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Exon 9 skipping of apoptotic caspase-2 pre-mRNA is promoted by SRSF3 through interaction with exon 8

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

Alternative splicing plays an important role in gene expression by producing different proteins from a gene. Caspase-2 pre-mRNA produces anti-apoptotic Casp-2S and pro-apoptotic Casp-2L proteins through exon 9 inclusion or skipping. However, the molecular mechanisms of exon 9 splicing are not well understood. Here we show that knockdown of SRSF3 (also known as SRp20) with siRNA induced significant increase of endogenous exon 9 inclusion. In addition, overexpression of SRSF3 promoted exon 9 skipping. Thus we conclude that SRSF3 promotes exon 9 skipping. In order to understand the functional target of SRSF3 on caspase-2 pre-mRNA, we performed substitution and deletion mutagenesis on the potential SRSF3 binding sites that were predicted from previous reports. We demonstrate that substitution mutagenesis of the potential SRSF3 binding site on exon 8 severely disrupted the effects of SRSF3 on exon 9 skipping. Furthermore, with the approach of RNA pulldown and immunoblotting analysis we show that SRSF3 interacts with the potential SRSF3 binding RNA sequence on exon 8 but not with the mutant RNA sequence. In addition, we show that a deletion of 26nt RNA from 5' end of exon 8, a 33nt RNA from 3' end of exon 10 and a 2225nt RNA from intron 9 did not compromise the function of SRSF3 on exon 9 splicing. Therefore we conclude that SRSF3 promotes exon 9 skipping of caspase-2 pre-mRNA by interacting with exon 8. Our results reveal a novel mechanism of caspase-2 pre-mRNA splicing.

PSF contacts exon 7 of SMN2 pre-mRNA to promote exon 7 inclusion

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disease and a leading cause of infant mortality. Deletions or mutations in SMN1, a gene that encodes an SMN protein, which regulates assembly/disassembly of U snRNP and is suggested to direct axonal transport of beta-actin mRNA in neurons, are responsible for most cases of SMA disease. However, humans contain a second SMN gene called SMN2. Unlike SMN1, the majority of SMN2 mRNA don't include exon 7. Here we show that increased expression of PSF significantly promotes inclusion of exon 7 in the SMN2 and SMN1 mRNA, whereas reduced expression of PSF promotes exon 7 skipping in various cell lines and in fibroblast cells from SMA patients. In addition, we present evidence showing that PSF interacts with the GAAGGA enhancer in exon 7. We also demonstrate that a mutation in this enhancer abolishes the effects of PSF on exon 7 splicing. Furthermore we show that the RNA target sequences of PSF and tra2beta in exon 7 are partially overlapped. These results lead us to conclude that PSF interacts with an enhancer in exon 7 to promote exon 7 splicing of SMN2 pre-mRNA.

Regulation of a transcription factor network by Cdk1 coordinates late cell cycle gene expression

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

To maintain genome stability, regulators of chromosome segregation must be expressed in coordination with mitotic events. Expression of these late cell cycle genes is regulated by cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk1), which phosphorylates a network of conserved transcription factors (TFs). However, the effects of Cdk1 phosphorylation on many key TFs are not known. We find that elimination of Cdk1-mediated phosphorylation of four S-phase TFs decreases expression of many late cell cycle genes, delays mitotic progression, and reduces fitness in budding yeast. Blocking phosphorylation impairs degradation of all four TFs. Consequently, phosphorylation-deficient mutants of the repressors Yox1 and Yhp1 exhibit increased promoter occupancy and decreased expression of their target genes. Interestingly, although phosphorylation of the transcriptional activator Hcm1 on its N-terminus promotes its degradation, phosphorylation on its C-terminus is required for its activity, indicating that Cdk1 both activates and inhibits a single TF. We conclude that Cdk1 promotes gene expression by both activating transcriptional activators and inactivating transcriptional repressors. Furthermore, our data suggest that coordinated regulation of the TF network by Cdk1 is necessary for faithful cell division.

