Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Study links soft drinks and fruit drinks with risk for diabetes in African-American women

Dr. Julie R. Palmer, Sc.D.

Dr. Julie R. Palmer, Sc.D. - Dr. Julie Palmer's research has been in the areas of cancer epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, and cardiovascular epidemiology, and has focused on women's health. Early in her career, she designed and carried out the largest study yet of persistent gestational trophoblastic disease, demonstrating a strong association between long duration use of oral contraceptives and risk of this rare disease.

She also published on oral contraceptive use and liver cancer with data from the Slone Case-Control Surveillance study, confirming a suspected association of long duration use with risk of primary liver cancer.

Dr. Palmer was instrumental in designing and implementing the Black Women's Health Study. She has served as co-investigator of the study since its inception in 1995. The Black Women's Health Study, conducted in collaboration with investigators at Howard University, follows 59,000 black women from across the U.S. to assess risk factors for outcomes that include breast cancer, other cancers, hypertension, diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, uterine fibroids, and preterm birth.

Since 2003, Dr. Palmer has been PI of a grant to collect cheek cell samples from Black Women's Health Study participants for use in future analyses of low-penetrance genes in relation to cancer and other diseases.
Boston, MA—Researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center have found that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit drinks is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in African-American women. These findings appear in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Type 2 diabetes, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, has increased in incidence in recent years, while the age of diagnosis has dropped. Type 2 diabetes is a particular problem among U.S. black women, as their incidence rate is twice that of U.S. white women.

In questionnaires mailed to participants of the Black Women's Health Study (an ongoing prospective study of 59,000 African-American women from all parts of the U.S.) the researchers obtained information on height, weight, demographic characteristics, medical history, usual diet and other factors. Follow-up questionnaires that requested updated information on lifestyle factors, occurrences of diabetes and other serious illnesses were mailed to participants every two years.

The researchers found 2,713 participants developed diabetes during the first ten years of follow-up in the study. The incidence of type 2 diabetes rose with increasing intake of both sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit drinks. Women who consumed two or more soft drinks a day had a 24 percent increase in incidence of relative to women who drank less than one soft drink per month. A similar association was observed for sweetened fruit drinks, with a 31 percent increase observed for two or more servings per day relative to less than one per month.

The researchers note that while there has been increasing public awareness of the adverse health effects of soft drinks, little attention has been given to fruit drinks, which often are marketed as a healthier alternative to soft drinks.
"Fruit drinks were consumed more frequently than soft drinks in our study, and the proportion of total energy intake from fruit drinks in the U.S. population doubled from 1977 to 2001," said lead author Julie Palmer, ScD, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health. "The public should be made aware that these drinks are not a healthy alternative to soft drinks with regard to risk of type 2 diabetes," she added. ###

This study was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Contact: Gina DiGravio gina.digravio@bmc.org 617-638-8491 Boston University

Monday, July 28, 2008

Army commemorates 60th anniversary of Armed Forces Integration

Army commemorates 60th anniversary of Armed Forces Integration

Fighting with the 2nd Infantry Division north of the Chongchon River, Sgt. 1st Class Major Cleveland, weapons squad leader, points out a North Korean position to his integrated machine-gun crew Nov. 20, 1950. Photo by James Cox
Army commemorates 60th anniversary of Armed Forces Integration BY Col. Jonathan Dahms

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. It was accompanied by Executive Order 9980, which created a Fair Employment Board to eliminate racial discrimination in federal employment.
Segregation in the military services did not officially end until the Secretary of Defense announced on Sept. 30, 1954 that the last all-black unit had been abolished. However, the president's directive put the armed forces at the forefront of the growing movement to win an equal social role and equal treatment for the nation's African-American citizens.
video

Veterans of Integration - On the 60th anniversary of integration of Armed Forces, veterans who served during that period take a look back.
The Army began integrating units during the Korean War. Eighth Army commanders in Korea began filling losses in their white units with individuals from a surplus of black replacements arriving in Japan in late 1950. By early 1951, 9.4 percent of all African-Americans arriving in theater were serving in some 41 newly and unofficially integrated units, according to retired Army historian Morris J. MacGregor Jr. in his book, Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965.
Another 9.3 percent of black Soldiers in Korea were in integrated, but predominantly black units, according to MacGregor, who said the other 81 percent continued to serve in segregated units.

This limited conversion to integrated units during the Korean War became permanent because "it worked.... The performance of integrated troops was praiseworthy with no reports of racial friction," said MacGregor, who served for years with the U.S. Army Center of Military Hisotory.

In December of 1952, Army Chief of Staff Gen. J. Lawton Collins ordered worldwide integration of Army units. All of the earlier fears cited to support the continuation of a segregated Army proved to be groundless, according to MacGregor. There was no increase in racial incidents, no breakdown of discipline, no uprising against integration by white Soldiers or surrounding white communities, no backlash from segregationists in Congress, or major public denouncements.
The Army and the nation were taking the first steps toward racial equality and harmony that would be at the core of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s.

"Sixty years ago, President Truman set a non-negotiable standard for our nation's military, '...there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons,'" said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren. "On the 60th anniversary of that courageous act, we celebrate our Army's commitment to fulfilling President Truman's order and Dr. King's dream, an Army where men and women are judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin - Where the only colors that matter are red, white and blue."

The integration of the armed forces did more than just provide opportunity for African-American Soldiers, it opened the door of opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds.

"I think that we're leaders in many areas, but certainly we're leaders in equal opportunity," said retired Lt. Gen. Julius Becton in a PBS interview. Becton was a Soldier who lived through the integration from World War II through the Korean and Vietnam War, and the Army's first African-American three-star general to command VII Corps in Europe. "We're leaders in giving all minorities an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do. A point that we oftentimes are prone to forget, the order of 9981 did not just help the blacks."

Executive Order 9981 not only opened the door of opportunity for people from all walks if life, it showed the strength that there is in diversity, Becton said.

"That order of 9981 helped the entire Army, because it enhanced combat effectiveness," Becton said. "We don't have separate this, separate that, but when you are training together, you're going to be a better Army. We've proven that time and time again."

As part of a continuing observance of Executive Order 9981, the U.S. Army will be highlighting the historic importance of its 60th Anniversary through the eyes of Soldiers serving today in a diverse force, Army leaders said.

"We are not the greatest Army in the world because we are white or black, but because we reflect the faces of our society," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston. "You learn early on that people can either be successful or not based on their abilities, willingness to make personal sacrifices and their commitment to the team."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kidneys donated after cardiac death could reduce disparities for black kidney transplant recipients

American Society NephrologyResearchers advocate for increased use of these organs.
Kidneys donated after individuals die from cardiovascular causes may be one of the best options for black patients in need of transplants, according to a study appearing in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). The research reveals that utilization of these organs should be expanded in order to reduce racial disparities that exist in renal transplantation.

Numerous studies have shown that persistent disparities exist in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney transplantation. Black patients with ESRD comprise more than a third of the kidney transplant waiting list but are 2.7 times less likely to receive a kidney transplant than their white counterparts. In addition, black patients are more likely to experience kidney failure after transplantation compared with whites.

There is a clear shortage of donor kidneys in the United States, and there are currently more than 70,000 Americans waiting for kidney transplants. Kidneys donated after brain death are currently used for transplantation, but rarely are organs donated after cardiac death. Researchers say that increased recovery and utilization of kidneys donated after cardiac death could help boost the supply of organs available for transplantation. However, it is unclear whether the racial disparities seen in donations made after brain death would also be seen when donations were made after cardiac death.

To examine the issue, Daniel Warren PhD, and Jayme Locke MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and their colleagues looked at the outcomes of more than 100,000 adults who received a deceased donor kidney transplant between 1993 and 2006.

Among black patients, those who received kidneys from black cardiac death donors had better long-term kidney and patient survival than those who received kidneys from non-black donors. In addition, compared with standard-criteria kidneys from white donors after brain death, kidneys from black donors after cardiac death conferred a 70% reduction in the risk of kidney loss and a 59% reduction in risk for death among black recipients.

