Month: March 2021

John Mayer Shreds The Blues At Dead & Company Rehearsal With Sammy Hagar [Watch]

first_imgJust days before Monday’s free show in San Francisco, Dead & Company held a band rehearsal that lured in some vocal assistance from Sammy Hagar. The Red Rocker joined in for a nice little blues jam on Thursday afternoon alongside John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Bill Kreutzmann. There are no details as to whether this means that the band will be welcoming their first ever special guest to the stage, or if this meeting was just for fun. While probably the latter, this is still a fun teaser as we gear up for a tour-filled summer with Dead & Co.Here is a video posted by Oteil Burbridge. Enjoy!last_img read more

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Watch Phish’s Instrument Swapping Jam Sessions From Last Weekend

first_imgFinally, the weekend came to a close with a heater at the Lakeview Amphitheater in Syracuse, NY, where the band again adopted the same configuration as they did during “YEM.” With McConnell on the bass and Gordon on the keys, the band waded through this instrumental with style. Your trip isn’t so short after all.Phish will travel across the country this week, and arrive at The Gorge in George, WA for two nights, on Friday July 15th and Saturday July 16th. We’ll see you there! It seems that instrument swapping is Phish’s new vehicle for creative jam sessions. The band found three such opportunities to mess around musically throughout the weekend, once at each show. With performances in Mansfield, MA, Hartford, CT and Syracuse, NY putting an end to the band’s Northeast run for the summer, Phish made it a weekend to truly remember.The first instrument swap came during a cover of Talking Heads’ “Cities” during the show at Mansfield’s Xfinity Center (Technically, the first instrument swap sans Marimba Lumina came during the monster “Chalk Dust Torture” at SPAC, but who’s keeping score? Oh wait, everyone is keeping score. It’s Phish.) The song just getting loose when Trey Anastasio broke a guitar string, allowing him to introduce his guitar tech. Anastasio then went over to the Marimba Lumina, while Mike Gordon took over on the guitar.Watch it all go down below, courtesy of brooklyntype on YouTube.The next swap came during a joyous “You Enjoy Myself” to close out the first set at Hartford’s XFINITY Theatre. During the song’s closing improvisational section, Anastasio again hopped over to the Marimba Lumina. Naturally, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell decided to swap instruments, as Leo played the bass and Cactus dabbled on the keys.Watch the full song below, as well as a high quality version of the instrument swap section as captured by MKDevo.last_img read more

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Roger Waters Is Working With Nigel Godrich On His First Solo Album Since 1992

first_imgOne of the biggest stories from yesterday’s news cycle was the return of Roger Waters to the road, as the Pink Floyd bassist announced a major 42-date engagement for summer of 2017. In his announcement, Waters mentioned the possibility of playing new music, ultimately leading to him releasing his first solo album since 1992’s Amused To Death. A full 25 years later (assuming the album comes out next year), Waters is getting closer than ever to releasing the prized follow-up release.Though a new album has not been formally announced, Waters did sit down with Rolling Stone to discuss what it might look like. He mentions that frequent Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich is involved with the project, though he also states that he’s never listened to Radiohead. “I don’t listen to other people’s records, so I haven’t heard any. I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m working,” says Waters.The album itself has a unique concept, perhaps best explained in Waters’ own words.I had written a long, meandering piece that was a radio play with about a dozen songs in it. It was the story of an old Irishman who is babysitting. You don’t know this. The thing starts off with a two-minute monologue of discontent [chuckles]: “Our children and grandchildren, ceaselessly bent over their computers, blah, blah, blah, I fucking hate this, I fucking hate that.” That was the beginning of the whole thing, this disillusionment.You eventually discover that he is babysitting. The kid wakes up. He goes in to look after the kid, and it’s his granddaughter. She is having a nightmare, and the nightmare is someone is killing all the children. He says, “No, they’re not. They haven’t killed any children since the Troubles [in Northern Ireland].” And the kid says, “Not here, Grandpa. Over there.” The grandfather promises they will go on a quest to find the answer to this question: Why are they killing all the children? It is a fundamentally important question.So I wrote this whole thing – part magic carpet ride, part political rant, part anguish. I played this to Nigel, and he goes, “Oh, I like that little bit” – about two minutes long – “and that bit.” And so we’ve been working. I’ve also been falling in love, deeply in love. So the record is really about love – which is what all of my records have been about, in fact. It’s pondering not just why we are killing the children. It’s also the question of how do we take these moments of love – if we are granted any in our lives – and allow that love to shine on the rest of existence, on others.Ultimately, Waters boils down the new album, as well as his old ones, with a simple philosophy. “Building walls is not the answer.” Naturally he uses that opportunity to blast Donald Trump, but his point against “national exceptionalism” is a poignant one.The full interview touches on The Wall tour, the Pink Floyd box sets, and the recent reunion with David Gilmour and Nick Mason. You can find it here.last_img read more

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Spotify CEO Invites Barack Obama To Apply For “President Of Playlists” Position

first_imgYou can read the job description and apply for the position here, although we’re pretty sure you won’t fit the requirements unless your name happens to be Barry O. Prerequisites in the “Who You Are” section of the job listing include:Have at least eight years experience running a highly-regarded nation.Familiar with the Spotify platform, with experience in programming playlists at a federal level. Anything from an eclectic summer playlist, to a celebratory, “I just found my birth certificate” playlist.Have good relationships with a wide range of artists and musicians. Ever had Kendrick Lamar play at your birthday bash? We’d love to hear about it!Can speak passionately about playlists at press events. Let us be clear, you should be nothing short of one of the greatest speakers of all time.A keen attention to detail and consistency. Able to work closely with other departments, so playlists can hold up to public scrutiny.Someone with good team spirit, excellent work ethic, a friendly and warm attitude, and a Nobel Peace Prize.Whether Obama decides to apply for the President of Playlists job at Spotify or some other position, we can be sure that he will continue to be cool as hell while he does it.[h/t – Consequence of Sound] During a recent meeting with the outgoing Swedish ambassador, Barack Obama quipped that he was hoping for a job offer Swedish streaming giant Spotify once he officially completes his second term as POTUS term next week. According to Consequence of Sound, the President allegedly joked “I’m still waiting for my job at Spotify…cuz’ I know y’all loved my playlist.”President Obama Reminds Us Just How Cool He Is With Personalized Summer PlaylistsBeing as cool (and as good at making dope playlists) as he is, Obama should know by now not to joke about such things, as people are eager to take his silliness seriously: In response to Obama’s comment, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has added an unusual listing to the job opportunities section of the company website–for a position called “President of Playlists.”last_img read more