Novel Methodology for Using Radiostereometric Analysis to Monitor Fracture Healing

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 11:25am

Background: Radiostereometric Analysis (RSA) is a method for performing highly accurate three-dimensional measurements in-vivo using sequential radiographs. RSA has been used extensively for monitoring prosthesis fixation in hip and knee replacements. Recently, there has been increasing interest in applying RSA towards the monitoring of fracture healing.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using RSA to measure strain, stress, and plate migration in a distal femur fracture model.

Methods: Femoral sawbones with a distal femur fracture were used as models. A distal femur condylar locking compression plate (LCP) was used to reduce the fracture model. Stainless steel screws were used to fasten the plate to the sawbone. In addition, translucent polyester screws were composed, embedded with 1mm steel beads, and fastened to the most proximal and distal portions of the plate. This allowed for recognition by the RSA imaging modality. The femoral sawbones were then placed in a mechanical testing complex and RSA X-rays taken at different forces of compression. The radiographs were analyzed for plate migration using the 1mm steel beads as points of reference.

Results: Preliminary data indicate that it is possible to use a plate model that incorporates a micro-bead system to measure migration. Further analysis will quantify the amount of migration to determine whether significant changes occur at different stages of compression.

Conclusion: The ability to measure plate migration in a Radiostereometric Analysis X-ray model is an important step towards improving the ability of orthopedic surgeons to monitor fracture healing and prevent non-union. The next stage of this research will involve using this model in clinical trials of distal femur fractures and building a database to correlate levels of plate migration with surgical outcome.

Data from: The Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Hepatic Dysfunction, Vitamin D Status, and Glycemic Control in Children and Adolescents with Vitamin D Deficiency and Either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 3:36pm

Background: The effects of vitamin D supplementation on mild hepatic dysfunction and glycemic control are unclear in children and adolescents with either type 1 (T1D) or type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Hypothesis: Vitamin D supplementation will improve hepatic dysfunction and glycemic control.

Aim: To determine the effect of vitamin D supplementation on alanine transaminase (ALT), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration.

Subjects and Methods: A retrospective study of 131 subjects with either T1D (n=88: 46 females, 42 males), or T2D ( n=43: 26 females, 17 males) of ages 3-18 years between 2007-2013. All subjects had (1) a diagnosis of diabetes for >12 mo, (2) received vitamin D supplementation for the management of vitamin D deficiency (3) had baseline and subsequent simultaneous measurements of HbA1c, ALT, and 25(OH)D. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as 25(OH)D concentration of <50nmol/L (20 ng/mL).

Results: At baseline, vitamin D deficiency occurred in 72.1% of patients with T2D and in 37.5% of T1D patients (p

Conclusions: Vitamin D supplementation in subjects with T2D was associated with statistically significant decreases in BMI SDS, ALT, and a clinically-significant decrease in HbA1c.

The Role of Multiple Sclerosis as a Risk Factor for the Development of Osteoporosis

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 11:24am

Background: Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in the United States, and it is particularly common among women with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, despite this association, the temporal relationship between these two conditions has not been previously studied. Data from the Women’s Health Initiative provides a unique opportunity to examine the risk of developing osteoporosis over time in individuals diagnosed with MS.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to refine the relationship between MS and osteoporosis, clarifying the impact of environmental and pharmacologic factors on each condition, as well as addressing treatment and preventative efforts for a patient population at a greater potential risk for osteoporosis.

Methods: The study sample, derived from the Women’s Health Initiative, included 449 women who reported an MS diagnosis at baseline and 161,359 women without MS who comprised a control group. Baseline measures of self-reported osteoporosis, age, smoking status, steroid and anti-inflammatory use, and supplementary as well as dietary calcium and vitamin D were compared. MS patients reporting osteoporosis at baseline were removed, resulting in 355 women with MS to monitor for time to incident osteoporosis. Survival analyses were performed on follow-up data gathered annually between 1993 and 2005 to factor out significant associations of additional factors. Proportions of participants on osteoporosis-related medications as well as latency to use were compared between the multiple sclerosis and control cohorts.