The investigators found that racial disparities were less profound when kidneys were donated after cardiac death compared with kidney donations made after brain death. "These findings suggest that kidneys obtained from black donors after cardiac death may afford the best long-term survival for black recipients," the authors conclude.

The authors note that the findings also indicate that increased utilization of kidneys donated after cardiac death has the potential not only to reduce the organ shortage but also to mitigate the existing disparities for black kidney transplant recipients. They add that the racial disparities in organ and patient survival after kidney transplantation need further investigation. ###

The article entitled, "Donor Ethnicity Influences Outcomes Following Deceased-Donor Kidney Transplantation in Black Recipients" will be available online at http://jasn.asnjournals.org/ beginning on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 and in print in the October issue of JASN.

ASN is a not-for-profit organization of 11,000 physicians and scientists dedicated to the study of nephrology and committed to providing a forum for the promulgation of information regarding the latest research and clinical findings on kidney diseases. ASN publishes JASN, the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), and the Nephrology Self-Assessment Program (NephSAP). In January 2009, the Society will launch ASN Kidney News, a newsmagazine for nephrologists, scientists, allied health professionals, and staff.

Contact: Shari Leventhal sleventhal@asn-online.org 202-416-0658 American Society of Nephrology

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TWO TEXAS HISTORIC AFRICAN AMERICAN SITES RECEIVE RESTORATION GRANTS

Julius Rosenwald

Julius Rosenwald
WASHINGTON, DC - Lowe's and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that they are awarding nearly $100,000 in grants to fund restoration projects at two historic Rosenwald Schools in Texas. W.D. Spigner Elementary School in Calvert, and Pleasant Hill School in Linden will each be the beneficiaries of $50,000 grants.
The Texas projects are among 17 Rosenwald School grant recipients in the Southern United States.
Funding for these grants was provided by Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation through a $1 million contribution to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This is the third year that Lowe's has supported the National Trust for Historic Preservation with a $1 million grant. The Rosenwald Schools represent an important chapter in the history of the United States.Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington
Originally built by Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington between 1918 and 1932 as part of a school-building program for African Americans in the rural South, today only about 10 percent of the over 5,300 buildings constructed remain standing, and many are in serious disrepair. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald schools to its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2002.

"The Rosenwald schools tell a story of extraordinary generosity," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "In a time of great racial inequality, Julius Rosenwald worked with communities across the South and Southwest to improve educational opportunities for African Americans. These schools represent a critical link to our national heritage, and we are very pleased that Lowe's understands the importance of preserving the important places that tell America's story."

"Rosenwald schools encouraged a sense of community and paved the way for previously unimaginable educational opportunities," said Larry D. Stone, chairman of the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation. "Time and neglect have put these schools in danger, and we need to act now to save these structures that are as significant to the local community's civic life as they are to our nation's history."

W.D. Spigner Elementary School (Calvert, TX)

W.D. Spigner Elementary School was built in 1929 and is one of the few, original Rosenwald School buildings still being used today for public education, as well as for community events. With the assistance of the grant funds, the school will undergo much needed structural, safety repairs and upgrades to insure its continued use for the original purpose: to educate African American youth in need of assistance.

Pleasant Hill School (Linden, TX)

Built in 1925, the Pleasant Hill School restoration project is part of Linden's greater endeavor to restore the local courthouse-the oldest one in Texas. The grants will go towards updating the well preserved building to ADA compliant standards, improved climate control and safer plumbing and electrical systems. Once complete, the building will be used for community events, private rentals, as a meeting place local organizations, and concerts and plays. Because of its future use in the arts, the project is also supported by the local County Performing Arts Council, and native son Don Henley.

Other Rosenwald School grant recipients include

Old Merritt School (Midway, AL)

Acworth Rosenwald School (Acworth, GA)

Hickory Colored School (Mayfield, KY)

May's Lick Negro School (May's Lick, KY)

San Domingo Community and Cultural Center (Mardela Springs, MD)

The Lil' Red Schoolhouse (Drew, MS)

Randolph School (Pass Christian, MS)

The Ware Creek Rosenwald School (Blounts Creek, NC)

R.A. Clement (Cleveland, NC)

Hamilton Rosenwald School (Hamilton, NC)

Warren County Training School (Wise, NC)

Cairo Rosenwald School (Gallatin, TN)

Lincoln School (Pikeville, TN)

Great Branch Teacherage (Orangeburg, SC)

Scrabble School (Scrabble, VA)

For more information on Rosenwald schools, please visit www.rosenwaldschools.com/.

Contact: Virgil McDill, National Trust for Historic Preservation 202.588.6218 virgil_mcdill@nthp.org

Maureen Rich, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. 704.758.2298 Maureen.A.Rich@lowes.com

ABOUT THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION - The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. By saving the places where great moments from history - and the important moments of everyday life - took place, the National Trust for Historic Preservation helps revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development and promote environmental sustainability.

With headquarters in Washington, DC, nine regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in all 50 states, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America's stories. For more information visit www.preservationnation.org/.

ABOUT LOWE'S - Lowe's is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, United Way of America, and the Home Safety Council, in addition to numerous non-profit organizations and programs that help communities across the country. In 2007, Lowe's and the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation together contributed more than $25 million to support community and education projects in the United States and Canada.

Lowe's also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe's Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe's is a FORTUNE® 50 company with fiscal year 2006 sales of $46.9 billion and has more than 1,525 stores in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit Lowes.com/community. ###

Sunday, July 20, 2008

$50,000 George Washington Book Prize Awarded to Marcus Rediker for The Slave Ship

Mount Vernon Regent Boyce Ansley and President Tipson present Marcus Rediker with the George Washington Book Prize medal.

Mount Vernon Regent Boyce Ansley and President Tipson present Marcus Rediker with the George Washington Book Prize medal. A Conversation with Marcus Rediker, winner of the 2008 George Washington Book Prize
Mount Vernon, VA — The fourth annual $50,000 George Washington Book Prize, honoring the most important new book about America's founding era, was awarded at Mount Vernon to Marcus Rediker for The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking, 2007). In this bicentennial year of the abolition of the slave trade, Rediker—a prize-winning author who chairs the history department at the University of Pittsburgh—
was honored for his definitive and painfully evocative account of the floating prisons that carried an estimated 12.4 million Africans across the "Middle Passage" of the Atlantic to help build the new America.

A social historian, Rediker's subject is not only the ships—vessels of such terror they had to be outfitted with special netting to prevent the desperate Africans from throwing themselves overboard—but the kidnapped Africans and their many individual histories and attempts at resistance; the common sailors who were their prison guards, tormentors and sometime fellow victims; and the necessarily brutal ships' captains who were the agents of a new global capitalism made possible by the trade in human life.

"One of the things I wanted to do in this book was to make our understanding of the slave trade concrete—hence, my subtitle, 'a human history'—because I think our capacity to live with injustice depends to some extent on making it abstract," said Rediker, whose fierce opposition to the death penalty was the inspiration for The Slave Ship and its exploration of what he describes as the historic connection between race and terror. "The George Washington Book Prize is a tremendous honor, and a surprise. I grew up in the South, went to high school in Virginia, so George Washington and the Virginia aristocracy always loomed large in my mind. It's where I first came to understand issues of race and class and I've been working on them ever since."
Presented to Rediker at a black-tie dinner attended by some 200 luminaries from the worlds of book publishing, politics, journalism and academia, the George Washington Book Prize includes a medal and $50,000—making it one of the largest history awards in the country.
Complete with fireworks and candlelit tours of Washington's Mansion, the Mount Vernon event also celebrated the works of the two other finalists: Woody Holton for Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (Hill and Wang) and Jon Latimer for 1812: War with America (Belknap/Harvard). The books were selected by a three-person jury of distinguished American historians, including Robert L. Middlekauff of the University of California at Berkeley, chair; Elizabeth A. Fenn of Duke University; and Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, director of Monticello's International Center for Jefferson Studies and professor of history at the University of Virginia.