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Jibberjazz’s Some Kind Of Jam Festival Reveals Jam-Friendly Lineup Announcement

first_imgSome Kind Of Jam 12 returns to Schuylkill Haven, PA for the weekend of April 28th through the 30th, bringing along a stacked lineup of musicians from the scene. With headlining sets from Antibalas and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, the festival is sure to be a great way to spend a late spring weekend.The lineup doesn’t stop there, as Spafford, Mungion, Old Salt Union, Marbin, Black Masala, ELM, Blue Moon Soup, Greener Grounds, Malai Llama and more are all featured on the 2017 lineup. You can see the full announcement below, and head here for details.SOME KIND OF JAM 12 Lineup:ANTIBALASGIANT PANDA GUERILLA DUB SQUADSPAFFORDMUNGIONOLD SALT UNIONMARBINBLACK MASALAELMBLUE MOON SOUPGREENER GROUNDSMALAI LLAMAHEZEKIAH JONESDARLATHE CLOCK READSTITANIUM STARDUST MACHINETHE ROYAL NOISENEW SOUND BRASS BANDOH BREETHE HILLS AND THE RIVERSLOCOCHINOSHAWAN AND THE WONTONMOHO COLLECTIVEWAHOO SKIFFLE CRAZIESSERENE GREENSACAGAWEA AND THE HUNTERSDAVE BROWNJULIE CORBALISTHE TOMMY ROBERTSlast_img read more

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Wu-Tang Members Join The Roots On Fallon On Day Of New LP Release [Video/Album Stream]

first_imgOn Friday, October 13th, Wu-Tang Clan debuted their brand new LP, Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues, the first commercially available album from the lauded Staten Island hip hop crew since 2014’s A Better Tomorrow. Later that night, Wu-Tang members RZA, Ghostface Killah, and Cappadonna appeared along with featured singer Steven Latorre, producer Mathematics, and the legendary The Roots crew on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to run through one of the album’s singles, “My Only One.”Why was it necessary to qualify Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues as the iconic hip-hop collective’s first “commercially available” album since 2014? If you recall, they made considerable waves back in 2015, when they released a single copy of an expansive double-album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, which they then sold via auction to the highest bidder. As representatives from the Wu-Tang camp said at the time, the album was recorded in secret over a six-year period, after which a single CD was pressed, packaged in an ornate box, and stored in a vault in Marrakech, Morocco.The highly specific contract for the sale of the album states that the buyer cannot distribute it commercially for 88 years. As the group’s de facto leader the RZA explained at the time,  “When you buy a painting or a sculpture, you’re buying that piece rather than the right to replicate it,” said RZA. “Owning a Picasso doesn’t mean you can sell prints or reproductions, but that you’re the sole owner of a unique original. And that’s what Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is. It’s a unique original rather than a master copy of an album.”Sound bizarre to you? Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The single copy of the album was eventually sold for more than 2 million dollars to an anonymous “American businessman”–who, to the dismay of virtually everybody, turned out to be none other than AIDs drug price-hiking pharma-bro CEO and general public pariah Martin Shkreli. The saga of Shkreli and Once Upon A Time In Shaolin only got more ridiculous from there. First, he made a public promise that he would release the coveted album if Donald Trump was elected president–back when that prospect seemed wholly unfathomable. Once Trump was eventually elected, Shkreli did end up keeping his promise by sharing little bits of the album, but he did so via YouTube videos that feature him in them looking particularly grumpy, so they’re sorta hard to watch to begin with. Before that, he had threatened to destroy the album so nobody would ever hear it–presumably just to spoil if for everyone else (he totally would be that guy). But once he was arrested and held on a massive bond after being accused of securities fraud, he ended up auctioning off the album on Ebay to pay off legal debts (he sold it for nearly a $1M loss on his original investment).While the stringent language of the contract prevented the Wu from doing anything about Shkreli holding the album hostage, it also thickened the plot. The story reared its head once again when someone snapped a photo of the Shaolin agreement revealing a contractual caveat just bizarre enough to be true: According to alleged photos of the sale contract, the album was legally allowed to be rescued from its buyer in a heist carried out exclusively by “active members of the Wu-Tang Clan and/or actor Bill Murray, with no legal repercussions,” prompting public please from fans for Murray to go on a caper with the Wu to retrieve the album from its surreptitious owner. The contract passage was later revealed to be a hoax, but the outlandish concept became the premise for a new musical comedy, Martin Shkreli’s Game.Other than a track list and the snippets released by Shkreli, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin has yet to see the light of day–a surprising fact in the age of free-flowing information in which we live. However, the group’s new album, The Saga Continues, finally goes a long way toward scratching fans’ Shaolin itch. The excellent new project simultaneously feels like classic Wu and something totally fresh and creatively cohesive. Produced in its entirety by longtime collaborating producer Mathematics, the new LP recognizes the shitshow surrounding the Wu’s one-copy-only 2015 album on multiple instances, taking multiple tongue-in-cheek jabs at everyone’s least favorite pharmaceutical demagogue throughout. Whether you come for the Shkreli burns or just for some classic Wu mastery, The Saga Continues will more than satisfy your jones. Well, for now anyway…(#freeShaolin).You can listen to Wu-Tang Clan’s newly released new album, The Saga Continues below via Spotify:last_img read more

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Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas Passes Away Suddenly At Age 76

first_imgToday, news broke that the English rock band Moody Blues’ founder, flutist, and vocalist Ray Thomas died suddenly at the age of 76 on Thursday. As his record label, Esoteric Recordings, confirmed, “It is with profound sorrow and sadness that Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings regret to announce that Ray Thomas, founder member, flautist and vocalist of the Moody Blues, passed away suddenly at his home in Surrey on Thursday 4th January 2018.”You can read Esoteric Recordings’ full statement below It is with profound sorrow and sadness that Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings regret to announce that Ray Thomas, founder member, flautist and vocalist of the Moody Blues, passed away suddenly at his home in Surrey on Thursday 4th January 2018.We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humour and kindness. It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife Lee at this sad time.Born in Stourport-on-Severn on 29th December 1941, Ray was a member of various Birmingham Blues and Soul groups in the early 1960s, notably with El Riot and the Rebels, who also featured John Lodge and Mike Pinder at various stages in their existence. Ray formed The Krew Cats with Mike Pinder in 1963 and the group performed on the Hamburg club scene that year. Returning to Birmingham, Thomas and Pinder formed the Moody Blues with Denny Laine, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick. The band signed to Decca Records and enjoyed a worldwide hit with their cover of Bessie Banks’ “Go Now” in January 1965.In October 1966 the Moody Blues line-up changed with the recruitment of Justin Hayward and John Lodge to replace the departing Denny Laine and Clint Warwick. The musical style of the group changed dramatically with the incorporation of the Mellotron into their sound, along with Ray’s evocative flute playing.The band’s 1967 single “Nights in White Satin” (from the ground breaking album “Days of Future Passed” – a number one album in the USA in 1972) was graced by a magical flute solo from Ray, contributing to the evocative arrangement of the song.Over seven albums released between 1967 and 1972 the Moody Blues enjoyed major success, and each album was graced with compositions by Ray such as “Legend of a Mind” (about the psychedelic champion Timothy Leary), “Eternity Road”, “And the Tide Rushes In” and “For My Lady”.In the mid 1970s Ray recorded two successful solo albums; “From Mighty Oaks” (1975) and “Hopes Wishes and Dreams” (1976). The Moody Blues success continued into the 1980s. Ray’s song “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” (from 1981’s “Long Distance Voyager”) highlighted Ray’s marvellous sense of humour.Ray remained with the Moody Blues until 2002 when he retired from the band due to health issues. Despite mobility issues, Ray continued to play and record occasionally, contributing a new song, “The Trouble with Memories” to a 2010 boxed set release of his two solo albums and more recently to the John Lodge album “10,000 Light Years Ago” in 2014. In 2017 it was announced that the members of the Moody Blues, including Ray Thomas, were to be inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.last_img read more

