All posts by Tony Leininger

I'm a freelance writer working primarily in the field of business-to-business (B2B) technology marketing and communications.

Computer Model May Lead to Improved Anti-HIV Drug Combination Therapies

In a step toward the possibility of replacing drug “cocktails” with a single pill a day, Johns Hopkins and Harvard researchers have developed what they are calling “the first accurate computer simulation to explain drug effects.” To create the simulation, AIDS experts combined data collected during thousands of tests of more than 20 anti-HIV drugs.

“With the help of our simulation, we can now tell with a fair degree of certainty what level of viral suppression is being achieved – how hard it is for the virus to grow and replicate – for a particular drug combination, at a specific dosage and drug concentration in the blood, even when a dose is missed.”

— Robert Siliciano, M.D., Ph.D, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator

The computer model has already helped to explain how and why some patients without evidence of drug resistance fail to see improvements using some treatment regimens. Researchers expect the study findings will help to rule out drug combinations that are unlikely to work and thereby make clinical trials and development of future combination therapies more efficient.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/jhm-ads083012.php

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/pharmacology_molecular_sciences/faculty/bios/siliciano.html

http://www.hhmi.org/research/investigators/siliciano_bio.html

http://www.nature.com/nm/index.html

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

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Low-cost Anemia Screener Connects to Health Workers’ Cell Phones

Concept: To display test results, the HemoGlobe anemia screening device is slipped onto a patient’s finger and connected with a health worker’s cell phone. [Credit: JHU]
It’s estimated that 600,000 newborns and 100,000 mothers in developing countries die of anemia each year. Biomedical engineering undergraduates at Johns Hopkins have developed a low-cost screening device that works with health workers’ cell phones to help combat this devastating disease.

“This device has the potential to be a game-changer. It will equip millions of health care workers across the globe to quickly and safely detect and report this debilitating condition in pregnant women and newborns. The team members realized that every community health worker already carries a powerful computer in their pocket — their cell phone. So we didn’t have to build a computer for our screening device, and we didn’t have to build a display.”

Soumyadipta Acharya, assistant research professor, Johns Hopkins’ Department of Biomedical Engineering

The noninvasive, “prick-free” device, which goes by the name HemoGlobe, is able to detect and report anemia at the community level. To measure blood hemoglobin levels, the HemoGlobe sensor shines various wavelengths of light through the skin on a patient’s fingertip. The color-coded test results are then displayed on a cell phone’s screen.

The results are also used to create a real-time map that shows the prevalence of anemia, which helps health workers follow-up and distribute additional resources.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/jhu-uic072412.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Tweets Provide New Insight into Bullying Behaviors and Roles

Researchers have historically had a difficult time studying bullies and their victims. Now, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are getting a much more in-depth view of bullying by studying interactions on Twitter.

“What we found, very importantly, was that quite often the victim and the bully and even bystanders talk about a real-world bullying incident on social media. The computers are seeing the aftermath, the discussion of a real-world bullying episode.”

 — Jerry Zhu, computer sciences professor, UW–Madison

The researchers have used machine learning to teach computers to comb through more than 250 million public Twitter posts a day. The work has identified more than 15,000 tweets per day related to bullying.

In addition to bullies, victims, accusers, and defenders – bullying roles identified by independent researchers in the early ‘90s – the researchers have identified a fifth role: that of “reporters.”

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/uow-lms080112.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Eye-writing Tech May Help People with Limiting Conditions Communicate Freely

Researchers at Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris have made a new discovery that may help people use eye movements to draw and write in cursive. The technology is described in a paper published recently in the online publication Current Biology.

“Contrary to the current belief, we show that one can gain complete, voluntary control over smooth pursuit eye movements. The discovery also provides a tool to use smooth pursuit eye movements as a pencil to draw, write, or generate a signature.”

Jean Lorenceau, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris

Detail: Examples of drawings generated by projecting one’s visual imagery. (Credit: Lorenceau et al., Current Biology)

According to the researchers, the eye-writing technology could make communication easier for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease or other conditions where arm and leg movement capabilities have been lost.