In their report on the winning entry, the jurors wrote that "Rediker shares one quality with the demographers who study the slave trade, he respects evidence and uses it in the telling of slave history. But it is not the numbers of people that interest him (though he reports the horrifying figures demographers give on the extent of the trade), it is the experience of these people. His is a 'human history,' his book's subtitle that may seem redundant, but isn't. Virtually every aspect of the story of where the slaves were from, how they were captured and imprisoned, transported to slave ships, and their treatment on board is covered... Along the way the reader learns much, not only about the slaves but also about the men who owned the ships and ran them... Rediker describes his book as 'painful'; it was surely painful to write. Despite the emotional cost to its author, it is beautifully written. Indeed the book is, in its use of evidence and its determination to expose the bleakness of the slave experience, evocative and moving, and deeply instructive in unsuspected ways."

Rediker's book was named the winner by a panel of two representatives from each of the three institutions that created and sponsor the prize—Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland; the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City; and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association—plus historian Patricia Bonomi of New York University.

"For more than 200 years, Americans have been engaged in an ongoing—and sometimes contentious—conversation about the meaning and significance of our founding era," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold director of Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. "The George Washington Book Prize honors books that contribute fresh insights to that national conversation, and that approach history as a literary art. Rediker's book succeeds marvelously on both counts: it is a majestic, even poetic book, profoundly moral but never moralistic, and suffused with a sense of deep human sympathy."

"Marcus Rediker's The Slave Ship is a brilliant, exhaustive and deeply humane work of scholarship, which, although it is a history that encompasses every country in the Atlantic World, nonetheless shaped the Founding Era in profound ways," said James G. Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. "The legacy of this history remains one of our challenges in America today."

Created in 2005, the George Washington Book Prize was awarded in its inaugural year to Ron Chernow for Alexander Hamilton and in 2006 to Stacy Schiff for A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. This is the second time it has been awarded for a book on the slave trade—last year it went to Charles Rappleye for Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution.

About the Sponsors of the George Washington Book Prize

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs.

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. The Institute serves teachers, students, scholars, and the general public. It helps create history-centered schools, organizes seminars and programs for educators, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, sponsors lectures by eminent historians, and administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state through its partnership with Preserve America. The Institute also awards the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and George Washington Book Prizes, and offers fellowships for scholars to work in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. The Institute maintains two websites, www.gilderlehrman.org and the quarterly online journal www.historynow.org.

With its new Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has created the equivalent of a presidential library for George Washington. "We want to be the first place people think of when they have a question about George Washington," noted James Rees, Mount Vernon's Executive Director. "The George Washington Book Prize is an important component in our aggressive outreach program to historians, teachers, and students."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gene variant found in those with African ancestry increases odds of HIV infection

Sunil K. Ahuja, MD, assistant professor in the departments of medicine and microbiology

HIV/AIDS researchers - (L-R) Seema S. Ahuja, MD, assistant professor in the department of medicine; Sunil K. Ahuja, MD, assistant professor in the departments of medicine and microbiology; and Enrique Gonzalez, MD, and Srinivas Mummidi, DVM, PhD, both postdoctoral fellows in the department of medicine.
A variant of a gene found only in people of African ancestry increases the odds of becoming infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) by 40 percent, according to a long-term study of African Americans reported in the [date] issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe, a publication of Cell Press. However, once people are infected, the same variant seems to protect against progression of the disease, allowing those who carry it to live about two years longer.
" It's well-known that individuals vary in their susceptibility to HIV and that after infection occurs, the disease progresses at variable rates," said Sunil Ahuja of South Texas Veterans Health Care System and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "The mystery of variable infection and progression was originally thought to be mainly the result of viral characteristics, but in recent years it has become evident that there is a strong host genetic component."

The new discovery is one of few genetic risk factors for HIV found only in people of African descent, the researchers added. If the new findings can be extrapolated to Africa, where about 90 percent of all people carry the variant, it may be responsible for 11 percent of the HIV burden there, they estimate.

The gene in question encodes a protein found mainly at the surface of red blood cells, which is called Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC). The DARC variant found commonly in people of African ancestry leaves them without this particular red blood cell receptor. That so-called "DARC-negative" condition has been well studied because it also confers protection against infection by a malaria parasite known as Plasmodium vivax. (P. vivax is unfortunately not the parasite responsible for millions of malaria deaths each year in Africa today. The researchers speculate that this DARC gene variant may have risen to such high frequency as protection against some other, more lethal strain of malaria that existed at some time in the past.)

" The big message of this paper is that something that protected people against malaria in the past is now leaving them more susceptible to HIV," said Robin Weiss of University College London. "After thousands of years of adaptation, this Duffy variant rose to high frequency because it helped protect against malaria," added Matthew Dolan of the Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center and San Antonio Military Medical Center. "Now, with another global pandemic on the scene, this same variant renders people more susceptible to HIV. It shows the complex interplay between historically important diseases and susceptibility in contemporary times."

Earlier studies had suggested that HIV can bind to red blood cells via DARC. In accord with its name, DARC also binds a wide array of inflammatory molecules known as chemokines, including one called CCL5, which is highly effective in suppressing replication of HIV-1.

Those hints led the researchers to wonder just what the impact of DARC on HIV-AIDS might be. In cell culture, they found further evidence that HIV binds to DARC on red cells. "We started looking at red cells together with HIV and, sure enough, the virus attached," Weiss said. "The DARC molecule on red cells in cell culture then transferred the virus to lymphocytes to get infected." CD4+ T lymphocytes are white blood cells that are a primary target of HIV infection.

When chemokines that also bind DARC were added to the mix, less HIV-1 bound to the red cells, confirming that the virus and chemokines were in competition for the DARC receptor. "Duffy acts somewhat like a sponge," Ahuja said. "It binds all these chemokine molecules and that binding also extends to HIV, setting up a triumvirate of interactions between DARC, chemokines and virus."

The researchers next looked to a large cohort of people in the U.S. Air Force, including more than 1,200 who are HIV positive, who have been followed for nearly 22 years. This group is ideal for evaluating the role of such a gene because this cohort is ethnically balanced and without many of the factors, including differences in economic status and access to health care, that would generally confound any genetic effect, Dolan explained.

Those studies showed that the prevalence of the "DARC-negative" variant in African Americans was greater amongst those with HIV than in those without. Although the DARC-negative genotype was associated with an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection, within the context of established infection a contrary result was observed: people with that variant had a slower disease course, they report.

" The parts of a car that get it into gear are separate from those that get it moving once in gear," Ahuja said. "A similar analogy applies to HIV; the factors that influence its transmission are not necessarily the same as those that influence disease progression."

Although it isn't yet entirely clear how exactly DARC mediates opposing effects during HIV acquisition and disease, the researchers suspect those with the DARC receptor are initially protected because they also have more HIV suppressive chemokines in their system. Once infected, however, the balance turns in favor of those without DARC as increased chemokine levels may promote inflammation in those with DARC. Also, once the virus reaches higher levels, it is more likely to displace chemokines bound to DARC on red cells, further exacerbating inflammation. And during established infection, HIV bound to DARC on red cells is poised for delivery to CD4+ T cells, the researchers said.

The findings help answer an earlier conundrum: the researchers had previously shown that people with a particular variant of the chemokine CCL5 have a faster rate of HIV progression. But, that pattern only held in European Americans, not in African Americans. They now show that the disease-accelerating effect of the CCL5 variant is evident only in DARC-expressing and not in DARC-negative HIV-positive individuals. In other words, the unmeasured effects of DARC amongst African Americans in the earlier study "masked" the influence of CCL5, exemplifying the importance of accounting for such complex gene-gene interactions in genetic studies.