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PHOTOS: Lotus Lights Up The Vic Theatre On A Snowy Night In Chicago

first_imgLoad remaining images The snow fell heavily in Chicago as the third night of Lotus’ winter tour passed through the city. The band must have brought the blizzard with them, after blowing out the previous shows in West Virginia and Ohio. Chicago has always been the place for bands to showcase some of their best work, new and old alike. February 9th at the Vic Theatre would follow the same pattern, as the band jammed to new heights. Lotus has never been a band to disappoint, and all in attendance were ready to dance their troubles away.Following an opening set from Marvel Years, Lotus came onstage after 8:30 pm. The band opened up with “Grayrigg” from 2009’s Oil on Grass/Feather on Wood, whizzing the room into a groove. “Opo” swiftly followed. From there, the band went into their first extended segment of the night. The section included “Inspector Norse”, a jam in G, “Trip”, “Mikesnack”, another jam in the tune of G and, finally, a graceful landing on “Tip of the Tongue”. The energy in the room was harnessed perfectly, and the crowd was wildly pleased with the improvisation and funk flavor running throughout each song. A well-executed “Forgotten Name” came next, followed by a raging “128” to close the set.The band returned with the first “Fearless” of 2018, followed shortly after by the vastly whimsical land of “Kalea” before diverting into a high-flying “Livingston Storm”, once again sending the crowd into a frenzy. As the notes flowed up and away, the band came together for “Slow Cookin”.Next, the band exploded into “ClapClapClap”, taking time to experiment with their electronic influences. To end the extended jam–and the second set–the band effortlessly found their way back to “Jump Off”. A crowd favorite, “Jump Off” was truly the cherry on top of a wonderful night. Before closing the final curtain, the crowd enjoyed an inspired “In an Outline” encore. Catch Lotus next as their winter tour continues in Wisconsin on the 10th at the Turner Hall in Milwaukee.You can check out a beautiful gallery of photos from Lotus’ show at The Vic via photographer Aaron Bradley.For a full list of Lotus’ upcoming tour dates, head to the band’s website.Setlist: Lotus | The Vic Theatre | Chicago, IL | 2/9/18Set 1: Grayrigg, Opo, Inspector Norse > G > Trip > Mikesnack > C > Tip of the Tongue, Forgotten Name, 128Set 2 : Fearless, Kalea, Livingston Storm > F# > A > Slow Cookin > Bush Pilot > ClapClapClap > G > C > Jump OffEncore: In An Outline Lotus | The Vic Theater | Chicago, IL | 2/9/18 | Photos: Aaron Bradleylast_img read more

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Phish Releases Mexican ‘Live Bait Vol. 15’ Compilation

first_imgToday, in the wake of their tour-opening run at Albany’s Times Union Center on Tuesday and Wednesday, Phish has released the latest installment of their ongoing free live compilation series, Live Bait Vol. 15.In anticipation of Phish’s upcoming return to Riviera Maya, Mexico early next year, this edition of Live Bait is comprised entirely of live recordings from the bands previous two trips to Mexico in 2016 and 2017. The live numbers were recorded by Jon Altschiller and compiled by Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro.You can stream and download the entire Mexican Live Bait Vol. 15 compilation now via LivePhish.com or the LivePhish mobile app. See below for the full list of live Phish selections that appear on Live Bait Vol. 15.Phish’s third all-inclusive Mexican destination event is set to take place at Barceló Maya Beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico from February 21st–23rd, 2019. For more information on Phish Riviera Maya 2019, head here.Phish’s ongoing 2018 Fall Tour continues this weekend with a three-night run at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA. For a full list of Phish’s upcoming tour dates, head to the band’s website here.Phish Live Bait Vol. 15 TracklistingMexican Cousin (1/17/16 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 4:19The Moma Dance (1/17/16 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 14:45Wolfman’s Brother (1/13/17 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 12:42Tweezer > Roggae (1/15/17 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 21:48Chalk Dust Torture (1/14/17 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 13:25Down With Disease (1/17/16 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 19:09Sand > Ghost (1/15/17 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 22:47Prince Caspian > Twist > Seven Below (1/13/17 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 30:48Slave To The Traffic Light (1/17/16 Barceló Maya Beach – Riviera Maya, MX) 11:05View Full Tracklistinglast_img read more

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Santana & The Doobie Brothers Announce 2019 Tour

first_imgLegendary jazz and rock guitarist Carlos Santana has announced a North American tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of his Grammy-winning album, Supernatural, and the 50th anniversary of his monumental performance at Woodstock. The Supernatural Now tour will span 29 dates over three months, and will feature support by The Doobie Brothers.Produced by Live Nation, Santana’s Supernatural Now tour begins on June 22nd at the Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, AZ, and will make stops in Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, and more before it concludes on August 25th at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY. Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning January 25th via Live Nation.Celebrating both anniversaries in the same year has cosmic significance, expresses Santana in a press statement.“Both were monumental moments in my life. Woodstock and Supernatural took me to places I never dreamed were possible. I embraced those incredible moments in my life with all my heart.” He continues, “Both were supreme lessons in maintaining focus, heart, and integrity in every step every day and to strive to better oneself with a high standard on and off the stage. I cannot think of these two moments without thinking about Mr. Bill Graham and Mr. Clive Davis. They are two of many angels in my life that helped shape my career.”Earlier this month, Santana announced a new EP,  In Search of Mona Lisa, due out on January 25th via Concord Records. The 2019 release will mark Santana’s first with the California-based record label. In Search of Mona Lisa also marks Santana’s first release of new music since 2017’s The Power Of Peace, a collaborative effort with The Isley Brothers, as well as Santana’s wife and touring partner, Cindy Blackman Santana.As of Wednesday, Santana has not announced any performance at either of the two upcoming Woodstock celebrations. With the intention of this tour and it’s connection to Live Nation however, it is possible we might see the legendary musician perform the Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival, which is “celebrating the golden anniversary at the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock festival” on the same weekend as the “official” Woodstock 50 celebration–produced by the original promoters at Watkins Glen International.For a full list of upcoming tour dates, head to Santana’s website. Santana / The Doobie Brothers — 2019 Tour DatesJune 22 – Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin PavilionJune 23 – San Diego, CA @ North Island Credit Union AmphitheatreJune 24 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood BowlJune 26 – Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline AmphitheatreJune 27 – Wheatland, CA @ Toyota AmphitheatreJune 29 – Seattle, WA @ White River AmphitheatreJune 30 – Portland, OR @ Sunlight Supply AmphitheaterJuly 2 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA AmphitheatreJuly 3 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi CenterJuly 6 – Dallas, TX @ Dos Equis PavilionJuly 9 – Austin, TX @ Austin360 AmphitheaterJuly 11 – Kansas City, MO – Sprint CenterJuly 12 – St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino AmphitheatreAugust 3 – St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Energy CenterAugust 4 – Chicago, IL @ Hollywood Casino AmphitheatreAugust 6 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser StageAugust 7 – Cleveland, OH @ Blossom Music CenterAugust 9 – Indianapolis, IN @ Ruoff Home Mortgage Music CenterAugust 10 – Cincinnati, OH @ Riverbend Music CenterAugust 11 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music TheatreAugust 13 – Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music PavilionAugust 14 – Washington, DC @ Jiffy Lube LiveAugust 16 – Darien Center, NY @ Darien Lake AmphitheaterAugust 18 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts CenterAugust 20 – Boston, MA @ Xfinity CenterAugust 21 – Hartford, CT @ XFINITY TheatreAugust 23 – Saratoga, NY @ Saratoga Performing Arts CenterAugust 24 – Camden, NJ @ BB&T PavilionAugust 25 – Wantagh, NY @ Northwell Health at Jones Beach TheaterView All Tour Dateslast_img read more

