For the more than 150 participants at the Muslim Jewish Conference 2016, Tisha Be’av 5776 came at the end of a long and intense week of dialogue, introspection, and in many ways tangible progress.
An Israeli academic claims the country faces problems if it keeps having too many children.
Washington — Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine is associating Donald Trump’s values with those of the Ku Klux Klan. Kaine made some of his most pointed comments to date about Trump at a voter registration rally at Florida A&M University, a historically black university in Tallahassee. Kaine said: “Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke […]
Long before he was trying to draw crowds along the campaign trail for the White House, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was trying to draw humor out of the law-school experience.
Hitting the books wasn’t so easy, the Republican vice-presidential nominee has acknowledged in interviews. After thoughts of pursuing the priesthood (he reportedly applied to D.C.’s Catholic University), Pence was determined to enter Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney’s School of Law. After scoring low on the admissions test on the first go-round, he eventually got in, graduating in 1986 with a “B” average.
“No one I know likes law school. It was a bad experience,” Pence told the Wall Street Journal in 1994. “I wouldn’t wish it on a dog I didn’t like.”
Fortunately, trying law-school experiences can sometimes lead to creative inspiration. “Pearls Before Swine” creator Stephan Pastis, for instance, grew up so bored in one class at UCLA law school that he began drawing in the margins. (That first-doodled character, for the court record, was the comic strip’s now-famed Rat character.)
Pence’s law-school challenges led him toward humor as outlet, too.
In the mid-’80s, Pence created the ongoing comic series “Law School Daze” for his law school’s paper, Dictum. The cartoons featured the beleaguered student Daze, and would sometimes mine legal terms for wordplay, such as his image of “Torts Illustrated.”
So just how good — or not — are Pence’s cartoons from that era? The Post’s Comic Riffs decided to ask another “lawyer/cartoonist.”
“Cartoons by Mike Pence are just about as funny as you’d imagine them to be,” Pastis, the bestselling author and NCS Reuben Award finalist, tells Comic Riffs.
“I’d tell him to stick to his day job,” Pastis continued.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Michael Cavna — Cartoons used by permission of IUPUI University Library Special Collections and Archives-Mike Pence
Vancouver, British Columbia — A photograph of a crying elderly Canadian couple in wheelchairs, separated into two different care homes after 62 years of marriage because no beds were available together, has received international attention. Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, of Surrey, British Columbia was put in an assisted home in January after he suffered dementia health […]
Call it a medical miracle or whatever you want. During clinical trials for experimental cancer drugs, some patients simply respond better than others. And a tiny fraction of patients see dramatic results, responding so well to treatment that they survive forms of cancers that quickly kill their counterparts. Stories about people like Emily Whitehead, the then-6-year-old who was enrolled in a clinical trial that saved her life, make headlines. But statistically speaking, they’re insignificant, mere outliers. Because they deviate so far from the norm, these “exceptional responders” are often overlooked by researchers.
Not so fast, says Eric Perakslis.
Perakslis, who heads up pharmaceutical giant Takeda’s oncology data science program and is a visiting faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, argues that their genes could hold clues that cancer researchers have been missing. He wonders whether the reasons behind these unusual responses could lead researchers to more effective cancer treatments. In a recent editorial in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the former FDA chief information officer and kidney cancer survivor joins a growing chorus of voices calling for more research on exceptional responders. If scientists sequence and study the genomes of these patients, Perakslis argues, they could uncover potential cures that may work for traditional patients, too.
“There’s a reason they do well, right?” Perakslis says. “We as humans may or may not be smart enough to find it, but there’s a reason.” A hunt for that reason could reveal new information about different cancers, he argues — as in one case in which a patient with metastatic bladder cancer saw dramatic results with an experimental drug that was abandoned after an unsuccessful trial. Analysis of the patient’s genome eventually identified a previously unknown biomarker found in some other bladder cancers.