" The results underscore that genetic variants that influence transmission and disease progression can differ in their frequency among different populations, with possible impacts on the heterogeneity of HIV disease burden--not just at the level of individuals but also populations," they concluded. They may also have implications for evaluating the efficacy of HIV vaccines.

###

The researchers include Weijing He, Veterans Administration Research Center for AIDS and HIV-1 Infection, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX , Stuart Neil, University College London, London, UK, Hemant Kulkarni, Veterans Administration Research Center for AIDS and HIV-1 Infection, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX , Edward Wright, University College London, London, UK, Brian K. Agan, Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, TX , San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX; Vincent C. Marconi, Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD , Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, TX , San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX; Matthew J. Dolan, Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, TX, San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX; Robin A. Weiss, University College London, London, UK; and Sunil K. Ahuja, Veterans Administration Research Center for AIDS and HIV-1 Infection, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX , University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX.

Contact: Cathleen Genova cgenova@cell.com 617-397-2802 Cell Press

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Race, not space, key to lower black male employment rate

David Neumark

David Neumark Professor of Economics. Other affiliations: Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California; Research Associate, NBER; Research Fellow, IZA.

Office. Social Science Plaza Building B, Room 3259 Mailing address. Department of Economics 3151 Social Science Plaza University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA 92697-5100 USA. Telephone. (949) 824-8496 Fax. (949) 824-2182 Email. dneumark@uci.edu
Economists shed light on low-skilled workers’ black-white employment gap

A study finds that in areas where low-skilled jobs are predominantly held by whites, black men who live nearby are less likely to get hired. “The problem is not lack of jobs at appropriate skill levels where blacks live, but lack of jobs available to blacks,” said UC Irvine economist David Neumark, co-author of the study.

For years, it’s been widely accepted that space is a primary barrier to employment – meaning there are not enough low-skilled jobs where less-skilled black workers live.
But by analyzing the employment, education level and location of more than 533,000 black males across the United States, Neumark and his colleagues found that the issue is not simply whether jobs are available nearby, but whether they are available to one’s own race.

“It’s an exaggeration to say blacks don’t live where the jobs are,” said Neumark. “In reality, there are many jobs held by non-blacks in areas where blacks live – including at lower education levels.”

And the greater the proportion of those jobs that are held by whites, the lower the chance the local blacks will get hired into those jobs.

“The jobs simply are not available to their race,” Neumark added.

The study does not answer the question of why this happens, but the researchers suggest discrimination or lack of labor market networks are likely causes.

Jobs for low-skilled workers are often advertised informally through word of mouth in social networks, such as among friends or church members, Neumark explained. In many communities, this means that blacks may not have good information about job openings in businesses employing mainly whites.

Neumark and his colleagues call this effect “racial mismatch,” a new spin on the term “spatial mismatch,” which has been used to describe the lack of the right jobs in the right place.

Recently, programs like “Wheels to Work” and “Moving to Opportunity” have emphasized getting the workforce to the appropriate jobs by providing transportation or relocation. But when Neumark and his colleagues ran a simulation based on their data, they found that eliminating location differences between blacks and whites would only close the racial employment gap for low-skilled individuals by 10 to 15 percent.

“That’s not a significant improvement in employment,” Neumark said. “Policies focused on getting people to the jobs miss the bigger barriers facing low-skilled blacks.”

The study, co-authored by Judith Hellerstein and Melissa McInerney of the University of Maryland, is available this month as part of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s working paper series. Their research was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Russell Sage Foundation.
About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,800 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

Contact: Christine Byrd 949-824-9055 cbyrd@uci.edu

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Researcher finds mitochondrial DNA reveals few clues about African ancestry

Dr. Bert Ely

Dr. Bert Ely - Professor of Biological Sciences. Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina. Ph.D., 1973, Johns Hopkins University. ely@sc.edu or 803-777-2768

The African-American DNA Roots Project has been developed in collaboration with Dr. Bruce A. Jackson at the University of Massachusetts to use specific DNA analysis techniques to attempt to identify unique signature sequences among African-Americans that might link them to particular West African ethnic groups. This study will determine the genetic patterns present in two types of DNA, known as the Y chromosome DNA ("Y DNA") and mitochondrial DNA ("mtDNA").

These unique genetic elements are passed directly through the paternal and maternal lines, respectively. Each person’s Y DNA or mtDNA comes directly and solely from his or her father or mother, who got it from their father or mother, who got it from their father or mother, and so on into the past.

This property makes Y DNA and mtDNA very useful for learning about the past history of human populations, because it traces a direct line of paternal and/or maternal descent. Additionally, different paternal and maternal lineages have different genetic signatures in their Y DNAs and mtDNAs, so that all paternal or maternal relatives from a lineage can usually be distinguished from those of other lineages.

As the Y chromosome and mtDNAs are characterized, they will be compared to reference lineages to identify matches. It is relatively easy to identify the continent of origin for many mtDNA and Y chromosome sequences. However, most Africans have mtDNA lineages that are shared among many ethnic groups due to migrations and ethnic mixing. Therefore, mtDNAs are not very useful for tracing maternal ancestry to small geographic regions (see below). Similar studies are underway with African Y chromosome analyses.
Mitochondrial DNA may not hold the key to unlocking the ancestry of African Americans, according to a study by a University of South Carolina researcher published in this week's issue of the journal BMC Biology.

The report by Dr. Bert Ely, a biology professor in the university's College of Arts and Sciences, and colleagues at the universities of Massachusetts and Maryland reveals that fewer than 10 percent of African-American mitochondrial DNA sequences that were analyzed can be matched to mitochondrial DNA from one single African ethnic group.

Mitochondrial DNA is the portion of the body's genetic code that is inherited from the mother. In recent years, mitochondrial DNA has become a popular way for tracing maternal ancestry and often is used by companies hired by African Americans to help them trace their ancestry in Africa.

"Many people have had their mitochondrial DNA tested with the hope of finding a match in a particular ethnic group in Africa," said Ely, who has been working on this project for about four years.

"For African Americans, such a test could provide a clue about the ethnic group or country in Africa where one of their maternal ancestors originated," he said.

However, the researchers found that only one in 10 African Americans may be able to find clues about their ancestral origins if mitochondrial DNA is tested.

At first glance, it seems that this DNA test would be a good place to start, Ely said. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to daughter with few, if any, changes occurring over many generations. But the task is particularly difficult in Africa because there is more genetic diversity among Africans than among people from any other continent and because humanity has been in Africa longer than anywhere else, Ely said.

Another complication is that DNA is spread geographically as people migrate. Thus, identical mitochondrial DNA can be found in people throughout sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

For the study, Ely and his colleagues relied on a database of more than 3,700 mitochondrial DNA sequences obtained from people in sub-Saharan Africa. They also used two African-American samples, including people who identify themselves as "Gullah/Geechee" and live along the islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia.

The researchers, who were acknowledged for their work on the highly acclaimed PBS series, "African American Lives," found that more than half of the African-American DNA sequences were found in many different sub-Saharan ethnic groups.
Forty percent of the African-American sequences did not match any sequences in the database, and fewer than 10 percent were an exact match to a sequence from a single African ethnic group.

"We need to establish larger databases of DNA as we continue this project," Ely said. "However, we do know that, for most African Americans, it is impossible to use only mitochondrial DNA to determine a single ethnic group as the source of the maternal ancestor."

The study was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation.

To read the study, go to www.biomedcentral.com/bmcbiol/.

Columbia, SC 29208 • 803-777-5400 • uscnews@sc.edu Contact: Juliette Savin press@biomedcentral.com 44-020-763-19931 BioMed Central

Monday, July 14, 2008

American tax system has structural biases that favor whites over blacks

Beverly I. Moran

Professor of Law .Professor of Sociology, Voice: (615) 322-6760, Fax: (615) 322-6631, Email: beverly.moran@vanderbilt.edu Office: Room 241

Research Interest(s) Tax law, Education: LL.M. New York University, J.D. University of Pennsylvania, A.B. Vassar College.