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It does indeed compute

first_imgMore than 300 computer applications and Web sites that would delight both super-geeks and casual computer users were showcased in the second CS 50 Fair on Tuesday (Dec. 8) at the Northwest Science Labs, in a remarkable display of student ingenuity.The ingenuity was all the more remarkable because a majority of the 380 students displaying the applications had no prior programming experience before taking Computer Science 50, “Introduction to Computer Science I,” taught by David J. Malan ’99, Ph.D. ’07, lecturer on computer science at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.Yet using skills gleaned from Malan’s intensive approach (“boot camp,” as one participant put it), students learned enough programming language to build applications that created jazz arrangements, showed areas of the world where major news was happening, produced marketplaces for trading services or selling textbooks, and highlighted the risk of swine flu infection by state.  The course’s final projects are displayed at the CS 50 Fair, which this year attracted more than 1,000 visitors.Some projects reflected students’ own interests. Allison Rosenberg ’12, for example, created a “ResearchRover” that would find and send articles related to one’s own research. Members of Harvard’s debate team designed “Debase,” which stores post-debate information for high school and college teams. Some applications were Harvard-centric, such as how to find the shortest path between two campus locations or letting users receive text messages about the food being served in campus dining halls.Other projects focused on social challenges. The team of Scott Crouch ’13 and Sophie Chang ’13 created an iPhone application for high school students to help guide them through the complicated field of physics.At least two students created programs that analyzed “procrastination” to help users better organize their time.Malan, who has taught the course for three years, was delighted with the breadth of the projects, noting an increased interest in designing applications for mobile devices and android applications using Google’s software development kit.Computer Science 50 (also known as CS 50) aims to go beyond merely teaching programming languages like PHP and JavaScript, Malan said. Those languages “are a means to an end, and the end is to empower the student to actually approach some arbitrary problem — whether it’s in their research or other course work or within the computer science department — and solve that problem,” he said.Malan’s course work, including problem sets, videos of his lectures, and other material, is posted on the class Web site, so that anyone with an Internet connection can “play along at home,” as Malan put it.last_img read more

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Mind/Brain/Behavior awards seniors

first_imgThe Faculty of Arts and Sciences Standing Committee on Mind/Brain/Behavior (MBB) recognized seniors in a ceremony held at the Harvard Faculty Club on May 26.Secondary-field students were recognized for completing interdisciplinary course work, and track students were awarded certificates for completing an MBB track, which included concentration and interdisciplinary course work plus research culminating in a senior honors thesis.MBB secondary-field seniors included Pushan R. Dasgupta, Alterrell Mills Jr., Paul William Capobianco Murphy, William Cheng-Zhong Pan, and James MacLure Wilsterman.Track students receiving certificates were Christine Marie Baugh (history and science), Roy Cohen (psychology), Susan E. DeWolf (neurobiology), Judith Fan (neurobiology), Ana Maria Franco Curet (history and science), Meghan M. Galligan (neurobiology), Ana P. Gantman (philosophy), Jessica Lane Lucier (philosophy), Chiamaka Lilian Nwakeze (neurobiology), Geoffrey Leonard Goodman Oberhofer (neurobiology), Sophie Rengarajan (neurobiology), Brad Alex Seiler (computer science), Robert Langley Tennyson (human evolutionary biology), Mark Anthony Terrelonge Jr. (neurobiology), Amanda Rose Wallace (neurobiology), and Kate Chenlu Xie (neurobiology).last_img read more

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GSAS honors outstanding alumni

