Latest from the Risk Science Center

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Designing global deliberation for geoengineering governance

In recent years, prominent physical scientists, engineers, and a handful of policymakers have begun asking governments, primarily in the United States and Europe, to fund research into geoengineering. Geoengineering involves large-scale technologies that are designed to mitigate climate change by ...

Less than 60% of university news releases link to the papers they cover
Less than 60% of university news releases link to the papers they cover

In an analysis of recent news releases from the top ten US universities, only 59% of them provided links to the peer review paper they were written about.  Over 30% did not cite the paper.  And less than 10% of ...

Source: Wikipedia, Public Domain image. John Vachon(w) for the United States Farm Security Administration(w) - Library of Congress CALL NUMBER: LC-USW36-828 [P&P] Transfer from U.S. Office of War Information, 1944. This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsac.1a35422.
MMR Vaccines and Autism: Bringing clarity to the CDC Whistleblower Story

Anyone following the Twitter #vaccinesNOVA hashtag on the evening of Wednesday September 10 would have seen their stream seemingly overwhelmed by the #CDCWhistleblower hashtag. Wednesday was when NOVA’s documentary Vaccines – Calling The Shots aired, and the #vaccinesNOVA hashtag was intended to ...

Population screening for BRCA: Is it the way forward for genetic medicine?
Population screening for BRCA: Is it the way forward for genetic medicine?

The past few days have seen a sharp increase in the number of scientists advocating population screening for mutations in the BRCA genes, which are linked to inherited susceptibility for breast and ovarian cancer. Eminent geneticist Mary Claire King, who ...


Creating Poster Presentations that Tell Stories
Creating Poster Presentations that Tell Stories

This Friday my class of second year Environmental Health Science Master of Public Health students are going to get my admittedly quirky annual lecture on crating poster presentations.  Quirky, because I’m a little obsessive about the importance of story telling in ...

Sixteenth century Aztec drawing of a measles victim
Why aren’t we more scared of measles?

Measles is one of the leading causes of death amongst children worldwide.  In 2012, an estimated 122,000 people died of the disease according to the World Health Organization – equivalent to 14 deaths every hour.  Yet talk to parents about this highly ...

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Public Health Needs Humility to Address Vaccine Fears

In January 2011, the New York Times published an op-ed piece by Michael Willrich titled “Why Parents Fear the Needle.” I won’t go through Professor Willrich’s narrative in detail, though I do think it’s worth a read to provide some ...

Nano silver to be used to treat Ebola patients
Using nano silver to treat Ebola – is it misguided?

On Thursday this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ebola victims in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos will receive Nano Silver in an attempt to treat the infection.  The news comes hot on the heels of the World Health Organization’s decision to sanction ...


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Why vaccinate against HPV?

Since 2009 Gardisal has been recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a safe and effective protection against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) for both girls and boys when vaccinated between the ages of 11 and ...

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University of Michigan, polio, and NOVA’s new documentary on vaccines

On April 12 1955, the world was informed that the Salk polio vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing paralytic polio.  At the time, it was hailed as one of the most anticipated announcements in medical history, and led ...

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Why don’t more kids get flu shots?

As a parent, I don’t look forward to long winters of runny noses and respiratory infections. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my kids are very skilled at picking up every cold and stomach bug going around. I ...

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Familiarity and the Shingles Vaccine

One of the greatest areas of success of public health has been the discovery and widespread adoption of vaccines to prevent infectious disease. Polio, smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria, ….  The list of diseases eradicated, mitigated, or extensively managed goes on and ...


Is fumed silica in food safe?
Fumed silica: Another nano material we need to worry about?

Pick up a jar of chili powder, and the chances are it will contain a small amount of fumed silica – an engineered nanomaterial that’s been around for over half a century.  The material – which is formed from microscopically ...

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Web 2.0 Means Public Health Can Join the Online Vaccination Discussions… or ...

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post here about the role of stories in vaccination decisions. It was the product of a small group research conference I attended in Erfurt, Germany that brought together a small but diverse group of ...

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Vaccine Risk Communication in the Context of Web 2.0: Respecting the Power ...

I just returned from an interesting small-group conference on discussions of vaccination risk in the era of Web 2.0. The conference was sponsored by the Center for Empirical Research in Economics and Behavioral Sciences (CEREB) at the University of Erfurt ...

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Distracted driving: Self control may be more effective than banning texting

Dr. Ray Bingham is a research professor in the Department of Psychiatry, the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and heads the Young Driver Behavior and Injury Prevention Group of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. He also leads ...


Utibe Effiong speaking at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival
While the world watches Ebola, Meningitis continues to kill in West Africa

“This year alone, there have been 17,000 cases of meningitis in Nigeria, with nearly 1,000 deaths”. It’s a statement that jumped out at me watching a video from this summer’s Aspen Ideas Festival by my former University of Michigan Public Health student ...

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Data visualization could help patients understand their test results online

Getting a test result from the doctor is usually more than a yes or a no answer. More often than not, test results come in tables of numbers with information about ranges and unfamiliar units, all formatted to be understood ...

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Advanced Materials – What’s the big deal?

Why are materials important? How do they limit what we can achieve? And what can we do to change this?  (Check out the videos below). Advanced Materials Materials and how we use them are inextricably linked to the development of human ...

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Meaningful information: poor literacy and numeracy barriers to interpreting health data

An increasing number of patients have direct access to their laboratory test results. This information is intended to encourage greater patient involvement in medical-decision making and self-management.  However, a recent study by Brian Zikmund-Fisher and colleagues suggests that easy access ...