who travel to countries where measles is … Continue reading »

Let’s stop killing 26,000 African women each year

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | January 21, 2015

January 21 is the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade, striking down restrictive abortion laws across the US.  At the time I was the Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London. I still remember a surprised phone call from New York. My friends and mentors, such as Alan Guttmacher … Continue reading »

Why not a Football-Free Campus?

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | November 9, 2014

Let’s think the unthinkable. Let’s do the impossible. We have a Tobacco-Free Campus: why not a Football-Free Campus? Just as tobacco-free Campus took 50 years to arrive, so could the football-free campus. But it will come, just as assuredly. Why not now? I was lucky enough to know Sir Richard Doll, the British epidemiologist who … Continue reading »

Is there any benefit in overreacting to threats like Ebola?

Martín Sánchez-Jankowski, director, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues | October 31, 2014

The recent Ebola scare in the U.S. has raised some important questions about what is the appropriate response to a public threat. The two most obvious ones have to do with what is the appropriate response that we as individuals should take and what is the appropriate response that the various national institutions entrusted with … Continue reading »

What if Ebola isn’t Africa’s biggest health threat?

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | October 22, 2014

Over a long professional life in global health, I have learnt a bitter lesson: it seems almost impossible for decision-makers to recognize and respond to slowly unfolding threats that take two or three decades to unfold and can involve millions of people. Sadly, big organizations with big money have a poor record of confronting big … Continue reading »

When epidemic hysteria made sense

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | October 21, 2014

As I write this post, it has been about three weeks since Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Texas. The media and political hysteria that has ensued in this country is amazing, statistically and historically. Unlike, say, tuberculosis or the flu, it is extremely hard to get infected with Ebola unless one is caring, … Continue reading »

The Ebola numbers

Robin Mejia, PhD candidate, biostatistics | October 8, 2014

Last week, over at The Atlantic, Jacoba Urist wrote about a truism in journalism: deaths closer to home matter more. This sounds ugly but makes sense intuitively. We feel the death of a loved one in a completely different way than a death across town, let alone a death across the country. It’s not surprising … Continue reading »

Lessons from an epidemic

Dan Farber, professor of law | October 7, 2014

Ebola’s natural reservoirs are animals, if only because human hosts die to too quickly. Outbreaks tend to occur in locations where changes in landscapes have brought animals and humans into closer contact. Thus, there is considerable speculation about whether ecological factors might be related to the current outbreak. (See this New York Times opinion piece.) At … Continue reading »

State(s) of obesity

Dan Farber, professor of law | September 11, 2014

State of Obesity, a joint project of the Trust for America’s Future and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has released a fascinating report about adult obesity. There are large national disparities. The obesity rate is over 35% in West Virginia and Mississippi, but only 21% in Colorado. Despite these disparities, obesity rates have grown everywhere … Continue reading »

How the right wing is killing women

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | May 14, 2014

According to a report released last week in the widely-respected health research journal, The Lancet, the United States now ranks 60th out of 180 countries on maternal deaths occurring during pregnancy and childbirth. To put it bluntly, for every 100,000 births in America last year, 18.5 women died. That’s compared to 8.2 women who died during pregnancy and … Continue reading »

Covered California: The Foundation of Obamacare, Success, Challenges, And The Road Ahead

Richard Scheffler, professor of health economics and public policy | March 13, 2014

As the end of the open enrollment period on March 31 draws near, the Covered California state health insurance exchange is engaged in a final push for enrollees that will bring it beyond its baseline enrollment goals, launching a new advertising campaign and resolving application issues caused by a software glitch in February. Throughout the … Continue reading »

Public health

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | March 7, 2014

The health of the American people has risen and fallen with fluctuations in the health of its poorest. Although more vulnerable in the past, the affluent have generally managed, major epidemics aside, to stay healthier than other Americans. Going back centuries, they regularly had nutritious food, usually clean water, decent shelter, and the ability to … Continue reading »

How the “Flu Blacklist” Explains Why the 2013-2014 Flu Season is Deadly

Tomás Aragón, Adjunct Faculty, School of Public Health | February 8, 2014

In my professional role, I am interviewed by the media to explain why this flu season is so “deadly.” I have a more mathematical explanation here (which is challenging to simplify). However, Rob Roth from KTVU Channel 2 interviewed me and suggested the term “susceptible list” to describe the people who are still on the … Continue reading »

Sugar MADNESS: How metabolic syndrome drives obesity and what you can do about it

Tomás Aragón, Adjunct Faculty, School of Public Health | February 2, 2014

Sugar consumption, especially from sugary drinks, is the single largest and preventable contributor to the global epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and unhealthy weight gain. Fructose is the part of “sugar” that is the culprit. Fructose in liquid form is worse! Fructose is metabolized by the liver. With repeated exposures, … Continue reading »

For a winning health care system, lab advances must be translated into clinical solutions

Kyle Kurpinski, former executive director, UC Berkeley/UCSF Master of Translational Medicine Program | January 13, 2014

Universal access to affordable, high-quality health care requires not only advances in science, technology, policy, and clinical services, but also more effective translation of technological innovations into the marketplace. To cross the gap from lab bench to patient bedside, innovators must deal with issues of product development, technology management, market positioning, cost/reimbursement, and regulation. Graduate … Continue reading »