first_imgEach year, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) celebrates the achievements of a select group of Harvard University’s most accomplished alumni by awarding the Centennial Medal, the highest honor that the GSAS bestows. It was first awarded in June 1989, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of GSAS.Centennial medalists are alumni whose contributions to knowledge, to their disciplines, to their colleagues, and to society at large have made a fundamental and lasting impact. Medalists are invited to attend the Honorands’ Dinner, given for the University’s honorary degree recipients, and to join other dignitaries on stage during Commencement’s Morning and Afternoon Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre and during the GSAS Diploma Awarding Ceremony in Sanders Theatre.This year’s medal is being awarded on May 25 to a leading international scholar in mathematics, a well-traveled space scientist, a former university president who epitomizes grace under fire, and a historian who paints America’s past in vivid strokes.Solving the big problems Heisuke Hironaka (Ph.D. ’60, mathematics) is one of the premier mathematicians of his time. He achieved worldwide fame in 1964 for “Resolution of Singularities,” his solution to a central problem in algebraic geometry. In 1968 he became one of the first Japanese professors appointed at Harvard. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1970. Hironaka is one of the most widely known and acclaimed scholars in Japan, where he has had a broad influence on society and education. He became a celebrity after he was presented with the Order of Culture Award by the emperor in 1975, an honor he shares with conductor Seiji Ozawa. Between 1977 and 1991 Hironaka wrote or co-wrote 26 popular books on topics including discovery in science, education of children and young adults, creative thinking, and mathematics; he has been consistently interested in encouraging interest in mathematics among young people. After positions at Brandeis and Columbia universities, Hironaka joined the Harvard faculty in 1968. He later held a joint professorship at Kyoto University, and went on to become director of the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Kyoto from 1983 to 1985 and president of Yamaguchi University from 1996 to 2002. He also played an important role in founding the international Kyoto Prize, which since 1984 has been awarded annually in advanced technology, basic sciences, arts, and philosophy. Hironaka continues to be active in mathematical research and is currently working with groups in Spain, China, and Korea.Trailblazing in the next frontierJeffrey Alan Hoffman (Ph.D. ’71, astrophysics) is professor of the practice in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Hoffman started his career as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, after which he worked on the research staff of the Physics Department at Leicester University in the United Kingdom and at MIT’s Center for Space Research. He was a NASA astronaut from 1978 to 1997, making five space flights and becoming the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours of flight time aboard the space shuttle. In all, he logged 21.5 million miles in space. Hoffman performed four spacewalks, including the first unplanned, contingency spacewalk in NASA’s history (STS 51D; April 1985) and the first repair/rescue mission for the Hubble Space Telescope (STS 61; December 1993), for which he gained wide appreciation. Following his astronaut career, Hoffman spent four years as NASA’s European representative. In August 2001, he joined the faculty at MIT, where he teaches space operations and design and space policy. Hoffman is also director of the Massachusetts Space Grant Alliance, responsible for statewide space-related educational activities designed to increase public understanding of space and to attract students into aerospace careers. His principal areas of research are advanced EVA systems, management of space science projects, and space systems architecture.Leadership in crisis and in calmRichard Lyman (Ph.D. ’54, history) is president emeritus and the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Humanities emeritus at Stanford University. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1958 and held positions as professor of history, associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, and vice president and provost before serving as president of Stanford from 1970 to 1980. During the Vietnam War years, as students at Stanford and around the country rallied against the war, Lyman was at the forefront of efforts to limit campus unrest and prevent violence; he is credited on campus with having “saved Stanford.” From 1980 to 1988 Lyman was president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and from 1988 to his retirement in 1991 he was the founding director of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Lyman has served as a director of the Council on Foundations and chaired the board of Independent Sector; he is also a past chairman of the Association of American Universities. He served as a director of IBM Corp. and Chase Manhattan Corp., and as a member of the board of the World Affairs Council of Northern California and the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities. He is a member of the American Historical Association and the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds seven honorary degrees; is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Royal Historical Society; is a member of the American Philosophical Society; is an honorary fellow of the London School of Economics; and is an officer of the French Legion of Honor.Painting U.S. history in vivid huesNell Irvin Painter (Ph.D. ’74, history), a groundbreaking historian of the United States who emphasized the experiences of African Americans, women, and the working class as a vital part of America’s past, is the Edwards Professor of American History Emerita at Princeton University. In addition to her earned doctorate from Harvard, she has received honorary doctorates from Wesleyan, Dartmouth, the State University of New York-New Paltz, and Yale. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Painter has also held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Antiquarian Society. She has served as president of the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association. A prolific and award-winning scholar, her most recent books are “The History of White People,” “Creating Black Americans,” and “Southern History Across the Color Line.” As a public intellectual, Painter is frequently called upon for lectures and interviews on television and film. She is currently a graduate student in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and will receive her M.F.A. in June.last_img read more

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Exemplary service

first_imgDorothy Stoneman ’63 accepted the 2011 Robert Coles “Call of Service” award from the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) Saturday at the Memorial Church. The award recognized Stoneman’s achievements in social entrepreneurship and public service as the founder and chief executive officer of YouthBuild USA, a national youth and community development program.In introducing Stoneman, Gene Corbin, assistant dean of student life for public service, said, “When Dorothy Stoneman learned that Phillips Brooks House Association wanted to honor her with this award and to deliver this annual lecture, her first response was to ask if some of her youth in YouthBuild could join her in accepting it. In a world increasingly consumed with self-promotion, Dorothy’s focus continues to be on the development of others. Dorothy’s strident faith in the younger people and their ability to contribute to the communities in which they live has been a towering force that has literally transformed countless lives. In a time when we are wringing our hands over high unemployment and worrying about the futures of far too many marginalized youth, we would do well to recognize Dorothy Stoneman, and to learn all we can from her.”Stoneman addressed an audience of students, alumni, parents, community leaders, and PBHA partners — including Robert Coles, for whom the award is named. Said Stoneman: “I have by some mysterious good fortune followed a path that has resulted in the creation of hundreds of oases in which low-income people, who expected to be dead or in jail by the time they were 25 years old, found everything they needed from caring and skillful adults so they can get their lives back on track and think of themselves as leaders and contributors in their community. And it has been an incredible joy to experience that.”At YouthBuild, low-income individuals who have left high school without a diploma commit to at least one year of full-time training and community service. They spend half their time building affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in their neighborhoods, the other half at a YouthBuild community school, where they work toward completing their diploma.Stoneman attributed the success of the program to its pillars of love, respect, and accountability.“At YouthBuild, when they walk in the door, we treat them with so much respect,” she said. “We believe in the power of love to reverse the damage that’s been done by the oppressive forces of our society. And lo and behold, it works. It’s amazing how lively, how quickly, and how deeply it works. There are millions of young people who are temporarily lost. They’ve left high school without a diploma, they’re unemployed, they’re on the streets, they’re in prison, they’re sitting on the couches. But they are not dead and they are not dumb; they are still seeking life. If you want to break the cycle of poverty, give these 16- to 24-year-olds hope, opportunity, a pathway, support, love, and some pay for doing something of value for their community, and things will change.”Furthermore, Stoneman says, young people’s participation in YouthBuild has a ripple effect throughout the community. “There’s nothing more exciting for these young kids than being seen in their neighborhoods, for the first time, as a positive force,” she said. “Now they’re heroes instead of hoodlums. For the first time, their parents and their grandparents are proud of them. Even their former gang members say that they’re proud of them for getting out. Not only are young people eager to seize these opportunities, but seasoned adults are also eager for a chance to vest their own lives in creating opportunity and hope for the young people in their neighborhood.”PBHA is a student-led organization that engages more than 1,400 undergraduates at Harvard University in 85 student-led social service and social action programs in Boston and Cambridge. Every year, PBHA recognizes leaders in public service as a way to encourage its student participants to strengthen their leadership skills and pursue careers in public interest. Past recipients of the award include Al Gore, Marian Wright Edelman, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and social activist and educator Geoffrey Canada.last_img read more