The technology may also help to improve eye movement for those with conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia, the researchers say. In addition, it could prove useful for helping surgeons or athletes to strengthen eye-based skills needed in such professions.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/cp-wic071912.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Researchers Collaborate on Virtual Human for Use in Medical Education

The faculties of Medicine and Science at the University of Calgary have collaborated to produce LINDSAY, an interactive teaching tool named for a medical student who died in an automobile accident.

Their hope is that the new software will change the way medical education is delivered.

Named after Dr. Lindsay Kimmett, the interactive software uses various touch interfaces and can be used with big screens in addition to small, hand-held devices.

Christian Jacob, a professor in the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary, helped design the software with researchers in the Faculty of Medicine. (Credit: Riley Brandt, University of Calgary)

“There’s a real gap between textbook anatomy and what students see in real life – the LINDSAY software connects the dots between the classroom and real life. Students have been really enthusiastic and it seems to improve their ability to make the connections we are asking. It pulls everything in and provides a much more engaging learning experience.”

— Heather Jamniczky, assistant professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary

A separate software application allows educators to make 3D slides.

The LYNDSAY software may soon be available as a downloadable app.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/uoc-ltf071612.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Musical Glove Helps People with Spinal Injuries

Musical Glove
The Mobile Music Touch “musical glove” has been used successfully by people with sensory limitations in their hands. (Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology)

Researchers at Georgia Tech, working together with Shepherd Center, have developed a wireless device that helps improve sensation and motor skills in people who have experienced a paralyzing spinal cord injury (SCI).

The Mobile Music Touch (MMT) glove was originally intended for use with a piano keyboard. When used in tandem with a computer, MP3 player, or smart phone, the glove vibrates the wearer’s fingers so they know what keys to play.

Equipment used for hand rehabilitation may seem monotonous and boring to some, and doesn’t provide any feedback or incentive. Mobile Music Touch overcomes each of those challenges and provides surprising benefits for people with weakness and sensory loss due to SCI. It’s a great example of how wearable computing can change people’s lives.”

— Thad Starner, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Some users who had experienced spinal cord injuries found the sensation in their fingers improved while they were using the device. Additional research is looking into the users’ experiences with the glove. Ph.D. graduate Tanya Markow, the project’s leader, hopes to expand the study and include functional MRI results.

How is technology changing your life for the better? Seriously — I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/giot-mgi071712.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.

Global Biodiversity Forecasting and Response System to Embrace Information, Networking Technologies

At the Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference (GBIC) held in Copenhagen, Denmark earlier this month, experts from around the globe agreed on key priorities for using information technologies and social networks to help understand life on Earth.

The focus of the work is on “how biodiversity can continue to sustain human lives and livelihoods.”

Information networks support and permeate nearly every aspect of our daily lives in areas such as banking, commerce and entertainment. We still do not have this kind of rich, globally-interconnected system for understanding and monitoring life on Earth. We know a lot about species, genetics, and ecology, but we can’t easily put this information together into a working knowledge system. This conference has given us a roadmap toward this goal.”

“Over the last quarter century, thousands of talented people have been working hard to bring essential biodiversity data onto the web. Much has already been achieved or is under development. GBIC has reinforced how important these activities are, and at the same time has outlined a path for us to build from where we are and deliver a rich globally-connected system for understanding and monitoring multiple aspects of biodiversity.”

— Donald Hobern, Executive Director, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

The overarching goal is to support collaborative biodiversity observation on a global level so that short-term changes and longer-term trends can be identified and appropriate responses can be enabled.

Next steps include developing an “outlook document” that will prioritize biodiversity informatics in order to create forecasting and response capabilities like those used in forecasting the weather and detecting earthquakes.

How is technology changing your life for the better?

Learn more at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/gbif-bgc070612.php

© Tony Leininger and IT for Good 2012. See sidebar for full copyright notice.