Given that over 8 million people die of cancer each year worldwide, Perakslis says it’s time to establish a national exceptional responder network among clinical trial participants that offers free genome sequencing, registers all patients who do unexpectedly well during clinical trials, and makes their data available to qualified researchers. He finds inspiration in the national Undiagnosed Diseases Network, which pools clinical and research resources to solve medical mysteries. If the kind of broad-scale initiative open to patients with the rarest diseases were available to cancer patients, too, he argues, unlocking their secrets could become easier and cheaper — and reveal critical clues faster.
“These outliers are really important humans,” Perakslis says. “They can help us fill in the map.” He compares exceptional responders to the outside edge of a puzzle — the part most people must complete before the larger structure becomes clear.
Jean Claude Zenklusen, who directs the National Cancer Genome Atlas at the National Institutes of Health, agrees. He participates in the National Cancer Institute’s Exceptional Responders Initiative, a project aimed at understanding the molecular underpinnings of those whose cancers respond to all different kinds of treatment.
“Thanks to this program, we now know that breast cancer is not breast cancer. It’s really five different diseases,” he says. Because of the insights yielded by exceptional responders’ genes, Zenklusen says, researchers now realize that some cancers share molecular signatures despite the anatomical location of the tumors themselves.
Unlike Perakslis’ suggested network and registry model, the Exceptional Responders Initiative runs more like a clinical trial. Patients who have demonstrated an exceptional response to any modality — experimental or no — are welcome, but must fit strict criteria before molecular characterization takes place. So far, says Zenklusen, 57 of the 154 patients who have been accepted into the program have begun to have their genomes analyzed.
At first, says Zenklusen, he saw the program as “the definition of a fishing expedition. We were accepting all tissues, all comers, all therapies. Every single case is a world on its own. But we actually are finding a lot.” Out of the approximately 30 cases that have complete molecular characterizations, he says, at least 12 have yielded clear combinations of genes that make it obvious why patients have responded to certain treatments. “It’s the mother of all fishing expeditions,” he adds, “but we have found the whale.”
Zenklusen says that it’s premature to pursue a networked registry model like the one Perakslis suggests. “It’s a little too early, but we are not too far away,” he says. “Unfortunately, when we find something that is interesting, we tend to get very excited. Cancer is a horrible disease. But sometimes we communicate the information a little too enthusiastically.” He worries that leaping toward a national registry before it’s been firmly established that exceptional responders really have smoking guns tucked into their genome could mislead the public into thinking that personalized, precision cures for cancer are just around the corner.
“No one knows the winning formula here,” admits Perakslis. For him, the challenge is data density — which makes it even more urgent to collect as much data from exceptional responders as possible. Cures may still be far in the future, he says, but that’s no reason not to look hard at patients who respond dramatically to treatment now. “[There are] so many cancers, subtypes, unique patients, potential treatments,” he says. “It is like trying to paint the sky.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Erin Blakemore
New York — U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leads her Republican rival Donald Trump by 5 percentage points among likely voters, down from a peak this month of 12 points, according to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll released on Friday. The Aug. 22-25 opinion poll found that 41 percent of likely voters supported Clinton […]
The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it would require all U.S. blood centers to screen for Zika. The new policy is meant to protect the nation’s blood supply from the mosquito-borne virus, which also can be transmitted via sex and bodily fluids, including blood. The extra measures were only previously in place in Puerto Rico and two counties in Florida.
According to ABC News last month, blood centers in Fort Lauderdale and Miami were forced to temporarily reject new blood until they had enacted a system to screen the donations. The order came after reports of local Zika transmission in the Miami area—which has now been confirmed. The sites were already mandated to test for the West Nile virus, hepatitis, and other diseases. Read more at CNN.
Skokie, IL – Welcome To The Fourth Grade: Teacher’s Video Rap Targeting Students Gets Over A Half Million Viewers
Skokie, IL — A new teacher who made a music video to welcome his students has become a bit of a star with his fourth-graders. Dwayne Reed’s video was posted on YouTube this week and has already been viewed more than a half-million times and earned him an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The […]