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Rules of attraction

first_imgNicholas Christakis, whose research has shown how everything from obesity to smoking to happiness spreads through social networks, said Monday that the human ability to form lasting relationships results from a trade-off between greater access to information provided by our networks and the increased exposure to disease that networks bring.“I think the spread of germs is the price we pay for the spread of information,” Christakis said. “The benefit of a connected life outweighs the cost.”Christakis, who has professorships in sociology, medicine, and medical sociology, provided an overview of how and why social networks form in a talk at the Center for Population and Development Studies. He reviewed recent research on the roots of social groups, including those of Tanzania’s Hadza, among the world’s last hunter-gatherers.Each human network — whether in the midst of the most industrialized societies or in rural Africa — has similar traits, Christakis said. Among them are the presence of both kin and non-kin, the attraction between like individuals, the tendency of one’s connections to also be connected to one another, the likelihood that connected people are counted in one another’s networks, and a strong chance of decay with geographic distance. Another key trait in human networks is “assortativity.”Assortativity is the tendency of popular people to be connected to other popular people and unpopular people to be connected to unpopular people. Assortativity, it turns out, is the arrangement that provides the greatest resistance to disease, because though germs will tear through the close, interconnected network of the most popular, it will bypass those less well connected.When looking at how humans evolved over millions of years, selection by the physical environment and through the biological pressure exerted by pathogens and predators gets a lot of attention. The social environment gets less attention as an evolutionary force, Christakis said, though it may also have been important in forming individuals who can function in social groups. Humanity’s big brain, he said, may have developed not just because we needed to use tools, but also because we needed the skills to make friends, discern enemies, and build enduring networks.“Until today, the main predator of human beings is other human beings,” Christakis said.Another key trait of human networks is their ability to magnify inputs, Christakis said. If someone is altruistic and helps out a friend, that will likely trigger a cascade, making that person more likely to help others and making those others more likely to pass it on. This generates a higher benefit to the whole group than the original input itself. The downside of networks, of course, is that they can also magnify violence, germs, panic, and other negative factors.“Networks magnify whatever they are seeded with, good or bad,” Christakis said.Different people occupy different positions in a network, with the more popular in the center, with more and closer connections. Whether it is better to be in the center or out on the fringe depends on the situation, however, as does the desirability of tight-knit friends who all know one another compared with friends who are attached to unconnected others. A central position has greater access to information, but greater vulnerability to germs. A tight-knit group might perform better on a hunt or a raid, while a looser, more extended group might be more effective at gathering far-flung information.Research has shown that a position in a network is partly genetic, with 46 percent of our network variability explained by traits that are considered inheritable, such as shyness, Christakis said.Work with the Hadza has illuminated a bit more about how and why groups form and change. The Hadza live in temporary camps whose membership is fluid. By tracking Hadza preferences of whom they’d like to share camp with and whom they give gifts to, researchers determined that camps tend to be dominated by people with similar inclinations to cooperate.A later experiment involving a different group of people found that cooperators in groups with noncooperators tend to sever links with noncooperators and form new bonds with other cooperators. This leaves cooperators in like-minded groups and noncooperators with no choice but to team up with people like them. When network membership was fixed, however, cooperators eventually stopped, creating groups dominated by non-cooperators.“Generous people hang out with generous people. Ungenerous people hang out with ungenerous people,” Christakis said.last_img read more

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Of art and the Civil War

first_imgThe Proclamation Project, a three-week writing-immersion workshop for teenagers. It will generate a local performance of its work, based on remixing and reusing primary source material. That may lead to four of the teenagers joining other groups in Washington to share the emancipation stories of various cities.Matt Aucoin ’12 is composing “Memoranda During the War,” a new opera based on Walt Whitman’s experiences as a Civil War nurse. Aucoin is a graduate student in composition at the Juilliard School of Music and assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. “Memoranda During the War,” a new opera based on Walt Whitman’s experiences as a Civil War nurse. It’s being composed by Matt Aucoin ’12, a graduate student in composition at the Juilliard School of Music and assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. “War Dept.,” a new musical theater piece set in Ford’s Theater, where Lincoln was shot. Directors will be Jim and Ruth Bauer, co-creators of “The Blue Flower” during the A.R.T.’s 2011-2012 season.center_img At a luncheon Thursday in Washington, D.C., Harvard joined three other universities and five performing arts organizations in launching the National Civil War Project.The multiyear, multicity collaboration is designed to use the arts to re-imagine America’s transformative clash of 150 years ago. New plays and other performances will be commissioned through the project, organizers said, and the member universities will create related academic courses, lecture series, and other programs.Collaborators on the project will convene national conferences, expert roundtables, community programs, and public discussions. There also will be student exhibitions and playwriting projects.The Harvard-affiliated American Repertory Theater will take part. Artistic director Diane Paulus praised the “opportunity to explore the American Civil War, and the civil war as it continues in our world today.”The project’s core idea is to use the lens of the arts to look back at the period that brought slavery to an end, spawned some of the nation’s most enduring personalities and images, and fired up factories and military might that helped to turn the country into a modern world power.Harvard President Drew Faust, who was at the luncheon, said, “The arts invite a shift in perception and understanding that is at the heart of all learning.” She is also the Lincoln Professor of History, a Civil War scholar, and most recently author of “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” (2009).Paulus praised one of the Faust’s consistent themes, “that the arts should play an important role in the cognitive life of the University.”Faust arrived in Washington on Wednesday to talk with lawmakers and administration officials about the prospect of massive federal budget cuts that threaten investment in important scientific research. Without action in Congress, the sequestration plan will take effect Friday.In fiscal 2012, Harvard received about $650 million in federal research money.Participating with Harvard in the National Civil War Project are Emory University, with the Alliance Theatre and the Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts in Atlanta; George Washington University, with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater; and the University of Maryland, College Park, with its Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and CenterStage in Baltimore.The A.R.T. has already started a series of Civil War-related roundtables that bring scholars and artists together to seek common ground. There have been three so far: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Medicine, Weaponry, War Wounds, and the Soldier’s Body,” and “Civil War Photography, Painting, Reenactment, and Memoir.”Works in development at the A.R.T. include:“The Boston Abolitionist,” an ensemble piece directed by Steven Bogart (director of “Cabaret” during the 2011-2012 A.R.T. season). It’s slated to be performed in May by graduating students of the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training.last_img read more

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RAND’s Linda Robinson unveils the secret world of special operations forces

first_imgTo shed some light on the secret world of special operations forces, the Shorenstein Center invited Linda Robinson, senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Robinson, author of One Hundred Victories: Special Operations Forces and the Future of American Warfare, has been granted unique and special access to the covert operators, and she shared her thoughts about how the forces have changed in recent years.The number of special operations forces has doubled since 9/11, she said, and deployments are “more frequent and longer” than they used to be. She quoted the number of uniformed special operators at 33,000.In the past two years, Robinson said, her research has followed three developments in the special forces deployed in Afghanistan. First, the “village stability operations and civil defense, or Afghan local police initiative” was the “first and most intensive part” of her research. In addition, the Afghan special operations forces, she said, have become “the most proficient part of the Afghan military.” Finally, she has seen the “evolution of the U.S. and coalition command structure” in which leaders have tried to “get more synergy out of their respected specialties and assignments.” This kind of coalition “represents a great leap forward,” she pointed out, and is “applicable to the future, in the way they exercise control.” However, there is not likely to be another deployment of special operators so large in the future, she predicted.Listen to the Audio on SoundCloud Read Full Storylast_img read more