Beverly Moran is a leading tax scholar whose recent scholarship includes a path-breaking analysis of the disparate impact of the federal tax code on blacks and an innovative new text on the taxation of charities and other exempt organizations. She has won a number of teaching awards and grants, including a Fulbright award and a grant from the Ford Foundation, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Colorado, the University of Asmara in Eritrea, and the University of Giessen in Germany. Professor Moran's interests also include law and development, interdisciplinary scholarship and comparative law.
We expect different taxpayers to pay different taxes but we don't expect our taxes to differ based on race. Yet, because legislators try to use taxes to improve our lives without much of a clue of the lives we lead, their good intentions create a black/white tax difference that repeats itself over many scenarios.

So, how does it happen that the white bus driver who greets us in the morning pays a different tax than the black bus driver who greets us each night? It has to do with the different ways that blacks and whites live in America.

Consider: Blacks are less likely to marry than whites. When blacks do marry, they are more likely to have both husband and wife work. But, when white spouses both work, they out-earn their black counterparts. Finally, blacks are more likely to die before or shortly after retirement age than whites. All these facts add up to blacks receiving less from Social Security than similarly situated whites.

Social Security pays separate homemaker benefits to non-working spouses equal to 50 percent of the working spouse's benefit — even though only one person pays into Social Security. Thus, single worker families get an extra benefit at no additional cost.

Two working spouses each earning the Social Security maximum will receive up to 25 percent more than the homemaker couple but will pay proportionally more for that benefit as well. The working couple with a spouse earning less than the Social Security maximum is even worse off because they pay for a benefit that they could have received for free if one spouse had stayed home. Worst off is the taxpayer who dies before receiving any benefits.

Home ownership has a number of well known income tax benefits. The long history of private and government action excluding blacks from the housing market translates into all of these benefits being less accessible to blacks than to whites of the same income, marital status, education and other significant factors.
A long history of slavery and government wealth transfers to whites has led to a black/white wealth gap much larger than the black/white income gap. Exclusion for wealth appreciation in all assets until sale, exclusions for pension earnings, the limited and disappearing gift and estate tax, all benefit whites more than blacks because whites hold so much more wealth than blacks. Even on the state and local levels, taxes that appear completely race-neutral have race effects such as underfunding education in minority school districts.

It is not surprising that seemingly neutral laws have hidden race impacts when statutes are constructed based on vague ideas that are essentially inaccurate for everyone and are particularly off the mark for and to the detriment of black families. As we continue the presidential election season, we should consider instituting a race expenditure budget along the lines of the tax expenditure budget produced each year in order to track the cost of deductions, exclusions and other tax benefits.

If legislators had better information about the race impact of their tax decisions, America would have a fairer tax code.

Beverly Moran is professor of law and of sociology at Vanderbilt University.

From, VUCast: Vanderbilt University's News Network This op-ed originally ran in The Tennessean Media contact: Jennifer Johnson, (615) 322-NEWS jennifer.johnston@vanderbilt.edu

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In Many U.S. Cities, Blacks More Likely Than Whites to Live in Poor Quality Nursing Homes

David Barton Smith, PhD

David Barton Smith, PhD. Research Professor, Center for Health Equality Department of Health Management and Policy. Phone: 215.762.7448. Email: dbs33@drexel.edu

Professor Smith received his Ph.D. in Health Services Research from The University of Michigan. He was awarded a 1995 Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Research Investigator Award for research on the history and legacy of the racial segregation of health care and continues to do research, write and give lectures on this topic at medical and law schools across the country.

He is the author or co-author of five books on the organization of health services, the most recent being, Health Care Divided: Race and Healing a Nation (The University of Michigan Press 1999), and Reinventing Care: Assisted Living in New York City (Vanderbilt University Press 2003). The latter book propelled legislative reform in the regulation of assisted living in New York State.

He is also author of Long Term Care in Transition: the Regulation of Nursing Homes (Health Administration Press 1981) that helped initiate quality of care reforms in that decade.
Poorer Quality of Care In Nursing Homes Linked To Racial Segregation; Nursing Homes in Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cleveland Have Greatest Disparities.

In metropolitan areas across the United States, blacks are more likely than whites to live in poor quality nursing homes, according to a study of Health Affairs.

The problem is most acute in the Midwest. After ranking metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on disparities between blacks and whites in access to quality nursing homes, researchers found that 10 of the 20 nursing homes with the greatest disparities in quality of care were located in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. The metropolitan area with the greatest disparity in care is Milwaukee, where blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to live in a nursing home with significant inspection deficiencies, substantial staffing shortages, and financial problems.

The study showed that inequalities in care are closely correlated to racial segregation. Researchers found that nursing homes in the Cleveland metropolitan area were the most segregated, followed closely by Gary, Ind., Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Harrisburg, Pa., Toledo, Ohio, and Cincinnati (A complete list of the 147 MSA rankings is available in a separate document).

At the same time, researchers found that nursing homes in the South were least likely to have unequal racial distribution of residents relative to residential racial composition. And only four Southern urban centers – Houston, West Palm Beach, Fla., Richmond, Va. and Winston-Salem, N.C. – landed in the top 20 metropolitan areas with the highest level of racial disparities in nursing home quality.

The study, supported by the Commonwealth Fund, is the first to document this relationship between racial segregation and quality disparities in U.S. nursing homes.
The study was co-authored by David Barton Smith and Jacqueline S. Zinn of Temple University, and Zhanlian Feng, Mary L. Fennell, and Vincent Mor of Brown University.

In their analysis, researchers looked at racial segregation in 147 MSAs, with 7,196 nursing homes, caring for more than 800,000 residents. Researchers used the Dissimilarity Index, the most common measure of residential segregation. The index indicates the combined percentage of residents of both races who would have to be relocated for there to be an equal proportion of blacks and whites in the nursing home.

The researchers found that:

* Blacks were nearly three times as likely as whites to be located in a nursing home housing predominantly Medicaid residents.
* Blacks were nearly twice as likely as whites to be located in a nursing home that was subsequently terminated from Medicare and Medicaid participation because of poor quality.
* Blacks were 1.41 times as likely as whites to be in a nursing home that had been cited with a deficiency causing actual harm or immediate jeopardy to residents.
* Blacks were 1.12 times as likely as whites to reside in a nursing home that was greatly understaffed.

"This study shows us that racial segregation has a significant impact on the quality of care received by nursing home residents," said Smith, a professor at Temple University and lead author of the study. "While it is important to eliminate disparities in care within nursing homes to achieve full equity, our research indicates that it is far more important to eliminate persistent patterns of segregation and the differences in the quality of care between nursing homes that tend to serve blacks as opposed to whites."

According to the research, blacks make up about 15 percent of all U.S. nursing home residents. Yet around 60 percent of black residents were concentrated in less than 10 percent of those homes. The 10 percent of U.S. nursing homes in which blacks reside tend to be in the bottom quartile with respect to quality, the study showed.

"Blacks and whites aren't getting different care in the same nursing homes. They're getting different care because they live in different nursing homes," said Mor, chairman of the Department of Community Health at Brown University and lead investigator on the study. "In the same urban areas, blacks are more likely to be concentrated in substandard nursing homes—homes with smaller budgets, smaller staffs and poorer regulatory performance."

"People being admitted to nursing homes understandably want to stay close to family members but exercising that choice should not put them in greater jeopardy of receiving poor quality care. The degree of the disparity in quality revealed by this study is unacceptable," said Commonwealth Fund Assistant Vice President for Quality of Care for Frail Elders, Mary Jane Koren, M.D. "If we are to ensure access to high quality health care for all we must address the stark differences in care provided by facilities that serve a predominantly minority population."

The study authors offered recommendations for policy changes that could improve the quality of care in nursing homes and potentially eliminate the disparities highlighted by the study. Their recommendations include:

* improvements to payment structures for nursing homes with a high proportion of Medicaid residents;
* closing the gap between the amount paid to nursing homes by Medicaid and private payers;
* broader regional planning in response to concerns about racial disparities; and
* ongoing monitoring of admissions practices to ensure that they meet Civil Rights Act requirements.

