Rutgers GeoHealth Workshop Offered Students Mapping Tools to Promote its Broad Application to the Health Field

David Tulloch instructs participants inthe GeoHealth Worksop held at CRSSA on the Cook Campus. Alejandrina Canelo Villafana, Ph.D. canidate from Columbia University, looks on..

David Tulloch instructs participants in the GeoHealth Workshop held at CRSSA on the Cook Campus. Alejandrina Canelo Villafana, Ph.D. candidate from Columbia University, looks on..

A unique GeoHealth Workshop at Rutgers over the summer engaged over a dozen students in exploring spatial technology and what it reveals about health in the urban landscape.

Held at the Rutgers Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) on the Cook Campus, the workshop was facilitated and conducted by David Tulloch, associate director for program development and GIS applications program leader at the center.

Participants were a mix of high school and college students, ranging from high school freshmen to a doctoral candidate, and included several undergraduates from Rutgers–New Brunswick and Rutgers–Newark, Kean University, Jersey City University and Union County College.

In addition to giving them a head start on understanding the options and hands-on skills related to geospatial and mapping technology, one broad objective of the workshop was to demonstrate to the students that the health field is more than the clinical, said Tulloch.

Over the course of the workshop, participants spent each morning learning some mapping skills, using some pre-loaded data from CRSSA’s extensive databank as well as using and creating new data. In the afternoons, a guest speaker was invited to speak to the students on real health issues in the field.

“The goal here was to try to help the students think about health in the absolute broadest terms,” said Tulloch. [Read more…]

Low Vitamin D, Memory Loss Tied

Older adults with low vitamin D levels – and that accounts for most of them – might lose their memories and thinking abilities faster than those with normal vitamin D levels, researchers say… "There is a recent and growing literature on the associations between vitamin D status and risk of Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, cognitive decline and brain atrophy," said Dr. Joshua W. Miller of Rutgers University… In the new study, the researchers looked at blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the form generated when the body converts vitamin D made in the skin in response to sunlight and consumed in foods such as eggs, oily fish and milk.

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Antibacterial Soap Has Poor Killing Power

Washing your hands with antibacterial soap containing triclosan – the most common microbe-killing ingredient used in these soaps – may be no better than ordinary plain soap, according to South Korean researchers. The work adds weight to previous studies which have reached similar conclusions and could help settle the controversy of triclosan use… But not everyone agrees. Don Schaffner at Rutgers University who has conducted meta-analyses and risk modelling studies of triclosan says ‘this work adds minimally to the debate over the use of triclosan in consumer soaps’. He argues his work points to a clear benefit of triclosan… Schaffner thinks the present results are limited because of the very fact the team used only one variable: soap with or without triclosan. ‘While this might seem to be a good idea from the science perspective, it turns out that soap formulation is a tricky business,’ he explains. ‘For antimicrobials to be optimally effective, the formulation might need to be adjusted. I remain convinced that properly formulated antimicrobial soaps have a benefit over bland, non-antimicrobial soaps.’

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The Bitter Truth

This article features the work of Paul Breslin, a member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center as well as a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University. He is a geneticist and biologist whose work focuses on taste perception… The prevailing evolutionary explanation for the ability to taste bitter is that it is a warning signal for toxins – a prompt to our foraging ancestors to spit out the offending leaf or fruit immediately. But, as it turns out, bitter-tasting compounds not only add a delicious complexity to some of our favorite foods and drinks – chocolate, coffee, and beer, to name just a few – but are often quite good for us… Bitter fruits and vegetables already make up less than five percent of the average American’s daily diet. Now, as our produce becomes sweeter, bitter-tasting foods have become almost an endangered species.

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Scientists Are Now Saying That A Little More Vitamin D Could Go A Long Way to Prevent Cognitive Decline

Scientists have been very interested in finding ways to ward off cognitive decline and the latest studies now indicate that it could be as simple as spending more time in the sun… The study comes out of the University of California at Davis as well as some efforts from Rutgers University. Researcher Joshua Miller, of Rutgers, notes, "This work, and that of others, suggests that there is enough evidence to recommend that people in their 60s and older discuss taking a daily vitamin D supplement with their physicians. Even if doing so proves to not be effective, there’s still very low health risk to doing it."… Miller comments that insufficient vitamin D has, in fact, been shown to be linked to significantly faster decline in both episodic memory and executive function. This is the difference between remembering isolated moments and organizational thought… Finally, the researchers conclude, "Independent of race or ethnicity, baseline cognitive ability, and a host of other risk factors, VitD insufficiency was associated with significantly faster declines in both episodic memory and executive function performance, which may correspond to elevated risk for incident AD [Alzheimer disease] dementia."

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