Results: At baseline, women with MS are nearly three times as likely to report osteoporosis (p

Conclusions: A higher prevalence of osteoporosis at baseline suggests MS may significantly increase the risk of osteoporosis in premenopausal women. In contrast, environmental and pharmacologic variables appear to have a more significant role in the post-menopausal population. While osteoporosis was treated similarly between both groups, the point for intervention or prevention of osteoporosis in MS patients may be earlier in the disease course.

Demographic Characteristics Associated with the Presence of Recalled and Measured Prepregnancy Weights

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 11:24am

Background: Gestational weight gain within prepregnancy BMI-specific Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended ranges are associated with good outcomes for both mother and baby. Availability of measured prepregnancy weight, recalled prepregnancy weight or measured weight at first prenatal visit if the former two weights are not available, influences the accuracy of provider recommendations for gestational weight gain.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine demographic characteristics associated with the presence of recalled prepregnancy weight and measured prepregnancy weight in the prenatal care medical record.

Methods: Medical record review of 1,998 randomly selected pregnancies, of which 1,911 met inclusion criteria of delivery between January 2007 and December 2012 and receipt of prenatal care in faculty and resident clinic sites at UMass Memorial Health Care (UMMHC). Subjects' paper prenatal chart and electronic record (AllScripts and QS prenatal EMR) were fully abstracted if available and contained both: (1) a recorded measured weight within one year of conception, and (2) a self-reported prepregnancy weight obtained at first prenatal visit. Additionally, exclusion criteria included those pregnancies with only prenatal weights recorded one year prior to conception for index pregnancy. For women with multiple pregnancies during the study time period, one pregnancy was randomly selected for inclusion in study analyses. Demographic data was abstracted for all available charts regardless of presence or absence of weights of interest. Demographic characteristics considered were age (15-29, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35+ years), prepregnancy BMI calculated based on recalled height and weight (underweight: BMI<18.5 kg/m2, normal weight: 18.5≤ BMI<25 kg/m2, overweight: 25≤BMI<30 kg/m2, and obese: 30 kg/m2≤BMI), race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white vs. other race/ethnicity), marital status (not married vs. married), primary language (non-English vs. English), gravidity (1, 2, 3+), education (high school diploma or less, some college, 4 year college or more) and prenatal care site (faculty vs. resident obstetric clinic). Logistic regressions were performed to calculate crude and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and adjusted analyses controlled for demographics.

Results: Of the 1911 pregnancies meeting initial inclusion criteria, 1711 (89.5%) had charts available for abstraction; fifty-three subjects had multiple pregnancies of which only one was included in analyses resulting in an analytic sample of 1656 pregnancies. Of these, 511 (30.9%) were missing a recalled prepregnancy weight at first prenatal visit, 711 (42.9%) had the recalled prepregnancy weight but did not have a measured weight; and only 434 (26.2%) had both weights of interest. Overweight women had decreased odds of having a recalled weight compared to women of normal weight (aOR 0.75; 95% CI 0.56-1.00). Additionally, women with ≥4 years of college compared to those with ≤ high school diploma (aOR 0.54; 95% CI 0.40-0.73), and those receiving care in the faculty compared to the resident clinics (aOR 0.48; 95% CI 0.35-0.65) had decreased odds of having a recalled weight available in the chart. Among women with available recalled prepregnancy weight (n=1101), 390 (35.4%) also had a documented measured weight within one year of conception and 711 (64.6%) did not. Women who were not married (aOR 0.54; 95% 0.39-0.76) had decreased odds of having a measured weight, whereas those receiving care in the faculty compared to resident clinics had greater odds (aOR 1.79; 95% CI 1.26-2.53) of having a measured weight within one year of conception available in their charts.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that approximately 25% of women have both recalled weight at first prenatal visit and at least one weight measured within one year of conception in their medical records. Prepregnancy BMI, education, and prenatal care site were associated with presence or absence of recalled weight. Similarly, amongst those with recalled weight, martial status and prenatal care in faculty practice where associated with decreased and increased odds respectively of having a measured weight within one year of conception. We can use this information to help practitioners target women for which greater efforts are needed to provide accurate IOM-recommended BMI-specific gestational weight gain guidelines. This may be utilized to discern patterns of health care access in this patient population.