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Broad’s landmark study discovers new cancer genes

first_imgA landmark study across many cancer types reveals that the universe of cancer mutations is much bigger than previously thought. By analyzing the genomes of thousands of patients’ tumors, a Broad Institute-led research team has discovered enough new cancer genes to expand the list by 25 percent.The team’s work, which lays a critical foundation for future cancer drug development, also shows that creating a comprehensive catalog of cancer genes for scores of cancer types is feasible with as few as 100,000 patient samples.“For the first time, we know what it will take to draw the complete genomic picture of human cancer,” said Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and a senior co-author of the paper. “That’s tremendously exciting, because the knowledge of genes and their pathways will highlight new, potential drug targets and help lead the way to effective combination therapy.”During the past 30 years, scientists had found evidence for about 135 genes that play causal roles in one or more of the 21 tumor types analyzed in the study. The new report not only confirms these genes, but, in one fell swoop, increases the catalog of cancer genes by one-quarter. It uncovers 33 genes with biological roles in cell death, cell growth, genome stability, immune evasion, as well as other processes. The researchers’ results appear in print in this week’s issue of Nature.“One of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves is: Do we have a complete picture yet? Looking at cancer genomes tells us that the answer is no: there are more cancer genes out there to be discovered,” said the paper’s first author, Mike Lawrence, a computational biologist at the Broad Institute.“We could tell that our current knowledge was incomplete because we discovered many new cancer genes,” said co-senior author Gad Getz, director of the Broad Institute’s Cancer Genome Computational Analysis group and a Broad associate member. Getz is also the director of the Bioinformatics Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology.The researchers estimate that they will need to analyze, on average, about 2,000 samples of each cancer type in order to catalog the vast majority of these mutations — or about 100,000 samples across roughly 50 tumor types. “Given that there are around 32 million people living with cancer worldwide, this is a very reasonable number to study,” said Getz.The tumor types analyzed included those in which numerous mutations occur, such as melanoma and forms of lung cancer, and those with a much lower frequency of mutations, such as rhabdoid and medulloblastoma, both childhood cancers.In total, the researchers analyzed the genomes of nearly 5,000 cancer samples, comparing them with matched samples from normal tissue. Using methods the group had pioneered over the last few years, they rediscovered nearly all previously known cancer driver genes for these types of cancer, validating their approach.The altered genes the team has pinpointed will need to be followed up to determine which, if any, could be important targets for drug development. Initiatives at the Broad Institute such as the Cancer Program’s Target Accelerator intend to do just that. In the meantime, the new work offers a wider view of the cancer genomics universe, and tantalizing clues about what remains to be discovered if more samples are analyzed.In addition to Getz, who is also the Paul C. Zamecnik Chair in Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, Lawrence, and Lander, other researchers who contributed to this work include Petar Stojanov, Craig H. Mermel, James T. Robinson, Levi A. Garraway, Todd R. Golub, Matthew Meyerson, and Stacey B. Gabriel. This work was conducted as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a project of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute.last_img read more

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Defending against the flu

first_imgEbola has captured the attention of the world since the outbreak in West Africa began months ago, so far claiming more than 5,000 lives.Closer to home, seasonal influenza is on its way. Aside from bringing brief misery to many, the flu leads to serious complications or even death for tens of thousands of people in the United States each year.Infectious disease specialist Raphael Dolin, the Maxwell Finland Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, sat down with Harvard Medicine News to discuss flu, vaccination, and the (limited) evidence behind hand washing.HMN: Should we be more worried about influenza than Ebola?DOLIN: They’re quite different biologically and pathogenetically. If one wants to examine the relative risks, there’s no question that there’s a substantially greater risk with influenza in the United States than there is with Ebola. I don’t want to minimize concern about Ebola, because I think there’s a great deal that is unknown, despite the fact that we have to make decisions based on limited information — and that is frightening.With typical seasonal influenza, in the U.S. you could have as many as 40,000 deaths annually. It’s a very serious problem.HMN: What should people do to avoid the flu?DOLIN: The most important thing is to be vaccinated. The recommendations from the U.S. Public Health Service are that everyone who is six months of age or older should receive influenza vaccine, except those for whom it has been contraindicated.HMN: How many of us get vaccinated?DOLIN: The results are mixed. In 2013, the overall influenza vaccination rate in the entire country was a little below 50 percent: a little bit higher in children, a little bit lower in adults. So that’s not what one would like. You really need to raise that number.HMN: What about health care workers?DOLIN: It’s also an area where one could have a better result, particularly among healthcare workers working in chronic care facilities and long-term care facilities. There, it looks like it’s really no better than in the general population. Among physicians, it’s 90 to 95 percent. Among general hospital employees, it’s about 65 percent. So one would like to see that increase.HMN: What other steps can people take?DOLIN: The big thing is vaccination. That to me trumps everything else by far. It also makes sense to stay away from individuals who are acutely ill. That’s hard to do in the household, of course. And then when you are acutely ill, try not to go to work or to socialize. You should stay at home.There’s a lot of discussion about what they call commonsense approaches — such as washing your hands frequently. This is felt to be a control measure against a number of viral infections. It’s not fully established by scientific data, but it sounds reasonable. There’s also an uncertainty about what is best to use—soap and water or alcohol.So I would say, if you want to wash your hands frequently, good. And certainly stay away from sick people; that sounds reasonable. But the one thing for which there’s solid evidence is vaccination. That’s what you need to do.HMN: With seasonal flu, different strains circulate each year. Do you know whether this year’s vaccine is a good match?DOLIN: It’s a bit too early to tell at this point. From March to September, a modest number of influenza viruses have been antigenically typed. According to that information, the circulating H1N1 influenza strain looks like it’s similar to the vaccine component. The influenza A/H3N2 component in the vaccine, the so-called A/Texas strain, is somewhat less frequently found (49 percent) among the circulating H3N2 strains. So that’s a little bit off. Again, this is very early. In addition, 75 percent of the circulating influenza B strains are similar to the strain in the trivalent vaccine, the so-called B/Yamagata strain.So I would say it’s too early to tell, but there’s a little evidence that the H3N2 component of the vaccine may be a little bit mismatched at this point. You’d have to try to predict nine months ago what’s likely to emerge because the time interval for manufacturing the vaccine is about nine months.HMN: Is late winter too late to get a flu shot?DOLIN: No, later is better than never. The problem is that you don’t know exactly when influenza will hit. You need at least two weeks after you’re immunized to mount a protective response. The idea is to do it as early as possible. The data now suggest that protection lasts for at least nine months, which should cover the usual influenza season.HMN: What’s the single best thing you can do if you fall ill, with or without being vaccinated?DOLIN: The USPHS recommends antiviral treatment if you are at high risk for complications, if you have disease that’s severe enough to require hospitalization, or if you develop any of the complications of influenza.If you’re an otherwise healthy person who gets influenza, and you don’t have any high-risk characteristics, whether you should simply take symptomatic treatment (acetaminophen), maintain hydration and rest for a bit, or rather take an antiviral, is an individual judgment.HMN: People do die of the flu. What do they die of?DOLIN: There are two groups whose host defenses may be compromised: the elderly and the very young. Chronic illnesses — cardiac or pulmonary disease, diabetes, neuromuscular impairment, for example—put you at higher risk for serious complications and death.The reasons for this are not fully understood, but they may be related to the extent of influenza infection and to the stress that it places on pulmonary, cardiac or metabolic functions.Pregnant women are also at high risk. This may be related to impairment of immune responses to influenza infection, as well as to additional stress to cardiac and pulmonary functions.HMN: Will there ever be one vaccine that will cover us from season to season?DOLIN: If you could get a vaccine that would be active against all influenza strains, then not only would that protect you against a newly emerging pandemic strain, but you also wouldn’t necessarily have to get it every year. That’s the so-called universal vaccine, the holy grail. And I think there are a lot of interesting observations in the field, but most people are still saying that it’s years away.The problem is a very interesting one scientifically, and actually relates to similar problems that we have with development of a vaccine against HIV. Influenza virus has spikes (hemagglutinins) that stick out and bind to cellular receptors. Currently available vaccines induce immune responses to the top of the spike, which are limited in that they are active only against the strain in the vaccine.Now, at the bottom of the spike, the so-called stem, you have immunogens that induce very broad responses that will be active against multiple strains.The problem is, it’s hard for the host to recognize that immunologically. You can chop off everything except these critical stem portions, but it still is not recognized efficiently. We have the same problem with immunological responses to HIV.So, if one solves that, one of the major questions in immunology would be answered.HMN: A vaccine that will protect against all strains of influenza would be ideal, but without that, we have something that does work: seasonal flu vaccine.DOLIN: Imperfectly, but it does work. There’s nothing in the world that does what a vaccine can do. This is what we talk about in HIV and AIDS all the time. Yes, we have antiretroviral drugs, behavioral changes, circumcision and condoms. All of these things are important. But if you want to end AIDS the way you’re ending hepatitis A in the U.S., or have ended smallpox worldwide, then you need a vaccine.last_img read more

