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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 »

Would working less make you happier?

Christine Carter, director, Greater Good Parents | October 3, 2013

Are you caught in a “Time Bind”— where you feel like you don’t have enough time to get your work done AND spend time with your children and spouse AND take care of your own basic needs? Sociologists have been very excited about a “natural experiment” occurring in Korea. In 2004, the Korean government began … Continue reading »

This telegram will arrive tomorrow

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | September 29, 2013

The Poverty and Population class I co-teach emphasizes the many unnecessary and unjustified barriers that prevent women having access to the contraceptives they need.  Sometimes overcoming these barriers needs courage. In 1974 had the privilege of working with my Thai friend Mechai Viravaidya to launch a community-based distribution of oral contraceptives and condoms. We were … Continue reading »

Sub par reporting on the ACA

Ken Jacobs, chair, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education | September 23, 2013

In a story that purports to illustrate how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will hurt fast food businesses, Venessa Wong at Bloomberg News  inadvertently shows how small those impacts are likely to be in reality. She gives the example of Firehouse Subs, which currently does not offer health benefits to anyone working 30 hours a … Continue reading »

Oral contraceptives should be in vending machines and cigarettes on prescription

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | September 16, 2013

I am continuing my weekly blog built around the large undergraduate class I co-teach on Poverty and Population.  The philosophy of the class has been well summarized by the economist Partha Dasgupta in a recent Science article. He pointed out that, “Family planning is not subject to the play of free markets; it is  biased … Continue reading »

Vasectomy on Platform 9

Malcolm Potts, professor of population and family planning | September 9, 2013

For several years, the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability at UC Berkeley has taught a popular undergraduate course called Poverty and Population. The faculty, Prof. Ndola Prata, Dr. Martha Campbell and I, work in developing countries to make family planning readily available. The GSIs also often end up overseas as summer interns working … Continue reading »

Where federal health care reform falls short, local reform steps up

Susan Fang, Human Rights Center fellow and Joint Medical Program student | July 24, 2013

San Francisco is an exciting place to be — especially because of its history of progressive politics and culture of grassroots organizing. The city’s passage of the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) in 2006 represented an attempt to implement near-universal health care throughout San Francisco and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to vulnerable people. No doubt … Continue reading »

Tips for resilience in the face of horror

Jason Marsh, editor-in-chief, Greater Good Science Center | April 19, 2013

In December, in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we created a list of resources for helping children cope with trauma. We had hoped that we would not have to feature that list again anytime soon. Sadly, a number of these resources are newly relevant after the explosions at the Boston Marathon, … Continue reading »

San Francisco plastic-bag ban associated with 46% increase in foodborne illness deaths — Not!

Tomás Aragón, Adjunct Faculty, School of Public Health | February 13, 2013

In my role as Health Officer of San Francisco I received a flurry of concerned calls about a research study that claimed that the 2007 San Francisco ban on plastic bag resulted in an immediate, very large increase in foodborne illnesses and deaths. From their conclusions: “We examine deaths and emergency room admissions related to these … Continue reading »