Changes in Patient Reported Symptoms During the Natural Progression of Osteoarthritis

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 11:24am

Background: Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States affecting twenty-one million adults[1]. In addition, osteoarthritis is the second most costly chronic condition in the U.S[2]. Physical activity is a challenge in all patients and is associated with fewer functional limitations and lower risk for developing illness[3]. Currently, there are no objective measures of physical activity in advanced knee OA.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to quantify patient-reported changes in pain and function during the natural progression of osteoarthritis at 3, 6, and 9 months, and to correlate these metrics with objective activity monitors.

Methods: 50 patients who were undergoing non-operative management of OA were enrolled. Patients were seen at baseline, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. At each visit, basic demographics and patient-reported measures (SF-36, WOMAC, and Charlson Co-morbidity index) were recorded. In addition, patients wore ActiGraph and activPal activity monitors for 7 days following the visit.

Results: The average age of the enrolled participants was 57 with 82% of participants being less than 65 years of age. Most participants were female (64%), and 80% of participants had 1 or fewer medical co-morbidities on the Charlson Co-morbidity Index. Only 4% of patients were using assistive devices. The average WOMAC pain score was 68 and did not change from one time period to the next. The average SF-36 PCS score was 38 and the MCS was 54, and neither changed over time. The average SF-36 PCS score in patients with a WOMAC pain score less than 80 was 36, while in those with a WOMAC pain score greater than 80 it was 42.5. In contrast, analyses of the activPal found a decline in activity over the time period. In the first 19 patients wearing the activPal who were analyzed, 12 of 19 increased sedentary time at 9 months by an average of 18%. In addition, 15 of 19 participants decreased minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at 9 months by an average of 26%.

Conclusions: In our study of 50 participants with osteoarthritis, patient-reported function did not change over a 9-month period. However, preliminary activity data suggests a decline. Further work will correlate patient-reported measures to the objective measures recorded by activity monitors to determine if objective monitors are preferable to detect early changes in activity due to OA.

[1] (CDC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of arthritis—United States, 1997. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2001. May 4; 50:334-6.

[2] Druss BG, Marcus SC, Olfson M, Pincus HA. The most expensive medical conditions in America. Health Affairs. 2002; 21:105-11.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Physical activity among adults with a disability—United States, 2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2007. Oct 5;56(39):1021-4.

Public Health Resources and Outreach: National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 10:25am

Describes the work of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region, and Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce to provide outreach services and promote awareness of evidence-based information resources for public health practice.

Evidence-Based Public Health: Identifying and Using Information Resources

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 9:20am

Public health evidence-based practice involves using the best available evidence to make informed public health practice decisions. This webinar introduced the concepts of evidence-based public health (EBPH) and provided an overview of resources that are online and freely accessible to the public health workforce. Resources highlighted included evidence-based guidelines, systematic reviews, formulated literature searches, best and promising practices, and additional sources of evidence available from the Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce, PHPartners.org.