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Targeted drug shows promise in advanced kidney cancer

first_imgScientists report promising activity of a novel drug that targets a key molecular driver of clear cell renal cell carcinoma in patients with metastatic disease.Researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report a response rate of 24 percent across all risk categories of patients given an oral first-in-class agent that targets hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) 2-a, which promotes new blood vessel growth that fuels kidney tumors.Based on these findings, a phase III trial has been launched.“A new drug [MK-6482] as a single agent showing an overall response rate of 24 percent across all risk categories — poor, intermediate, and good, and in a heavily refractory population — is quite promising,” said Toni Choueiri, first author of the abstract. Choueiri is director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology and the Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.The drug targets a component of the body’s mechanism for sensing oxygen levels and turning on genes that enable the body to adjust to hypoxia — a shortage of oxygen — by making more red blood cells and forming new blood vessels. Dana-Farber scientist and Choueiri’s mentor and collaborator William G. Kaelin Jr. shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in medicine with two other researchers for unraveling this complex mechanism, which can be hijacked by cancer to help tumors survive and grow.In the vast majority of patients with clear cell renal carcinoma, a tumor suppressor protein known as Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) is not functional. As a result, HIF proteins accumulate inside the tumor cell, wrongly signaling a shortage of oxygen, and activating the formation of blood vessels, fueling tumor growth. Understanding this abnormal process has paved the way for new cancer drugs. MK-6482 is one of them, and is distinct in that it targets HIF-2a directly, leading to blocking cancer cell growth, proliferation, and abnormal blood vessel formation.The study of MK-6482 included 55 patients with advanced clear cell kidney cancer who had an average of three prior lines of therapies.After a median follow-up period of 13 months, the overall response rate was 24 percent. Forty-one patients had stable disease with a disease control rate (complete response plus partial response plus stable disease) of 80 percent. There were partial responses in two of five favorable-risk patients; 10 of 40 intermediate-risk patients; and one of 10 poor-risk patients.The median duration of response had not been reached: 81 percent of patients had an estimated response of more than six months, and 16 patients continued treatment beyond 12 months. The median progression-free response rate was 11 months.The presentation (Abstract 611) is scheduled for Oral Abstract Session C: Renal Cell Cancer on Saturday at the ASCO 2020 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in the Moscone West Building, San Francisco.Choueiri has pending patents for biomarkers of immune checkpoint blockers. Choueiri’s disclosures include grants, personal fees, or nonfinancial support from Agensys, Alexion, Alligent, Analysis Group, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Calithera, Cerulean, Clinical Care Options, Corvus, Eli Lilly, Esai, Exelixis, Foundation Medicine Inc., Genentech, Roche, F. Hoffman-La Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Heron Therapeutics, Harborside Press, American Society of Medical Oncology, Ipsen, NCCN, Kidney Cancer Journal, L-path, Merck, Michael J. Hennessy Associates, Research to Practice, Navinata Healthcare, NEJM, Novartis, Peloton, Pfizer, EMD Serono, Platform Q, Prometheus Labs, Sanofi/Aventis, Takeda, Tracon, Pionyr, Tempest, The Lancet Oncology, and Up-to-Date.Funding for this research was provided by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J.last_img read more

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Bringing signature HKS teaching to remote learners around the world

first_imgEnvisioned and launched before the coronavirus pandemic, Harvard Kennedy School’s flagship online non-degree program, the Public Leadership Credential (PLC), is filling an unanticipated gap in the educational landscape, straddling the space between bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.This month, the first cohort of 35 participants completed the program of six courses followed by a capstone project to receive the Public Leadership Credential. This milestone event for the new program was recognized with an online celebration of the students who completed the final project.The learners covered a range of topics in their capstone projects — from supporting youth in crisis in the U.S. state of Maine, to improving air quality in Romania, to boosting the manufacturing industry in Rwanda. At the capstone celebration event, Dan Levy, senior lecturer in public policy and faculty director of the PLC, said: “The range of projects and policy areas represented is astounding!”The PLC program was designed to reach busy professionals with several years of work experience who could benefit from the practical teaching the Kennedy School offers. “We did this so that people across the globe could help improve their communities and the world around them,” Levy said.“A key priority for us was to reach as many learners as possible, people who for professional, personal, or financial reasons, couldn’t come to the Kennedy School,” added Kristin Sullivan, staff director of the Public Leadership Credential.With COVID-19 keeping people home, the PLC has seen a boost in enrollment numbers. More than 1,300 learners from 100 countries have enrolled in PLC courses and represent a wide range of professions.PLC courses cover three interdisciplinary topics: policy design and delivery, leadership and ethics, and evidence for decisions, with curriculums designed by Kennedy School faculty members with the support of digital learning designers from SLATE. The capstone experience allows learners to synthesize all that they have learned over the six courses and apply this knowledge to a project of their choice.The PLC includes signature Kennedy School pedagogies — like the School’s degree programs and executive-education offerings— and is academically rigorous and relevant to professionals dealing with real-world problems.“We emulate the kinds of learning that happen in our classrooms,” said Teddy Svoronos, the faculty lead for the evidence for decisions courses and a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School. “Whatever we do, we want to make an impact.”For more information, visit the website. The next registration deadline is Jan. 7, 2021. Read Full Storylast_img read more

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