The Commonwealth Fund is an independent foundation working toward health policy reform and a high performance health system.

Brown University is an internationally known Ivy League institution with a distinctive undergraduate academic curriculum, outstanding faculty, state-of-the-art research facilities, and a tradition of innovative and rigorous multidisciplinary study. For more information, visit www.brown.edu

Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at www.healthaffairs.org. Copies of the September/ October 2007 issue will be provided free to interested members of the press. Journalists may also access content on the Health Affairs Web site after the embargo lifts by using the press username 'media' and the password 'november'. Address inquiries to Christopher Fleming at Health Affairs, 301-347-3944, or via e-mail, cfleming@projecthope.org

Temple University's Fox School of Business is the largest, most comprehensive business school in the greater Philadelphia region and among the largest in the world, with more than 6,000 students, 150 full-time faculty members and 51,000 alumni. For more information, visit www.fox.temple.edu

Commonwealth Contact(s): Mary Mahon Public Information Officer TEL 212-606-3853, cell phone 917-225-2314, mm@cmwf.org Bethanne Fox (301) 576-6359

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First African-American astronaut who walked in space visits NJIT

Bernard A. Harris, Jr., (M.D.) NASA Astronaut

Bernard A. Harris, Jr., (M.D.) NASA Astronaut

Born June 26, 1956, in Temple, Texas. Married to the former Sandra Fay Lewis of Sunnyvale, California. They have one child. He enjoys flying, sailing, skiing, running, scuba diving, art and music. Bernard's mother, Mrs. Gussie H. Burgess, and his stepfather, Mr. Joe Roye Burgess, reside in San Antonio, Texas. His father, Mr. Bernard A. Harris, Sr., resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sandra's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Reed, reside in Sunnyvale.

Graduated from Sam Houston High School, San Antonio, Texas, in 1974; received a bachelor of science degree in biology from University of Houston in 1978, a doctorate in medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine in 1982. Dr. Harris completed a residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in 1985. In addition, he completed a National Research Council Fellowship at NASA Ames Research Center in 1987, and trained as a flight surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, in 1988. Dr. Harris also received a master's degree in biomedical science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1996. Astronaut Bio: Bernard Harris
Astronaut to teach laws of buoyancy to 52 minority middle school students

WHO: Bernard Harris, the first African American to walk in space, NJIT instructors, Exxon-Mobil engineers and 52 students from Clifton (1); Dover (1); East Brunswick (1); East Rutherford (1); Hoboken (1); Jersey City (3); Kearny (2); Montclair (3); Morris Plains (1); Newark (22): North Bergen (4); Readington Township (1); Rockaway Township (1); Stewartsville (1); Teaneck, (1); Toms River (2); Union (1); Union City, (2); West Orange (1). NJIT will be Harris' only New York metro appearance. Camp closes July 17, 2008. To set up photo(s) and/or in-person interview(s) with Harris and area student(s) call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436.

WHAT: The first African American astronaut, Bernard Harris, ExxonMobil engineers and 52 middle school students will design and construct at NJIT small rafts of aluminum and straw designed to hold pennies. The exercise will demonstrate Archimedes' law which explains buoyancy, or why objects seem to lose weight in water or other liquids. This principle has been applied ever since the age of Archimedes to test precious metals. NJIT is the New York metro region's only location (of 25 around the U.S.) for Harris and the free, two-week ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp.

WHERE: NJIT, 323 Martin Luther King Blvd, Newark

WHEN: July 15, 2008, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. NOTE: Program closes July 17.

WHY: Studies show that the United States will face a critical shortage of engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers. To address this crisis, Harris and ExxonMobil have teamed up to develop a camp offering innovative math and science programs to encourage middle school students to stay in school, develop their knowledge in these disciplines and foster their interest to eventually pursue careers in these fields. ###
NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, at the edge in knowledge, enrolls more than 8,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 92 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences.

NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology and top 150 for best value. U.S. News & World Report's 2007 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities.

Contact: Sheryl Weinstein sheryl.m.weinstein@njit.edu 973-596-3436 New Jersey Institute of Technology

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Initiatives Lead to Shift in Stage of Breast Cancer Diagnosis in African-American Women

Sheryl G. A. Gabram, MD, MBA

Sheryl G. A. Gabram, MD, MBA. Professor of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. Program Director, Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University.

Director, AVON Comprehensive Breast Center, Grady Health System. Director, Oncologic Services, Georgia Cancer Center of Excellence, Grady Health System. Division of Surgical Oncology
Researchers at Emory University have determined that community education outreach and internal navigation programs lead to a significant shift in stage at diagnosis of breast cancer among African-American women.

Sheryl Gabram, MD, an Emory Winship Cancer Institute surgical oncologist, and her colleagues report a doubling in the proportion of cases caught at the earliest stage and a nearly reciprocal drop in the proportion of cancers at most advanced stage in African-American women who participated in community education or internal navigation programs.

The research suggests that initiatives aimed at raising awareness and utilization of breast cancer screening may improve breast cancer survival rates for African-American women, who have a higher risk of death from the disease compared to whites. The study is published on line this month and in the August 1, 2008 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
A disproportionate number of deaths from breast cancer occur in African-American women, a disparity attributed to later stage of disease at diagnosis and diagnosis at an earlier age. Treatment differences may also contribute to the higher risk of mortality.

To assess the effectiveness of outreach programs on breast cancer stage among African-American women, Dr. Gabram, who also is director of the AVON Comprehensive Breast Center at the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, reported on a program implemented in 2001 with two components: Community Health Advocacy and Patient Navigation. The Community Health Advocacy component includes public educational programs that encourage mammography screening, teach the importance of breast self exams, and instruct individuals to see a trained healthcare provider.

The Patient Navigation component involves breast cancer survivors who communicate directly with all patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the AVON Breast Center. Patient Navigators (PNs) encourage patients to follow-up with recommended medical care and access needed resources such as finances, transportation, and support services.

Between 2001 and 2004, the program conducted a total of 1,148 community interventions for more than 10,000 participants. During that same time period, a total of 487 patients were identified, diagnosed, and treated for breast cancer at the AVON Comprehensive Breast Center (89 percent African American, 5 percent Caucasian, 2 percent Hispanic, and 4 percent other race/ethnicity).

Dr. Gabram and her team found that there was a doubling in the proportion of Stage 0 non-invasive breast cancers (from 12.4 percent to 25.8 percent) over the study period, while the proportion of women diagnosed with Stage IV invasive breast cancers dropped from 16.8 percent to 9.4 percent.

"This reciprocal deviation of Stage 0 versus Stage IV cancers has implications on prognosis, and ultimately outcome for these women if recommended treatment guidelines are followed," say the authors. They, along with leadership from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health team, are currently conducting studies to see if the Patient Navigation program successfully influences patients to accept treatment recommendations and to adhere to appointments after they are diagnosed with breast cancer. Research has revealed that many patients with breast cancer refuse or do not receive appropriate therapy.

The authors concluded that programs with Community Health Advocates (CHAs) who encourage mammography screening and stress the importance of early diagnosis should be jointly emphasized with the efforts of the Patient Navigators (PNs) who encourage acceptance of and adherence to treatment standards.

Article: "Effects of an outreach and internal navigation program on breast cancer diagnosis in an urban cancer center with a large African-American population." Sheryl G.A. Gabram, Mary Jo B. Lund, Jessica Gardner, N adjo Hatchett, Harvey L. Bumpers, Joel Okoli, Monica Rizzo, Barbara J Johnson, Gina B Kirkpatrick, and Otis W. Brawley. CANCER; Published Online: June 23, 2008 (DOI: 10.002/cncr.23568); Print Issue Date: August 1, 2008.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TAVERN ON THE GREEN TO PAY $2.2 MILLION FOR HARASSMENT OF FEMALES, BLACKS, HISPANICS

Tavern on the GreenEEOC Settles Job Discrimination Suit with Landmark NYC Restaurant

NEW YORK – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of a harassment and retaliation lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act against Tavern on the Green,
a landmark restaurant located in Central Park in New York City, for $2.2 million and significant remedial relief.

