US – RSF alarmed by arrest of West Virginia journalist after asking Health Secretary a question

first_img June 7, 2021 Find out more Help by sharing this information Receive email alerts News News Organisation News WhatsApp blocks accounts of at least seven Gaza Strip journalists June 3, 2021 Find out more MANDEL NGAN / AFP Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed to learn of a journalist’s arrest last night in West Virginia after attempting to ask United States Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question. United StatesAmericas Condemning abuses Judicial harassment center_img to go further Facebook’s Oversight Board is just a stopgap, regulation urgently needed, RSF says Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, was walking behind Secretary Price at West Virginia’s state capitol last night, attempting to ask him a question about pre-existing conditions in the healthcare legislation recently adopted by the US House of Representatives. Special counsel to the president Kellyanne Conway was also with Secretary Price at the capitol.Shortly thereafter, Heyman was arrested and jailed for willful disruption of state government processes. He was later released on bail.”RSF is very concerned to learn of the arrest of a journalist who appears to have simply been doing his job asking a public official a question, says Margaux Ewen, Advocacy and Communications Director for RSF’s North America office. This is not the kind of incident that should be occurring in a country that respects the role of a free press, and certainly not in the country of the First Amendment.”This is not the first time that journalists have been arrested for doing their job in the US in recent months. In January, at least 5 journalists were arrested while covering inauguration day protests, with one of the five still facing criminal charges to this day. At least 10 journalists have been arrested for their coverage of the North Dakota Access Pipeline and the surrounding protests since last fall. In 2016, at least three journalists were arrested and charged with “obstruction of a highway” while covering #blacklivesmatter protests in Louisiana. The US ranks 43 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 2 places in 2016. Image credit: MANDEL NGAN / AFP April 28, 2021 Find out more News RSF_en United StatesAmericas Condemning abuses Judicial harassment Follow the news on United States NSO Group hasn’t kept its promises on human rights, RSF and other NGOs say May 10, 2017 – Updated on May 15, 2017 US – RSF alarmed by arrest of West Virginia journalist after asking Health Secretary a questionlast_img read more

Notre Dame professors discuss their research to tackle COVID-19, types of virus tests

first_imgIn light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of Notre Dame professors have been conducting research to help combat the coronavirus.Merlin Bruening, a professor of engineering, has been researching COVID-19 proteins and antibodies since May. Current antibody tests determine whether or not an individual has a COVID-19 antibody; however, they do not give information as to the number of antibodies an individual may have. Bruenig’s research aims to develop a test which will quantify antibody levels.“We’re trying to create filters that specifically capture antibodies to COVID-19 proteins and then develop methods to quantify those captured antibodies,” Bruening said. While this research project has been going on for years to quantify antibodies in cancer treatment, Bruening said he only started focusing this project to COVID-19 in May. He said the project is like “picking a needle out of a haystack.”“We were trying to detect therapeutic antibodies and then determine their concentration for patients being treated with a therapeutic antibody,” Bruening said. “We wanted to determine the concentration and blood to see if the dosage is right. And so when COVID-19 came around, we started in May to pivot [this project] and look at the COVID-19 antibodies.”By quantifying the number of antibodies an individual has, researchers can determine whether those levels decline over time, which would indicate fading immunity. Antibodies levels are also important in quantifying immune response which is important in developing vaccines, he said.For Bruening, the next step is commercializing the technologies his lab created. “Once we get something, we’re trying to get companies interested in commercializing it because to take it to the next practical level we really don’t have the ability to do that,” he said. “You have to collaborate with people that can make things in large quantities and sell them and or distribute them.” Bruening is also working with assistant professor of biomedical engineering Jacqueline Linnes at Purdue University, to move his research forward.“We make the filters, but [Linnes] is working on putting the filter in a small device so that you can inexpensively do things very rapidly,” Bruening said.  During the lockdown in May, Bruening’s lab remained open to continue research.“I think we’ve learned with appropriate precautions, the labs are some of the safest places around,” Bruening said. “We are waiting to see if we can make sure that undergraduate students can be incorporated safely. ”Hsueh-Chia Chang, professor of engineering, said COVID-19 tests, like the antigen and the PCR test, all have different limits of detection. Through his research, Chang is looking to improve the sensitivity of COVID-19 tests. His lab had previously developed technology for isolating cellular material that is the same size as the coronavirus.Ceming Wang, a postdoctoral fellow in Chang’s lab, joined the COVID-19 research team in March. “I proposed to Dr. Chang that we should probably try this technology for COVID-19,” Wang said. Chang said the technology is able to concentrate the virus in nasal swab samples more rapidly, extracting the virus at a higher yield. He said the test is more sensitive by a factor of 100.Students in his lab are currently testing the technology with lentivirus, a genus of viruses that include HIV. The ultimate goal, however, is to test on real COVID-19 samples in collaboration with the screening tests. “We hope to be able to improve the sensitivity of what Notre Dame is doing, and once this [testing] is validated in Notre Dame, we hope to do this nationally and even internationally,” Chang said. “We have now organized a team of five undergraduates, and they’ll be doing a lot of pool sample testing where they pull samples together and see if you can take up the virus in one of the samples.”In addition to improving the sensitivity, Chang’s team is working to make the detection process even faster. “The PCR test now is pretty slow, it takes sometimes a few days before you get the result. We want to make the test much faster, and people can get their results within half an hour without losing sensitivity,” Chang said.Chang’s team is also currently exploring the possibility of screening facial masks to determine whether students are carrying COVID-19 on their masks.“We will be testing masks, [that are] worn by students, and then we will try to detect viruses in the mask,” Chang said. Chang said he has been pleased to see that many Notre Dame professors are working together to do research to combat COVID-19. “Two of my colleagues figured out that the face shields don’t do much indoors, and we had to wear masks. So they were able to convince provost Miranda [that wearing face shields] is not sufficient,” Chang said.As a result of the pandemic, many scientists are seeing immediate effects of their research. “All of a sudden everything we do becomes relevant,” Chang said, “Before [research results were] always a long-range goal but now everything is immediate. We see what we can do and how we can contribute right away.”Tags: biomedical research, COVID-19, COVID-19 testing, University of Notre Damelast_img read more