Mice completely lacking immunoproteasomes show major changes in antigen presentation

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 5:02pm

The importance of immunoproteasomes to antigen presentation has been unclear because animals totally lacking immunoproteasomes had not been available. Having now developed mice lacking the three immunoproteasome catalytic subunits, we found that the dendritic cells of these mice had defects in presenting several major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I epitopes. During viral infection in vivo, the presentation of a majority of MHC class I epitopes was markedly reduced in immunoproteasome-deficient animals compared with wild-type animals, whereas presentation of MHC class II peptides was unaffected. According to mass spectrometry, the repertoire of MHC class I-presented peptides was ∼50% different from that in wild-type mice, and these differences were sufficient to stimulate robust transplant rejection of wild-type cells in mutant mice. These results indicated that immunoproteasomes were more important in antigen presentation than previously thought.

Heterologous immunity between viruses

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 5:02pm

Immune memory responses to previously encountered pathogens can sometimes alter the immune response to and the course of infection of an unrelated pathogen by a process known as heterologous immunity. This response can lead to enhanced or diminished protective immunity and altered immunopathology. Here, we discuss the nature of T-cell cross-reactivity and describe matrices of epitopes from different viruses eliciting cross-reactive CD8(+) T-cell responses. We examine the parameters of heterologous immunity mediated by these cross-reactive T cells during viral infections in mice and humans. We show that heterologous immunity can disrupt T-cell memory pools, alter the complexity of the T-cell repertoire, change patterns of T-cell immunodominance, lead to the selection of viral epitope-escape variants, alter the pathogenesis of viral infections, and, by virtue of the private specificity of T-cell repertoires within individuals, contribute to dramatic variations in viral disease. We propose that heterologous immunity is an important factor in resistance to and variations of human viral infections and that issues of heterologous immunity should be considered in the design of vaccines.

Heterologous Immunity and T Cell Stability During Viral Infections: A Dissertation

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:32am

The immune response to an infection is determined by a number of factors, which also affect the generation of memory T cells afterwards. The immune response can also affect the stability of the pre-existing memory populations. The memory developed after an infection can influence the response to subsequent infections with unrelated pathogens. This heterologous immunity may deviate the course of disease and alter the disease outcome. The generation and stability of memory CD8 T cells and the influence of the history of infections on subsequent heterologous infections are studied in this thesis using different viral infection sequences.

Previous studies using mice lacking individual immunoproteasome catalytic subunits showed only modest alterations in the CD8 T cell response to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). In this study, I found that the CD8 T cell response to LCMV was severely impaired in mice lacking all three catalytic subunits of the immunoproteasome, altering the immunodominance hierarchy of the CD8 T cell response and CD8 T cell memory. Adoptive transfer experiments suggested that both inefficient antigen presentation and altered T cell repertoire contribute to the reduction of the CD8 T cell response in the immunoproteasome knockout mice.

Immune responses generated during infections can reduce pre-existing memory T cell populations. Memory CD8 T cells have been shown to be reduced by subsequent heterologous infections. In this study, I re-examined the phenomenon using immune mice infected with LCMV, murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) and vaccinia virus (VACV) in different infection sequences. I confirmed that memory CD8 T cells were reduced by heterologous infections, and showed that LCMV-specific memory CD4 T cells were also reduced by heterologous infections. Reduction of the memory CD8 T cells is thought to be the result of apoptosis of memory CD8 T cells associated with the peak of type I interferon early during infection. I showed that memory CD4 T cells were similarly driven to apoptosis early during infection; however, Foxp3+ CD4+ regulatory T cells were relatively resistant to virus infection-induced apoptosis, and were stably maintained during LCMV infection. The stability of Treg cells during viral infections may explain the relatively low incidence of autoimmunity associated with infections.