The EEOC charged in the case that Tavern on the Green engaged in severe and pervasive sexual, racial, and national origin harassment of female, black, and Hispanic employees. The sexual harassment included graphic comments and demands for various sex acts, as well as groping of women’s buttocks and breasts. The racial and national origin harassment included epithets toward black and Hispanic employees and ridiculing Hispanics for their accents. The restaurant also retaliated against employees for refusing to consent to and/or objecting to the harassment, according to the EEOC.

The consent decree resolving the suit was submitted for approval today to U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The EEOC sued Tavern on the Green on Sept. 24, 2007 (Civil Action No. 07-CV-8256) after conducting an administrative investigation and first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.

“We are pleased that this settlement will provide appropriate relief for the individuals who have been harmed,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Kam S.Wong of the New York District Office. “We are likewise glad that this employer is taking proactive measures to ensure a discrimination-free workplace in the future by addressing the problems that led to the lawsuit.”

As part of the consent decree, a claim fund of $2.2 million will be allocated to victims of the harassment and/or retaliation. Additionally, the restaurant will establish a telephone hotline which employees may use to raise any discrimination complaints, distribute a revised policy against discrimination and retaliation, and provide training to all employees against discrimination and retaliation.

EEOC New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis said, “This case should remind employers to take seriously allegations of harassment and retaliation, especially where managers in positions of authority are involved in the misconduct.”

On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp launched the Commission's E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/.

According to its web site, www.tavernonthegreen.com, the restaurant is “one of New York’s most dazzling dining experiences…Built to house sheep in 1870, the building now known as Tavern on the Green became a restaurant in 1934…and is currently the highest-grossing independently-owned restaurant in the United States with annual revenues in excess of $34 million and over half a million visitors a year.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

CONTACT: Bryan White, Media Relations (212) 336-3670, Kam S.Wong, Senior Trial Atty. (212) 336-3703, Lisa Sirkin, Supervisory Trial Atty. (212) 336-3697. TTY: (212) 336-3622

Image Licensing: I, (Jim.henderson) the copyright holder of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible: I (Jim.henderson) grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Golf’s long-standing image problem

Orin Starn

Orin Starn, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Director of Undergraduate Studies 07-08. Office Location: 208 Sciences Building, East Campus, Box 90091. Office Phone: 919-684-3221. Web Pages: orinstarn.com and golfpolitics.blogspot
"The truth is that the numbers of blacks and other minorities playing professional golf has instead been declining in recent years," says professor Orin Starn

Durham, N.C. -- Many people consider it a dopey, snobby, boring game for chubby white men in plaid pants. Even golfers sometimes talk down the sport. "Where else could a guy with an IQ like mine make this much money," the well-known touring professional Hubert Green once said.

Tiger Woods was supposed to transform golf, especially its whites-only reputation. When this charismatic black prodigy rocketed to stardom a decade ago, there was optimistic talk about the game opening to African Americans and other minorities.
It heightened the story’s drama that Tiger’s breakthrough win came in the 1997 Masters tournament at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club, with its Jim Crow history of excluding of excluding blacks and women from membership.

It’s spring again, Masters time. But a decade after Tiger’s first triumph at Augusta, it has become apparent that the idea of Tiger as his sport’s racial savior was vastly oversold. The truth is that the numbers of blacks and other minorities playing professional golf has instead been declining in recent years.

Golf was the last major sport to integrate. Only in 1961 did the powerful Professional Golfers Association, or PGA, drop its "Caucasians-only" clause, and even then the first black professionals suffered every indignity. Charles Sifford, the first African American to win a PGA tournament, found human feces in the cup at the Phoenix Open; he received telephoned death threats at another tournament.

The Masters didn’t invite its first black golfer until 1975. As writer Curt Sampson documents, the idea of a good time for Augusta National members before World War II was watching blindfolded local black teenagers beat each other bloody in a boxing ring "battle royal," a few dollars going to the last one standing.

But a cohort of black professional golfers persevered, and there were more than 10 black PGA regulars in the 1970s. Hispanic professionals also made their mark, among them Lee Trevino, the smart, garrulous self-described "Super Mex" who became one of the top players of his time.

But consider this: Tiger is today the lone African American among the 125 players on the PGA tour. And there are just two Latinos: Robert Gamez and Pat Perez.

Only one black golfer, Tim O’Neal, plays the minor league Nationwide tour. There is not a single African American on the women’s professional golf tour despite the influx of fine Asian and Asian American players, a lesser force in men’s golf.

Even black caddies have almost vanished altogether. As the job became lucrative with mushrooming tournament purses, whites moved in to carry the bags. Tiger’s New Zealand-born caddy, Steve Williams, probably made over a million dollars last year.

What explains the resegregation of professional golf? Ironically, Tiger’s standard of excellence is part of the problem. Training a top golfer now demands specialized intensive instruction from a young age, in the way of figure skating or gymnastics. Although the black and Latino middle class has grown, comparatively few minority families can afford to send talented children to the expensive private golf academies that have sprung up to manufacture the future’s professional stars.

The golf cart also bears some blame. As servile as it may be to tote another man’s clubs, caddying exposed generations of poor kids to a rich man’s game. Famous old-time stars like Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen got their start in the caddyshack, as did Sifford and the other black pros of the 1970s. Except for a few high-end clubs and the professional golf tours, caddies have been replaced by golf carts, closing off that pathway of upward mobility into the sport.

But nobody seems to be paying much attention to the fact that professional golf is trending back toward becoming whites-only all over again, especially the men’s game. We live in a part-fatalistic, part-cynical, Crash-style era of "race fatigue," where many Americans feel it to be pointless and even naïve to imagine progress toward bridging the divides of color and class in this country. As much as most people would like to be rid of the silly, strange yet powerful folk belief that skin color says something essential about the person inside, the unhappy American history of racial discrimination, hierarchy and mistrust haunts us no matter how much we might want to ignore it or wish it away.

As much as most people would like to be rid of the silly, strange yet powerful folk belief that skin color says something essential about the person inside, the unhappy American history of racial discrimination, hierarchy, and mistrust haunts us no matter how much we might want to ignore it or wish it away. Here at Duke we’ve been forced to confront this painful truth just now with the terrible allegations against white university lacrosse players of raping a black woman at a student party.

As for Tiger, if he triumphs again at the Masters, he’ll don the victor’s traditional green jacket to applause from Augusta’s millionaire members, tournament ticketholders and fellow competitors and their caddies.

He’ll be one of the only brown faces in a sea of white.

Note to Editors: Orin Starn is a cultural anthropology professor at Duke who is currently writing a book about golf and American society

© 2008 Office of News & Communications. 615 Chapel Drive, Box 90563, Durham, NC 27708-0563 (919) 684-2823; After-hours phone (for reporters on deadline): (919) 812-6603

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Divine intervention: Blacks use prayer to cope with stress

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Ebenezer Baptist Church has been a spiritual home to many citizens of the "Sweet Auburn" community. Martin Luther King, Jr., was baptized as a child in the church.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Blacks are more likely to pray during stressful circumstances than whites, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Black respondents (both African Americans and blacks of Caribbean descent) are also more likely than non-Hispanic whites to indicate that they look to God for support, strength and guidance.
About 90 percent of African Americans, 86 percent of Caribbean blacks and 60 percent of non-Hispanic whites state that prayer is very important when coping with life problems. Similar percentages of respondents from each group strongly endorsed the statement that they look to God for strength, support and guidance.

"The findings suggest that in this analysis of race and ethnicity influences, race status (being black vs. non-Hispanic white) is more important than ethnicity (being of Caribbean descent) in patterning attitudes concerning religious coping," the U-M researchers said.