The history of infections can deviate the course of disease and affect the disease outcome, but this heterologous immunity is not necessarily reciprocal. Previous studies have shown the effects of heterologous immunity during acute infections. In this thesis, I showed that the history of LCMV infection led to higher viral titers during persistent MCMV infection, caused more severe immunopathology at the beginning of infection, and reduced the number of MCMV-specific inflationary memory CD8 T cells after the period of memory inflation. In a different context of infection, the history of LCMV infection can be beneficial. LCMV-immune mice have been shown to have lower viral titers after VACV infection, but VACV-immune mice are not protected during LCMV infection. I found that memory CD8 T cells generated from LCMV and VACV infections were phenotypically different, but the differences could not explain the nonreciprocity of heterologous immunoprotection. By increasing the number of crossreactive VACV A11R198-205-specific memory CD8 T cells, however, I showed that some VACV-immune mice displayed reduced viral titers upon LCMV challenge, suggesting that the low number of potentially cross-reactive CD8 T cells in VACV-immune mice may be part of the reasons for the non-reciprocity of immunoprotection between LCMV and VACV. Further analysis deduced that both number of potentially cross-reactive memory CD8 T cells and the private specificity of memory CD8 T cell repertoire played a part in determining the outcome of heterologous infections.

A Role for Neuronal Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors in Dopamine-Mediated Behaviors and the Hypnotic Response to Anesthetics: A Dissertation

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:32am

Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are ligand-gated cation channels that most notably influence dopamine (DA) release. In this thesis, I examine the role of nAChRs in mediating DA-related behaviors such as movement and drug dependence. To accomplish this, I utilized a “gain-offunction” knock-in mouse (the Leu9’Ala line) containing agonist-hypersensitive α4* nAChRs (* indicates other nAChR subunits in addition to α4 are within the receptor complex) that renders receptors 50-fold more sensitive to nicotine and acetylcholine than wild-type (WT) receptors. I found that DHβE, a selective antagonist for α4β2* nAChRs, induced reversible and robust motor dysfunction characterized by hypolocomotion, akinesia, catalepsy, tremor, and clasping in Leu9’Ala but not WT mice. Reversal of the phenotype was achieved by targeting dopamine signaling. Blockade of mutant α4* nAChRs elicited activation of brain regions in the basal ganglia including dorsal striatum and substantia nigra pars reticulata indicated by c-Fos immunoreactivity. These data indicate that blocking α4* nAChRs in Leu9’Ala mice activates the indirect motor pathway resulting in a motor deficit. We also determined that α4* nAChRs involved in motor behaviors did not contain the α6 subunit, a nAChR subunit highly expressed in DAergic neurons suggesting that different nAChR subtypes modulating striatal DA release have separate functions in motor output. Conditioned place aversion and hypolocomotion, behaviors elicited during nicotine withdrawal, were also induced by DHβE in nicotine-naïve Leu9’Ala but not WT mice. Together these data suggest that DHβE globally reduces DA release in the CNS. In a separate project, I determined that α4* and α6* nAChRs modulate drug-induced hypnosis. Activation of nAChRs increased sensitivity to ketamine-induced hypnosis; whereas antagonizing nAChRs had the opposite effect. Additionally, α4 knockout (KO) mice were less sensitive to the hypnotic effects of ketamine, but α6 KO were more sensitive. High doses of ethanol induce an anesthesia-like state characterized by immobility, analgesia, and hypnosis. Testing the effects of ethanol hypnosis in α4 KO revealed that α4* nAChR do not play a large role in the acute effects of ethanol-induced hypnosis, but are involved in tolerance to this ethanol-induced behavior. The mechanisms of anesthetic-induced hypnosis are still largely unclear, despite the wide use of anesthesia. Future work on these receptors and their involvement in the anesthetic response will help to define a mechanism for hypnosis and improve the use of anesthetic drugs.

Getting Acquainted with Stigma: A Brief Introduction

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 4:15pm

In this Issue Brief we define stigma, describe its negative consequences, and offer ways to address stigma and promote engagement in care.

Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Project: Final Report

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 9:27am

There are numerous clinically based models for finding the “best evidence” for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. This process is called evidence-based medicine or EBM, which has been defined as "the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence-based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research”.1 The need for improved access to high quality public health information has been echoed in various forums involving public health professionals, librarians, and information specialists since the mid 1990s.2-6 The information needs of the public health workforce have become all the more urgent with the increasing frequency of emergence of new infectious diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza, as well as the increasing concern about acts of bioterrorism, such as spreading anthrax spores via the US Postal Service in 2001.

A major difficulty in meeting these needs is the great breadth of the public health discipline that makes it difficult to identify and collect a body of evidence-based literature to address the growing multitude of specific public health information needs. The public health workforce may be more diverse than any other group of health professionals7 and includes professionals trained in dozens of disciplines,4, 6 ranging from environmental health to veterinary medicine, from sanitary engineering to epidemiology.

Access to evidence-based public health information has become a growing concern for medical librarians. In 1997, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and other public health organizations formed the Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce.8 The mission of Partners is to help the public health workforce find and use information effectively to improve and protect the public's health. The Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Project at the Lamar Soutter Library, University of Massachusetts Medical School, was initiated in 2001. At the start of this project there was little attention paid to "best practices" for population-based public health. The overall purpose of this project was to address the need for access to quality evidence-based public health information.

In an effort to improve access to resources for evidence-based public health practice, the project has identified the knowledge domains of public health, public health journals and bibliographic databases, and evidence-based resources for public health practice. The project compared existing resources for locating, summarizing, synthesizing, and disseminating evidence-based information available to clinical medical practitioners with resources available to public health practitioners. We found that there were many more types of resources focused on clinical medical practice than on public health practice. The clinical medical resources were based on several different models of information search, summary, synthesis, and delivery, and some of most promising models had little or no presence in the public health arena. To explore and address this gap, the project sought to examine and classify the features of the clinical evidence-based medicine models, to assess their potential for improving access to evidence-based public health information, and to develop new models that could effectively address the unique needs of public health professionals.

The project team undertook a qualitative study to determine the information needs of public health practitioners and to develop strategies to improve access to credible and relevant information. The study combined three objectives that previous investigators had generally pursued individually: (1) the characterization of information needs of public health practitioners, (2) the assessment of barriers to information access, and (3) the identification of typical information seeking behaviors. We have used the insights gained from the study to inform the construction of an extended classification of the types of information needed by public health professionals and of an information system model that could meet their needs for access to diverse credible sources.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of Penicillin-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae--Connecticut, 1992-1993

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 9:27am

To determine the extent of antimicrobial susceptibility testing of Streptococcus pneumoniae and the prevalence of penicillin resistance among pneumococcal isolates from July 1992 through June 1993, in August 1993 the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services (DPHAS) surveyed all 44 hospitals with clinical microbiology laboratories in Connecticut. This report summarizes the results of that survey.

Public Health Information Access Project: Providing Information Access through a Digital Library

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 9:27am

Presentation on the Public Health Information Access Project, including objectives, description, challenges, and lessons learned.

Randomized trial of a family-based, automated, conversational obesity treatment program for underserved populations

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 4:12pm

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a scalable obesity treatment program integrated with pediatric primary care (PC) and delivered using interactive voice technology (IVR) to families from underserved populations.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Fifty parent-child dyads (child 9-12 yrs, BMI > 95th percentile) were recruited from a pediatric PC clinic and randomized to either an IVR or a wait-list control (WLC) group. The majority were lower-income, African-American (72%) families. Dyads received IVR calls for 12 weeks. Call content was informed by two evidence-based interventions. Anthropometric and behavioral variables were assessed at baseline and 3-month follow-up.

RESULTS: Forty-three dyads completed the study. IVR parents ate one cup more fruit than WLC (P < 0.05). No other group differences were found. Children classified as high users of the IVR decreased weight, BMI, and BMI z-score compared to low users ( P < 0.05). Mean number of calls for parents and children were 9.1 (5.2 SD) and 9.0 (5.7 SD), respectively. Of those who made calls, >75% agreed that the calls were useful, made for people like them, credible, and helped them eat healthy foods.

CONCLUSION: An obesity treatment program delivered via IVR may be an acceptable and feasible resource for families from underserved populations.