The study is a first of its kind investigation of the correlates of religious coping (prayer during stressful times) among African Americans, Caribbean blacks and non-Hispanic whites. The inclusion of Caribbean Blacks allows the investigation of ethnic differences within the Black population that typically are not taken into account.

"Understanding the diversity that exists within the black population is vitally important, as Caribbean blacks are significantly different from African Americans on a number of social status and religious characteristics," the researchers said.

The research was done by Linda Chatters, a professor of social work and public health; Robert Taylor, professor and associate dean of research in the School of Social Work, James S. Jackson, director of the Institute for Social Research; and Karen Lincoln, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Southern California.

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Community Psychology.

Researchers used data from the National Survey of American Life: Coping with Stress in the 21st Century, collected by the Program for Research on Black Americans at U-M's Institute for Social Research. The NSAL includes the first major probability sample of Caribbean Blacks ever conducted.

Respondents reflected on attitudes and opinions about religious coping, and provided information about their religious affiliation and demographic characteristics.

For both African Americans and Caribbean blacks, women and married respondents were more likely to look to God for guidance than were men and persons who cohabit with their partners, respectively.

In comparing regional differences, Southerners are more likely than respondents in the Northeast, North Central and West to seek strength and guidance from God. Denominational differences indicate that Baptists are more likely than Methodists and respondents with no religious affiliations to pray in dealing with stress.

Established in 1948, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world's oldest academic survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, and the National Survey of Black Americans.

ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world' largest computerized social science data archive. Visit the ISR web site at www.isr.umich.edu for more information.

University of Michigan 412 MAYNARD STREET ANN ARBOR, MI 48109-1399 PHONE: (734) 764-7260 FAX: (734) 764-7084

Friday, July 4, 2008

Depression linked to subsequent pregnancy in black teens

Beth Barnet, M.D.

Beth Barnet, M.D. Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine. Department
Family and Community Medicine. Special Interests: Adolescent Health. Medical Degree: George Washington University. Residency: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Family and Community Medicine. Fellowship: Johns Hopkins Hospital, Adolescent Medicine, Pediatrics. Certification: Family Medicine

Contact Information: 1-800-373-4111 (physicians only), 1-800-492-5538 (patients and general information), 1-410-328-8919 (news media only)
African American adolescent mothers who have symptoms of depression may be more likely to have a subsequent pregnancy within two years of giving birth, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Studies indicate that teen mothers are twice as likely to experience depression as adult mothers with almost twice as many African American teen mothers affected compared with white teen mothers, according to background information in the article. Rapid subsequent pregnancy (occurring within 24 months of a birth) is common in young mothers. “A recent meta-analysis found that 19 percent of teen mothers experienced a subsequent pregnancy within 12 months and 38 percent experienced a subsequent pregnancy within 24 months. The highest rates are among younger, economically disadvantaged African American adolescents.” Depression and subsequent pregnancy are associated with parenting stress and negative parenting behaviors such as child abuse and neglect.

Beth Barnet, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, followed 269 predominantly African American teens (ages 12 to 18) with low income who received prenatal care at five community sites.
Questionnaires were completed one or two years after childbirth to measure depressive symptoms and occurrence of subsequent pregnancy.

Among those who completed at least one follow-up questionnaire, 46 percent had depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study. A pregnancy within two years of childbirth was experienced by 120 (49 percent) of the 245 teens followed up through two years and 28 (10 percent) had more than one subsequent pregnancy. The average time between subsequent pregnancies was 11.4 months. “Teens having a subsequent pregnancy were more likely to be school dropouts; not use condoms consistently at follow-up; and report a relationship with their baby’s father, who tended to be older,” the authors write. Depressive symptoms were associated with a 44 percent increase in risk of subsequent pregnancy.

“Depression is unhealthy for mothers and their children. Treating maternal depression improves the health and well-being of both,” the authors conclude. “Our findings do not tell us how depression might fit into a casual pathway to repeat adolescent childbearing, but they do suggest that depression may be an important malleable risk factor.”

“Because depression is treatable, future studies should evaluate whether improved recognition and treatment of adolescent depression reduces the risk of rapid subsequent pregnancy.” ###

(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162[3]:246-252. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: This study was supported by grants from the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and from an AAMC/CDC Cooperative Agreement. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Contact: Sharon Boston 410-328-8919 JAMA and Archives Journals

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Black Caribbeans do better in America than in England

ames S. Jackson

"James Jackson is a distinguished scholar and academic leader. He is an articulate national and international spokesperson, researcher and scholar, and he has great experience as a University administrator. Professor Jackson is eminently qualified to lead the Institute for Social Research, which is a central element of the University of Michigan’s international leadership in the social sciences and one of the largest and oldest social research and academic survey organizations in the world.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Black Caribbeans living in America enjoy better health, higher incomes and less discrimination at work than both their English counterparts and black Americans, according to the first international comparative study of these populations.

The study, published this month online in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness, was led by sociologist James Nazroo of the University of Manchester, U.K., and social psychologist James Jackson, director of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

For the study, Nazroo, Jackson and colleagues compared survey data from national probability samples of five groups: Black, Caribbean and white Americans, and white and Caribbean English. In all, they analyzed data on approximately 20,000 individuals.

The surveys were independent, but similarly designed, allowing researchers to sort out how differences in health were affected by economic and cultural factors, and by migration experiences. The U.S. survey data are part of the National Survey of American Life, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

They found that Caribbeans in the United States were more than twice as likely as Caribbeans in England to say their health was good.
They also found that whites and Caribbeans in the United States had similar levels of good health whereas Caribbeans in England had much worse health than their white counterparts.

The team also found that Caribbean Americans are wealthier than their English counterparts---with an income profile close to that of white Americans. In addition, Caribbean Americans reported less discrimination at work than their English counterparts, although levels of experienced racial abuse were similar in the two countries.

In contrast to the findings for Caribbean Americans, other black Americans fare just as badly as English Caribbeans in terms of health, wealth and racism.

Other findings:

* The prevalence of self-reported bad and poor health decreases steadily with increasing income for all groups.

* Poor health is strongly related to exposure to racism.

* In both countries, second-generation Caribbean immigrants are financially better off than first-generation immigrants but more likely to report exposure to racism and discrimination.

* Differences in health between populations in the two countries appear to be related to both socioeconomic inequalities and differences in patterns of migration.

"A common British perception is that Caribbeans who have settled in America endure similar levels of disadvantage to their black American counterparts and to Caribbeans living in England," Nazroo said. "But actually, our research shows that they do well and, beyond their experiences of racism, much better than Caribbeans in England.

"One of the most striking findings is the differences in health between the two Caribbean groups and how this appears to be driven by economic inequalities and migration factors. The situation is so different that American Caribbeans actually have a very similar health profile to their white American contemporaries."

According to Jackson, these differences can be at least partly explained by the different patterns of migration of Caribbeans to America and to England.

"Around 80 percent of the English Caribbean group came to the U.K. before the 1970s in a wave of migration driven by a shortage of labor after the war," he said. "On the other hand, over 80 percent of American Caribbeans migrated during and after the 1970s, just after the period when the U.S. civil rights movement had succeeded in opening up opportunities for black Americans.

"However, the social and economic disadvantage of long-settled black Americans is still apparent and born out by a long history of institutional racism and discrimination going back to the years of slavery." ###

A print edition of the journal will be published later this year. In addition to Nazroo and Jackson, co-authors of the article: "The black diaspora and health inequalities in the U.S. and England: Does where you go and how you get there make a difference," are Saffron Karlsen of University College London and Myriam Torres of the University of Michigan ISR.

Related Links: Established in 1948, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world's oldest academic survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the American National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, and the National Survey of Black Americans.

ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world's largest computerized social science data archive. Visit the ISR web site at www.isr.umich.edu for more information.

Contact: Diane Swanbrow swanbrow@umich.edu 734-647-9069 University of Michigan